This is part 3 of my journey through a miraculous pregnancy... if you missed part 1 and part 2 make sure to read them first!
I was gaining strength... emotionally, spiritually. I could feel God growing my faith in him and his plan, yet I feared how I would handle any more problems in the pregnancy. I just wanted to survive and get through this incredibly draining time. On the up side, I had never before felt such a "coming together" of people around us to up hold us during the loss. Our church was so kind. Many people sent cards and expressed their sympathy and commitment to pray for us. The Christian college where Jeremy worked at also backed us with constant concern, prayer, and encouragement. It felt like everyone in our small town was routing for us and our baby.
Because of the loss of the twin I was sent onto a high-risk pregnancy doctor in Wichita. They wanted to do a very in-depth sonogram of the baby to look for any additional problems or concerns. This would be my first sono after the loss of Sophie. I was excited to see the other baby, yet scared to take a look into the womb that held evidence of both death and life. I wasn't sure how I would handle it.
Jeremy was with me as we entered the clinic which, to us, represented a new stage in this pregnancy. It was plan B. Things hadn't gone as we had hoped, but it was time to pick up the pieces and forge ahead with the life that was still inside of me. That's why we were there.
I settled in for my sono and couldn't help but feel a little anxious. It was hard at this point not to always fear the worst. As the kind sonogram technician ran the wand over my belly I could see that our little girl was getting bigger! It was a joy to see. They checked everything, measured everything, and confirmed that it definitely was a little girl. Then, the technician slid the wand up to the area of my stomach where I knew Sophie lay. There she was... just as I remember her, from that day that I had begged her to move. She looked so small. They didn't look like twins any more... Sadie had gotten so big, leaving her still little sister behind. It was good, but hard... Jeremy hadn't seen her since she died. I'm glad he got to. It was kind of our chance to say goodbye... Even though the room was silent, Jeremy and I looked at each other and and took in the moment. It would be the last time we ever saw her.
After we finished up with the sonogram, we met the doctor and visited about what would happen next. Dr. O'Hara relayed to us, based on the sonogram, that Sadie had a two-vessel cord, instead of the typical 3 vessels. This carried along with it a package of risks...of course. The two main risks were growth problems and birth defects. Wow, little Sadie wasn't out of the woods yet, it appeared. So we were to come back often, to track her growth and check for abnormalities. We headed for home... not knowing quite how to feel. It had been a good, yet overwhelming appointment.
A couple appointments later we were scheduled for yet another in-depth sonogram. This one was to look for birth defects. They would do a visual blood flow analysis of the vessels/arteries in the heart and look at all the other major organs. We sat in the dark once again and watched on the screen as they explored our baby's insides. We didn't know what she, the technician, was doing...really. But we tried to read her and her movements to see if we should be concerned by anything. Towards the end of the sono, we watched her look for the kidneys. She was looking intently, we could tell that. She would go over and over and same area from different angles... but never displayed that desired looked of satisfaction. Something was wrong.
Sitting with Dr. O'Hara, she told us what we imagined. Sadie only had one kidney. We had already been thinking it through while we had been waiting... People don't need both kidneys, right? It's not that big of a deal as far as birth defects go, right? Well, we were right... to an extent. The one kidney thing wasn't insurmountable. But it had other implications that we weren't aware of. Apparently, when you start with one defect, such as a 2 vessel cord, then you add another, then the risk of a third much more significant defect is very probable. Dr. O'Hara informed us that at this point, that our sweet little Sadie had a 60% chance of having Downs Syndrome. ... as it goes when you get hard news, what was said after that is a blur. It fades in comparison to your own thoughts going a million miles an hour.
