Happy 10th Birthday, Nathan!

Our youngest son is 10 today. By God’s grace, he’s strong, healthy, and full of energy and talent. There are few blessings that compare to seeing your children grow and find their God-given gifts. The text below was written and shared on Facebook nine years ago, on is 1st birthday. It is a testimony we’ll never forget. I love you and pray that you’ll grow to be a great man of faith.

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Thomas age 13, Nathan age 10

Happy Birthday, Nathan!

It’s hard to believe a year has passed and I still haven’t written down your story as I intended to. I guess your first birthday is as good a time as any…

God had written you into the book of our lives long before, but for us your story began on February 1, 2012. On that day, we were told that your “nuchal translucency” screening (a test we had never heard of) showed a measurement of 5.3 millimeters, over four times the 1.3 millimeters that modern “science” considers normal. We were also told you were missing a nasal bone, there was a significant chance that we would lose you, and that if you did survive, you would likely have a severe abnormality – Downs Syndrome being one of the best case scenarios.

The doctor seemed surprised to learn that:
A) We considered you a gift, regardless of the outcome, and terminating the pregnancy was not an option
B) We had no interest in the tests that could tell us with a high degree of certainty “what was wrong,” even if the increased risk of miscarriage was only a fraction of a percent

We were surprised and saddened to learn that these “options” have apparently become so commonplace that they are often fore-drawn conclusions.

On March 21, your mother endured a second 90 minute ultrasound. We learned at that time that you were a boy and due on August 14, but also that your arms and legs were lagging behind in growth, your brain structure looked abnormal, parts of your brain were not present, and that you likely had a hole in your heart. The only good news at that point was that the doctor seemed to finally accept our appreciation for the the miracle of life and was more supportive.

Psalm 84:11 (NASB)

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold [a]from those who walk [b]uprightly.”

a. Lit with regard to
b. Lit with integrity

The next appointment was on April 12th and, from that point forward, you and your mother were under the care of a Perinatologist. This appointment was more encouraging as they could see the brain structure that wasn’t apparent in the previous ultrasound but they were still very concerned about your size and thought you may have a Trisomy disorder. We were certainly grateful for some good news but there was only one thing that kept us grounded while we rode this emotional roller coaster:

Philippians 4:7 (NIV) – “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

By May, the doctors had concluded that there was nothing wrong with your heart, they had ruled out Trisomy 13 and 18, and the technician that was doing the ultrasounds said you looked “normal.” Despite the good news, we were reminded that only 60 percent of Down’s cases are seen in an ultrasound. At this point, we had seen 3-4 different doctors and at least as many technicians. Observing the similarities and differences between them, made it evident, at least to me, that there’s a great deal of guesswork in modern medicine. There is much more that is a mystery about the miracle of life than what which is known.

In June and July, it was mostly a waiting game but the final weeks of the pregnancy were very different from the experience we had with Abby and Thomas. There were a couple of false alarms and we spent hours in the emergency room wondering if and when you would arrive prematurely. On the last of these occasions, the perinatologist had witnessed “late deceleration” and thought that your heart had stopped beating for an extended period of time. They were concerned that your health had been compromised. We were admitted and the doctor recommended inducing you. Your mother and I didn’t want to induce the delivery, particularly after two prior natural and relatively smooth births.

For the doctor, it was another fore-drawn conclusion and there was a great deal of surprise when, at the last minute, we asked for a few minutes to make a phone call. I called a friend who is an OB/GYN, faithful follower of Christ, and one of the most genuine people we people we know. Against all odds, I managed to get a hold of him and described the situation. We had consulted with him concerning some of the early test results but he practiced in another state and we hadn’t kept in regular contact throughout the pregnancy. He asked a lot of questions about what tests they had done, what certain numbers were, what we had been told, etc. After answering the questions as best as I could, he told me that, nine times out of ten, he would suggest following through with the recommendation of the treating physician but, based on what I was telling him, he didn’t see a pressing need to induce the delivery. Against the doctors recommendation, we asked them to do a stress test to try and reproduced the “problem.” They were reluctant to even let us know that this was an option but eventually relented and ran the test. Unable to reproduce the event, we decided to check out and await your arrival on God’s time.

A week or so later, on August 12th, we welcomed you into this world, whole, healthy, and as happy a baby as we’ve ever seen. But I pray that that as you grow, you’ll always remember that you are a gift, we have a gift, and and that we have treasured you since the moment we knew of your conception. You are loved and cherished and a testimony of God’s grace, truth, and sovereignty. Together we can say:

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”

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