After the experience of two heart breaking miscarriages this last year, the news of this pregnancy came with both joy and apprehension. How blessed we were to be expecting again, God was good, for he knew the desires of my heart. The weeks following were filled with fear, uncertainty and small glimpses of joy as I started to picture my unborn child. It is in these few moments I began to allow myself to connect to Grady. These moments where few and far between because when I thought to hard or too long, my mind would play tricks on me, the devil would work his way in and instill fear that something was wrong. The weeks passed, and we heard the heart beat, then we slowly began sharing the news with family. My growing belly was a sign that things were working this time and that we can start planning, wishing and dreaming of life with two kids.
Shortly after our family vacation to North Carolina, around 18 weeks we had our ultrasound to determine the sex. It wasn’t thirty seconds into the scan and I could hear my husband, Paul, saying there it is, it’s a boy! His face lit up, I saw the joy I had been getting glimpses of, it was wonderful. I on the other hand, remember laying their un-phased by the gender news, just studying the screen, looking for all signs that this baby was healthy and ok. Knowing the tech coudldn’t give us any information, I didn’t ask any questions. It wasn’t too long into the scan that I realized that she was focusing on the heart, taking more and more pictures from all different angles. I didn’t remember this with mason, nor did she spend any extra time on any other body part. My intuition, the mother in me, nudged my husband and began praying. Dear Lord, let this baby’s heart be ok….
The Next week, I got a call from the Doctor… Grady had an echo-genic focus over his heart. I wasn’t too sure what this meant but the doctor recommended that I get a Level 2 Ultrasound to clear up any uncertainties. I briefly allowed myself to google the possibilities (Not a good idea) it planted the seeds of so many diseases, conditions and syndromes that it could be. But, the doctor assured me not to worry and that everything is fine, after all I was 25 years old. The next few days a shadow loomed over my mind… as family and friends where sharing in our video announcement online, I was secretly praying, struggling, crying for the health of our little boy.
Level 2 Ultrasound day arrived quick, bladder full and ready to get the go ahead on a healthy pregnancy. That was the day I saw the shining star over Grady’s Heart, it was still there and it was still unexplained. Later that day I made it to my OB’s office to get AFP blood work or “triple screen” (these tests detect possible chromosomal abnormalities through a process by which they look at specefic characteristics in your blood, combine the results with statistical data and then give you a percentage or odds of chances.) A few weeks earlier I had denied this test because of my age, and perfect health of my first child. Results already came back from Radiologist concerning the Level 2, Grady looked very healthy and they had no reason to further test his heart although they still where unable to explain the echo-genic focus (shining star). My doctor reassured me with my age, a clean AFP test would alleviate my fears or concerns.
Three days later, the call came… the doctor informed me of my blood test results and that I had more than a 1 in 10 chance of a child with Down Syndrome and that the next morning I should come in for an Amniocentesis. As I was on the phone with her, I managed to kick a laundry basket, punt a pumpkin about 100 feet into the woods and circle the house outside before falling to the ground in disillusion and shock. I asked God, WHY? I would soon know this answer. The next day came, and by 10 am I had blacked out and puked before the procedure even started. My mind raced and took control of my body, this could have been one of the most terrifying moments of my life. My mom was there with me, she prayed in my hear and held my hand as the procedure started. I assume it was so traumatic for me because right before the test was done the doctor gave me the print out of the AFP test, reading it in black and white was extremely hard as I tried to grasp the possible reality. The next few days of waiting over the Columbus Day Weekend was sleepless and intense. I continuously envisioned getting the phone call from my doctor, good and bad results filled my mind. I can’t say that I kept my eye on God and buried my fears in faith. I was scared. We were scared. I held mason tight those few days.
It would be important to share that two days after the Amnio we went to church. God began to really bless us this particular Sunday because …Paul was Saved. He willingly gave his life to christ at the end of the service. A prayer of mine had been answered and God’s plan began to reveal itself to me. The difference in him was immediate as he shared the warmth of the holy spirit that had planted itself within him that Sunday. God is so big and great, he knows exactly what he was doing in Paul’s life … and most importantly in ours. He was preparing us, for what we know now: God Will Never Give us More than We can Handle.
Wednesday came and the nurse called asked if we could come in right away for a meeting with the doctor. OF course I knew why he didn’t call himself. Paul and I took the drive together, our palms where sweaty and we prepared ourselves for what was about to come. We spoke positive thoughts on the fact that we could get through this together. I felt a little stronger knowing that I was not in this alone. We spent the night before praying together, laying hands on my belly, and asking god to prepare us for Grady in whatever way he prepared Grady for us. The doctor sat us down and continued to say “I’m sorry I have bad news, your son has Down Syndrome.” Recalling this experience with my husband, we felt the same way: a sense of warmth came over us, a feeling of calmness, we anticipated the news and we stood strong together. He quickly gave us the option to terminate this child, We just as quickly assured him this was not an option. I repeat, I quickly silenced that thought ((( good lord I know when Grady is awake and asleep, he kicks my belly all around))) God had been busy for 20 weeks knitting together Grady in my womb (Psalm 139: 13)… 90% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted in the United States! This statistical face taken from the national down syndrome website is sad & sickening to my own heart.
I cried a bit on the way home, actually I sobbed….so did Paul…. for the reality and the loss of the idea of what we envisioned was reconstructed to what really is. The following day we visited the Genetic Counselor and Genetics Doctor, more of the same thing: options to abort, complications that come with DS, a book to read and just a whole big dose of Reality as if we needed more.
As of today, 5 days since the news… I can tell you this:
1. We were handpicked by the will of God to be Grady’s Parents.
2. The Shining Star was God’s first sign. ( Isn’t it just like God, to shine a star brightly when a blessing is about to be born?)
3. We have broken each day down into seconds : “Paul how are you doing?” “this second is good” “Erin how are you doing this second?” “I’m having a bad second!”
4. We have began building a strong support system and we will encourage our loved ones to educate themselves on DS for the benefit or Grady.
5. My connection to Grady is growing rapidly each day, I reassure him that life will be the best it can be, because he has two loving parents and a big brother who love him already
6. God is Good.