Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May

The last month has been exhaustingly busy for our family. We have been able to celebrate another month with our active, beautiful daughter, and our team, Magdalena's Feet, raised over 2,900 dollars for March of Dimes.
Also, my family cheered me on as I was FINALLy able to graduate with my master's. I wasn't supposed to graduate this spring, but through God's hands much had been done in the last year to prepare me for it. This is truly a blessing because it will allow me to teach night classes at a local college so that for whatever time we have with Magdalena I don't have to worry about working. (Isn't my husband handsome?)

Also, my wonderful husband planned a wonderful Mother's Day for me, and he made me feel so special. Words cannot describe the emotions I felt that day, but I was so happy that Magdalena was able to celebrate with me this year.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Godly Joy in Suffering

Growing up in a strong church, I remember hearing occasionally from missionaries and others with testimonies of God's faithfulness through very difficult circumstances. I had never really understood what these people meant by that. How does somebody really experience God's faithfulness through grief? Why do they have to go through it at all? How does God actually meet their needs, particularly the emotional ones? While I always struggled through these questions, I had an understanding of Christianity that was primarily based on duty and conforming to a given set of rules. "Do what's right, for right's sake, because it is the right thing to do." I could not see how the God who gave us these rules to follow (or else!) could actually meet us in our grief. Yes, I understood that Jesus suffered 2000 years ago, but what did that have to do with me right now? I can remember Sunday School teachers telling us that if we were going to be Christians, then we would suffer because suffering is part of the Christian life. I wondered to myself, "Then why become a Christian?" These were honest issues for a junior high kid that would soon completely abandon any belief in the Christian God.

I am so thankful that years later God used faithful Christians to challenge my beliefs and worldview so that I became convinced of the truth and beauty of the Christian faith. Certainly Jesus did call his followers to a life of suffering. We are to take up our cross to follow him, but he does not leave us on our own. He not only promises that he will be with us always, but that there will be tremendous joy and peace in the journey, even through some measure of expected suffering that he graciously allows. Just look at the life of Paul. His entire Christian experience was full of trials and suffering, but he comes across as one of the most joyful people that I have ever read. Paul had clearly found Jesus more satisfying to his soul than anything else this world has to offer, particularly a life of ease and riches.

In this time of trial for Julie and me, I want to strive more than ever to find my joy and peace in God. He has been faithful to meet our emotional and physical needs so far. We have a great support group of friends and family around us and so many people are regularly praying for us. Without the promises of God to strengthen us, take care of us, watch over us, protect us and to be with us in our suffering, there would be no real joy and peace. These promises let us face a very difficult tomorrow completely fearless and full of joy. Praise the Lord for his wonderful goodness to us!

"Jesus promised his disciples three things-they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble."

~F.R. Maltby

Friday, May 16, 2008

As the husband and father in this very difficult time, I feel almost unqualified to write about my feelings and thoughts. I know that as hard as this is for me, it has to be much more difficult for Julie. Julie is the one going through the physical (and often uncomfortable) changes of being pregnant and the one that is constantly being reminded of our present struggles. She has also been able to bond with little Magdalena more since she is the one carrying her. This is that natural way of motherhood. What is not as natural is the fact that Julie has to deal with all of this knowing that at the end of all of this struggle, we probably won't have much time with our baby girl if we get to meet her at all. Julie certainly has it tougher than I do and her thoughts are probably far more beneficial than mine.

However, as the husband and father, I do have a good bit to say. I first want to say that I am amazed at the wife that God gave me. Her strength and ability to persevere during this grief is remarkable. She has continued to work as a teacher and tutors on the side. She has been great around the house and sometimes has to clean up after me and turn lights off that I keep leaving on. On top of that, she has to put up with my silliness! She really is wonderful and I am so thankful for her. I can't imagine life without her now.

It is a wonderful thing to have such a loving God as our Father. We can know that He loves us and cares deeply for us even through this hard time. As difficult as all of this is, we have come to rest in God's sufficient grace for us more than ever before. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. That, by itself, is not particularly encouraging since we know the pain of loss that is coming in our tomorrows. But that verse combined with verses such as "His mercies are new every morning" give us the promises of grace that let us know that we can get through this.

