I’ve been straddling a gray area for a few weeks. Things were going along swimmingly and then bam – I was like a fish out of water. I’m talking about my pregnancy by the way. Bless you, for so many have written or called to see how I am. I didn’t mean for any of my previous posts to set off any warning flags, but it seems they did. All is fine on the home front. Alex, Henry, Charlie – we are all healthy and happy and blessed far more than seems possible. But there has been a bit of a void in my entries. While it may seem like I blog about everything (in all reality there is probably more that I don’t blog about) I always want to remain honest about what I do share. I firmly believe we are all called to share our life experiences – our challenges and joys. Not in a “let me dump all my stuff out on the table” sort of fashion, but more along the lines of “let’s come together in fellowship and support.” Out of love for one another.
While it may sound like rambling, the words are finally starting to come to me.
The gray fog settled shortly after my first OB appointment. Fear settled into my life and took my breath away. It was an unexpected and unwelcome visitor. Nothing unusual took place at the appointment – things went smoothly and the early ultrasound showed a strong heartbeat and an accurate due date (September 26 – my dad’s birthday.) A few days later I had a phone conversation with my OB – again nothing earth-shattering. Yet anyone who saw me that day – dropping Henry off at school, at bible study, a March of Dimes cabinet meeting, or the birthday party we attended that evening – had to notice the red, teary and puffy eyes along with my dazed expression.
We talked about odds. Reviewed the various screening and testing that was available. Numbers like 1 in 500 or 1 in 600 were tossed around. Then the dreaded 1 in 100 was tossed into the mix – a statistic some genetic counselors stand by no matter if the case of Down syndrome in the family is the very rare translocation trisomy 21 (which is genetic – either mom or dad is the carrier), or the more common nondisjunction trisomy 21 (which Charlie has.) Basically one could conclude that no one really knows exactly why. It just happens sometimes, and the odds tell us if it is more or less likely to happen.
Here’s where it gets tricky. As the cloud of fear enveloped me I was also consumed with a serious case of mother’s guilt and confusion. These are the facts. I don’t want this baby to have Down syndrome. I love Charlie just as he is. If I had received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome with Charlie I wouldn’t have done anything different. I never received a prenatal diagnosis with Charlie. Instead, it was me who first saw that he had Down syndrome. In the delivery room. The moment my son was born and was put on my chest.
I don’t know if I am strong enough to do that again.
This is the part where I really feel the need to clarify myself. I am 12 1/2 weeks pregnant with our third child. This is our baby – no matter what. No test result would ever change that. But as a dear friend put it, I’m re-living a life trauma through this new pregnancy. I know that sounds dramatic – but in all reality, discovering that your child has a developmental disability is traumatic, no matter how you slice it. Sure I’m way past all of those initial emotions and shock, but it seems there was still a bit of fear waiting to make it’s appearance. And to be honest I wasn’t happy about it. I was angry – I’m not the sort of person who has “issues” (though in all reality, we all do.) And when I did have an “issue,” I dealt with it and moved on.
Easy as pie right?
Sure until you start to re-live events connected to that initial trauma. Ultrasounds. Doctor’s appointments. Odds.
Alex said it best “we can handle Down syndrome, I’m not worried about that.” I’m not scared of Down syndrome either. It seems to be the fear of not knowing, that is eating at me. Trust me, I’m well aware that I can handle anything that this new life brings. And no, it’s not thanks to my own superpower capabilities, but through His grace. I am fully confident that through Him I can do anything. Yet I continue to repeat this conversation – bargaining really – with the Lord. It goes something like this: “Haven’t I made my sacrifice? Lord I have, and I will continue to give you all the glory through our days. But Lord, please, please, I don’t want to do this again.”
This is beyond difficult to admit.
In the meantime I’ve settled into a baking frenzy. Which has led me to the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. It reminds me of the month after we found out there was a “chance” Charlie could have Down syndrome. At my OB appointment, the nurse looked at me with disapproval when the scale showed that I had gained 12 pounds in one month. I was shocked and made them try every scale in the office (surely the first was broken!) Nope. Needless to say I cut back a bit on my cookie baking. And while I haven’t been baking quite as much this time around, the memory made me smile. In many ways my three pregnancies have been similar. And in just as many ways they have been different – a blissful first pregnancy with Henry, a smooth pregnancy and very easy delivery with Charlie, while this time around I’ve had some intense nausea and actually heard the heart beat at 12-weeks. (Today we had an appointment and heard the heartbeat which sounded “good and strong” – this was a first as my other two babies didn’t cooperate this early.)
I realize we don’t always know where life is going to take us, and as much as we want to feel in control we aren’t. Admittedly, I’ve been wading through some pretty tough muck, but again – it is good. I was raised to believe that these sort of experiences are good for “character building.” Trust me, “getting” to buy your first car at 16 – a shiny used white Ford Tempo – will build character (among other things.) So believe you me – I have plenty of character.
In the meantime I’m choosing to focus on these words:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
On that note I think some cookies are in order…