Tuesday, December 13, 2016

a time for weeping

Dear Little One,

Today was a day we will remember for the rest of our lives. Today was not the day we wanted it to be. I hope today will fade in our memories as time goes by, so covered by days of rejoicing that we can hardly remember the weeping that took place on December 13, 2016.

I wanted to look nice when I went to the doctor's office for the second appointment of my pregnancy. It had been one month since I had seen you growing in my womb and I looked forward to seeing you again, to hearing your heartbeat a second time at twelve weeks. The early months of pregnancy have felt so surreal, knowing that you're in there—but seeing so little evidence of you. As I got ready for the day, I mentioned off-hand to your Dad: "You know, a tiny part of me realizes that these appointments do not always show good news." But I was 99.9% sure that our news would be good news.

The doctor asked if we should talk English or German, and I chose German, because I need the practice. He had me spread the cold jelly on my tummy and then he began the scan so that we could see you. He pressed, looked at the screen, pressed again, and looked at the screen again. I saw you, my baby: fearfully and wonderfully made. You were just as cute as I remembered you. Then the doctor said those words that I suppose I knew could come, but I never expected would come: "Please come over to my desk. We need to talk about something. There's a problem." I clumsily buttoned up my pants and joined him at his desk.

It turns out, despite my optimism that we were the 99.9%, we were actually the 0.1%. Fetal anencephaly affects approximately 1 in 1000 babies in the womb. He told me that you are one of those babies. He told me that your skull has not formed. That your brain and your head are damaged. He told me he is certain that only one thing lies ahead for you: death. Death inside of me, or death shortly after birth. It was insinuated that your life has no value anymore, that you are as good as dead.

Even as I sat in that doctor's office, Little One, this was on my mind: the doctor knows a lot, but he does not know all things. As he sat there and predicted your future and assessed your value, I knew that was ultimately not his job. He doesn't give life and he shouldn't take it away. He did not play your heartbeat for me, but you still have a heartbeat, Little One.

Whether his prediction turns out to be true or not, I wept because it might be true. I wept in the doctor's office and then in his lobby. I came home and wept on the sofa, wept in your Dad's arms, and wept on my bed. I wept for all the tomorrows we might not have with you. I wept for the loss of our dreams for you. I wept selfishly, too, for the loss of something I wanted: a "normal" pregnancy. A "normal" baby. A "normal" life.

But I want you to know, Little One, that even though we were weeping, we did not feel angry at the God who made you. We just felt profoundly sad. We believe that God shares our sadness too, as He sees this broken world, where what should be a time of joy is turned into a time of weeping. And He longs to end not just our weeping, but all weeping, and to wipe away all tears.

It's often rainy here in our German city. Maybe that's God's way of weeping with us.

Mom and Dad