It began as a confused, muddled, hesitant pain. “Her heart doesn’t look right. You need to find out more.”
The ‘more’ brought a sharp, quick, searing pain. “She likely won’t live to be born. Should we terminate today? Fine then, up to you. Let’s do a blood test to confirm. You’ll know her fate in 6-10 days…oh and can I offer you a Kleenex?”
The pain throbbed and raged those 6 days that we waited to hear if we’d ever meet our baby. And then ebbed slowly to the edges when we received the call that she had “simply a heart defect.”
The fetal heart echo revealed that her heart defect wasn’t really all that simple. “Rare, severe, and life-threatening” were all used to describe her condition that again should apparently prompt us to, “consider our medical options.” The pain waiting quietly on the banks surged through once more.
That pain has now been dormant for the past 3 months, only whispering now and then to remind me that it’s still there. We set up Annie’s crib and took our maternity pictures. We’re anticipating a baby shower for her next weekend. We’ve been moving forward, ignoring those haunting what-ifs.
Now at 34 weeks, knowing that Annie’s arrival is just around the corner, they’re screaming too loudly to drown out anymore. I lay in bed at night physically sick from the dull ache in my chest. Over the past week, I’ve lost the mental battle and let myself wallow in fear and worry. I’ve read way too many stories of families losing their babies, looked at an embarrassing number of pictures of babies after their Norwood procedure, and even searched HLHS on Pinterest. Really, friends, this is getting bad.
And then our Ash Wednesday service signified the start of the season of Lent. A season to give something up for the Lord, something that’d be a sacrifice. So in the 41 days until Annie’s due date, I’m giving up my time in and my rights to my thoughts.
Instead of losing myself in the chaos of my mind and trying to fight this rampant spiritual battleground in my own strength, I’m putting on the armor of God.
I’m saturating myself in the Scripture instead of in all those inspiring, but addicting, “Prayers for such and such heart baby” Facebook pages, Instagram posts by adults living with HLHS, and Pinterest videos where cardiologists at every children’s hospital in the US explain their variation of the 3-stage surgery. ECK!
I am putting my mind on things above, focusing on God and His sovereignty, His love that has me in this storm so that He can continue my redemption by it, and His presence. He isn’t asking me to walk here alone, and He sure isn’t asking me to walk where I’m about to go without Him either. He says, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (Mark 6:49). The I AM is with me and He can do this!
And a couple of family maternity pictures by our talented friend Jeanne Butler!