I don't know how something can, at the same time - cause such excitment, anxiety, joy, anger, fear, hope, and anticipation. I don't know how to really explain the way this feels right now, but it's where we're living. You see, at the end of February, we found out we are expecting another little one. Because we didn't know when we would be due (turns out to be the end of October) - we had an ultrasound to determine the due date. We've been through this before - ultrasounds are pretty routine, and we've had several with our two daughters.
We knew we wouldn't see a whole lot, but going in for an ultrasound is an experience where I find myself holding my breath. I don't know why - but I find myself waiting... waiting for something that resembles a human to show up on the screen. Waiting to see a face, or an arm, or a leg. Waiting for a heartbeat. Even though we knew we were too early in the pregnancy to see much, there's nothing quite like hearing that heartbeat. It's like a message from deep down inside saying "I'm okay in here."
Then, about half-way through the ultrasound, that relief faded to anxiety. Inside I couldn't help but wonder why the technician was still looking at pictures. We'd already determined the due date, but she was definitely looking for something. I wasn't sure what she was looking for, but Beth knew. She knew right away. She had noticed a thickness in the skin in the neck area.
That probably doesn't mean much to most people. At the time it didn't mean much to me - and in fact, it's possible that it doesn't mean anything at all. Except that a thickness in the neck area between 11 and 13.6 weeks is in an indicator for a variety of Chromosomal Abnormalities and/or potential heart defects. The most common of these abnormalities is Downs Syndrome, which is indicated in about 1 in 15 pregnancies that meet the same criteria as our current one.
Technically, we were only at 10 weeks 5 days, so we were scheduled for a second ultrasound a week later. At that ultrasound, the thickness continued to be a concern. As a result, we were referred to a parinatologist (high risk OB doc), and a week and a half ago, we had a third ultrasound for a Nuchal Translucency Test. Once again, the measurement was thicker than normal.
Early in May, we will undergo an Amniocentesis, which will determine exactly what we might be facing (assuming there is a chromosomal abnormality). It's a weird place to be at - the waiting. On some level, it's hard to imagine this is really real. On some level, as parents, you want everything about your baby to be perfect. I don't know how to decide what part of that is selfish, and what part is a feeling that our child deserves it. On another level, I can't help but think that if God wants to give us a child with medical, or special needs - than I should be humbled that He would place that trust in us.
Almost every night before she goes to bed, Maddie asks Beth if she can give the baby a kiss. She kisses Beth's belly, and then we go in her bedroom and say a prayer. Maddie prays the same thing every night - for "mommy and the baby." Every night.
If you're the praying type, would you consider praying like Maddie? Our prayer for the baby is that after the waiting, we'll have another round of tests and the baby will tell us "I'm okay in here." And if not, we know that we'll be guided by faith, and strengthened by love.