"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3: 5-6)
I had planned it all out. I waited until I was 32 to try to become pregnant with my first child. I had completed college (including graduate school), got married, started a career in counseling and had waited purposefully to have a child until I had accomplished these things. Being the planner and detail-oriented person that I am, I had tracked my cycles for a couple of months and quickly became pregnant. I was quite impressed with my planning skills and thought everything was going according to plan. All I had to do was wait nine months (actually 10, but who's counting?!) for the arrival of my child and to become a mom.
I remember those early weeks during my pregnancy. I was filled with excitement, wonder, and if I am honest, a little fear about this whole pregnancy thing that women talked about. I remember getting the confirmation from the ob-gyn that yes, I was, in fact, pregnant (of course I had already taken the drugstore pregnancy tests three times, just to make sure it was accurate). I remember hearing my baby's heartbeat for the very first time. And as tears welled in my eyes from the joy, I thought, "God is something, how did He come up with this idea for women to grow and carry a human within their body??!!"
So, week 20 arrived and we were ecstatic about finding out the sex of the baby. I remember those who did not know me really well asking if we were going to wait to find out the gender. Obviously, those folks did not know that my slightly obsessive, detail-oriented self would need to know the gender to plan for my baby's arrival! And...it was a boy! My first baby was going to be a boy!!!
As I lay there during that sonogram basking in this idea of raising a son, the sonography technician said, "Hmmm, interesting. He has a little spot in his stomach, probably just something floating in the amniotic fluid that he swallowed. Nothing to be concerned about. We will just make note of it." So, WHY did she need to mention it??? But I figured they are the professionals and it was probably just as she said. She went on to say that they would refer me to another facility that does more detailed sonograms, just to make sure.
I cannot remember when the next sonogram actually was...I think around 26 weeks. I arrived at the appointment with the more advanced equipment and specialized technicians, hopeful that they would just laugh and say that little spot in his stomach was nothing and the other technician was just being cautious. That is when I learned that the spot was a couple of spots and it was not in my baby's stomach, but rather in his liver. The next sonogram I had confirmed that yes, those spots were still there. And also that the measurements for his little leg bones were awfully short. "Are you sure you are this far along?" they asked me. I was at the appointment by myself that day and as I cleaned up my pregnant belly, the technician said with a smile, "We would like to meet with you in a few minutes across the hall." As I exited the exam room to go across the hall, I read the sign on the door of the room I was about to enter: Genetic Counseling Room. It was really all a blur. I sat down as the technician and another person (a physician, I would assume) sat across from me. They explained that due to the spots on his liver and the short leg bone lengths, they had some concerns that my baby could possibly have Down's Syndrome, or possibly a liver infection of some kind. But they were hoping that the spots on his liver were just some calcifications or shadowing on the images. They suggested that I agree to have an amniocentesis for further evaluation and discussed the risks that are involved. I agreed to have the procedure and we scheduled a date.
When I arrived home that day, I decided to wait to tell my husband about the appointment until he got home and we were face to face. I did not want to share that news over the phone. Those few hours of waiting seemed like an eternity. He finally got home and I began to update him. Through my sobbing, I remember watching him cry as I informed him that our baby could have Down's Syndrome, or a liver infection that could possibly cause birth defects, or even death after our baby was born.
And so we waited another couple of weeks to have the amniocentesis. I had the procedure done on 12/8/2004. And we waited until 12/20/2004 for the results. Twelve days of praying and praying and more praying and arriving at the conclusion that no matter what, God was with us and we loved this little baby boy more than anything.
It was getting close to Christmas and I remember thinking, "They HAVE to let me know the results before Christmas! I want to know one way or the other. Please God, just let them tell me."
And then they called.
The result of the test said our baby was a "normal male karyotype." Even so, the following possibilities, although rare, could not be ruled out: low level mosaicism, very subtle rearrangements, and genetic disorders that cannot be detected by standard cytogenetic methods.
