Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The 5th of July

This time last year I was enjoying a wonderfully easy pregnancy.  We were so excited about Thomas! We were working on his nursery and dreaming about his future.

I remember July 5th vividly.....down to what I was wearing. The workmen had come to hang a fan in the nursery that morning.  TJ came home from work to pick me up so we could ride together to our 20 week ultrasound.  My Mom was going to meet us there....she had really wanted to see Thomas in an ultrasound so I had invited her along.   I remember TJ's comment that he was nervous before we left.  I blew it off...being nervous hadn't crossed my mind.  This was unusual since I'm the worrier of the relationship, but I was just excited to see more pictures of our baby.

We went in for our ultrasound, and things were progressing as usual, initially.  I started to notice a discrepancy between his size and my dates, however.  Then I noticed the tech spending a long time on his heart.  I asked what was wrong, and she said she was having trouble finding a four-chamber view of his heart.  She called for my doctor, and I started to panic.  We were given our preliminary diagnosis of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and were scheduled to see the perinatologist (high risk OB) later that day.

I think back and wonder how I could have been so naive thinking that everything would be fine on that ultrasound!   I guess since everyone around me has healthy babies, I just thought I would too. I thought at least there would have been signs with my pregnancy that would have been a clue that something was so seriously wrong. 

Our playful talks about colleges, sports, and ziplines in the backyard turned into serious and tearful talks about hospitals, surgeries, and survival.  I remember July 5th so clearly because that was when I had to give up so many dreams for Thomas.  Instead of thinking about his high school graduation,  I just wanted to carry him to term. Instead of college, I just wanted him to survive surgery.  Instead of weddings and grandchildren, I just wanted to bring him home. 

At our appointment with the perinatologist that afternoon on July 5th, we were asked for the first of four times if we wanted to terminate the pregnancy.   They told us it would be a hard would be expensive.....and he might die anyway.  We knew that an abortion was never an option for us... we had to give him a chance. 

I love the way Sarah Williams addresses this in Shaming of the Strong: "We felt God the Father speak a message to our hearts as clearly as if he had been talking with us in person. 'Here is a sick and dying child. Will you love it for me and care for it until it dies?"  We were prepared to love Thomas and care for him until he died.....whether that happened in 2 weeks, 2 months, or 80 years.

After Thomas died, someone asked me "Was it worth it? Was it worth it since you only had him for two weeks?"  After I overcame my initial horror at being asked such a question, I immediately answered "yes!"  It would have been worth it if we'd only had him for two hours!

 My heart breaks for all of the new parents receiving scary diagnoses at their ultrasounds.  I wish I could hug them and tell them it will be ok, and that it will be worth all of the heartache and hardship.  These babies are so precious, and so deserving of love.   As hard as it is to lose a child, I doubt any women who have chosen to keep their babies in similar circumstances would say they regret making that choice. 

In my heart the 4th of July has been overshadowed by the 5th of July.  But that's ok.....he was worth it!

 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."  John 9:1-3 NIV