On Monday morning (10-20-14) we had a routine ultrasound for our baby in Karie’s womb. It was the twenty week ultrasound where they check everything about baby and mom to ensure all is well. It is also the appointment where you can find out the sex of your baby. We brought our eldest two daughters to the appointment and all learned together that our baby is a girl, which we have named Mercy.
A very shocking thing happened while we were there. The ultrasound checks were almost done. The radiologist said she needed to check just a couple more things, but wanted to excuse Karie to go and relieve her bladder. When Karie got up to leave the room, the radiologist told her to take her time because she had something to check. When Karie returned into the room, I kissed her and the girls goodbye and headed off to work. I thanked the Lord for the gift of a healthy and whole baby girl, put in my bluetooth earbud, and proceeded to listen to the book of Leviticus. Five miles from the hospital I received a text from my eldest daughter which simply read “we need you back here NOW.” I quickly turned around unable to figure out what could possibly be wrong. When I arrived, they had been moved to the clinic part of the hospital and we’re sitting in the waiting area, crying. I knelt down next to my wife and asked her what was wrong? She said she did not know; only that the radiologist came back into the room after I left and told Karie that she needed to go to the clinic to meet with Susan our midwife.
Five minutes passed and we were brought into a room to wait. Susan arrived a few moments later, hugged Karie and said she was so sorry. Karie said, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Susan told us that our baby girl had major portions of her brain missing, and they were only able to detect three of the four chambers of her heart. She told us that they were unable to handle our case and made an emergency appointment with a specialist 45 minutes away. She told us that she had been doing this line of work for 28 years and has never seen a case like this. She said we needed to see the folks who could perform their own ultrasound to get the necessary information. She left the room. Through tears, Karie began to research on her phone a name for this condition. Rylee began to cry so very hard and I went to her side to hold my sweet girl. Ali, through tears said that she had heard that deformed children had a tendency of bringing such joy and sweetness into a family because their minds were so far removed from the sin of the world.
The drive to the clinic was long and quite. We arrived and shortly were brought into another room where we would undergo a lengthy ultrasound. The radiologist, like the last, was professional and did not say words one way or the other. She told us that a doctor would be in to interpret the pictures for us later. This ultrasound, unlike the last, was quiet and hopeless. We were not eagerly looking at the images to see our baby girl’s features this time around. We were looking for answers.
The doctor came in and walked through the images with us. She showed us that nearly the entire brain cavity was filled with fluid instead of a brain. She showed us that the fourth chamber of her heart was very small and not functioning. One kidney was smaller than the other and was filled with fluid. She had six digits on each hand and foot, making a shocking total of twelve fingers and twelve toes. Our baby girl’s nose is much longer than a normal nose and folded up and back against her forehead. The space where her sweet lips pucker up is more than likely not an actual opening where she could breathe once she comes out from her protection of the womb. She has no eyes. Beyond this, she appears to be dis-formed throughout every area of her body.
The room lay quiet. The doctor then said that our Mercy has an extra chromosome number 13, and the condition is called Trisomy 13. She said that this condition is incompatible with life. She then asked whether terminating the pregnancy was an option for us. We said no. We left the clinic and went to the van to drive home. I looked up to the heavens and quietly said to God, “I’m done Lord, I’m done!” The drive home was even quieter than the drive to the cities. Karie lay back in her seat and attempted to sleep though many painful tears.
Once back home, I went and found our 4-1/2 year old son Sammy. I brought him to the counter in the kitchen and we gathered around him to tell him the news of his sister Mercy. He cried and said that he wanted a baby in our home and not in heaven.
Later that night, the older girls were finishing painting their room with their grandma. Karie and I were sitting on a chair together in the basement watching our youngest two children play. Elsa (our 3 year old girl) noticed that Karie was crying. She asked what was wrong. I said kind of abrupt and without much discretion, “the baby girl in mommy’s tummy is going to die.” Her sweet eyes instantly filled with tears and she sobbed out loud. Karie grabbed her and placed her face against Elsa’s face. They both were heaving and sobbing heavily, and it was very sweet to see and experience.
When everyone lay down to bed that night, I was the only one that had yet to shed a tear. My heart was hardening as I wanted God to tell me why this was happening again. Why did we need to go back into the valley of death. It had just been one year ago that we lost our son Justus.
Tomorrow’s mercies will be for another post. Blessings to you as we journey through the dark valley.