The day that the test flashed the word "pregnant" I literally sat down in the bathroom floor and just let the flood of emotions take control. I ran the spectrum from shock to ecstatic as I tried to let it sink in that something I had dreamed of for a large majority of my life was finally a realization. I drove to Barnes and Noble, purchased Clay a book on becoming a dad, excitedly tied my pregnancy test to it, and waited for him to walk through the door. This little baby instantly held my heart and while the weight that came with knowing I was growing new life was a bit overwhelming, I was so thankful that we had been blessed to start this journey. We, were now three.
Like most first time moms, I did my research and I did all the right things, but at 18 weeks pregnant, we received a phone call. My elective AFP screening panel had come back positive for Downs Syndrome. During that phone call, I experienced what I now realize was my very first panic attack. Again, I found myself sitting on the floor, but this time flooded with fear and unable to catch my breath. All of a sudden all MY hopes, all MY dreams, all of MY plans for the future suddenly shifted. The love I felt for this sweet baby stayed steadfast, but the vision of what our future held with her changed. Within that week, we saw a specialist who walked in, told me we had pretty good odds of a false positive, and almost instantly calmed my anxious heart. We had multiple ultrasounds that day and were told, "we see no markers at this point," but that we still needed another appointment and testing to confirm. Throughout this experience, I did the one thing I knew to do, I prayed. I pleaded with our Lord that if this was the situation we were facing to allow us to do so with grace. I also asked of him to never allow our child to feel less than once he or she entered this world. I wanted him to work in our hearts so that we could show our baby how loved, desired, and precious he or she was to us and on repeat was "Find You on My Knees" by Kari Jobe.
When my hope is gone,
When the fear is strong
When the pain is real,
When it's hard to heal
When my faith is shaken
And my heart is broken
And my joy is stolen
God I know that, you lift me up, you'll never leave me thirsty, when I am weak, when I am lost and searching, I'll find you on my knees.
Up until this point, we had decided to keep the gender a surprise until delivery, yet I felt the desire to experience some joy in days that had been very tearful and full of the unknown, so at that same appointment, the gender of our baby was written on an ultrasound picture and my mom got to planning what would be an amazing gender reveal party! Clay and I were convinced I was having a boy and dressed accordingly. I wore a denim dress and he wore a blue plaid shirt. Surrounded by 50+ of our closest friends and family, it came time to pop the massive black balloon that would tell us boy or girl. Soon, Clay and I were showered in pink confetti and glitter. We were having a girl.
Weeks later when the genetic testing results came back that the chance of her having Downs Syndrome was slim to none, I was equally confused as I was happy when he said that he would like to continue seeing my throughout the remainder of my pregnancy. I remember thinking, if there isn't anything abnormal, why continue, but I scheduled the follow up. At our next appointment a few months later he made mention of the fact that we had a tiny baby. For the record, I truly love take no chances type of people so when he said that he needed to see us again, this time to monitor her growth, I was all in. Each appointment, she would gain weight, but certainly not the average and with no explanation as to why. Everything about my pregnancy was textbook and our specialist said, "your body says I'm healthy, she can stay here , but her body says it's time to go." So, at 36 weeks we were given the choice of delivery her via c-section or continuing to let her stay in utero but with the risk of intrauterine death. Clearly, there was no question for us, the risk of leaving her in my belly felt too high and on February 25th, Chandler Kate made her entrance weighing 4lbs 13oz. The moment I saw her face, heard her cry, and held her in my arms is forever burned on my heart. She is every beautiful word I can think of and I cannot tell you the feeling of disbelief that comes with knowing this blessing is mine.
If you know me at all, you know I struggle with constantly questioning things. The what if of situations flash through my mind all the time. There are moments where I'm rocking her to sleep and staring at her precious face, I think what if. What if I hadn't done the AFP screening, what if that didn't lead us to our specialist, what if he was ok with letting me walk out the door instead choosing to fill his schedule with a patient who was having a seemingly healthy pregnancy? Would we have caught her deficiencies? Would I be holding her in my arms? Then, I realize that I'm holding her, because God trusted her to us. She was HIS hope, HIS dream, HIS plan of the future, not my own. There is no coincidence with my God, there is simply intent, and I fully believe he intentionally led us through the struggle to shower us in the end with the blessing that is a little girl we love more than words can express.