Many of this blog’s posts have focused on the longing for a pregnancy that brings a baby safely into the world. But what happens when that longed-for blessing no longer feels like one?
I got an incredibly honest, heartrending request for prayer today. It came in an email forwarded by a woman whose friend conceived on her 6th IUI (hurray!), and just discovered the baby has Down’s Syndrome. You might be tempted to stop reading, since the thought of such a possibility threatens to undermine your shaky confidence in a joyful future. I hope you won’t, because the note I wrote in response to that prayer request made me realize the importance of affirming God’s faithfulness in all circumstances.
That’s easy to claim when you’ve experienced effortless conception, an uneventful pregnancy, a straightforwarded delivery, and what looks to the world like happily-ever-after. But what about when it isn’t so easy, and — by the world’s standards — it doesn’t go well? Where is God in that? Where is hope? What good is faith if it suddenly seems flimsy and feeble? And where can you go for strength?
My husband and I had to face these questions. And at the time, there was no one to help us find answers.
We’d scheduled a vacation before our baby was conceived. As it turned out, it was the week we needed to do an amnio if we wanted to be sure the baby was healthy. We scheduled an appointment with a high-risk pregnancy specialist found through a friend of a friend. The doctor started the appointment with an ultrasound. We’d had several already, and we happily anticipated the chance to see our baby again.
But the doctor took an unusually long time with the ultrasound. I lay on the table watching lines appear in his forehead as he scanned one area over and over and over. My husband and I sent each other increasingly anxious looks, but no one spoke. Then, the doctor said, “Your baby has a large hole in her heart.” The jolt of adrenaline made me nauseous. “Usually, that means the baby has Down’s Syndrome. Has anyone talked to you about this before?”
I wanted to scream, and my mind was racing. Who is this man? What does he know? Why wouldn’t anyone have told us? It can’t be true…. We’d already lost several pregnancies to miscarriage, but this baby was thriving. She was meant to come into the world! Why would God say “yes” to a baby, but “no” to all we wanted that baby to be?
When I received Elizabeth’s prayer request today, the memories of that day flooded my mind. And I knew God had given me an opportunity to speak the truth of His faithfulness out of my own experience. I wrote to her:
When I was pregnant with my daughter, they found a HUGE hole in her heart during the amniocentesis. They told us that, if she survived the pregnancy, she would almost surely have Down’s Syndrome. We waited several agonizing days for results of the amnio. In the interim, a couple we knew delivered a baby with unexpected Down’s Sydrome. It was an extraordinarily stressful time.
Ultimately, our daughter’s test results indicated she did not have Down’s, but she did have the largest hole they’d ever seen in a baby’s heart at this stage of development. It was hard to know how to pray about this. Still, God was — and is — faithful. Our daughter underwent open heart surgery when she was only four weeks old, and despite the odds they gave us as they took her into the OR, she survived and she’s thriving.
I realize the details of this story are different from yours. At the same time, I feel as if I have some understanding of what you’re facing, based on our experience and the experience of our friends whose son has Down’s. Neither we nor they would trade the children we have for any other. We consider all that we’ve struggled through with and for them to be a small price to pay for the extraordinary blessing they have been in our lives. The challenges we’ve faced as their parents have made us that much more passionate about being the best possible stewards of their incredible souls. And I believe that was part of God’s purpose.
I don’t in any way mean to minimize what you’re going through. But I can say with tremendous confidence, God is good and He blesses us in all sorts of unexpected ways. I truly believe this is one of those well-disguised blessings — and some day, you will say so yourself with complete conviction and JOY.”
If “God not only loves you very much but also has put His hand on you for something special” [1 Thes 1:4], take heart in the knowledge that He will not abandon you to make your journey alone. He has already begun equipping you. That was part of the purpose of the infertility journey. And He will not fail to comfort, strengthen or guide you. Ever.
He never fails.
For more inspiration and cause for hope, click this link to order your copy of Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.