I will not be silent…
It was January 15, 2011 and two little blue lines sent the message loud and clear – “You’re going to be mom!” I will never forget that day…I will never forget that feeling…I will never forget how happy we were.
Fast forward a few weeks to my first doctor’s visit…It was time for my first ultrasound…and how perfect that it was on Valentine’s Day when we saw that precious heartbeat for the first time. Our nurses rejoiced with us…our doctor’s smiled and congratulated us…and then things turned more serious as they began to discuss the next steps. As we talked about the visits that would come, our doctor handed us a brochure and began to explain that if we were interested, our next appointment could include genetic testing…testing that would provide us with “options” if anything of concern were to show in the results. We kindly responded by saying we weren’t interested – and my husband explained to the doctor that we were committed to loving and caring for our child…no matter what.
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Do we feel there’s anything necessarily wrong with doing genetic testing? No. I realize there are many different reasons why a couple might choose to move forward with the testing – maybe they’re simply curious…maybe they have a family history that concerns them…maybe they want to be able to plan for specific needs that their baby may have following delivery…there are lots of situations where this type of testing could provide incredibly helpful information. However, we had no specific interest…or concern…or reason for pursuing it so we moved forward without it, and later that year, I gave birth to healthy baby boy.
This scenario repeated itself a couple of years later – although it seems that our doctor’s office provides a more thorough explanation to first-time parents. With our second pregnancy…the testing was mentioned in passing, and once again, we declined.
A couple of years after that, we found ourselves back in that same office with the exciting news that we were pregnant again – seeing that little heart beat for the first time…there’s nothing like it…and you can see it so, so clearly. After three times, it has never gotten old. A few months after being formerly introduced to that little heartbeat, another ultrasound told us that we were going to have a little girl. Wow! After two boys, a little girl was on her way, and oh, were we excited! That very day, I went shopping…for dresses…and bows…and anything else I could get my hands on that screamed, “Girl! Girl! You’re having a little girl!”
My baby history has included big babies…yes, this mama has delivered a 9 lb 6 oz. baby boy and a 10 lb. 4 oz. baby boy, so the doctors usually like to keep an eye on the size of my babies. They say it’s because they may want me to consider an induction if I go “over”, but I typically just ignore all of that and let them do the ultrasounds simply because I like getting additional glimpses of my little one! I could lay there for hours and watch that ultrasound screen. So, just weeks before our little girl’s due date, we want back in to the ultrasound room to check her out – She was doing great! Growing just a smidge ahead – It didn’t look like she was going to be quite as big as her brothers, but the verdict was still out: You know how those size guesses are…those size guesstimates are usually nowhere close to the baby’s actual birth length/weight…at least in my experience.
A handful of weeks later, we made the short drive to the hospital where I delivered the sweetest baby girl I had ever seen. The labor was smooth. The delivery was a breeze. The time in the hospital holding our precious baby girl…it was beautiful. I was now a mom of three, so I took the time to savor the alone-time with this new addition to our family. The nurses fell in love with her. The doctors came in and out as they do…giving us excellent reports as to how our baby girl was doing in her first hours/days.
We took our little girl home and very quickly settled in to being a family of five. Life was everything we had ever dreamed it would be. Our house was full of little ones. Our hearts were close to bursting.
We finished out the summer…Then fall came – we roamed the pumpkin patch and went apple picking…Then the holidays arrived – we ate pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and then had the most perfect Christmas morning complete with cinnamon buns and hot chocolate…Then came New Year’s Eve – the boys went to bed early and hubby and I rang in the new year on the couch with our baby girl in our arms and New Year’s festivities on our television. Just after mid-night, we decided to head to bed…but first I wanted to snap a picture by the Christmas tree (Yes, we usually keep it up until New Year’s day.), so the three of us grabbed a selfie before heading upstairs. You see, I didn’t want to forget that night…2015 had been the sweetest year, and I expected nothing less from 2016…
…but then just days in to the new year…at a routine well-check for our baby girl…the doctor looked at me and said, “I think your daughter may have an extra chromosome.” I will never forget that moment…I will never forget the things that I felt…or the way I literally hit the floor of that doctor’s office…I have relived that moment over and over again, and in ways, it is still very difficult for me to think about…but I’m not able to remember that experience without recalling the way I very clearly sensed a whisper from the Creator…In those devastating moments on the floor, He spoke to my heart and He said, “I am here, and I am good.” Have you ever experienced something like that? Have you ever sensed the presence of the Savior so clearly that you knew that even though your heart was breaking, you were not alone…and that He would be faithful? That’s how I felt.
That’s how I continued to feel as I made a difficult phone call to my husband…ah, my husband…
…the one who in the coming days would hold me as I sobbed and remind me of this: “Aubrey is exactly who God created her to be.” Do you know the power that those words held in those first days? Day after day after day, his words continued to ring in my ears…
God had lovingly knit our girl together with intentional design…No mistake had been made. Yes, Aubrey was exactly who God created her to be….
…and in those first days (as we continue to do at times), we struggled with our plans…our hopes…our dreams…our expectations of how things would be. But isn’t that just like us to play God? Isn’t it just like us as humans?
We attempt to micromanage the conception process…
We try with all our might to select the gender of our babies…
We attempt to control every aspect of our pregnancies…
We do everything in our power to decide our due dates…
We keep a death grip on our labor and delivery plans…
We hold tightly to the expectations that we have for our children…
…all without ever stopping to consider that we are not at all in control…and any feeling of control that we have is false.
You see, in the very beginning, God created… He is the Creator…He is the author of conception…He has sovereign control over the gender of our children…He is the One who sustains our pregnancies…He has unique plans for the specific day our children will be born…the way their birth story will unfold…the days they will spend on this earth. He has numbered our days. He is God…we are not.
