*I feel more exposed in writing this post than I did while lying in an operating room waiting to be cut open for the birth of our second child. My dialogue with God over the past few days has been, “Do You REALLY want me to write about that?” But as vulnerable as this feels, I am also filled with peace in knowing that trust and obedience are worth it. So here goes …
Several years ago, I walked into a teachers’ lounge and overheard a friend talking about a family she knew who had a child with a genetic disorder. The mother found out she was pregnant with another baby, and my friend couldn’t understand “how they could even consider having another child,” knowing the risk of the baby being born with the same disease.
I doubt my friend knew I was in the room, and I’m certain she didn’t know the depth of my personal struggle over that very issue. The words were hurtful, because they seemed to devalue the life of my little Olivia–as if children with genetic disorders are not worthy of the gift of life. (I know she didn’t mean it that way, but it’s hard for a mama not to take things to heart.)
Even more than hurting my feelings, that conversation I wish I’d never heard fed my fear. Years passed, but fear’s familiar grip kept a hold on my heart whenever the thought of having another child crossed my mind. The memory of sitting in a cold and sterile doctor’s office would come rushing back, and I would hear the geneticist’s words again, “There is a 25 percent chance that any biological child you and your husband conceive would have the disorder.”
It is difficult for me to describe how helpless I felt when it came to escaping the fear of getting pregnant again. I knew the Bible and that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7),” but somehow I felt like I was always on the losing side of this battle with anxiety.
The crazy thing is, as scared as I was of having a second child, I had perfect peace when it came to Olivia. I knew that God would take care of her. I also knew that the fear I was drowning in wasn’t from Him. So, I searched scripture, prayed often, leaned on my husband, and sought help from others that I trust. Even so, I continued to struggle until a little over a year ago.
That January, my extended family had chosen to fast and pray together. I kept a prayer journal, and one of the things on my prayer list was complete freedom from fear.
I still remember how it felt when the fear left. Peace flooded my soul as my heart suddenly exploded with the realization of something my brain had known all along:
God alone is the Author of life.
This was true when Adam and Eve were created, when Isaac’s birth fulfilled the long-awaited promise to Abraham, and when my little Livi was born. He is not the cause of her pain, but God is the source of Olivia’s life. He has a good plan for her.
These simple truths–that only God can give life, that He is good and His plans are good–they lit up my life in a way that banished fear. While I have felt afraid at times, the pervasive, gripping fear from before no longer has permission to stay.
I didn’t know what God had planned for the future of our family–whether we would adopt or have another child of our own–but I did know that I could trust Him either way.
Six months later, joy was all that I felt when I found out I was pregnant. We happened to be headed to youth camp, and I got to tell Robert the good news at the place where we first met.
I prayed for a doctor who would do his job well while also respecting our point of view, and God answered. I trusted God with my worries about people and their opinions, and He surrounded us with family and friends, church family and co-workers who made the entire pregnancy one giant celebration.
And God sustained me with a peace that passes all undersanding–a deep sense of certainty that my life and Robert’s, Olivia’s and her new baby brother’s, are safe in His faithful and capable hands.
Five days before our new baby was scheduled to be born by c-section, Olivia was careflighted to Cook Children’s hospital. No one thought it was a good idea for me to go, so I looked on as Robert crawled into the helicopter with Olivia and immediately began to pray that God would watch over her and bring her home before the birth of her brother.
Since that moment, very little has gone as I would have planned, and there have been many opportunities for fear to move back into its old room in my heart. But every encounter with fear has been met with a stronger wave of the grace of God.
Olivia didn’t come home in time, and we brought our little AJ (Aiden Justice) into the world without her. But people that we love and trust stayed with Olivia and made it possible for Robert to come home for the birth.
AJ’s heartrate dropped right after he was delivered, and all I could do was pray and watch from across the room while they stitched me up. But he avoided a trip to the NICU and got better without any medical intervention.
My mom needed to stay in the hospital with Olivia and had to be away at a time when I badly wanted her near. But she brought my baby girl home happier than she’s been in a long time. In fact, Olivia has smiled several times in the past two weeks–something we’ve been missing for a while now.
In the end, we all came home from the hospital on the same day and got to spend our first night in our own home as a complete family. God is good!
Tomorrow I have to take AJ to the doctor, because he failed his newborn hearing test twice. It is another opportunity for fear to creep in, but something happened that has helped me fix my eyes on Jesus once again.
I was laying in the hospital bed watching the nurse conduct the hearing screening, and I could tell by the red on the screen and the look on her face that the result wasn’t good.
Mentally, I started what I can only describe as a pros and cons list–only one side could’ve been titled “Reasons to Believe” and the other “Reasons to Fear.” The fear side started to fill up with failed hearing tests and genetic probability, but then something occurred to me:
It doesn’t matter what or how much is written on the “fear” side of the list. One promise from God outweighs it all!
Abraham lived this way after he had received a promise from God about having a son:
“And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.”–Romans 4:19-21
So, fear doesn’t have a place here anymore. My childrens’ futures are secure in the hands of a God who is forever faithful.
“Forever, O Lord , Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations.”-Psalms 119:89-90