The joy of being pregnant was dashed for me at five weeks when I found out that the twins I was carrying were high risk. The doctor told me there was a 50 percent chance both would die and an 80 percent chance that at least one would. Every other week more complications were diagnosed. The babies were only in one sack instead of each having her own, which meant an umbilical cord could cause strangulation. Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome threatened each of them in different ways—one would get too much nourishment from the placenta, taxing her organs, while the other would not get enough. Their weights needed constant monitoring. I was told again and again of my “right” to abort. Despite all the bad news, for nine months I was cocooned in a peace so sweet it seems almost unbelievable to me now. I had decided to hand over this worry—this piece of my heart—to God. Only He knew what the outcome would be. So I put my feet up and spent those months on bed rest, watching the Food Network and re-reading Jane Austen. At thirty-nine weeks I delivered two healthy, beautiful girls who—I am grateful to say—are still beautiful and every bit the annoying, whiny teenagers they should be.
Four years after the girls were born, I was blessed again to be pregnant, this time with only one baby. For the first few months, everybody was healthy and happy and taking it for granted that it should be that way. The euphoria came to a crashing halt at a routine sonogram when it was discovered the baby had a hole in his heart. Genetic testing was ordered, an amnio was scheduled, appointments with a pediatric cardiologist were made. Again, I was counseled on my “choices.” My mind spun back to when my girls were born. I remembered those parents in the NICU. The looks on their faces betrayed their thoughts and emotions. Many went home knowing their child would be facing a lifetime of challenges; some went home to dismantle a nursery. Suddenly, I was plunged into a darkness so desperate that not a chink of light could penetrate it. What had changed? What switch had been turned off in my heart and mind, interrupting the peace I had so deeply felt?
I had enjoyed four years of perfection. My girls were healthy, developmentally on target and happy. My heart swelled with love at the sight or thought of them. I knew the gift I had been given, and how differently it could have turned out. And now the knowledge of this precious gift fed my insecurity, broke my peace, and disconnected me from the loving God I had known. Could I introduce imperfection and heartache into my untroubled family through this new child? Ironically, that second pregnancy illuminated the puffed-up reliance on facts that had slowly penetrated my mind versus the child-like trust I had practiced during my girls’ pregnancy. I had gone from knowing that I could not solve any problem on my own to feeling like I needed to take control. More tests could be demanded. Bed rest again could be the answer. I was convinced that by looking to the outside world—doctors, nurses, geneticists—I had the means not only to fix the baby, but to protect the happiness of my present family. The ease with which I had made God the center of my life seemed to be slipping away because I was not getting that perfect baby.
The past several years have seen many scientific advancements, particularly in the field of women’s health. The laws of our land allow us to separate the health factors of an unborn child from the whole person, from the respect and protection the child deserves and the potential he has despite physical or mental disabilities. This myopic view does not allow for the belief that the baby is a child of God, worthy, complete, and loved. It squeezes out the reality that no medical data can be as perfect as the love of God. It’s not about ignoring our intellect or the facts, but about allowing room for the things we don’t understand to be taken care of by Him. If God pays attention to the little things that worry me (a late bill, commuter traffic, an unkind word), why would He suddenly check out when the big things happen? It took me awhile to come around to this realization. As I carried this third child, I began to understand that the value of my two girls did not lie in their health but in their mere existence. And their sibling was to be valued in the same way. My son was born healthy. The hole in his heart had disappeared without a trace. I know that it doesn’t turn out that way for everyone. God had given me an opportunity to lean on Him and allow His love to fill both the literal and figurative holes in our hearts. But it was also an important lesson on the bigger picture. We don’t control everything. We can’t predict the future. But we do have a choice. We can choose to trust Him to give us the peace we need.