Please pray for us and our daily faith in God's goodness and provision for us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This Child of Mine

To find out that the child you are carrying has an unknown amount of time to live can be a heavy load to bear. The first time that I went to church after learning of her disease, I found myself sitting behind a mother with her young daughter. I could hardly bear it, so I moved down the pew, which was not helpful, because it was behind a mother with her teenage daughter. Realizing that I wasn't going to make it through the sermon without crying, my amazing husband found a seat for us in the back so that I could concentrate without my pain distracting me.

In reality each of us has an unknown amount of time, but we assume that we are going to live the next day. Instead of living each day to the fullest we become lazy in routine. I do believe that God can make miracles happen, and if he were to give Magdalena the necessary health to survive even just one day outside the womb I would be incredibly happy. However, I must also face the reality that this could be God's plan for her life. No matter how long we have her with us on this earth she IS loved, and her life IS celebrated.

Each month after checking in with the doctor we have a small family celebration for Magdalena. These visits were much harder at first because I rarely felt her move, and now, through her movements I am bonded to her, and I do not feel as nervous when it is time to see the doctor. When I put my new nephew, Landon, next to my belly she moves around as if saying hello to him.

Again, I will use my niece as an example to describe my feelings. Caroline, the oldest of Lori's children, told Emma that Magdalena is sick. Emma spent last Saturday morning, the morning of her dance recital and the March for Babies walk, dressed up in her dance costume for her pictures, which is every little girl's dream, and as they were driving to my house before the walk, Emma said that she was not happy. This was to be "Emma's Big Day" so her comment was even more surprising. When hearing why, Lori told her that Magdalena one day would be able to be with Jesus, and Emma said that she still felt sad. As exciting things are happening in life, I still feel sad of the great possibility of how quickly I may lose my sweet child.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Let Me Begin...

Some of you may be a bit confused by this blog. It began as my way to communicate with people in the States while I lived in Mexico, so if you are interested in my time there feel free to take a look. It is where I met and fell in love with my wonderful husband. As you can see, I have not written anything on it since my return, but because of recent events I have decided to begin again. So I will begin at the beginning....

When asking my supervisor for a bit of time to talk back in December, she asked "Are you pregnant?" I responded with "no, but now that you mention it..." When I returned home for school, Noah left to go to work, and I took a two tests, both which came out to be positive. It was a state of shock for me because I had just had ear surgery, and because of the timeline I realized that I had been pregnant during it which worried me. This was not all that worried me. The entire idea of being a mom scared me, and I did not feel ready for it. Between the sickness and tiredness, it was a while before I began to feel excited about having a baby. The guilt of feeling this way in the beginning followed me until recently.

Well, I got over the sick spells and my family and I began to prepare for the new addition. It was really fun and special because my sister, Jennifer, was pregnant at the same time. In early March I went for my check-up, and my doctor said that he would like me to see a high risk doctor because the baby was looking small for her age, and I arrogantly went on with life thinking nothing could be wrong with MY baby. He is only sending me there as a precaution. Even as I sat in this high-risk doctor's office a week later, I thought everything would be fine. My husband needed to get to work, so I encouraged him to go ahead because everything would be fine. Five minutes after he left, the doctor hit me with the news...our baby could have a chromosome problem (Down's or Edward's Syndrome) and a heart problem, and we could find out for sure by doing an amniocentesis which is 99% correct.

Knowing Noah could do nothing while he was at work, I hesitated to tell him too soon. He would feel worse for not being able to come home, and I didn't want this for him. It wasn't until I decided that I might return to the doctor's office for the amniocentesis in the afternoon that I called him and gave him a basic overview. My mom and sister, Lori, sat in the room with me while Jennifer was in the waiting room.

While waiting on the results during the next week, Noah and I prepared ourselves for the baby to have Down's Syndrome, and although we felt inadequate for the task, we knew that God would provide all that was needed. I was not prepared for the news that was to come.

A few days after spending time registering, buying bedding, etc. I got the call from the doctor saying that our baby has Trisomy 18, Edward's Syndrome. The grief was so overwhelming I didn't know what to do. Shortly after, my doctor met with us to answer all the questions that we have. We researched everything to know what this really meant for us. Generally we have learned that every case, every baby has its own unique set of problems. There is no way to prevent or cure them, and so very few of these babies make it to their first birthday.