I love how God works. I mean, sometimes it really stinks and I hate it...but I really love it. I'm struggling with anxiety, I'm discouraged, I'm frustrated, I'm afraid, and I think that I just can't do this anymore. So, I ask God for help. It doesn't come fast enough. Or He seems to be silent. But then I have a day that's not quite so hard, or someone sends an email or makes a call, or God brings a promise or a verse to mind, or He heals in another area or way, and I realize that He really is there and He didn't even take His eyes off me or Judah for a second, much less actually move away or leave!
God has brought healing to Jared's & my relationship. I've gotten some extremely encouraging emails and phone calls. God reminded me that this is not really about us. We told Him a long time ago that whatever would bring Him the most gory is what we want; we want His will. So, this is about Him and what He has chosen to do in and through us. And He encouraged me with Scripture from Lamentations and Romans. So even though I was nervous going to my appointment today, and it was really hard facing all the possibilities again, I was able to give it to Him, knowing that He was there with me and I had all the grace I needed to get through whatever we might be faced with.
Overall the appt. was good. All of my concerns were laid to rest. I even gained a pound! (Never thought I'd be so happy about gaining weight!) Judah went through a pretty good growth spurt - yay - and is right where he needs to be. We talked a lot about my contractions, and I have very detailed instructions about what to watch for and when to call. All the contractions and discomfort I've been having, though, are pretty normal at this point, so there's no concern about preterm labor yet. And Judah's ventricles are still stable. Thank You, Jesus!!! At this point we can anticipate that Judah will be born full term. At my next appt. (3 weeks from now) we'll be talking about head size. Judah's head measured 2 weeks ahead of his gestational age, so depending on what that looks like next time, I may have to be induced early. Worst case scenario would be a c-section because his little noggin might be not so little. We'll see. Anything is possible and I'm trying to be prepared for anything. However you do that when you're talking about a special needs baby!
There was something unexpected that came up. Judah's testicles haven't descended into the scrotum yet. In a "normal" boy this wouldn't be cause for concern, because sometimes that just happens a little later. However, Dr. Bonebrake mentioned that sometimes in situations like ours, the baby's genitals will not have formed correctly or completely on the outside. We didn't pursue that any further, though, because there's no way we can know anything for sure until after birth. That's just another thing added to the list of anomalies to evaluate after birth...poor boy. And something else specific to trust the Lord with.
The really hard part of the visit was at the end during our Q & A time. I don't know why I never put 2 and 2 together, but I always thought that when Judah stayed at the hospital after I left that's when he would be moved to the NICU. I actually feel kind of dumb that I never realized before now that that's not the case. I was devastated to find out today that, barring some unforeseen emergency during or after delivery, we'll have only a few minutes with Judah before they take him down to the NICU. My whole stay at the hospital will be different from what I was anticipating. I have to let go of him much sooner than I thought I would. That's what this whole pregnancy has been about. Letting go...of dreams, expectations, control, and finally just having to let go of Judah completely. He belongs to the Lord. I know that. I just want to hold onto him, though, and not have to let go of him physically. I know he'll get amazing care. I can breastfeed him (or die trying), have all kinds of skin-to-skin with him, see him anytime; but I just don't get to have him with me. I can't sleep with him in the hospital, show him off to visitors, wear him in the sling, hear every new little sound he makes, give him his first bath, hold him in my room when his brothers and sister come to see him for the first time. I still hold on to the fact that God will be with me, giving me grace and strength, and loving me in ways I can't imagine right now. But this still really hurts. And again, while I praise God for the good news we heard today, I still can't help but wish just a little that this weren't my baby.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Mother's Day aside...I've been battling anxiety again over the last several days. Seems like I never get a break from this rollercoaster ride called "Expecting Judah". I make headway in one area, or have a mountaintop day spiritually, and then the next day I'm back to battling this anxiety or fighting some other emotional battle. I know that my next appointment with Dr. Bonebrake has triggered this anxiety. I'm never sure what I'm going to hear from him, or what he'll see on the ultrasound, but I've been able to set that uncertainty aside much more easily each time up to this point. Part of it is because I'm coming up on a "milestone" in this pregnancy. I know that after 34 weeks he won't stop labor, and I know that I'm more at risk to deliver Judah preterm. I'll be 34 weeks on the 15th. I also know that if Judah has a sudden increase in fluid this time they'll deliver him around 35 weeks. That's only a week after 34...and still much too early for this little one to make his appearance! I'm also concerned that he hasn't grown like he should have. 2 months ago I lost a pound, and I haven't gained any weight since. My midwife has been "strongly encouraging" me to eat an extra snack and get more protein, but I don't think I've gained anything back in the last 2 weeks since I saw her, and my belly doesn't seem to be getting any bigger. Is he getting the nutrients he needs so he can grow and thrive in my womb? If he isn't, my assumption is that he would have to be delivered early. And my contractions have changed in frequency and intensity (more uncomfortable with more backaches) since I saw Dr. B. last. So does that mean my body is already getting ready to "evict" Judah? I guess that's my biggest fear: that I won't be able to