My baby's due date was early February and I remember thinking, "This is going to be the longest month of my life!!" The test said a "normal male karyotype," but what does that mean anyway??!! And why are those stinking spots still on his liver? And why was I still having to go for weekly sonograms at this point in the "high risk" section of women's health?
If there was ever a turning point in my life where I can look back and say that was the time when I learned that I am actually not in full control, no matter how much one plans, no matter how much one does the right thing...it was that month! Although terrified, hesitant and scared about what laid ahead, I also experienced a strange peace that month that I can only look back and know now that it was God. God was with me each minute, hour and day of that wait. Somehow, I still managed to go to work each day, although very pregnant, and work with the teenage girls at the group home I worked at each day of that month. I was able to be a wife to my husband, although I probably drove him slightly crazy with my incessant "what if's" each hour. I was able to still have faith in God that He was right there with me, although asking, "God, are you sure I can do this? Am I strong enough?"
It was a Monday morning. January 24, 2004, to be exact. I was 39 weeks pregnant and dressed in a very cute maternity outfit (if I do say so myself), planning to head to work for our morning meetings after I had completed my weekly sonogram. At my appointment, the technician said, "Why didn't you come in earlier when your water broke?" WHAT?!?! When?! I surely could not have missed that one! I am prepared for everything! He explained that my amniotic fluid was virtually gone. Maybe my water had broke and I didn't realize it, maybe it was because of so much stress that my fluid levels were very low. But he also pointed out that my baby had not grown since the last week, and I needed to go directly to the hospital to be induced. Change of plans and my wait was over! Oh dear God, my wait was over. And I was terrified!!
After being induced and laboring for 12 hours, I got an epidural (no, I never had the goal of doing it naturally. I figured God wouldn't have allowed man to design pain medication if He wanted us to suffer through child birth). During labor, my baby's heartbeat erratically stopped and started again. And then, Jonah Ian Towers was born at 12:10 AM (the form says PM, but it was definitely midnight!) on January 25, 2005 by emergency Cesarean. He was only 4 lbs. 14 oz., 18 1/2 inches long and I remember saying to my husband, "Oh my, he looks so skinny! Like I haven't fed him!" I wondered, "Is he ok? What are the nurses saying? Are they going to do tests?"
The next day was another blur filled with lots of tests and evaluations and questions. The outcome: Jonah had a "slight case of jaundice" and had to be under the bilirubin lights for 24 hours. The spots?? What spots? The tests (more than one) found no spots on his liver, or stomach, or anywhere. The day before I was discharged to take my new baby boy home with me, the technician who had done all the ultrasounds and amniocentesis came to visit me and check on us. I remember the look on his face as he reviewed my baby's chart, him shaking his head in what seemed like disbelief. Then he looked at me, smiling slightly and said, "I guess it must have been calcifications or just some shadowing. Jonah looks great."
This was the start to my being able to let go and wait. Wait for God's plan to unfold. Wait even when it is hard. Wait even when it is scary. Wait even when I think I know the plan. God has a plan beyond my imagination and intellect. And through His plan, I am learning so much. Sometimes, in the wait is where we learn the most. About patience, dedication, trust, faith, and ultimately, his unending love for us. And sometimes, every now and then, He even throws in a little miracle to remind us.
Sarah has always been fascinated by how the human mind works and how we relate to each other in this world. This led to a career of helping people recover, manage the challenges that life brings and work towards healthy relationships with their partners and children. Sarah's other career is attempting to be the best mom and wife she can be. Those who know her well might say she is a bit obsessive and likes everything to be in its place. She has been known to try to pick up toys and put them away while her kids are still playing with them. God has sent an amazing man to her who is slowly teaching and encouraging her to live in the moment, relax and let things get a little messy. If you want to see Sarah's soul come alive, take her to the beach. The smell of the salty air, the waves, and an underwater dive bring her back to calm and God's creations like nothing else does.