It’s the night before we finally begin the process of meeting Hallie. I can’t believe we’re already here. I’ve been sitting rather quietly for the last six months regarding Hallie, especially in social media. I tend to speak confidently about the things I (at least think I) fully understand. This has not been one of those things...until now.
I’ve felt a responsibility to be careful about my public thoughts on the pregnancy. I don’t want to mislead people about what it’s really like. Most of us can’t process something like this when asked. We need time, maybe a lot of it. I, nor Katie, are attempting to be awesome, amazing, or even full of faith. Those words have definitely been an encouragement as we look at each other and ask: “we are?”
Let me explain.
When we found out about Hallie having Trisomy 13, I’d never been so knocked off-kilter. I am ashamed to say (in full disclosure), I found myself considering the humane (for us) option doctors seemed to push often: terminating the pregnancy. Although that was a very short-lived emotion, my immediate, horribly weak response in desperation was to control the outcome of the pregnancy, even if it meant: abortion. [For the record, Katie never wavered once. She’s the amazing one!]
Let me explain further while I digress for a moment.
I watched a documentary earlier this year called “Anvil: The Story of Anvil.” It’s a rockumentary about an 80’s hair-metal-band that almost made fame, but just missed. The story was sad, because it displayed these men’s childlike bliss still chasing a dream that will clearly never happen.
(Now on to the point…) For whatever reason, after finishing the movie, I felt an overwhelming sadness come over me. I went back to the bedroom, woke Katie up, and cried my eyes out as I told her that I thought we were about to have a season of sorrow. The feeling was so palpable; I could taste its truth.
I don’t claim to be a prophet. I don’t tend to lean heavily on strong emotions. However, I cried like a baby. That never happens, and I knew something was coming.
I didn’t tell anyone (but Katie) because…well…I didn't want people to think I’m crazy. Try this on for crazy: I watched the documentary on June 14, and we found out about the problem with Hallie on June 23. Remarkable.
I was certain that God was preparing us ahead of time for a bomb. It’s as if he was saying: “Chris, it’s going to get ugly for a while, and I need you to know something: I know what I’m doing, and you can trust Me.”
Now…let’s go back to the diagnosis moment before I digressed…
I forgot about this whole prophetic experience when we found out about the diagnosis. It was just a week prior! My mind didn’t go to what I was certain that God had told me. It went to how I will control the outcome of the pregnancy, and how I can create security where there seems to be none. How faithful am I now?
I mean…there are some serious feelings at play here.
At first, at that early stage of pregnancy, I was worried about having a special needs baby for which to care for my entire life. I was worried about the intense emotional destruction of possibly losing a baby. I was worried about the expenses of care and constant testing. I was worried about her actually living, not dying. How faithful is that?!?
June 23, 2011, was my faith crossroads. And…after most of the emotion subsided, and we found out the final diagnosis on June 27, I began to reassemble my faith in a God who knew exactly where we’d been, where we were, and where He was taking us.
The aching emotion that both Katie and I felt for a long time is this: Katie is going to carry a baby for nine (actually ten) months, pregnancy pains, varicose veins, constant discomfort, gaining weight, maternity clothes, wearing the same jeans every day, swollen everything, and gracefully smiling at those who squeal “congratulations” when they see her bulbous belly…after going through all of that…we would have absolutely nothing to show for it.
But if there's one thing I've learned this year, we already have plenty to show for it.
Katie and I are as solid as ever. Our marriage has matured greatly. For those who think the bond of marriage has anything to do with happiness, it doesn’t. There were many nights driving home from work that I dreaded having to see Katie cry yet another night. These last six months have not been “happy.” But just as truth is sometimes bitter to the taste, we’ve found a new normal…much greater than the cheap and often-temporary emotion of happiness. We have discovered a level of joy and gratitude that has reconstituted our marriage, our family, and us.
We’ve seen our family, friends, and church surround us in prayer, offer service, and provide gifts. We’re beginning to understand what “loving others” really means. We’ve never needed it, and until you do, it’s a mystery. We’re not kids anymore, and life has become a richer gift.
This experience has also provided me with a new perspective on my relationship with my children, Bella and Farrah. You might think that losing a child would cause you to hold your other children a little tighter. But honestly, I think that creates an anxiety that God does not wish for us. Hallie has taught us to let go of our wishes for our children, so that God may be glorified through them. (I can’t believe God has brought me to a place where I can say this. And, it will be a constant struggle for the rest of my life.)
We are now hours away from the pleasure of seeing our third-born daughter, Hallie. And as every parent clings to the hope that their child will accomplish great things in life, I have no doubt that Hallie has already exceeded my wildest expectations.
I hope you choose to see God in your circumstances. He’s there, and I’m thankful that He trusted us with Hallie. I only hope we’ve been a good steward of our time with her, and your time watching her little life develop.
We appreciate your prayers as we begin Phase Two of our journey: the birth.
(Katie, good LORD, you are amazing. I respect, honor, admire, and adore you more and more every day. Thank you for giving me perfect children, and for selflessly bearing the burden of being pregnant for three years of your life. I hope I can be as faithful to you, as you’ve always been to me. I love you.)