Wednesday, December 23, 2015

... of a gracious gift from God

As we have resettled and felt a calmness and stability in Austin that we knew was from the Lord, we started praying about and considering adding another child to our family. We felt like we had room in our heart and our home and so, with a lot of peace and excitement from us and the kids, we found out in September that we were expecting a baby in June 2016!

We have held off telling more than close friends and family until we made it through the 12 week ultrasound appointment when we would make sure everything was looking normal. That appointment was a few weeks ago.

We saw our new little squirrel wiggling around and measuring right on schedule. But after the ultrasound, at my nurse's visit, they told me that the baby's nuchal translucency (a space at the back of the neck, used for indicating a possibly chromosomal abnormality) was a little big. Not too much, but enough to cause some concern. They suggested a non-invasive blood test that could detect an abnormality with near perfect accuracy. It could also tell us the gender. I went ahead and agreed to the test so that we could have some peace of mind, regardless of the outcome.

During the week that we waited for the results, we tried not to dwell on it too much. We prayed a lot and did some research. Quinn and I had been pretty sure that we were going to have a boy and had picked out the name Moses John, but hadn't been sold on any girl names. That week, I randomly came across the name Joanna in the Bible. I had never even noticed it before in Luke 8:1-3 and 24:10. But she was a woman who was healed by Jesus and then followed him and financially supported him throughout his ministry, death, and resurrection. We loved the fact that the name also means “whom Jehovah has graciously given” or “gracious gift of God”. That week, I was suddenly and inexplicably sure that our baby was a girl who would be named Joanna.

When we got the call a few weeks ago, we were told with 99% certainty that our precious baby girl, Joanna Lynn, does have Trisomy 21 or Down Syndrome.
Baby Jo: 12 weeks

It has been a very surreal experience processing what this will mean for our family. I think the scariest thing for us right now is the fact that, even in the second trimester, the chances of a miscarriage are still relatively high (we have heard percentages ranging from 15-40%) in babies with chromosomal abnormalities. The likelihood really depends on her level of health problems that are already present. We had a specialist appointment and sonogram last week and she is still measuring pretty much right on schedule, but does have a few things with her heart that do seem to confirm Trisomy 21. We will have a more thorough scan at 20 weeks (which is normal), when it will be easier to tell what kind of physical issues she might have – namely with her heart. 

The day after we found out, Quinn shared with me that during worship a few months ago (before we were pregnant), he felt like the Lord randomly spoke to him that we would take care of a child with Down Syndrome. He hadn't told me, because he thought it would scare me. I'm glad he didn't, because it would have. But knowing now, it gives us so much peace. We hope that it means that JoJo will be that child, but if for some reason the Lord takes her home before her birth, our knowledge and perception of Down Syndrome has grown and changed so much that I can't imagine that we wouldn't seriously consider adopting a child with that extra little chromosome in the future. But we do feel that God led us to her name for a reason and we are praying and asking for prayer for her to be “healed” like her namesake, in that she would have a strong and healthy heart, brain, muscles, thyroid, immune system and all of the things that babies with Down syndrome tend to, but don't always, struggle with.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for our family. We believe in God's power. We believe in His sovereignty. We believe in His promises. We have been though a lot in this last year, but are truly being given peace by truths like the one in James 1:2-4 right now: 
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
We are absolutely certain, now more than ever, that our Lord is good and His mercies endure forever and we feel so blessed and honored that He would desire to give such a special gift to our family. 

Abram is understanding of the situation and prays almost daily for her to make it to out to meet us. He celebrates my feeling her movement almost more than I do :) Selah has had a lot of completely expected three year old questions and comments about Down Syndrome. Simon has no clue that we are even having a baby, but I think being an older brother in general will contribute so positively to the development of his personality. 

We felt like this would be the best way for us to share such intense and surprising information with friends and extended family. We aren't ashamed of the fact that we are carrying a child who almost certainly has a chromosomal abnormality, so we aren't afraid to talk about it with people, but it is a heavy topic and we have learned that most people need some time to process through it and think about it before having to respond. Responding in the moment can lead to not knowing what to say or worrying about saying something "wrong"- at least I know that's how I would be. So as we meet many of you in the next few months, feel free to talk about it with us if you want or not if you don't. Like I said, we are far from ashamed or sorrowful. In fact, her name honestly feels the most perfect because she has already been an incredibly gracious gift from God for our whole family. 

We hope you have a joy filled Christmas and thank you for caring enough to read through this very long post :)