carry Judah the full 37-40 weeks. Is this some spiritual battle aimed at taking my focus off of Christ? Are these concerns valid and based on genuine maternal instinct? Maybe it's a combination of both? Jared reminded me that I need to keep my focus on today, remembering that God has given me the grace I need for this day. Tomorrow will have an abundance of grace for tomorrow...and so on and so on. He's right. He's sooo right. Easier said than done. It is a comfort to know that tomorrow, when I'm seeing Dr. Bonebrake and looking at Judah on that screen, that God has already been there. He'll be there with me, giving me the grace, and comfort, and confidence in Him that I need to handle whatever the doctor might have to tell me. And hopefully, if there is bad news, our reaction will be one that is a testimony to God's grace and goodness, and will leave a lasting impression on Dr. B. But, oh, for good news tomorrow. Please, Lord! Because right at this moment, I'm just not sure that I can handle any news that means Judah comes early and spends the first several weeks of his life in the NICU.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
This morning a friend left a comment on my last blog. It really got me thinking. She talked about joy and lament. She believes there to be an undercurrent of each in every believer's life. So there is a place for each in the believer's life. This is a very "Reader's Digest" version of what she said, but it has been on my mind all day. Lament is an old word that you don't hear very often anymore, and quite frankly, I think it's sadly absent from Christian circles and churches in general. What seems to be the prevalent thinking or teaching - or maybe just more popular, I don't know - is that as believers we're supposed to be joyful. We have the joy of the Lord, regardless of our circumstances. We have a joy that the unbeliever can't begin to understand. Joy, joy, joy!!! And while all of these statements may be true, they're totally imbalanced. It doesn't leave much room for lament, sorrow, grief. I think it can inevitably lead the believer faced with painful life circumstances to feel somewhat guilty. I have to admit having some of those feelings lately. It was hard to write such a raw blog yesterday, because I felt a little bad about feeling that way "out loud". Where's my joy in the Lord, in His promises, in His love for me? Well, it's there...it's just buried under the layers of grief and sadness and uncertainty I'm facing right now. That's part of that undercurrent of joy thing. It's always there, just not always prevalent or spilling over. And that's ok. The other undercurrent is lament. It's always there, too, but not always prevalent or spilling over...like it is these days. As I was thinking about all of this I realized that just like the believer can experience joy in a way that is foreign to those that don't know Christ, the same is true about lament. We should actually experience grief and lamenting (mourning, weeping) more deeply and acutely than the unbeliever, because we know what we're missing. We know that we weren't created for this life, but for eternity. We know, somewhat, the paradise that is awaiting us. We know that had sin never entered the world, that paradise would be ours now. What makes the feelings of grief more intense is knowing that they never should have been. In a perfect world, Judah would never experience the pain that will be his in the weeks, months, or years ahead. He would never be handicapped or deformed; he would be perfect. However, if we - or I - can embrace our grief and allow ourselves to lament what has been lost, it serves to draw us even closer to Christ and gives us more of a sense of urgency for Heaven. I want Heaven for Judah. I want him here with me, but in Heaven he will be whole. It's hard to reconcile the two beliefs that Judah would be perfect had sin never entered the world, and that he's perfect now because he is exactly who God intended for him to be...in this life. Maybe that's the key. Recognizing that there are two lives - this very painful, imperfect one where we can experience joy regardless of our circumstances, even if it is tempered with (or completely trampled by) lament sometimes; and the life we are designed for, where joy will be all there is and the mourning and weeping will be forever behind us. Deep stuff...and this is as far as I've gotten. But I know I'm in good company. There are some that I am privileged to know that "get" this; but I'm also in this with guys like Jeremiah, Micah, Amos, Isaiah, David - sheesh, his "blog" is a constant roller coaster ride between joy and lament - and of course Christ. He mourned and wept, and mourns and weeps. And I believe that He weeps with me over Judah. Another friend also pointed out to me today that Christ wept before He suffered the cross, but it also says in Hebrews that "for the joy set before Him endured the cross". He found joy in doing His Father's will, not His own. So I lament, but I know the joy is there somewhere.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Jared & I were doing so well in the beginning...our relationship was strong, withstanding the weight of grief and uncertainties over Judah. I'm not sure when the shift began. But today, between Jared's job demands and all I anticipate with Judah, I'm pretty sure I just might fold after all. And little pieces of our relationship are coming with me. I just don't think I can really do this. And why would God give Jared the passion for youth ministry - a job that is incredibly demanding and takes him away from home often - and then throw a special needs child on top of that? Not to mention the fact that He put Jared's dream job far away from any family, specifically Grandma & Grandpa, and then threw a special needs child on top of that. And why do I feel this weird pressure that I should be handling all of this differently? Like I'm supposed to be sort of over the fact that Judah is special and just move on with life like everyone else. That of course I should expect to be fully adjusted to having him just a couple months after he's born...I mean, a 4th child is a 4th child no matter what they bring with them, right? Life is unfair. But the really unfair part is that it only seems to be unfair for a select few. Boy, what a pleasure to be among the elite.