Sunday, July 17, 2011

WHEN LIFE AND BELIEF COLLIDE: My life-altering decision

Anker and Bonnie and babe 1994

This is Part 1 of our story.
I was having a hard time believing that tiny little window on a plastic stick was actually signifying a positive.  I brought it outside to the bright sunlight, and it still looked like a plus sign.  Nevertheless, I needed to take the test again.  I waited, my heart thumping loudly with every tick of the clock, until I could read the results.  Standing in the sunlight a second time, there it was again, a plus sign.  Our days of infertility were finally over.
Oh, I have dreamed about this moment for so many years of my life.  I couldn’t wait to be a Mama.  I stocked up on pregnancy books and began reading every tidbit of information I could get my hands on.  Our favorite book explained each stage of development of the baby in my womb.  As the book guided us to understand what was developing each week, we prayed together each night for the organs, the eyeballs, formation of the hands and each tiny finger.
As romantic as I consider pregnancy to be, it wasn’t very romantic to be hunched over in the bathroom throwing up daily.  I couldn’t get from point A to point B in the car without swinging the driver’s door open to puke on the street.  My loving husband cleaned up many a mess when I couldn’t get to a receptacle in time.  His light heart made up songs about my puking while he squatted to his knees, tie loosely hanging from his neck, wiping the floors clean.
Hailing from 3 generations of Anker’s, I wasn’t given much leeway in choosing a first name for our child if he was a boy.  So, I poured over options for a middle name.  Like many of you, I made lists of favorites.  Beside each name I listed its meaning.  I prayed over the list and slowly I crossed out the names which didn’t have specific character meaning or didn’t flow well with “Anker”.    Finally, we settled upon the name, “Anker Josiah”.  Josiah was a young King of the Old Testament.  His name means, “Jehovah has healed”.
Three months of careful eating, vitamin taking, exercise, sleep, and continued puking passed.   With video in hand, my husband and I couldn’t wait to get our first ultrasound and see our precious baby.  We were already emotionally attached to this growing, precious life that God was weaving in my womb.
I lay upon the ultrasound table with my husband standing beside me.  The technician sat quietly, looking at many angles of the babe.  We saw our little loved one waving his hands up and down.  I could count his fingers.  We prayed for those ten little fingers!  We saw his heart beating and heard the quiet drumming of the beats.
I asked the technician what sex our baby was.  She was silent.  I asked again and was puzzled why she wasn’t making any effort to find out the sex.  She returned our video tape and we traveled back to our quiet little home.
Throughout the day we played the video tape, basking in the beauty of a waving hand and a steady thumping heart.  That evening as we lay in bed, we prayed for our sweet baby again.  A good night’s sleep was awoken very early by a phone call.  It was my O.B.  It was not his assistant or a nurse calling, but the O.B. himself.  He asked us to come into the office right away.  Instantly my heart sank to the pit of my stomach.  We called my mother who met us at the office.
As we swung the office door open, my mind made a permanent image of the O.B.  I looked past  the empty chairs and there I saw him wringing his hands as he paced in the back hall.  We were escorted down the hall to his office, where we sat across the desk from this young doctor.  He began to explain our baby has Fetal Hydrops;  a condition which causes fluid in the tissues and organs of the baby.  He told us there was a 99.7% chance of our baby being still-born.  He explained there is record of one Fetal Hydrops baby being born full-term who lived for one week.

The darkness in this ultrasound indicates fluid throughout our baby's body

In a somber and caring tone he advised me, “induce labor, then we will wrap the baby in a warm blanket and you will rock him until he dies”.
“He”- our baby was a boy!  We had a little trusting baby boy weaved tightly in my womb.  I began to sob.
There were no words to share driving home, only quiet sobs from both of us.  My husband sat in the hallway, and I curled up in a corner of the hard kitchen floor.  Intense fears and questions began to torment me.  And then my mind became flooded with songs, verses and hymns.   God was comforting and quieting my heart.
When peace like a river – attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll…
I pictured my teen-self, standing and singing surrounded by generations of saints at my old church.  I heard the voices of a faithful generation before me-singing out of tune, with passion and conviction…
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me say,
It is well
  It is well, with my soul.
I had sung that song with gusto over the years.  My youthful heart vowing to God, “I will trust You, Lord, even when the storms come down on me”.  I knew then, faith would not always come easy.  So I also made a plea as I sang, “Help me to believe this.  Help me to say each day, It is well”. 
This was the day.   My life  and my belief system collided.  We had a life-altering decision to make.

Our engagement picture. I often looked at this picture throughout my pregnancy and thought, "How innocent we were".
This is Part One of our story.

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