04 Sep Young Warrior
I know the feeling all too well – being shaken to the core after entering the doctor’s office a little too confidently. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been crushed in this room, with every new life I come hopeful and comfortable, almost naive, and unprepared for what I am going to hear. Unprepared for what lies ahead. And this time is unmatched entirely. On August 4, in that room, we were told that our baby has Cystic Hygroma. A 12mm cyst of fluid on its neck traveling all the way down its back to the bottom. This was an unremarkable pregnancy for the first 11 weeks, and now at my 11 week sonogram, here were are….hearing words we never thought we would hear and learning new terms on a moment’s notice. How naive of me to think that since we heard a heartbeat weeks ago that we were out of the woods! The Cystic Hygroma can mean many things, but most of the time points to a chromosomal abnormality like Down Syndrome, Turner’s Syndrome, Trisomy 13, Trisomy 18, or possibly another more rare syndrome or abnormality. My mom and 3 year old twin daughters had come to the the appointment with me and my husband, and were excited to see the baby on a sonogram. After a few minutes of discussion with the doctor, my mom took my daughters out of the room. My husband and I held hands hanging on every word that doctor said, but at the same time not comprehending everything in its entirety. The thing that stuck with us the most is that he said there is a 75% chance that something is significantly wrong with our baby’s development. I went to the bathroom while waiting for the doctor to return to conduct an invasive diagnostic test, while my husband went out to the waiting room to brief my mom on what the doctor had told us. I remember crying, pleading with God…asking Him not to leave my baby, not to leave me. I never asked why this was happening? I knew the answer….God must be glorified. But I did fervently pray for Him not to abandon me. I’m not sure why I prayed that….I have never worried that God would abandon me, and in that moment I knew He wouldn’t, but I had to be sure….I needed assurance that if I was going to walk through this, if my family was going to walk through this…if my baby was going to walk through this, He would be with us. I felt certain I could handle adversity that ultimately resulted in His glory if He was with me assuring me with His love and sovereignty every step of the way. I pulled it together and went back to the room where I received a more in-depth diagnostic test called a CVS, and walked away with cramps, a crushed soul, and a printout in hand covering Cystic Hygroma copied from a 1980’s textbook.
As much of a shock as this was to hear, and as unprepared as my brain was to process information like this, God had prepared my heart for it. Just a few days before the appointment, I was talking to my friend, Amanda, about God writing our story and when He shows up in ways only God can, and how important it is to share that story…to mark the event, to offer hope, and to glorify God. Her idea came from 1 Samuel, when Samuel sets up a stone to declare that God had helped them win a battle that revived Israel. I loved everything she was saying (This idea has now grown into the Ebenezer Collective). My family had just moved to Dallas from Austin 4 days prior to this conversation, and I knew God had a story to write for us in Dallas…that there was a bigger reason in the grand scheme of life that we were here. And I felt that it had to do with my unborn baby. The next day, I spent a long time thinking about this idea of setting up your stone and sharing your story. I wanted to know what my current story was. I read through 1 Samuel and then wrote in my journal. Here is my journal entry from August 2, two days prior to our appointment when we found out about the Cystic Hygroma:
“God what is this tugging, pulling, overflowing in my heart? You are preparing me for something. I just have a resting peaceful feeling that my baby…Your baby you are giving us – is special….like life-giving, joy-flowing, odds-overcoming special. You are writing my story. The setting is Dallas…why?”
By the grace of God, He was preparing my heart for what I was about to learn two days later.
After that appointment, we received a phone call from my OB/GYN regarding results from a prior blood test. We were able to find out the gender at just 11 weeks. In that moment, we found out our baby was a girl, who we would name June Louise, meaning “Young Warrior.” And does she have some fighting to do! We are just getting started!
The results from my diagnostic test recently came back negative! Ruling out all chromosomal abnormalities at this time increases our daughter’s chance of survival significantly – what a HUGE praise! (That is an Ebenezer within itself. “Thus far, the Lord has helped us!”) We still don’t know if I will be able to carry our daughter to term. We don’t know if we will ever be fortunate enough to hold her in our arms, or, if we are so blessed to meet her, how long we will have with her. And the possibility exists that this could resolve and be insignificant in her life outside the womb. We are in the desert of the “not knowing” right now. And by the grace of God, we find comfort in what we DO know – we are, indeed, standing on TOP of the mountain while the enemy is trying to trample us down to the valley. Praise God for His grace, peace, and sovereignty. Because we know that no matter what happens on this earth, it is finished, and our hope is in the next!
And the God of all Grace, who called you into His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you, and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10
Through it all, I am working to rejoice in this suffering. I know that sounds absurd….to rejoice in your suffering… but God is good, no matter what. Even if He does nothing we ask of Him! This is a mindset…a decision I must make everyday to believe this. How small are we to wish our will on God’s sovereign plan just because it shields us from unwanted pain? It’s just simply not about us, it’s about God and His ultimate glory. That’s easy to say looking back on a valley, because I’ve had many in which I’ve learned God’s faithfulness in retrospect, but in the middle of it…it takes courage and faith. We don’t need to sit around in our trials and wait for God’s faithfulness to kick in; He just is. It’s His nature.
We rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3