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One Small Miracle

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This post has been weighing on my mind for awhile, I struggled with whether putting it all out there has a purpose- but during this last week with tears not far & the date looming over, I have felt compelled to share...to share with myself mostly- to record how miraculous life is, because over time, sometimes even the most brilliant of moments can fade.

But I'd like to keep this one in a treasured little time capsule.

A year ago October 16th, while pregnant with Jack, we were given some pretty shocking news. For me, surprises usually come in two types- the kind where you think you must be dreaming or those that just come right on out & slap you in the face. This wasn't a slap, it was a punch.

During an ultrasound we were told our baby had a brain defect.

I knew something was wrong when the cheery technician switched the machine from the regular black & white grainy photos to the state of the art three dimensional mode, allowing us to see our baby's features & expressions. The tech had made a comment about these pictures allowing parents to "bond" with their babies in utero. Maybe it was the special education teacher in me, but I knew that phrase eluded to something more. Eventually, after much admiration of our baby's full lips, peacefully shut eyes, and squished up little body, he said the words all parents must fear during these appointments, "the doctor would like to speak with you in his office."

So as it all goes we were shown on the screen where there was indeed, a black void, where baby's brain had not developed. A specific area of the brain that qualifies for an official name, a diagnosis; Dandy-Walker syndrome. An ironically horrible name I immediately thought. Cruel almost. Of course, we were told that as with many deformities the resulting effects can appear along a spectrum. Suddenly, I felt catapulted from my somewhat comfortable position as a special educator to that of a parent of a child with special needs. My mind reeled & I thought, "this is why God led me in the path He did- to prepare me for this child."

Naturally, tears & shock & insomnia & love & prayers & anger & extreme attachment all came that morning and stayed for awhile. I'm proud of my husband & I for our response, it brought us closer together as a couple & gave me a warm sense of peace that perhaps I couldn't have known about our marriage unless this occurred. It was as if at that moment we really became parents.

I looked back into my pregnancy diary from that day & the weeks that followed & one thing I noticed in the letters to my baby was that a transformation took place within me. It was as though my past & my previous mistakes were erased, like my life really began- as though being a teacher, a daughter, a wife, a friend were just a prelude to what I really was meant to be- a mother to this child. At no time in my life have I felt such extreme attachment to another living being- I knew without a doubt that life had a new meaning- or more accurately- it finally had a meaning. And I knew that this baby would not face any challenge alone.

For reasons I will never know, our story takes a turn. Jack does not have a brain defect. Jack is a perfectly healthy, rambunctious, active, engaging, & loving 9 month-old who holds a powerful story. No one can really explain what happened; some folks write off the doctors & the tests- but I cannot erase the image of that black space on the screen, I know it was there. That along with other indicators all pointing to a congenital impairment or deformity have confirmed in me that something more amazing took place.

As a special education teacher I probably see 'disorders' and 'disabilities' and 'impairments' slightly differently than most folks.... some of the most joyous moments in my life have been in the presence of my students.

To me, the miraculous bit is not necessarily that Jack was born without a brain defect, it is the mother I became thinking he did.

Here are some photos that tell the story: the ultrasound, at the hospital, Jack at 9 months taking in the world around him, and he & I on October 16th.


Bagladee said...

What a beautiful story and a beatiful baby. You are an amazing mother and an inspiration, thank you for sharing your story! x

Lisa said...

He's beautiful! The ultrasound tech told us our baby had a heart condition. He's perfect, no heart condition. I remember being so terrified so I can relate to what you went thru. God is good!

Jen said...

Such a powerful story for an amazing little guy. Kind of fitting for the lesson from church last week...when there is no answer, the answer is God. Love you guys!

I'm all agog said...

This story gave me chills! Thanks so much for sharing it - what an amazing mother you are!!

markjacobs said...

:) i'm so glad you wrote this. it's too easy to forget what we went through and how lucky we are. thank you. love you.

Francesca Righi said...

I found your blog through Estela's from LIFE OF A BIRD!
I just read your post and your unbelievable story!
Thank you for sharing it.. I will definitely come back and visit your blog!
love your bags!

Vanessa said...

Thank you for sharing this story with us! *sniff sniff*

Jennifer Jacobs said...

Wow. Motherhood suits you so beautifully. Thank you for the incredible story.

Cheri Pie said...

Praise the Lord! It is so amazing the people we become when the title 'mom' comes into play!

Mama said...

Thank you for this post. I am the Mother of a "special needs" child. My Son is adopted and we didn't experience his diagnosis till he was almost 6 months old. He has a midline brain defect and they told us he was blind, he'd never walk, and he'd most likely be profoundly retarded. There are people who meet him now at 6 years old who have no idea he even has issues. I love being his Mom and though I can pinpoint another pivotal moment when I started being the Mom there is something so powerful in the watching him prove them wrong every day and having people say if it weren't for us he'd be so different. Maybe, maybe not but I know if it weren't for him I would be so different. I really appreciate you sharing your story and you are an amazing Mother.

lil miss' mama said...

you are holding a miracle! what a powerful story you have.