It was June of 2004 and my husband, Scott, and I had just learned we were expecting a baby! An ultrasound a month later in July revealed not one heartbeat, but two. Thoughts of raising two little ones without my teachers' income to supplement were quickly being replaced with sheer excitement. We were having twins!
In September another ultrasound at 16 weeks revealed that one of our children had unexpectedly died. The doctor told us there was a chance that the remaining baby would meet the same fate, as they could be connected to the same placenta. I sobbed. My husband, being a fixer by nature and not knowing what to do, just kept his mouth shut and held my hand.
We were so excited to find out if the remaining baby was a boy or a girl. At our ultrasound at 19 weeks, grandparents came along. We were confident; surely God wouldn't take away our other baby! The minute that little one's image came up on the screen we knew something was terribly wrong. The ultrasound technician viewed the baby from all angles for 45 minutes, moved us to 2 different rooms, had me switch positions on the table, drink water, empty my bladder. Nothing seemed to be helping correct what she saw.
Should I live for 95 years travelling the world and basking in the golden glow of glorious sunsets, that single moment will forever be etched into my memory like granite.
"I'm sorry," the doctor said as she shut the small room's door, "this doesn't look very good. Let's go back to my office and discuss our options."
Our little baby had an omphalocele. The abdominal organs were outside of the body in a little sac. If they even developed correctly, there was still the issue of getting them back into the abdominal cavity without compromising the baby's life. Amniotic fluid was low, and the placenta was not fully attached to the uterine wall. If our baby even survived to full term (which didn’t look like it would happen) , we were facing a high probability of death in the delivery room due to a chromosomal problem. We were facing what no parent should ever have to face. "We can just schedule the termination for the next business day. I'm going to give you the weekend to think about it, and you can get back to me on Monday."
We rode home in silence. I fingered the edging on the rug as Scott sat on the couch, staring out the window. The doctor had told us in no uncertain terms that, were we to continue the pregnancy, we would hold our baby for a few minutes before he or she died. How could God ask us to do this? Why was He doing this?
I would be lying to you if I didn't tell you the thought of terminating our child didn't cross my mind. "Come on," my mind told itself. "The baby might suffer, and you don't want to put yourself through the pain of carrying a baby you will never know. That's not fair to you!"
Words broke through the silence, and I was surprised when I realized they were mine: "We can't abort our baby, Scott."
"I know. I know," he said. He reached for me. I don't know how long we sat there like that, holding onto each other. The vows we had made only 18 months before on our wedding day raced through my mind: "I will love you in good times and in bad."
We didn’t realize the bad would come so soon -but our decision was made.
Much of our child's fate rested on whether or not his or her chromosomes were normal. Even then, we weren’t guaranteed anything. Babies who have omphaloceles and normal chromosomes still had major complications and died during surgery. We had to wait 2 weeks for the results - those two weeks were the biggest obstacle of my entire life thus far. Some days I would go for walks and just talk to God. I'd feel silent and calm, and friends and relatives would marvel at the amount of faith I had. I felt like I was putting on a front: How could I explain that I was terrified not knowing if we would be choosing a cradle or a casket in a few months' time?
It was especially hard because there were members of our family who told us we should just have an abortion and try again.
I prayed for relief; for God to show himself to me in some way. At that point my mom came into the bathroom and repeated over and over again, "Jesus is the great physician. That’s what he says. You have to hold onto that."
Everyone thought I had such faith.
If only they knew of the countless nights lying awake. If only they could have seen me crying on the front stoop in the early hours of the morning as the January snow flakes fell around me and I questioned the very existence of a God who claimed He loved me.
The day we got the test results back, I knew I had to make a decision. I had to give this little baby back to the Lord who had created him or her. Oh, how I had resisted! How I wrestled with my God! I was sitting at my school desk, and I called out to the Lord: "I've been holding onto this baby too strongly. If it's your will to take him or her, it's your will. This baby is not mine to keep." The minute I raised my head, the phone rang. Our baby GIRL had normal chromosomes!
Before I reveal the ending to our story, I wanted to share the single Bible verse that kept my soul's feet on solid ground. When the panic struck, I would read this verse over and over again: You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
I wrote this poem 5 days after Lucy Allison entered the world on February 16, 2005.
As I sit at your bedside today, you, my beautiful 5 day old daughter, I think of your father.
I THINK OF YOUR FATHER, Lucy, the man who held my hand tightly as we saw your tiny, twinkling, blinking heart on the ultrasound screen next to the very small, still body of your twin.
I THINK OF YOUR FATHER, Lucy, the man who let me sob on his shoulder after the doctor told us you had a fatal birth defect. I looked outside her office on that gray day, my tears mixing with your father's as our dreams for you fell apart.
I THINK OF YOUR FATHER, Lucy, the man who refused to end the life of a child he may hold for only a few minutes after birth, as she took her last breaths.
I THINK OF YOUR FATHER, Lucy, the man who cried tears of joy as you entered this world, sputtering and coughing, the heavens opening up and shining on the 3 of us as you were bundled up and carted away for surgery.
I THINK OF YOUR FATHER, Lucy, the man who called me with a quavering voice, telling me you had made it through perfectly. We cried together.
I THINK OF YOUR FATHER, Lucy, a man who knows what is right and does it, who stands up against the evils in this world, who leans on his faith in God instead of the world's knowledge to give him what he needs to be the rock for his little family.
So, my little Lucy, when you don't know what to do, when the world is telling you one thing and your convictions tell you another, just do what I do. Think of your father.