May 27, 2015

So there we were, waiting to meet with a completely foreign-to-us OB to begin a conversation about our “abnormal” ultrasound results.  We texted the friend who was watching the other kids, vaguely saying it would “be a few more hours. sorry.”  We called upstairs to the midwives to see if anyone was available to come be with us.  Thankfully, Ebony — the dear, strong woman who had helped bring Adeline into the world — was on call and not assisting anyone in active labor.  Her presence was a real gift; a familiar face and a hug in the midst of crushing uncertainty.

And so we met with a doctor who painstakingly — and painfully — clicked through the images of our son and pointed out the abnormalities.  We never knew what was coming next, and when she’d be finished.  A choroid plexus cyst on the brain.  A thickened nuchal fold at the base of the neck.  A small stomach.  What appeared to be six toes.  Clenched hands that wouldn’t reveal the number or structure of fingers.

“Soft markers,” she said.  Nothing in and of itself that could cause problems or that conclusively meant anything.  But things that you often see if there’s a larger something going on.  Chromosomal, she was fairly certain — touching on too many body systems to be a genetic condition.   Amniocentesis, that will help us know.  You don’t want that?  Blood test…do you want a blood test?  It only tells you if you’re high or low risk…for three chromosomal conditions…two of which are nearly always fatal…you should consider it.  Here, meet the genetic counselor.

She was gentler.  She assured us that we could take some time to think about the blood test.  We just weren’t sure.  Did we just want a percentage of likelihood?  And for three conditions only?  Would that really bring peace of mind?

It’s so hard in this day and age of instant-everything to be handed a jumble of information, be told it points to a problem, yet have to wait and wait some more for the exact name and the explanation and…the outlook.

Two weeks went by between that day and a marathon day of testing and consults at Children’s Hospital.  In those two weeks, we stood at the gates of Jerusalem, waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna!  Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  The children danced with sinuous fronds and relished in the freedom of movement in the sanctuary.

During those two weeks, feet were washed in a sign of servant-hood and submission.  Bread was broken and wine splashed into the mouths of the beloved.  The pounding of hammer on nail rang out, and women wept, and rain poured from the sky (as it always seems to do on Good Friday), and the smell of cloves wafted from the burial preparations.

And on that holiest of Saturdays, we gathered with hundreds to traverse the Scripture, from Creation to Redemption to All Things Made New.   And just like every year, as “Oh the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” bounced off the ceiling of the sanctuary, the tears streamed down my face.

And we awoke the next day, groggy from our vigil, to light and gentle breezes and early-blooming flowers.  The harried and lively preparations for a feast of feasts, with friends and neighbors arriving bearing dishes and greetings of “Alleluia!” or simply an  acknowledgement of this day as a harbinger of spring and new life.  And through it all, a cloud over our heads, this news-but-not-yet-news of our little one weighing heavily on our hearts even as we immersed ourselves in the grandness of that day when we truly knew that Death had lost its sting.