Sunday, August 30, 2009

When We First Heard: May 6, 2009

I hope each of you are well and enjoying these beautiful spring days filled with new life. Today Laura and I celebrate our 9th anniversary- where has the time gone? I am so thankful for her and the gift that she is to me, as well as to Sean, Megan, and Alayna.

Many of you know about the new journey the Lord has brought us to and we want to take a moment to give you an update (some of you may not be aware of the situation with our unborn baby that was recently diagnosed with anencephaly; at the end of this email is a bit of the back story to fill you in).

On Monday (May 4) Laura spoke with her doctor and learned more details from the ultrasound. It was confirmed that our baby has a severe case of anencephaly; there is no trace of a brain (other than the brain stem). In addition, we learned that Laura has placenta previa, which means that our baby implanted over the cervix. If the baby does not move (which sometimes happens) then Laura will have no choice but to have a C-Section at some point in the future. The good news is that that our baby has a well developed heart, which may be a blessing as we explore the possibility organ donation.

Laura and I have firmly decided against terminating this pregnancy and intend to continue to whatever ending the Lord chooses. We know God always honors those who choose life and, as long as Laura is not in danger, we intend to allow the Lord to decide when to take this precious child home to be with Him. Laura’s care has been moved to a new team of doctors at University Hospital (which we will meet with this Friday). Please pray with us that they are supportive of our decision and that we can avoid any need to be graciously stubborn with our desire.

We are hurting for our loss and often feel deep disappointment, but we are also experiencing the peace that passes understanding. Thank you for praying for us. We are eager to see how the Lord works in this situation now and in the weeks to come. We are so appreciative for the emails, calls, cards, gifts on the front porch, babysitting, meals, and most of all prayers from so many of you- you are amazing!

So, what is next? As I mentioned Laura has a doctor’s appointment on Friday, May 8. We expect they will do another ultrasound and we have several questions to ask. It is also important to us to find out the gender and name our baby. Laura has plans to make the baby a hat and a blanket. I want to begin to collect as many ultrasound pictures as I can. We also hope to meet with a group at the hospital called Fetal Care who will help us through the process of setting up of funeral arrangements.

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement; you are a gift to us. We will keep you posted as we continue this journey. We love you all.

The Back Story…

Some of you may be unaware that we are even expecting another baby! We are excited and so thankful to the Lord for this addition to our family, especially after losing baby “Charlie” (named by the kids) to a miscarriage in the second trimester a year ago. When we found out Laura was pregnant we were a bit gun-shy to announce the news to the world; we needed to hear that little heartbeat first. Sometime around the 14th week of Laura’s pregnancy she was relieved to hear a strong racing heartbeat for the first time and we began to share the news. Please forgive us if we have not been able to share any of this with you until now.

Last Friday (May 1) Laura had her 20-week ultrasound appointment. In our excitement we pulled Sean out of school so all the kids could be in the room to see their new brother or sister. The ultrasound seemed routine as the tech pointed out various parts of our baby and took measurements. Then, to our surprise she excused herself from the room and minutes later returned with a doctor. We asked if something was wrong, but they were silent. After a few minutes of looking around the doctor turned the monitor away and flipped on the lights- our hearts sank as we new something was horribly wrong.

The doctor shared that our baby has a very rare condition called anencephaly. He explained that our baby has a brain stem (which explains the beating heart), but does not have a brain or a major portion of the skull. This condition is 100% fatal. These words stunned us, and our kids, still in the room, sat there confused at what was going on. Immediately, Laura was sent to her doctor across town, who outlined our two basic options: terminate the pregnancy immediately (stats indicate 95% of women choose this option) or continue the pregnancy. They gave us the weekend to think things over and try to come to some decision.

We spent the weekend in shock trying to come to grips with what we just learned. We talked, prayed, cried, read our Bibles, and walked around the house in a fog. Finally, by Sunday evening we were able to begin to get out Laura’s old medical books and get on the Internet to study anencephaly to learn more about this condition.

One passage that has been a tremendous encouragement to us these past few days is from Luke 1:38. After Gabriel announced the plan of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to Mary (which must have been quite the shock) her response was simply, “I am the Lord’s servant… may it be to me as you have said.” Her beautiful expression of surrender to the Lord and His plan has been our encouragement: it is our desire to trust Christ throughout this new journey and worship Him through surrender. This morning (May 6) I (Ryan) was able to feel a kick from our baby for the first time- clearly he or she is not quitting and neither are we. This situation is not what we want or what we would choose but we surrender it to the Lord and look forward to seeing how He works in this difficult time.

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