love will lead us // part 1: on our second pregnancy and choosing hope
I have found my voice somewhere in the rubble. This writing and sharing with you has been a great desire of my heart.
I have been thinking about writing this post since we found out we were pregnant in December 2013. I’ve been scared, angry, defensive, exhausted, ready to cry at the mere thought of it. I’m currently 23 weeks pregnant, due at the end of the summer.
Finally, as I worked through these emotions, and through the roiling nausea and vomiting, I started to write. This is for me. And for you, dear ones. This is for any mother or father or broken one that has felt like faith is not enough, that fear is too hard to overcome, that taking the leap is impossible.
The doctor called the morning of Christmas Eve.
“I just wanted to let you know, before the holidays, that you are expecting. I’m not sure why the urine test came back negative, but the blood test says you are indeed pregnant!”
After the euphoric and surprising realization that I was carrying new life, I felt a sudden prickling of fear. I wanted to throw up.
Would we do genetic testing? Would I just know that this baby is alright? What if I miscarry? What if this baby has SMA too? What about the 25% chance of it happening again? What about the 75% chance of it not happening?
At this point, our baby had already developed it’s DNA, gathered all the information necessary to create a beautiful human life. I took a deep breath. I am not in control. I’m okay with that.
Florence is deeply loved, and her genetic coding was completed before we even knew she was growing in my womb. If we had opted for genetic testing, we still would have carried Florence to term. SMA doesn’t change the fact that these babies have life, have a beating heart, have purpose. Through SMA, God has taught me to live in the pain, to transform it, day by precious day into something new, every morning.
We believe life begins when a baby makes a home in the womb. You can argue until you’re blue in the face, but I will always believe in choosing life, (pro-lifers, “anti-women”, anti-choice, fanatics, religious, whatever you may call them). I don’t always agree with what “they” do, or how they choose to spread their message. I certainly don’t believe in bombing abortion clinics, and I can’t say I will ever wear a sandwich board outside the hospital. There are extremists in every vein of society. That aside, we don’t believe abortion is an option for us. This doesn’t mean I look down or judge those that believe abortion is an option, but it does mean I don’t believe it’s the best choice for us. Firmly. Believe.
That being said, we now know the science behind SMA, whereas we were oblivious in our first pregnancy. Any pregnancy can end in tragedy, and any child can be diagnosed with a disease or developmental issue. These are tricky issues to navigate through. Choppy, thrashing waters. Pregnancy takes faith. But when you have a child with a genetic condition, it takes an even greater gulp of faith.
It’s fear versus the hopeful anticipation of good.
We have heard the facts. We know. We are not ignorant. We are not crazy. We know it would be hard, as in, crushing pain and weeping and gnashing of teeth hard. I have thought about the moment often. Will I stare at my new baby and examine every part, check for a quivering tongue (a symptom) every five minutes, or will I wait patiently until baby is old enough to bear weight on its legs? Will we head for blood tests or let it be? Will I just know, will I feel the rush of energy in this newborn’s muscles, feel the difference?
I pray often that I will yelp in pain from the kicks and movements of this baby. I pray for movements that keep me up all night and for bruised ribs. At each ultrasound, I have felt a giant kiss from Jesus. I have felt peace and exhilaration. At 8.5 weeks, baby was the size of a lima bean, and yet it waved it’s little arm. I bawled in wonder and shock, and the ultrasound tech confirmed that babies can indeed move at this age, “the muscles are starting to flourish already!” At 20 weeks, the tech gushed that baby was “putting on a show, and was a very active little one.” My heart lapped up these words, swallowed them whole in hope.
We are in love with our children, the one kicking about in my womb, and our precious Florence. No matter what, these are our children. You can bet we are our knees praying for the health and wellness of this baby. We don’t believe diseases and conditions are inflicted by God. We don’t believe in punishment or torture as a religious exercise.
We do know that terrible tragedies occur in this world, and ours is not the worst. We do know what it feels like to cry out to God and feel like He isn’t listening, doesn’t care, is turning a blind eye. And we do know the astounding peace and presence that comes when we rest in the assurance that God hears our cries for mercy. I have learned that faith is a gift, and faith is a choice. It takes time, tears and pain to cultivate faith.
Not everyone has to walk this path of suffering. We hear that often, and it’s not very helpful. In fact it further isolates us. You see, we long to hold communion with the suffering ones. We feel at home talking about grief and heartache, freedom, fear, and the longing for the Kingdom of heaven to invade earth. We have been released from the know-it-all, life-is-easy-until-it’s-not, breezy attitudes that once shadowed us. Deep inside, we are wounded, shell shocked, tender, real, understanding, joyful people. We have learned to put judgement aside, and just love.
Suffering is real folks, it happens. It can happen to you. But as your story unfolds, you will learn to bind the wounds and live, truly live in the midst of it. Comfort cushions us for failure, comfort tells us that suffering is meant for a select few, and when it comes, it will ruin us. I don’t know how you do it. I feel sad for you. I am sorry you have to go through this.
Our eyes have seen things we never expected, our beliefs have been challenged, our faith has been renewed, our strength has waned and soared in a matter of hours. But we have not been ruined.
Suffering has revealed an unfathomable unfolding of grace in our lives.