Monday, 24 October 2016

Airdrie's Story: God has a purpose for every unborn child

This post originally appeared on our blog June 17, 2015 on the second anniversary of us finding out of a "problem" with my pregnancy. Today, October 24, 2016, marks Airdrie Abileen's 3rd birthday--praise be to God.


Just over three years ago our world tilted on its axis. We lived in Houston, Texas, I was 20 weeks pregnant with our 4th child, and we had just been in to receive our anatomy ultrasound. This is the scan where the baby’s major organs are checked. We had the scan done at a special ultrasound clinic and our biggest decision that day was whether to find out the gender of the baby or not. We choose both and had the technician write the results on a yellow sticky note and I placed in my purse. 

The next day Mark and I were out trying to finalize the sale of our two vehicles and had stopped to eat lunch when my obstetrician called us. I quickly stepped out of the restaurant to more clearly hear. Just in time to hear the Dr when she said, “All the measurements look good with the baby and everything looks up to date... However, the technician did find a spot in the brain. You’re going to need a level 2 scan to address this.” I felt the blood draining...I tried to ask coherent questions, tried to understand what the Dr was saying, but basically until we had the scan there was no telling what “spot on the brain meant.” This was Thursday and so we had to wait over an agonizing long weekend until Tuesday to attend the scan with a perinatologist.

That weekend I turned 31 and it was a horrible birthday, sad to say. I was consumed with worry. If you’ve never experienced it worry on this level it rips you in two. Sleep was the only respite from this disease that was eating me alive.
I turned to the Psalms in the Bible and I clung to Psalm 22.30-31:
“Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, 
that he had done it.”

Tuesday came right in the middle of VBS (Vacation Bible School) so we left our three eldest and headed to the perinatologist. The doctors first words upon seeing the ultrasound screen was, “There is something really wrong with this child.” Which immediately elicited a sob from me—and left me sobbing silently for the rest of the appointment. From that point on the appointment went downhill. 

Upon learning I have a pregnancy-induced blood clotting disorder the Dr was in disbelief that I was allowed to deliver naturally without knowing whether the babies had the same disorder. Affronted I responded, “Well the Lord had His hand on our first three because they came out and were fine.” What a change in demeanour in the doctor! Immediately we were written off as religious nuts who would not listen to reason or science. 

The doctor informed us the baby had a cyst at the back of the head and the two halves of the cerebellum were divided with NO vermis (connective tissue) present. As the cerebellum is the command center for balance, motion, and coordination this meant the baby’s right hand would not know what the left was doing—literally. 

During the course of the appointment we heard phrases along the lines of, “The baby may be slightly handicapped or the baby may not survive.” “The baby may have a trisomy defect, which is incompatible with life.” I asked if we needed to stay in the USA to deliver the baby to which the doctor abruptly responded, “It doesn’t matter. If the baby dies in Scotland the baby dies in the USA.” Our hearts were torn out repeatedly in that appointment and bruised. I clearly remember the paperwork from the perinatologist had the phrase printed out; 
“Patient declined termination of pregnancy.”

Mark and I were grief stricken for this baby we had not, and may not ever meet. When we got into the truck outside the doctors office I pulled the paper out of my purse where the word “GIRL” was written and underlined. Mark and I cried and held one another for a long, long time.

24 hours later we moved as missionaries to Scotland.

Once in Scotland we had to go through a month of appointments and referrals to bring the NHS up to speed. From mid-wives, to ultrasound technicians, to obstetricians finally to a perinatologist in Aberdeen 6 weeks later. She did a thorough scan and then took Mark and I into a room with comfy chairs, a table and a box of tissues. That room with the box of tissues scared me more than anything else. 

