love will lead us // part 1: on our second pregnancy and choosing hope

May 5, 2014, Michaela Evanow, 29 Comments

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.


Read Part 2.

29 Comments

  • Reply elizabetheveretts May 27, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    Love and prayers sent your way.I love reading what you write.God bless you and your family!

    • Reply Michaela Evanow May 28, 2014 at 9:13 AM

      Thank you Elizabeth!

  • Reply janet Abele May 27, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    I had those similar feelings. We did the genetic counseling, first meeting, which tok 3 hrs. at childrens hospital Phila.. But when talking to dr. and finding out the option after these series of testing would be to disrupt pregnancy if we found out the baby had the same syndromes and disabilities as my daughter, Who at that time was 3 yrs old.. I felt , Whatever Was meant to be God would. guide me through it. I was connected strongly with Him throughout My daughters diagnosis , and he really was my rock. I will have you in my prayers, You and your entire family….. Peace be with you , my friend..

  • Reply Andrea S May 9, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    Oh Michaela!!I I CHEERED so loudly when I read this! I am so happy for you and your family! When I read this post, the first thing that came to my mind was a verse is Joel. “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…” Joel 2:25. May the Lord bless you and the beautiful life inside you!

    • Reply Michaela Evanow May 13, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      Yes, Andrea!! I love that that scripture in Joel came to mind. I think of it often…and I believe in it’s promises over our family. Thank you for sharing with me! xo

  • Reply Heather Bowie May 9, 2014 at 12:28 AM

    Oh my word, just yes yes yes! Suffering and grace. I come here b/c just as you said there is communion in this wounded, shell shocked joy. I’m 13 years into that weird balance of fear and surrender and gratefullness.

    Thank-you for sharing this bold, beautiful journey and a hearty congratulations to you!

    And can I just say, there is something absolutely precious about the sibling relationship that seems bigger and more amazing when one child has a disability. It’s my greatest gift to bear witness to that.

    Heather

    • Reply michaelaevanow May 9, 2014 at 2:02 AM

      beautiful words from you Heather. Thank you for sharing with me. I’d love to hear more! xo

  • Reply Trinity May 6, 2014 at 5:30 AM

    I’m filled with joy hearing your wonderful news! Congratulations! I hope you are starting to feel better as your little bean is growing and growing. All the best – many prayers and much love being being sent your way!

  • Reply Anny Ruch May 6, 2014 at 1:13 AM

    … And where is the publisher who collects all those amazing expressions of hope? Words are your gift, M. What a gift you have to share. Only Florence’s plight brought that out… Perhaps one tiny positive in this ordeal… But one nevertheless!

  • Reply Erika May 5, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    Congrats Michaela! Your children are so lucky to have such amazing parents.

    We certainly are on similar schedules, I’m just a few weeks ahead of you!

    • Reply michaelaevanow May 5, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      No way! Erika, that’s amazing and so funny! I can’t believe it. So nice to hear from you. Congrats to you!! Are you with South again?

      • Reply Erika May 27, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        Just saw this! We are at south but not doing group. How about you? I ran into Jana there 2 weeks ago, she had a 2 month old boy now in addition to Isla! Are you at south? Xox

        • Reply Michaela Evanow May 28, 2014 at 9:14 AM

          Oh wow. Good for Jana! I’m at Pomegranate this time! Planning for a home birth.

  • Reply tammy thompson May 5, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    Grinning from ear to ear, Flo will be a big sister! She is so precious. I’m short on words but full of hope and joy for your family. Congratulations.

    • Reply michaelaevanow May 5, 2014 at 9:16 PM

      Thanks Tammy, for sharing from your heart, and for smiling with us!

  • Reply Sarah May 5, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    My heart is soaring with this news my dear Michaela. Praying for complete health for your new wee blessing, and knowing this precious child will be blessed with the most amazing love, from you and your darling Husband and beautiful Florence and by God. Hugs!

    • Reply michaelaevanow May 5, 2014 at 9:16 PM

      Your prayers are precious to me. Thank you. xo

  • Reply Debbie Tuit May 5, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    Huge, giant over the top congrats to you, Jay, Flo and your entire family. Oh Michaela. After having a Down Syndrome child at just 23, and then pregnant again just months later, I felt many of your emotions. Of course, there was huge pressure for us to do an amniocentesis. The chances of having another had gone waaaaay up. !6 months later, Rob was born. happy and super healthy. Then two years later, Amanda was born, again happy and healthy. You lkeep up your hopes girl. In my heart, I know, all is well!

    • Reply michaelaevanow May 5, 2014 at 9:15 PM

      These are such wonderful words, that nourish my heart. Thank you Debbie.

  • Reply Keana May 5, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Congratulations! I will continue to pray for your family and pray for God’s peace and strength to wrap around you.

    • Reply michaelaevanow May 5, 2014 at 9:15 PM

      Thank you so much!

  • Reply Krystal May 5, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    Congratulations. Thank you for sharing your story and your faith journey.
    Prayers for courage and hope to rule and reign will be prayed for you, and this little baby, and for Flo. And your husband. They often are our silent strengths, yet weep in the shadows, sheltering us from more.
    Blessings!

    • Reply michaelaevanow May 5, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      Yes, my husband is a major source of strength for me. I would not be able to walk this path without him. Hand picked, he is. He shelters me, like you say. Thank you for praying for us.

  • Reply biggi May 5, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    Dear Michaela,
    thank you so so much for sharing with us this wonderful miracle! I look up to you and think you are such a wonderful strong woman, founded in your maker and the lover of your soal! Thank you for sharing your joy and heartaches with us! I feel so much richer knowing you and getting a glimpse of your life… I love your darling Florence and am so grateful and filled with joy at the thought you are carrying another miracle in your womb right now.
    May you have the strength and the grace for every day to love on Flo and enjoy the pregnancy with the growing baby… So proud of you and happy to know your story…
    Also as encouragement, God never said it would be easy to live life with him, but what he promised us is that he never would leave us nor forsake us. He is with you in all the joys and sorrows of life, however they look like…
    Glad to be pregnant alongside you. Will look for more of your encouragements and faith… need all of it too… xox

    • Reply michaelaevanow May 5, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      These words are so wonderful to me Biggi! And honouring. Thank you so much. I’m so glad to be sharing the weight of glory in the womb with you too!!

  • Reply Janelle May 5, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Congratulations! I’m sure Florence will adore being a big sister! I hope this pregnancy goes easier on your body, so you can still get out and about with your big girl.

    • Reply michaelaevanow May 5, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      Thank you Janelle. I think she will adore being a big sister too!!

  • Reply Sarah May 1, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    Congratulations! Love that little hand on your belly! Praying for you to feel well, praying for the newest addition. What a blessed little one to have you as a mama. Blessings.

    • Reply michaelaevanow May 5, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      thank you sweet Sarah!!

    Leave a Reply