Today’s post is from my sweet friend Tracy Lane, mom of three, whose life was defined forever by a routine visit to her OB doc during her second pregnancy. Since that day she and her husband have experienced more ups and downs than the biggest roller coaster imaginable. But those curves and twists have taught her lessons about the value of life and about the love of God that have changed her forever. I think you’ll enjoy Tracy’s story today and maybe it will make a difference in your life too.
Two years ago, alone in a dark ultrasound room, I learned that the baby wiggling in my womb was a “mistake.” A doctor strongly recommended I terminate my pregnancy when he saw that my preborn baby’s spine was growing outside of his skin into a big fluid-filled bubble on his back.
The medical diagnosis was Spina bifida. The grim doctor’s prognosis was: He’ll never walk. He’ll never be anything close to “normal.” He will have significant cognitive delays.
“So most parents, two-thirds to be exact, would choose to abort this baby,” the doctor reported with a solemn face.
The shocking elephant in the room is that the only reason we were even looking in depth at my pregnancy was that I’d been given the same advice six years earlier about another baby who grew wrongly in my womb.
Before I ever imagined I’d grow a baby with a gigantic bubble on his back, I grew a baby with half of her heart missing. I remembered a doctor telling me then that I should terminate that baby as well.
The doctors made it sound so sterile. So simple. So nothing at all.
“We can take care of it today.”
“You can try again.”
“This will be private.”
They didn’t say: Excuse me, ma’am we think you should kill your baby.
That’s because the mothers in those dark rooms don’t want their child to die. We just want a way out.
No one needed to tell me that abortion means death. A slow death already unfolded inside of me as I faced the reality in my body and in mine and my baby’s future.
Facing this decision meant death for the dreams I had about motherhood. (What little girl ever wished to be a mother who didn’t want the unborn “fetus” moving inside of her?)
It was death for the hopes I had from the first morning nausea, the first day late, and the day I saw two lines on the urine-saturated stick.
Choosing to believe God
I know now that most mothers do not choose to abort a baby because they don’t love enough. It’s because their fear is suffocating.
As a mother facing an indescribable yet palpable amount of imminent and ongoing suffering for my children, in both of those moments it was tempting to make the selfish choice. A mother doesn’t want her child to suffer. And honestly, a mother doesn’t want to suffer either.
I admitted to myself and to my husband that the doctor was right: I really didn’t want a baby with a deformed spine, just like I hadn’t wanted a baby with half of a heart.
But I had a choice to make. Once again, I realized that the little life growing inside of me wasn’t mine. I knew it belonged to God. But now I had to believe it.
God had to remind me …
The only problem was at this moment, especially the second time around, God felt much more cruel to me than a good, loving Father who knew what He was doing.
Besides, lots of doctors and societies are good at convincing scared, shocked, grieving parents that there is an easier way. Still, I chose to believe God’s words in Psalm 139:13-14:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
God was knitting another baby together in my womb exactly as He wanted him.
Even if it wasn’t the way I wanted the baby knitted.
That day I was scared. But I chose to keep him; I chose life for my son.
Since I had been through this before, you would think this would have been an easier decision. But there were so many things that I had to remember …
I had to remember that nothing beautiful is ever perfect. But I’m glad that somehow I chose to believe again that every life is worth it.
I had to remember that there would be so much more to celebrate than to grieve. Yet on any given day I’d likely be doing both.
I had to remember that that, even though it wouldn’t be easy, every single day with miracle kids would be sacred.
I had to remember that the world would fall in love with their bright spirits and courageous eyes.
I had to remember that these kids change me into someone who knows and cares about all the sick babies and the strong sobbing moms of the world.
I had to remember how many mothers would ache for the news that there was a tiny chance that their “sick” baby could make it, and I was taking that chance!
And I had to remember that their sickness would somehow heal us all.
What was God doing?
Instead of knowing, I laid on the exam table wondering how I’d mother a child who shouldn’t make it and a child who shouldn’t walk.
I wondered about my baby’s brokenness. And mostly what in the world God was doing.
Still … in my wonder, I believed.
I believed that life was worth it, no matter how short or long it lasted. God was already numbering every one of my child’s days (Psalm 139:16). I believed that God could provide whatever we needed.
Mostly I believed that someday, somehow God could somehow, someday redeem the ache of that day.
And since that day I continue to watch and wait while I beg Him for ongoing healing this side of heaven.
The moment Davis was born, I didn’t meet him. The enormous, jiggly bubble on his back sent him straight into his neurosurgeon’s arms instead of mine. Davis received spinal repair surgery when he was just three hours old. But thankfully the surgery worked! Today Davis is a happy, typical-seeming toddler who walks, jumps, climbs, and pets every “Pu-Pu” who walks by our house. The only thing proving he has Spina bifida is a long, jagged scar down his back and the six-month follow-up checkups.
Annie underwent three open-heart surgeries by three years old. Most of the time on the outside she seems like a growing up seven-year-old girl, jumping on the trampoline, riding her bike with friends, taking spelling tests, and growing awkward adult teeth for a gangly smile. The hard part is that on the inside she’s sustained by handfuls of medicine four times a day and by weekly finger pricks to check blood levels. She also faces the looming threat of a heart transplant; we’ve recently been told this is likely sooner than later. We could certainly use your prayers.
In one corner I hold that God is good and loving. In the opposite corner, I hold that their lives are His. He can do whatever He wants to with their days and doesn’t need me to make peace with any of it. He just requires obedience from me as I steward the gift of these dear children.
Annie and Davis, I’m glad you’re mine. And mostly I’m glad you’re God’s. Keep shining bright, my brave ones. The world is surely watching.
Tracy Lane is the manager of content strategy for FamilyLife. She is the author of numerous articles, coauthor of Passport2Identity, and guest on multiple FamilyLife Today broadcasts. Tracy and her husband Matt have three children. Follow her special needs motherhood journey at HeartForAnnie.wordpress.com. Find her on instagram @HeartForAnnie.