The Doctor finally put a name to the malformation, that it was more than a cyst. It was Dandy Walker Malformation. In the baby’s case this meant she had a complete separation of her two cerebellar hemispheres and there was no connective tissue (vermis) between the spheres. The cerebellum is the back portion of your brain that is responsible for coordination and motor skills among other things. With DWS there is a huge spectrum of severity and there was no way for us to know until after birth and possibly months later the degree of her handicap.

The doctor then said there were 3 options for us: 
She said, “We can do nothing and wait for the baby to be born.
Do amniocentisis to figure out what caused this.
Or, option 3, some people can’t handle the thought of having a baby born with a handicap…” 

I couldn’t, WOULDN’T let her finish. I interrupted and said, “NEVER, never—that is for God to decide, not us…how could someone choose that?”

And still up until several weeks after Airdrie was born we were not certain she would survive.

Throughout the course of my pregnancy we “declined terminiation” three times. THREE gut-wrenching times. As a Christian there is no choice; I KNOW God is the one who ordains life and He can sustain it. How incredibly arrogant to assume to predict an outcome, large “spectrum” of possibility or not?! 

We often cry out feeling that we as Christians should be spared grief, sorrows, hardship when in reality who is better equipped to deal with those things? We have amazing promises to lean on, the confidence to know the God of the universe confidently has it all under control. 

Life happens; good times and bad times come to the Christian and non-Christian alike. It is the faith to ride the swells of the hard times and not be consumed by those waves that sets the Christian apart. It is the confidence of the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Having a child with special needs or a handicap, what a gift! These precious treasures are not given to everyone, and what better outcome than to have such a child born to a family who loves the Lord?! 

Often when we think in these terms we are using our earthly perspective. What is the worst thing that can happen to us according to “the world”? Death. What is the best thing that can happen to us according to the Christian? Death. What a contrast in views! Too often in tough situations in life we Christians begin to acquire an outlook that mimics the world. Death is NOT the worst thing to happen. Not being prepared for death—separation from Christ is! 

This is difficult to maintain this outlook as a parent especially. But I believe that’s why it’s vitally important as a mother to realise my greatest mission is to make disciples of Jesus to those little ones I'm raising. This is why I stay home with our babies and why we home school—at this season in our lives it’s where our personal convictions lie. And oh! How most days I wish it was an easier job, or that I was a more perfect mother to be better equipped for the task at hand!

I have had many people speak of mine and Mark’s remarkable faith throughout the time of my pregnancy with Airdrie. It makes me somewhat incredulous. Let me tell you something—it’s easy, SO very easy to lean on your faith when every possible option has been completely taken out of your hands. Said simply: Our faith was (and still is!) THE only thing we can lean on because the circumstance was so beyond us doing anything.

And now let me tell you a story that makes tears stream down my face even as I write it. 

Airdrie Abileen Anderson came into this world by emergency C-section on 24 October 2013. She wasn’t crying or breathing—for a long time. But our mighty God stepped in: 
Airdrie gave a small squeak and the nurses flashed Mark a thumbs up sign.
Airdrie was admitted to NICU, then two days later returned back to me.
Genetic testing determined Airdrie did not have a chromosomal abnormality.
An MRI at 6 weeks showed a small vermis (the connective tissue, you’ll remember, that was absent the entire pregnancy) was indeed present in Airdrie’s cerebellum.
Airdrie smiled at 3.5 weeks of age.
Airdrie laughed on New Year’s Eve 2013.
She learned to clap, to sit, to eat.
And when she first stood, we cried.
She is beginning to use simple sentences.
She sings {Oh how that girl sings}.
Then, just under a year ago at 26 months of age Airdrie WALKED.

Our Airdrie is a miracle.

We have learned this lesson. Don’t you ever, EVER let someone tell you that your baby has no value. Don’t let a person presume to play God. 
God has a plan, He has a purpose for every unborn child.
And for those who have made that heart-wrenching decision, know there is forgiveness, peace, and mercy in the Lord—His arms are always open.

We hold Psalm 27.14 in our hearts still:

Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;

wait for the LORD!

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