The Day We Chose Life

The day the white-coated specialist announced, “I’m sorry. Something’s wrong with your baby’s heart. She probably won’t live to be born,” was the scariest day of my life. He gave us a choice in that office, one that he said would be easy.

Honestly, the doctor’s recommendation to “take care of her today” sounded terrifyingly inviting and horrifyingly easy. I whimpered to Matt, “I don’t want a baby like this.”

I didn’t feel brave covered in cold ultrasound goop, snotty nosed and red-eyed, sobbing that half of my unborn daughter’s heart was missing. But I learned that day that brave is doing the right thing when it doesn’t feel like it’s worth doing.

So, on this day, three years ago we chose life for Annie.

It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been cheap. It hasn’t been normal. It hasn’t been neat and tidy. And of course, saving Annie’s life hasn’t been all that convenient.

But it’s been worth it. Every single second of every single heartbeat has proclaimed to a watching world that there’s something more than convenient. There’s something more than logical. There’s something more than easy.

There’s the Creator who’s writing a beautiful story of redemption in the face of a little girl named Annie:

  • A 7-lb. bobblehead who was tangled up, carted off, and flown to Philly where her 5-day-old body endured a 4-hour open heart surgery 3 days before her projected due date.

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  • A smiling, cooing, growing, thriving 8-week-old whose heart was shockingly failing and was shipped back to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia while we lived in the Ronald McDonald House for a month and begged God to save her life.

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  • A medically explainable 3-month-old miracle whose surgeon marveled with glistening eyes,“I’m sorry. There’s no explanation for why this is happening. No one is really sure why or how but on Annie’s pre-op tests her heart shows that the once-diminished function is now fully restored.” He chuckled again. “We planned to discuss her in surgery conference yesterday, but we got to skip over her name. Because of this miraculous improvement, this 2nd surgery poses no higher risks to her than any ‘healthy’ baby who undergoes it. Her survival chances of 60% are now 99%. I’ll have her out to you in no time.”

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  • A 2 1/2 year old who has gotten us accustomed to her giggle. Counting on her midnight milk calls. Listening quietly as she belts out lullabies in the backseat. Waiting for mealtime impersonations and wry humor she delivers with a bean up her nose and a sarcastic eye roll.

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  • A growing-up girl who has recently traded the endearing mumble of “sis-der” for a demanding “Aud-RAY!” and doesn’t need help to put her pants on or buckle her high heels.

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Obviously our plans for Annie’s life didn’t include multiple open heart surgeries, heart failure, living in another city, wondering if she’d live. But we’ve allowed the Lord to direct our steps. I’ll always be grateful that, by God’s grace, we’ve had the strength to fight for Annie’s life in the womb, with multiple surgeries, and with regular gratitude for the ordinary moments.

Each day we get to decide, “Do we want to insist to God that our child’s life be what we want it to be? Or are we okay that He has created her uniquely to fulfill His purpose?” God has grown us to the point of choosing, rather than to fight against His way with prayers for something different, to submit to Him and ask, “God, do something significant and show us how to make the most of every day we have with her.”