As many of you may or may not know, my wife is pregnant with our sixth child; a child with spina bifida. If you don't know anything about it, the Wikipedia article is a good place to start. Needless to say, I have been rattled to my core over this. The Lord has trusted unto my care five amazingly healthy and beautiful children. So, my first thought when we received the initial diagnosis of number six was the wonderfully self-serving "Why us?" It took some prayer and contemplation to arrive at the necessary destination of acceptance. I stood in a church service following the diagnosis and gave glory to God. He alone knows this baby right now.
I began praying--fervently. I knew of numerous others who also began praying for us. Many told me they were praying for a miracle. Some even ventured to claim audaciously that this baby was going to surprise all the doctors. I typically accept such statements with much trepidation and even fear, because a part of me just says "that's putting God to the test." Don't misunderstand; with God all things are possible. I believe that. And please do not think that I don't believe God cannot heal my baby. He can.
What if He chooses not to do so? What then? Do I stop believing? Do I lose faith? Has providence failed? Do I turn my credentials in? What? Like my other children, God is at work knitting her together, fashioning her in my wife's belly. And this child will also be a wonderful gift from Him, fearfully and wonderfully made. Just not like the others. Yes, she will be a challenge. I know that and I am ready to accept that challenge. I'll meet it dead on even.
I came to the above conclusion after a note of finality was forced upon me. We have been scheduled for routine ultrasounds to monitor Miriam's progress. (I like that name by the way. I picked it out.) So, we went on December 23rd for one of these "comprehensive" ultrasounds. They look at everything. And I mean everything, fingers, toes, bladder, kidneys, brain, heart, even the umbilical cord.
While watching the show, even with a few little fingers that looked like they were waving "hi" to daddy, there was a noticeable addendum to the ultrasound pictures. Picture wind being sucked from your sails at this moment.
In spina bifida babies, there is a membrane that the body naturally forms around the lesion in the back. It is a defense mechanism to protect the spinal column, because it is, quite literally open. Plus, it becomes filled with cerebrospinal fluid. The membrane could clearly be seen in this particular ultrasound. The technician pointed it out. I was mortified. All words fled me at that moment. I have been very emotional throughout this time and even without my wife knowing. At this moment, inside I was a wreck. A seven-car pileup.
Seeing that membrane confirmed all of my fears. Yes, my baby has spina bifida! I know its not the end of the world, and many people have much more trying difficulties than this. But she is my baby and its natural to want a healthy and whole baby. During my morning readings, the above verse from Solomon's writing was part one particularly glum and sad day. So, I began to consider the work of God.
Perhaps He did make Miriam crooked. Perhaps He was pleased to do so. Perhaps He wanted to give me a baby with a special need. Not for the baby, but for me. Perhaps I've been found worthy of a greater honor than any man can ever bestow. Perhaps. I know a lot of the preceding is bordering on mere sentimentality. But there is one thing I cannot deny. Miriam is a precious gift. And I'll be glad to receive her.