A personal update for a very personal topic.
With only three weeks left until my due date, many friends are beginning to ask the question “How are you doing?” No doubt they are asking about my physical health, knowing that those last few weeks of pregnancy can get really uncomfortable, but they are also asking me how I’m doing on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level.
This pregnancy has certainly been different than my first in more ways than one. At a glance there have been a lot of similarities: yes, the baby was planned; no, I didn’t get morning sickness; yes, I’ve gained a similar amount of weight, I’m “carrying” the same, and I look nearly identical to when I had Levi; yes, I’ve had just as much of that annoying restless leg syndrome and trips to the bathroom and sleepless nights; and yes, we’re more than excited about having another boy.
Despite all of the similarities, it’s also been very different: I never had my “golden second trimester” this time around – the middle was by far the hardest part of the pregnancy for me (on every level) and I have never been so utterly exhausted in my life; I’ve had lots and lots of (often painful) Braxton Hicks since 19 weeks along every single night; I struggled with PGP so badly from 20 weeks until 33 weeks that I was actually having nightmares about doing my grocery shopping in an electric wheelchair as I approached full term; and… the absolute best difference – I’m at full-term in the late winter/early spring rather than the height of summer (here in tropical Australia), meaning I’ve avoided the elephant feet and ankles I had last time around!
But the truth is, all of that pales in comparison to the emotional and spiritual journey of this pregnancy.
There are so many unknowns with any pregnancy, birth, and baby… but this time around some of those unknowns have been given a name. When you’re carrying a child and terms are thrown around such as “chromosomal anomoly” and “Down Syndrome” and “high risk” and “specialist” every time you visit the obstetrician, then you can’t help but have a different outlook on things. (I like to call it half-full and hopeful.)
There have been many more appointments, many more ultrasounds, many more “serious talks”, many more tears, and many more prayers.
I’ve had to think long and hard and pray earnestly and often about how to digest the possibility that our child may be born with special needs. I’ve had to think about the big questions in life on a very personal level: Why do these things happen? What does it mean for me personally? Will God heal my child? When? And what does that look like this side of heaven? How should I even pray? What is “perfect health” anyway? Will I be able to cope, no matter what the outcome? How will others around us respond?
It’s also shown me important things about friends as we’ve shared our journey openly – those that came swooping in to offer support and prayer and encouragement without delay… those that kept a distance, not knowing how to respond… those that brought us cookies or sent a card just to make sure we knew we were loved and supported… those that I’ve never even met who have gone out of their way to provide friendship in ways that have meant the world to me… those that have shared their own journeys of heartache and confusion and ultimately victory in embracing life “as is”.
I’ve been incredibly grateful for this season of my deepest fears and my greatest hopes being exposed. As difficult as it’s been, I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. I’ve been rocked to the core and encouraged to see that underneath all of my vulnerabilites is a heart that is more confident and steady than I thought… one that’s filled with belief for life that’s bigger than myself. I’ve been comforted by the fact that I’ve seen my faith actually is strong enough to withstand the storm… and there’s not a doubt in my mind that the reason for that is the unrelenting grace of God, and the fact that it’s often demonstrated through the kindness and generosity of spirit of those placed in my life.
So yes, as baby’s due date is now less than three weeks away, I can honestly say that I’m at perfect peace. I have no fear (at least that I’m aware of), and I have full confidence that life is good and all will be well.
My mother’s intuition tells me that when that little boy is placed on my chest I’ll know if he has Down Syndrome or not. Yes, there will be pediatric specialists waiting in the wings to examine him and give us the official “yes” or “no”… but I’m in no rush for their word. It simply can’t change the fact that he is ours and as much as he is meant for us… we are meant for him.
It’s impossible for me to imagine a little diagnosis (as life-altering as it would be, no doubt) changing how much I love this child. There’s nothing on earth or in heaven that could make me love him any more… or any less.
So how am I doing?
I am doing well.
I am enjoying these last few weeks of pregnancy – having my precious son all to myself before I have to share him with the entire world. I’m at peace with the unknown, and I’m full of expectancy in my heart for a rich and wonderful celebration of his homecoming into our arms.
Thanks for asking.
Dear friends, I so appreciate your care and concern and friendship. I’ve felt incredibly supported by the online community – it’s truly blown me away and has been a very real and tangible source of encouragement. When I started blogging last year I had no idea what a deep source of blessing it would become. My heartfelt thanks to you.
P.S. We had yet another ultrasound the week before last, which showed an additional red flag (related to baby’s bladder/kidneys) that may indicate a problem. That problem, we’re told, could potentially also point to Down Syndrome… or it could be completely unrelated. It could also turn out to be nothing and just the result of random “coincidence” and timing of the scan. We will have a follow-up ultrasound this week to find out more, and if there is a problem confirmed it will be addressed after birth as there’s nothing they can do (ie: surgery) until baby is out anyway. Please pray with us as we continue to walk this faith journey into the unknown.