One year ago on this day, we left our kids with a friend and drove to the Foothills Hospital - for an advanced ultrasound. It took a little while to find the green building with all the windows. I remember feeling so very nervous that I was shaky, but also thankful that I was going into these new unknowns with my best friend at my side. I waited inside for Dave to find a parking spot and when he came in, we sat on a bench on the main floor, held hands and prayed.
We stepped around some reno/construction mess, took the elevator to the 2nd floor and walked across the hall into a spacious waiting room with sunlight streaming in. Our appointment was at 10 am, but the waiting room was packed full that day - and I think we had to wait a good hour before the ultrasound. I didn't mind waiting so much - I was afraid of what we would be told next and it was easier in some ways to remain ignorant. We were taken in shifts to a back room where we waited with several other couples. I watched as they went in and out of ultrasound rooms and I looked for signs of bad news. I couldn't see any. A few of them laughed and spoke about getting pictures. A bulletin board next to me was full of pictures of happy twin babies and even a few triplets. I had a lot of time to study that board. And a lot of time to think. I remember wondering how many parents before us had come through this place - and had received life-altering news. And I wondered what we would hear..
The ultrasound took a very long time. I had to ask for several breaks to sit up because I was so dizzy from lying down. (With all of my pregnancies I have had a hard time with fluctuating blood pressure) The ultrasound took nearly 2 hours, not just because of the breaks, but also because Rachel's anatomy was so complicated. Sometimes they had to leave the room to study some of the video images and consult each other. Unlike the last ultrasound, Dave was able to sit beside me and we watched our baby on the screen in front of us the whole time.
While they studied our babies anatomy, I could feel her moving inside me and watched her on the screen. And I prayed fervently - I even begged God to make everything ok. I said "God, please let them see that nothing is wrong. I know you can do a miracle and amaze everyone right now." And I sensed Him saying something back to me. Now, I am not one to say this quickly. In fact, I even tend to be a bit wary when people talk so confidently about God speaking to them. But the words seemed so clear.
What I heard was this, "No, It has to be this way, for now. It has to be this way - for my glory." And the sense I had at that moment was God's deep sadness at saying "no" to me. I also felt hope at the words "not yet", not because I believed that God would heal her on this earth (I still hoped for that and I asked God for it right up until her birth) - but I took it to mean that one day her body would be made whole. I sensed already that God would use this precious life to work good in our lives. Somehow. It was so difficult to see but I chose to believe. So often it really came down to this one choice. Would I trust Him? I knew that He was asking me to do a very difficult thing. Would I carry this child and trust Him, no matter what the outcome?
Finally they lead us into a consultation room with a leather armchairs and plants and magazines. Dr. Simrose came to talk with us. She broke the news to us that they were seeing multiple abnormalities and we would have to come back in a few days for an echcardiogram to take a look at babies heart. She did tell us that the right ventricle of the heart was almost non-existent, meaning that she had HRHS. She said that the organs were not where they should be, and there was only one kidney. Our baby had dandy walker syndrome (a brain malformation) - which on it's own might not be serious - but everything together increased the chances that this was just the tip of the iceberg. She had tears in her eyes as she talked with us. It was devastating news. I felt crushed and terrified.
And at the same time, I remember feeling thankful for this Doctor's caring manner. I know now after reading similar stories, that this could have been so different. At one point, I said to her "I know I shouldn't think this way, but I can't help wondering if I did something wrong..." (I had the H1N1 vacination at 13 weeks, too much cafeine, not enough vitamins - all the usual mommy 'guilt') And she responded by saying "No, this was set in place from the very beginning." She explained how right from the start, when the cells were multiplying and separating - it was as if the right side and left side got mixed up - and everything had to develop accordingly, working around it even, in order for life to continue.
Somehow those words encouraged me. I wanted to believe that God had some purpose in this - that our babies design was not an accident or a result of my negligence. Because if God's hand was in this - there would also be good somewhere in it. I clung desperatly to God - where else could I go?
We talked about the possibility of an amniocentesis. We set up two appointments - one, to meet with Genetics and two, with a Doctor who performed amnios. And we felt utterly overwelmed and exhausted. And yet somehow, David and I stumbled out of there and made our way home - four hours after we had arrived.