My journey to freedom started about 7 years ago. I was 38 years old, married to a great guy, with two beautiful kids - a girl and a boy. My faith in Christ was warm and cozy. Life was – well, kinda perfect. Sure there were always a few curve balls thrown in there but nothing me and my friend Jesus couldn’t get through.
Having a heart of gratitude and trust in God is fairly easy when normal everyday life is happening. When life throws curve balls sometimes we need to be still and re-center ourselves in our beliefs. But occasionally we experience life altering circumstances that rock us to the core, change who we are, and make us question what and who we believe in. It humors me now that I’m glad I got rocked, got the prize behind the curtain #3. During that hard season of my life I never dreamt I would be able to say that.
Jason and I had come to the conclusion that with our age and the fact that we had 2 great kids we were done growing our family. Jason made an apt with the doctor and took permanent measures to assure our family was complete.
Well Sistah’s, not to freak your freak, but permanent procedures done by urologists who specialize in permanent procedures aren’t always guaranteed to work.
This is where behind curtain #3 I learned what it felt like to be completely broken. To question everything that had ever made sense to me.
To find out you are pregnant after your husband had a vasectomy is a lot to wrap your head around and those next few weeks were kind of surreal. From telling Jason, to setting up my doctor’s appointment, I remember thinking I just do not want to do this again. Ugh - all those sleepless nights, then the busyness of a toddler - it all felt so overwhelming. I spent a lot of time those early weeks praying that God would soften my heart to the idea. I would recite in my head, “I have plans for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.” As the weeks rolled on we shared our news with more and more people, and just as I had prayed God softened my heart. In fact I started to really embrace the idea. This would be the baby we laughed about - our vasectomy baby, the one that brought us much joy.
I had my first appointment with the nurse practitioner, heard the heartbeat, then set up my next appointment to see my OB and have my ultrasound. I left that day with a smile on my face and such excitement and anticipation for what was to come.
The day for my ultrasound finally arrived and it surprised me how drastic I changed from not wanting to be pregnant to so excited for this gift our family was about to receive. We brought our kids to the ultrasound so they could get a glimpse of the brother or sister that was to come. The ultrasound was magical. It was so much fun for the kids to see the perfect little hands waving and moving around.
We were moved to the exam room after the ultrasound where we would wait and wait and then wait some more. I will never forget the look on Dr Fern’s face as he entered that room. He didn’t make eye contact this time or welcome me with one of his warm hugs. He sat down on his stool and said with such sadness in his eyes, “Your baby has profound abnormalities that are most likely not compatible with life. You are going to need to see a specialist.”
I left that office numb and terrified. We spent the next several weeks seeing geneticists and specialists. We ended up losing our baby along with so many of my dreams and nothing seemed to make sense to me anymore. I still believed in God yet questioned his love for me.
I spent the next couple of years struggling through some depression. I knew I wouldn’t try for another baby yet wouldn’t let Jason have his permanent procedure done again. I felt a distance from everything I believed in. The whole “plans to prosper” verse and “I wove you together in your mother’s womb” felt like a knife in my heart and would bring anger out in me.
There is truth in the saying that time is a great healer. Over time the intensity of my grief softened and joy started coming back. In the spring of 2009, I was starting to feel like a me I recognized again. I still questioned why when I was content with two kids God let me open my heart to want three. I tried to push it out of my head. I would tell myself if God was small enough to fully understand He wouldn’t be big enough to worship. I would remind myself “His ways are not our ways.”
Fast forward and buckle your seats, Sistahs! That May I was not feeling right. If you have been pregnant before you know the kind of right I’m talking about. I told Jason and he said, “you’re being ridiculous, you’re on birth control!” That felt comforting and true so I put it out of my mind. Sunday after church we were planting our spring flowers. I ran out of petunias so decided to run to the Rite Aid. Without telling Jason I decided to buy pregnancy test so I could quit thinking about it and panicking. I was then going to tell Jason I was ready for him to go back to the doctor. This was confirmation it was time to move on.
Petunias and pregnancy test in hand, I went home. I immediately went to the bathroom with my test. This was so ridiculous. I was on birth control. I could hardly wait to get this over so I could enjoy the rest of the day. An out of body experience is how I would describe the looking down at the test that read pregnancy positive.