As we got into the car to head home once again, I felt an incredible weight on me. My mind couldn't hardly process it. We were quiet for a ways then it all came pouring out. Through tears I told Jeremy: I didn't doubt that our baby would have Downs. Of course it would, everything else in the pregnancy hadn't gone according to plan and this was just another instance of it. But it was okay. If God had chosen us for such a responsibility, then he thought we could handle it. Jeremy agreed. It would be okay. We already knew God had a special plan for Sadie. This just clarified what the plan was. We clung to fact that through it all, God intended to sustain us and bring glory to himself. We reminded ourselves again that none of this was by chance; God was still in control of this situation... It would be okay.
The following weeks were filled with research about Downs Syndrome... the image in my head shifted once again. I know envisioned our family with a sweet little Downs baby. It was still hard, but if this is what God had in store for us I wanted to mentally "get there" as soon as possible. But in those weeks something else began to happen in my mind. Something changed. I don't know if it was skepticism from family or something else... You see, Jeremy's family didn't think it was an issue. They believed the little girl inside was free from chromosomal abnormalities. It began to occur to me, and Jeremy, that maybe we were assuming too much. There still was a 40% chance going the other way, right? Perhaps, I was just bracing myself; guarding myself from disappointment. If I embraced the fact that Sadie would most likely have Downs, then I couldn't be disappointed.
When Dr. O'Hara had talked to us about the possibility of Downs, she had also informed us that we could have an amniocentisis done to find out for sure. We had disregarded the option, because of the concept (who wants a foot long needle stuck into their stomach) and because of the risks associated with it. But now I felt like I needed to know. I had two images in my head. One with a sweet Downs baby who would alter the course of our lives forever and one with a hopefully healthy baby who would cause no more ripples than any third child does. After further thought, Jeremy and I decided that either way, we didn't want the day of Sadie's birth to be about whether or not she had Downs. We didn't want to have her birth be in any way associated with feelings of disappointment. If we knew ahead of time, regardless of the out come we wouldn't be disappointed when she arrived. If we could know, it would ensure a day of joy... no matter what.
So I had the test done a couple weeks later. Let's just say, it was everything you would image sticking a huge needle through your belly and wiggling it all around would be. :)
Since the analysis of the the fluid was so extensive, we would have to wait a couple weeks for the results. During those days, I was full of peace. I was full of joy actually. It was hard to describe... I had nothing to fear. I was so strong in Christ those days; he had filled me with his strength just as he had promised early on. Friends would talk to me, ask me how I was holding up, assuming this was really difficult. I would tell them about the verse: "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:7) That's what he was doing for me. God was guarding my heart and my mind and giving me unimaginable peace. My God was taking care of me.
A few days before we were supposed to get the results back, I was laying in bed while Jeremy was getting ready for work in the morning. Those days he always had his Blackberry close at hand, so I didn't even notice when he answered a call. I was dosing, but was awakened by Jeremy's face close to mine. He whispered the most wonderful words in my ear. Even though it was a whisper, the joy was not disguised..." We have a perfectly healthy little girl." I sat up. What did he say? They had called... and confirmed... a healthy little girl with no chromosomal abnormalities. I hugged him, smiled, wiped away a tear, and went back to sleep.
I was scheduled for a C-section for December 15th. On the 4th, mid morning, I went in for another sonogram... this time just in Newton, though. It was still necessary to keep close tabs on Sadie because of the 2 vessel cord. The kids were with my mom, and Jeremy and I headed off to see Sadie one more time. I was worried though. Sadie wasn't moving, as far as I had felt yet that day. As we waited to go in for the sono, I poked and pushed on that baby. She just wouldn't wiggle for me.
As the sonogram began I was relieved to see my Sadie just hanging out. She was okay, just not very active. They measured her body, head, etc. and also measured the amniotic fluid. It was a young rather unexperienced girl. She seemed uncertain of her measurements and kept asking another girl for help. We could tell though, despite the girl's lack of experience, the measurements caused legitimate concern.
