just three weeks in now, our journey has only begun. but already i can look back and see how God has been gently preparing me for what would be the most difficult trial of our lives. i've been playing these experiences over and over again in my mind. while many things were subtle, there were several things that stood out...
my introduction to fatal trisomies happened a few years ago when a young family from our church lost their precious baby boy to trisomy 18. i had never heard of it, and didn't really understand what it meant. and because i had not yet become a mother, i didn't comprehend the profound loss, i didn't know what to say, and didn't really know how to pray for them. but i never forgot their story.
shortly after that, while i was several months pregnant with kate, i stumbled upon the blog of a family who had just found out that the baby girl they were expecting was diagnosed with trisomy 18. i immediately became a follower of that blog, praying for this family, and shedding tears over the mother's words. because i was very pregnant at the time, i felt like i could at least relate to the fear, and maybe even a bit of the sorrow, of losing the child you had desired, prayed for, and already fallen deeply in love with. the mother spoke of the heartbreak involved in setting up a beautiful nursery for her baby, only to realize that her baby would never sleep in her crib, crawl on the carpet, or wear any of her clothes. while the intimacy of her heartbreak was difficult to absorb, it was absolutely necessary for me to read it. the strength, the courage this family had was amazing. they completely trusted in the Lord for their every need, for their daily dose of grace. they spent 8 wonderful days with their baby girl.
i thought at the time, my lesson from reading the blog was to not take anything for granted. i would like to believe that for the most part, i didn't: not the midnight feedings, not the dirty diapers, not the projectile vomit. i didn't mind being tired, and i never let myself feel frustrated during those sometimes difficult weeks of induction into parenthood. i reminded myself about how some mothers don't have the privilege to change dirty diapers before their little one slips away. when i wanted to complain, i always thought about this story.
several things have come up while i've been pregnant with jonathan. a few weeks ago, there was one particular night where i was praying for a couple of my closest friends. as i did so, more and more people came to mind who had some serious things going on in their lives. i needed to pray for them, too. and still, even more people with urgent needs came to my mind until i was overwhelmed. i took the opportunity to examine my life and saw how easy and comfortable it was at that moment. that was exactly how i liked it, and i didn't want to do anything that would require me to become uncomfortable. i became quite perplexed and embarrassed by this. while i was thankful for my blessings, i thought about how i wasn't doing enough to reach out to others who were struggling so much. i thought about how i had been "spared" thus far from tragedy or deep suffering. a few verses came to my mind about suffering, and how God used it for many different purposes to include refining, discipline, and testing. it is also a consequence of standing up for righteousness, and because we live in a fallen world. but mostly i realized that, especially as a christian, suffering was inevitable no matter the purpose God intended through it. it was a profound moment for me. that night i said out loud to God: "i am afraid you are preparing me for something...."
i will share with you, as i have with only a few of my closest friends, that during this pregnancy i have been very uneasy, even fearful. not like i have "known" that something was wrong all along, but just afraid that something could be. in spite of my fear, i never did really think that it would "happen to me." people have babies all the time, what were the odds??? it was enough, though, that i prayed about it constantly. i searched the Scriptures for what God had to say about my fear. i wanted to speak to my doctor about it. i wanted to do the blood tests. i had a greater need this time around to know that everything was OK with my baby. at our doctor's appointment on june 22nd, we were so, so close to knowing that everything was OK. the heart sounded good. i was measuring fine. and it was a boy! it wasn't until our doctor flipped to 4D ultrasound when she saw something very small that might be abnormal. if she hadn't been experienced enough to look for this particular thing, we would not know to this very day. so while it was a shock, it wasn't completely a surprise, if that makes sense. there was devastation, but relief in the knowing. my fear of the unknown had to become trust in the Known.
so here i am. my trisomy story may be a little different from the others, but only in the small details. there are similarities in the experience of sorrow, of dreams for our children not coming to fruition, and the knowing that our family will never be complete without that child. there has already been suffering in our grief. for greg and me, our grieving will likely be three-part: the grief we have already experienced over the news that our child will die, the grief to come when it is time for our child to pass away, and the grief we will have, year after year, wondering what jonathan would be like now.
therefore, i rejoice in the following promises:
"And the God of all grace, who called you to 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
"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." ~ Phillipians 4:19
"...My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ~Romans 8:28
how real these truths have become to me. and how thankful i am that God has shown me great tenderness already in the way He prepared my heart for this very season of our lives.