I cannot begin to tell you the intense fear, horror and pain I felt. How was this possible? I had barely moved forward from losing our baby. Jason came in and found me in the bedroom. I was literally trembling with fear. He said, “Oh my gosh, what is wrong?” In a very calm and articulate way…ok maybe not…I sobbed and said “I’m pregnant.” Jason held me and tried to comfort me. He said, “It is ok. It will be ok. WE will be ok.” I think he was also trying to comfort himself.
I told no one. I was filled with so much fear, certain there would be something wrong. I was years older now. I felt such shame that I would put everyone through this again. I pleaded with God to help me. I have never felt so alone.
Jason called Dr. Fern two weeks later and explained the situation and that he was worried about me. Dr. Fern made an appointment for us that week. When we arrived I felt physically ill. It was now a place I associated with deep pain. I couldn’t believe I was here again. I had an ultrasound right away and Dr. Fern came in immediately after.
When I saw Dr. Fern’s face I immediately started crying. He gave me one of those warm, wonderful hugs. He told me “it is early but the ultrasound looks good.” He tried to reassure me that there was a good chance nothing was wrong. He was a believer himself and said “Maybe this is God’s redemption for you.” Dr. Fern is a wise man. It was the first flicker of hope and calmness I had in weeks.
It was a very stressful and lonely time waiting for the end of that first trimester. Dr. Fern was sending me to the specialist to get the highest resolution ultrasound possible. I dreaded it. That place held such horrible and painful memories for me. I was certain I was headed there for some experience. I had barely slept the week before my appointment. Walking down the long hallway, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get sick or start crying. I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my own skin.
The appointment was long and the specialist very thorough. He stepped out of the room and said the doctor would be back in a minute. I laid there terrified waiting for the door to open and my life to change again. When he walked in and said everything looked great, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He also said there was 90% chance it’s a girl.
We followed up that appointment the next day with Dr. Fern. He was so happy for us. He suggested doing an amnio since everything we had been through…and an amnio is the only test that is 100%.
I finally started sharing my news with everyone. My family reassured me it would be good and the amnio would prove it. I felt such gratitude to God. I was blown away that God was going to give me this amazing gift - He was giving me the desires of my heart. He knew I wanted a baby, but would never have tried again. I couldn’t wait to share the goodness of God.
After the amnio, we were in the car driving to see my sister in Seattle. We gave Dr. Fern our cell number so he could call with the results. The phone finally rang. My heart sped up and instantly thought he would confirm it’s a healthy girl and we would celebrate. Jason answered the phone and began to pull the car to the side of the road. The enthusiasm in Jason voice changed as he continued to talk. Finally, turning to me he shook his head no.
When Jason got off the phone he shared our baby girl would have Down’s syndrome. I wanted to be one of those women that said, “This is my baby and I love her no matter what.” That was not my feeling. I was terrified. I found myself angry again, trying to trust the God I had always loved yet wondering where He had gone.
The rest of my pregnancy was filled with ultrasounds and lots of appointments. I hated myself for how different I felt about this pregnancy. Slowly as the months rolled on and I could feel her kick I began to connect with her as mine.
Heading to the hospital to deliver Lexi was such a different experience than the joy of anticipation I felt with Abby and Luke. I think I still had hopes God would produce a miracle and she wouldn’t have Down’s syndrome.
I only saw Lexi for a couple seconds after she was born. They whisked her away to the NICU to start checking for all the things that can go wrong with Down’s babies. I got to go up to the NICU that afternoon and saw her for a couple minutes. I was awake at 3am that night and couldn’t sleep. I called the nurse to take me up to see my baby. It was then, when alone with my baby, I was overcome by the greatest sense of peace and contentment. There was no doubt in my mind God meant Lexi for me and I thanked Him.
Jan 8th, not the 1st, is always a time of reflection for me. This past January 8th my sweet Lexi turned 4. I am so gratefully humbled that God chose me to be her mother. My road to being her mother was a painful one. Yet, it has strengthened my faith beyond measure. I now trust the plans God has for me and the character God wants to mold me into. I have learned that God did know the desires of my heart and does have plans to prosper me and not harm me.
Having a daughter with a disability teaches me what gifted is in God’s eyes. We are all gifted the way God intends us to be and for His purpose. Lexi helps me see things for what they are and accept myself the way I am.