Tag Archive: down syndrome


The First Storm, Part 2

The doctors in the high risk practice are skilled professionals.  We have come to trust them over the past nine months.  I will never forget the first visit in which they were trying to determine if Leah had placenta accreta.  The doctor, whom we will call the Headmaster, said, “If I were a gambling man with a dollar, I would bet ninety cents that you will develop accreta.”  As the weeks wore on, I now realize if I were a gambling man, I’d gladly take Headmaster to Vegas!

His medical insight proved to be frightfully accurate.  As the ultrasounds progressed, it became obvious that the accreta diagnosis was not going to go away.  We prayed, we asked our church to pray, and we asked our friends and family to pray.  God, in His wisdom, had already decided that the accreta was not going anywhere.  Leah was ordered to come in twice weekly for monitoring.  Leah got the assurance of Samuel’s development every Tuesday and Friday as they strapped monitors observing his heart rate.

Ultrasounds were given a two week intervals and it seemed, at least to Leah and I, that every new ultrasound brought a new issue to worry about concerning Samuel.  The calcium deposit was never mentioned again, but this did not mean that Down’s Syndrome (DS) was off the table.  Samuel measured in the high percentiles for most of his body measurements, all but the length of his femur, which as you guessed is another soft marker for DS.  A small nose is considered a marker for DS, and wouldn’t you know—Samuel would never allow us to get a nice photo of his face.  He threw his hand in the way at every opportunity, avoiding our attempts at a good photo like a celebrity shunning the paparazzi.  As you can imagine, there were many questions that remained unanswered.

Leah and I discussed having a test done to determine if God was giving us a baby with DS.  Eventually we decided against it because the most accurate test had its own risks.  We did not know what God had in store for us, but we were going to face it by faith.  If the markers confirmed DS, it did not change the fact that our son was growing each and every day in Leah’s womb and we were looking forward to meeting him.  After all, Samuel was our gift from God, even if he came packaged different than most children.

Leah was allowed to continue working and she did so each school day.  Fatigue was really becoming a problem as the weeks progressed.  I took on more and more responsibility at home to accommodate her exhaustion.  We just lived life.  Apart from me picking up more chores at home, there was little change in our overall routine.  We had two other children that were in need of care as well.  They were aware that a life was growing in Mama’s tummy and they were excited.

By twenty-four weeks, our daily routine was unremarkable.  I awoke early and helped Leah prepare for school by making her lunch and defrosting her car during the cold winter months.  My morning helpfulness will create more problems for us, but I’ll get to that later.  Once Leah was off to school, I fed the children, had morning devotions, and prepped them for preschool.  When there was no preschool, I kept them during the day mixing work and family when necessary.

The evening schedule was established as well.  The children ate dinner and took a shower in the early evening.  We would have family devotions, reading a Bible story to the children and having family prayer.  Daniel and Ellie were often sweet and sympathetic to Leah’s fatigue, asking God to, “help Mama and Baby Samuel.”  After they were tucked into bed, Leah typically prepared herself for bed, becoming more and more exhausted each day.  I would help Leah into bed, almost tucking her in as we had just done with the children.  And she always asked the same question before I prayed, “He is okay isn’t he?”

At first, I tried to deflect the question with humor or sarcasm.  Both have served me well as perfectly functional defense mechanisms in the past.  However, she was not to be discouraged and asked again, “He is okay isn’t he?”  I did not know how to answer because for once a snarky comment was not going to be sufficient.  I eventually said, “Yes, of course he is.”  I was lying.  I was lying to myself more than I was lying to my wife, but I was lying.  I had no confidence in anything and I was saying yes because it helped me cope with all the uncertainty around me and it gave a sliver of hope to my wife.

I had come to a crossroads in my life.  There was this spiritual road that was branching in two directions.  There was an emotional road there as well.  I had come to the fork uncertain of where I was headed.  I knew where God wanted me to go, but I was hesitant.  As I stood idle, unwilling to make a decision, God brought something else into our life that would eventually change my perspective completely.

The First Storm, Part 1

I have been meaning to update my blog for many weeks, but as some of you know, life has taken a few unexpected turns since the latter part of April.  I will do my best to relate some of those events in the most chronological order that I can recall them.

First of all, my wife and I welcomed our third child into the world on April 25, 2013.  This was a glorious occasion, but unfortunately it was 5 weeks ahead of schedule.  Samuel turned out to be fine, spending only a few days in the Special Care Nursery due to blood sugar and body temperature issues.  He is doing great as I write this and is enjoying some quality time with grandparents in West Virginia.  The fact that our newborn child is currently in another state while his mother and I are not probably lends itself to some unfortunate foreshadowing.

At the onset of the pregnancy, Leah had severe morning sickness.  This was soon followed by high blood pressure.  This was our first clue that baby number 3 was going to be a boy.  Leah had high blood pressure with our first but nothing with our second.  The only difference . . . number one was a boy and number two was a girl.  Due to Leah’s age, which she is not embarrassed to share but I will be scared discreet, we were recommended from a regular OBGYN office to one that specialized in high risk pregnancies.

Our first sign of trouble with Samuel came around week 20 of the pregnancy.  All issues had been normal up to that point.  We had traveled this same road twice before, so all of the landmarks were familiar to us.  Leah made it through the morning sickness of the first month and the onset of fatigue starting about the tenth week.  During the twentieth week visit, we were given the news that our third was most certainly a boy!  We were also informed that Leah had a condition known as placenta previa.  There was also a small calcium deposit discovered in Samuel’s heart, which we were informed was a soft marker for Down’s syndrome (DS, henceforth).

As you can imagine, we left that doctor’s appointment stressed and uncertain about the future.  My wife’s first two pregnancies were not without their problems, but there was nothing on this level of shock and awe that so quickly deflated our sails and had us turning to God for answers.  We did feel the need, while in the doctor’s office, to make our intentions clear that no matter the risk of DS or any other complications that termination of pregnancy was NOT an option.

There will be some readers who will believe mentioning abortion in this context is not necessary; however, I believe our [my wife and I] personal experiences, including this last pregnancy argue otherwise.  Let me explain in a bit more detail.  My wife’s first two pregnancies were normal for all intents and purposes.  There were no major complications and no implications that there would be any problems with our children prior to birth or afterwards.  In each instance, we were advised by someone on staff of our options for abortion should anything be wrong with the life growing inside of Leah.  These special talks and options became so persistent during Leah’s second pregnancy that we finally had to tell the staffers that we did not wish to hear anymore about terminating the pregnancy under any circumstance.

With such trials during healthy pregnancies, the onslaught of reminders for termination or tests to insure a healthy baby was nearly deafening.   We were of course concerned about our child’s health and future, but none of these concerns were ever tempered with a thought of termination.  Doctors asked us to speak to a geneticist to determine our chances for a DS birth and even more options for termination or intervention.  We refused on the grounds that regardless of the chances for DS, abortion was never going to be an option we were going to choose.  Much to our chagrin, we were forced to meet with the geneticist anyway.  Leah’s chances for a DS birth were determined to be 1:175.

At this point and as an aside to the current post, I must admit that I have to fight off nausea when I think about the children that have been murdered because there was the slightest chance of DS or other genetic disorder.  How many have been murdered because they did not fit the world’s view of normal or better yet socially acceptable?

Anyway, after the twentieth week ultrasound and check up, we are scheduled for another ultrasound to check for the possibility of another condition known as placenta accreta.  This condition was much more serious and little did we know how it was going to shape the coming months of our lives.