I suppose this story starts at our 20-week ultrasound with our second child. We were very excited to catch a first glimpse of our little one, and were quite certain that the worst that could possibly happen that day was that our tiny angel wouldn't cooperate with determining a gender.
About 5 minutes into the scan, the tech got very quiet. Those of you who have been there know that this is never a good sign.
We learned at that initial scan that Emma was much smaller than she should have been and had some abnormal facial features. The doctors were also concerned about her heart, so they sent us to have further testing done. They asked what we wanted to do, and we told them that nothing we could learn about our child would make us change the outcome of the pregnancy.
I will never forget the doctor who asked us, "How do you cope with the stress of the unknown?"
The remainder of the pregnancy was filled with many, many scans and tests and appointments. After all was said and done, we were told to prepare for the following: We expected her to be less than 4 pounds and have two different heart defects. There was a problem with her umbilical cord, so we were always on constant alert if she stopped moving. We knew that she had a hernia in her diaphragm and that her stomach was behind her left lung. Doctors told us that she would need 3 different surgeries within a short time after her birth, and warned us that there would be about a 50% chance that she wouldn't survive. They also said that her "cognitive future is murky."
We filled out lots and lots of paperwork, preparing for a high-risk birth and NICU stay. The worst of it was the questions about what to do if she didn't make it: Who would you like to allow in the room at the time of passing? Would you like a photographer present? Do you have a name chosen for this child, and may we use that name after death?
I will always remember my pregnancy with Emma as a time of unbelievable spiritual growth. We prayed (Oh, how we prayed!). We cried. We surrendered. And eventually we learned to be still and trust that the Lord our God was with us, even in this storm.
By the end of the pregnancy, doctors were concerned that Emma had stopped growing, so at my regular Monday appointment, we decided that it would be time to induce labor that Friday. She would be early (36 weeks), but with her two-vessel cord, the doctors decided that the time had come where Emma would be safer outside of Mom.
That Wednesday evening, I was sure I was having some very intense indigestion. By 11:00 pm, my husband convinced me that "gas" doesn't come at regular 8 minute intervals and that perhaps we should just go to the hospital and "have things checked out."
Emma was born at 3 am. Labor and delivery with this child were very easy (I think I remember the OB telling me to push for the first time like this: "Ok, push, and, STOP PUSHING!" because she was out in one push). She was 4 pounds 5 ounces.
We delivered in the OR where they could prep Emma for whatever emergency procedure she would need. They knew she would need surgeries, and with her stomach up behind her lung they were concerned about her ability to breathe without help.
I'll never forget her first little cry.
That hospital room was filled with miracle after miracle! She cried on her own. She was breathing fine. I got to hold her before they rushed her off to NICU.
And then, when I got to the NICU to see her after I got put back together, the nurses were very confused when I asked how her heart was doing. The heart defects were RESOLVED!
She needed surgery for her stomach, but God healed her heart.
She was in NICU for a month and a half, which meant she was home before Christmas. She came home with a feeding tube (and a Nissen fundoplication as a part of her hernia repair) and has been dependent on it since then.
It has been a roller coaster, to say the least.
But this journey has been the biggest blessing of my life, and I thank God every day that He gave me Charlie, and that He gave me Emma.