We sat waiting for Dr. Bradley, our amazingly talented and reputable doctor, who also had quite the sense of humor. Jeremy loved joking around with him. When Dr. Bradley finally came in and sat down, Jeremy casually said, "So I guess we're having this baby sometime soon!", expecting a smile and joke in return. With an absolutely straight face, Dr. Bradley informed us that this baby would be out by supper time. Oh. He then continued to tell us that the measurements were indeed not very good. Sadie's size measured at around 35 wks instead of 37 1/2 wks., but more significantly I was quite low on amniotic fluid. We needed to get this baby out as soon as possible. We quickly realized it wasn't time for joking... it was time to have our baby!
So... I went straight to the hospital and Jeremy went home to get our stuff. It was quite the emotional day. I was once again in a place of fear. What if Sadie wasn't okay? What if she had been in distress for awhile? What if the reason I had low amniotic fluid was because her one kidney wasn't functioning properly? I tried to give my fears over to God and just rest. I spent a couple hours alone in a hospital room, just waiting....waiting for my C-section to be scheduled, waiting for Jeremy to return, and waiting on God to once more deliver me from daunting circumstance.
A funny thing happened as I lay there with the fetal heart monitor strapped around my belly. I began to have contractions... hardly noticeable at first, but gradually getting stronger. At one point a nurse came in to check the fetal heart rate print out and commented: "Did you know that you're having contractions every 5 minutes?" Sure enough... it wasn't my imagination :) I didn't know if these contractions would have led to actual labor if I wasn't in place for a C-section, but it reassured me of God's perfect timing. I was worried about my tiny baby coming into this world 2 1/2 weeks early. But God was showing me that she was ready. Dr. Bradley wasn't the only one who thought she needed to get out... apparently she did too! By the time I was ready to be taken in for my C-section, the contractions were close to 3 min. apart and I had to do a little breathing to get through them ...kinda funny.
Because of Sadie's size, the fact that she was early, and her other complications Dr. Bradley had requested our pediatrician and his team to be ready, assuming her lungs would be under developed. I was told by nurses, that depending on her condition, I might not even get to hold her till the next morning.
With Jeremy by my side at 7:30 in the evening (Dr. Bradley missed the supper time mark, by a bit :) ), Sadie was taken from my tummy and entered into this world. She immediately let out an unexpected cry. It was quickly determined that her lungs were just fine! She was tiny, only 5 pounds 2 ounces, but perfect. Sadie Marie had made it... it was definitely a day of deliverance because of our great God!
I worried that the day Sadie was born would be one of sadness because I didn't have Sophie. But as I held that tiny, tiny baby in my arms there was only joy... joy and overwhelming thankfulness. I had her in my arms! All those days of wondering what would happen to my Sadie... they were over. I was blessed beyond measure.... It hasn't changed since that day. Every single time I hold that little girl in my arms I am so thankful. I think about how God could have taken her too. She is my precious gift of grace... a gift of love from my Father.
I think about Sophie now and then... sometimes when Sadie's playing, I imagine her running along side her, adding to the craziness that Sadie provides! But they're always happy thoughts... they carry with them a joy in knowing I had that... I had twins, for awhile. And it was a blessing and a treasure. I made a little shadow box to put in Sadie's room. It briefly tells about the twins, has their names, a sono picture of them both, and of course their little bracelets. It's a treasure to me... and it will help me tell Sadie someday about her sister in heaven :)
Although the story has sad moments, let me tell you, it is a story of blessing. A story of a heavenly Father who cared enough about me to answer my prayers, to give me a miracle, and prove his care and provision for me over and over and over again. If you allow him, he will strengthen you too in the trials... and pull you close in the end. It is a mark of his great, great love.
If you have not experienced this kind of love, maybe you've never met Jesus Christ, God's son. Or maybe you know of him, but you haven't given your life to him yet. Don't wait... life is meant to be lived with Christ by your side... with a heavenly Father near you every step of the way. Obviously the Christian life is not free of hardships or pain, but you're guaranteed to not face it alone. I'd love to chat with you if you have questions about my story or about how to live a life with Christ by your side... email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
THERE'S ONE MORE LITTLE PIECE TO THE STORY... READ IT HERE :)