I will forever have the picture in my mind of that first day we found out that Rachel would not stay with us. It is etched in my mind and will always be. The Dr told us that she was "anencephalic" - things went into slow motion as I tried to make sense of what she was saying. I had never heard of this. She continued on to tell us that delivery could be really hard since she didn't have the top of her scull, and that the part of her brain that normally tells your body to go into labor wasn't there (see, we have no control...so much for the idea of riding down bumpy roads to induce labor) So she said I'd need to be induced and she could likely be breech. Matt's first question was is the baby in any pain? (he's such a good dad) In my mind, I was thinking OK we're going to have a baby with severe disabilities...I can handle that, I've always had a heart for disabled children...and then I asked a question that I didn't really want an answer to... "is she going to live" and she said "these babies don't live".
Matt & I both started crying such a painful cry. We have never shared tears that deep before. She handed me a box of tissues and left the room to give us privacy. It was like a scene out of a scary movie. I stomped my feet like a toddler having a tantrum and begged God to wake me from this nightmare. Matt hugged me and tried to tell me it would be okay as I continued to hit the Dr's bed and cry out to God. "No, no, not my baby girl...please God not my baby girl... she's a little girl Matt. I want her, no no no".... until I fell back onto the bed and sobbed. I can only imagine what that sounded like in the hallway. It felt surreal. It couldn't possibly be true. This can't be happening to us.
The Dr. came back in to tell us that we needed to go to Maine for a 2nd opinion and to talk about our options... what options? You know, if you want to terminate. We immediately both said no. She went on to say that the test I declined earlier in the pregnancy would have detected this. right, but it would have changed nothing for us.
You see, God had prepared us for this moment... During my pregnancy with Sam, someone we knew decided to terminate a baby because the Dr's said it had down's syndrome. I had stated my opinion about it to another friend and was told that there was no way I could know what I would do if I were in that situation. So that night, Matt & I talked at great lengths about where we stood on this topic...what if we got the diagnosis that a baby I was carrying had a disability, or worse, some fatal defect? We were up till late in the night discussing how we felt so strongly that Dr's are not God, they are humans and humans are wrong all the time. We talked about Who is in charge of life and death and we agreed that neither one of us thought there were any exceptions to this.
While we were at the ultrasound right before, I started to sense there was a problem and I squeezed Matt's hand. He's usually much slower to worry and so I looked at him for reassurance...his eyes were closed and he was praying. I knew right then, that my fears were coming true. I had a strange feeling the whole pregnancy that something was wrong, but kept telling myself I was just nervous because I lost a baby before. In that moment, I didn't know what to pray so I told God "whatever he is praying right now, Lord, hear his prayers please. I pray along with him in whatever he is saying to you" She gave us a couple of pictures and said "these are the ones I can give you" I noticed right away she had left out the pictures of her head. We walked out that door to go up to my Dr's apt (I had previously scheduled them back to back so Matt could go) and I said "this is what He was preparing me for" (all week God had answered every single prayer I sent His way. He was loving me until I was overflowing with His love and I was not deserving, especially that week.) Matt took my hand and said "I'm so glad we know where we stand on this" and we walked silently up to the Dr's office. I looked at the pictures in the waiting room, everything looked normal...what's wrong with her head? It must be down's syndrome... I'm fine with that. I said "I don't care what's wrong with her or how it will change our lives, I just don't want her to die" - they called me in and that was it. My baby was going to die. Our lives would forever be changed. I had no control over this. I couldn't just do all the "right" things and make it better. My baby girl has a fatal birth defect.
Why am I telling you this story now?? Because since that day I have been filled with the peace that passes understanding. I know that can be a cliche term in a Christian circle, but I can honestly say this is the first time I have ever felt that. I thought I knew what it was, I thought I had experienced it, but this was different. I have had plenty of sad moments, but no anger about it. No desire to turn from God or blame him. No bitterness. Complete trust in His plan.
Well, tonight was the first time that feeling that I felt in the office that day came back to me. I haven't been feeling well and I had a sense that something was off, but again, thinking I was just paranoid because of the situation. My friend who's a midwife and brings us dinner every Thursday, checked me while she was here. I am measuring a little big and she said I feel full. I knew this could happen, I know it happens to most people who have a baby with anencephaly, but just like I knew other people lost babies to fatal birth defects, I was hoping this was not going to be my story. I also seemed to be sensitive to the pressure, which is not the norm for me. I am so thankful for the verse in the bible that says
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26Because right now, I have no idea what to pray, I can hardly stop crying. Through tears of unbelief, I'm again stomping my feet saying "Please God, not my baby girl."