21 February 2008

(These first seven blog posts were originally letters, written and emailed to our friends and family. I am including them here because they are a big part of telling our story.)

Hello Friends,
We want to open by thanking you all for your prayers, encouragement and presence in our lives. Your phone calls, cards and emails are something we look forward to every day. We thought it would be an appropriate time to send you all an update so that you can know more specifically where we are and how to pray for us.

Ryan & I met with my midwife on Monday afternoon and she gave us some news that came as a relief to us. The high-risk obstetrician at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital has released me to the care of my midwife for the duration of my pregnancy. They concluded that because there is nothing more that they can do for Evie, because I am in no danger,and because we have chosen to protect Evie's precious life, it will no longer be necessary for us to go to the Children's hospital. This means no more tests and only a normal amount of trips to and from Nashville. This seemingly small thing has come as a welcome relief to us.

With that information, we (with the midwives) are treating this as a normal, healthy pregnancy from this point on. And, just as in a normal pregnancy, they expect that I will deliver Evie sometime at the end of May. In a way, I can now somehow give myself permission to get up and operate more as a wife and a mom and a homemaker now that I'm not expecting labor (and an onslaught of grief) around every turn. We are still deeply and profoundly sad as we look ahead to the birth and loss of our sweet girl whom we have come to care for so much. My whole being aches when I imagine, even for a moment, what it will be like to return home from the hospital without her - what it will be like to hand her away after our too--brief love affair with our new daughter knowing that I will never see her again in this life. But, just as we are being given grace for this moment, we know that God will supply grace in those moments as well.

We are now doing our best to carry on at home as best we can. Being pregnant is uncomfortable and exhausting - even when it ends with a safe delivery and a healthy baby. It is especially difficult when it does not come with that promise - when it is accompanied with a nesting instinct that cannot be satisfied and a different kind of hope that looks not to caring for this baby in this life, but to spending eternity with her. While we long to feel "normal" in this time before Evie is born, it isn't, and won't be. There may be normal-feeling days and there will be very sad days. We love what David says in Psalm 23:6, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life".

Our grieving is sporadic and imperfect. We are so new to all of this. Our faith in God is also sporadic and imperfect. We are learning how to seek God in ways we never have, and how to trust Him with things we never thought we'd have to. We are seeing ourselves and our own shortcomings as they are met with God's character and sovereignty. This week Ryan and I have been so renewed by this piece of scripture:

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal".
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Please continue to pray for us as we work through these uncharted days. It helps us to remember that this life is just a shadow of our real life - our eternal life in the presence of God. We are comforted to know that Evie has the opportunity to be spared from the evil and pain of this life and instead be in the presence of God.

All our love,
Ryan, Raechel & Oliver

01 February 2008

(These first seven blog posts were originally letters, written and emailed to our friends and family. I am including them here because they are a big part of telling our story.)

"'For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10

Dear Friends,
We thank you for your continued love and support and prayers on our behalf. We are finding that at the hardest times when we don't have the words to pray, we simply ask God to reveal Himself to us. He has been so gracious.

We are grateful to have more answers to our questions, though the answers we now have point to an outcome that we would not choose. Ryan and I (and Rebecca) met yesterday with the Genetic Counselor at Vanderbilt for the results of the tests on Evie's chromosomes. Evie has been diagnosed with 100% Trisomy 9. Very few babies with even a lower percentage of cells with trisomy 9 survive past the first trimester, and Evie and I are now at 23 weeks. The doctors have no explanation for us as to why our little girl is still with us. We don't need one. She is so full of life right now - giving the doctors an extremely difficult time getting her to hold still for ultrasounds, and greeting everyone who puts their hand to her Mama's belly to say hello. She is savoring life and is in no pain.

We are grateful for the answers we have, though there are still some looming uncertainties. Medically, the doctors expect that we will meet Evie very soon. However, because she has beaten such strong odds to be with us now, they also expect that there is no reason I couldn't carry her to term. We know that God, in his infinite wisdom, will be gracious in giving us whatever time we need with her - knowing and believing that he has ordained her days and ours. Waiting is hard and uncertainty is painful. Because of her very serious condition, the doctors have explained to us that there is no medical treatment to offer to prolong Evie's life, only to make her more comfortable if we are given time with her after her birth. We may have minutes or even hours with her, though we understand that there is no guarantee of even that.

These days are very difficult for our family, even for Oliver. He doesn't understand everything that is going on, but it's clear to us that he knows we are sad and that something is different. Looking ahead to four months with Evie is a blessing. Yet, four months of everyday being the day that we may embrace and also release our sweet girl is an overwhelming thought for us. We are immensely sad. We are also waking up, and putting one foot in front of the other, and most of all, trusting our sovereign Lord to lift us up and carry us. Friends, pray for us as we function and grieve alternately and sometimes simultaneously. Pray for us as we treasure our little "life of grace" while she is still so full of life. And praise the Lord with us as we rest in this knowledge: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, evan as I have been fully known". 1 Corinthains 13:12.

Thanks be to God.
Ryan, Raechel & Oliver