After taking three days to adjust to the news of our unborn baby’s neural tube defect, my husband and I resumed our normal routines.
My husband returned to his job as the elementary principal at a Christian school and I went back to work at the hospital. I remember a co-worker, Beth, pulling me into an empty conference room and telling me that, as a fellow Christian, she was so thankful for our choice to carry this baby to term. She encouraged me to allow this trial to be a testimony of God’s grace that could impact others in our office.
My husband and I each developed our own responses to people who inquired about our baby. Strangers would ask “Are you having a boy or a girl?” or “When are you due?” Often I would just answer their question, as in “We’re not going to find out the gender” or “We’re due at the end of January.” Then they would typically make a few more comments and I would try to move along. It was rare that I shared our baby’s total story.
One day I was sitting out on the patio at work, eating my lunch, when two sweet older ladies at the next table began quizzing me about my pregnancy. I answered their questions honestly, but I didn’t want to make them feel badly by telling them that our baby was going to die. That was often the case during those months, as I knew most people were simply being friendly and wouldn’t know how to respond if I talked about our baby’s diagnosis.
My husband, though, would often tell people what was happening with our baby. He was comfortable being straightforward and sharing the story. Those who already knew about our baby’s difficulty didn’t typically bring it up in conversation.
I still had to continue my prenatal visits at least once a month. As I’ve mentioned before, there couldn’t have been a better doctor to guide us through this. I have no doubt that he was another instrument of God’s grace and goodness. He instructed his staff to give me the first appointment in the morning or the first one after lunch so that I didn’t have to spend time in the waiting room with other expectant mothers. He was a gentle, comforting presence throughout my pregnancy.
One of the few moments from that time period that is still crystal clear in my mind came a few weeks after the diagnosis. I was sitting in traffic on the interstate on my way home from work. I felt something in my stomach, just a little flutter. I realized that I had been experiencing that same feeling over the past few days and then it hit me – our baby was moving inside me. This baby that couldn’t live outside of me was alive and those tiny feet and hands were pushing against my womb. This baby was real, not just a picture on an ultrasound screen. Those fluttery feelings were only the beginning, as the baby became very active as the days went by.
One night in October, I woke up in terrible pain. I shifted positions in bed, wondering if this could be labor, but knowing that I shouldn’t be delivering for several more months. I finally decided to wake up my husband and the pain become bad enough that we headed to the hospital.
To be continued next Monday….