On the day we first met our third baby on that ultrasound machine…On the day the nurses preformed an anatomy scan and discovered that our baby was a girl…On the day we followed up to check on baby girl’s size, no one noticed any markers. On the day our baby girl was delivered…On the day we took her home…On the day she visited the pediatrician’s office for the first time…and then the second time…and then the third time, they missed it – Our sweet girl had Down Syndrome and everyone missed it, but God knew…God knew from the beginning of time that this would be part of Aubrey’s story.
Sure, genetic testing might have provided us with more information, but as I look back over the past several months, can I give you a glimpse in to my heart and tell you that I am so thankful that I didn’t know. For whatever reason, God – in His sovereign plan – chose to wait for this information to slowly be revealed to us, and I find so much peace in that. As I’ve mentioned before, I had seen glimpses…brief glimpses…but I never dreamed that you could find out so “late”…four months “late”…but God is never late…He is always right on time, and how thankful I am that He doesn’t work according to my calendar…and my plans…and my expectations.
In that anxious week of waiting for a diagnosis…in those first days/weeks following the official diagnosis, yes, our grief was very present…once again, grief over a change in our plans…but may I be honest with you and tell you that one of the most heartbreaking things for us to consider was that some would have taken genetic testing results from our baby girl and used them as a reason to abort her.
As we began reading about Down Syndrome, we were brought face-to-face with the reality that many who receive this type of diagnosis during pregnancy choose to terminate…Friends, the percentages are high…very high. While even .0001% would be too high, we consistently saw reports that 80%-90% of in-utero babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are murdered – slaughtered as if their life has no meaning at all.
Now holding a child of our own who carries an extra chromosome…our hearts broke for these amazing children who are never given a chance…unborn children who are slain at the hands of those who see them as a burden…or an inconvenience…or a mistake – and not just the children who are diagnosed with a syndrome of some sort (sometimes inaccurately diagnosed, by the way), but for all of the babies whose chance at life is stolen from them.
Friends, God does not make mistakes…His ways are perfect….even when they don’t match our own human ideas of perfection. – Children…all children…are a gift…a blessing from the Father who gives good things…even when the road ahead is filled with fear and uncertainty. – God is the Creator…He is the Master Designer who knits us together in our mother’s womb…He is the One who assigns worth…not us. – Our Father is the One who sustains life…He is the One who decides when life will be conceived and grow and flourish…even if the surrounding human circumstances are very, very difficult – and I realize there are many, many stories that fit in to this category.
For the sake of my daughter…for the sake of those before her whose blood has been shed…for the sake of those lives who are right now hanging in the balance as their mother decides what choice she will make…I will not remain silent.
Generations ago, Esther made a choice that she would not remain silent. For the sake of those who had no voice before the king, she boldly and courageously stepped forward and with humble words and actions said, “I will choose life.”
In our time, we have remained silent long enough and the result? A Baby Holocaust. Isn’t it time something changed? In our day-to-day lives, we are able to ignore what is happening because we are not seeing the slaughter with our own eyes…but it is happening, and we MUST face this reality.
The number of lives being taken in this way is overwhelming, and you may feel as if there’s nothing you can do…but may I encourage you that there are many opportunities for us to stand up and be a voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves.
choose life by offering encouragement and tangible support to those who may be facing a scary situation/diagnosis. Many who see two little blue lines on a stick aren’t filled with the same joy that I was when I first became a mom…Their situation may be one in which they feel alone…afraid…maybe even violated or victimized in some way. These women need to know that they are loved and valued…They need to know that there is a Savior who can offer them hope in their desperation…They need to sense that we truly care and can be trusted with their story. There are also many moms who have just received a scary diagnosis for their unborn children – that would be terrifying…there would be so much fear and uncertainty…By standing ready to offer encouragement and support, we can help these moms carry the weight of their concerns and point them to a Savior who is able to bear the full weight of our anxieties.
choose life by partnering with ministries that offer hope to mothers in difficult situations. If you’re in the Charlotte area, may I suggest the Lake Norman Pregnancy Center or the Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte? They are committed to offering hope to moms in our region! Do you have baby items you could donate? Do you have a heart for counseling young moms? Do you have a story of your own that you could share with others who may be facing a situation similar to one you have experienced? Your story matters, and God is eager is use your heart to serve others to make a difference…a huge difference!
choose life by carefully considering for whom you will vote each time you’re given the opportunity – One’s beliefs regarding life will effect all of their other policies. I am not here to promote specific political candidates, a certain political party/affiliation, etc. I am simply asking you to use your opportunity to vote as a chance to stand up for human life – all ages and stages of life.
choose life by not remaining silent. As a body of believers, our silence has resulted in millions of lives lost. Why do we not speak up? Are we afraid of appearing judgmental? Are we afraid of being labeled as intolerant of others’ choices? Are we concerned that we have nothing of substance to offer those who so desperately need our support? Whatever it may be that is holding us back, may we let it go, and may we courageously and boldly begin to speak life remembering that as people of faith, our voices should be filled with love and hope – not anger and judgment. As we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our culture, we must be willing to listen…to care for…to offer tangible support…to openly welcome all who desperately need the same hope that has rescued us from our most desperate condition.
If you are a mom currently struggling with a difficult situation, I would love to hear from you! I would love to pray for you, and I promise that I will! I would love to work to connect you with someone in your area who can encourage you in hands-on ways! I would love to remind you how God has remained faithful to me during one of the scariest times in my life.
If you are a mom who has chosen abortion for your child, I would love to connect with you as well! God loves you! Your Creator longs for you to know the peace and joy that His forgiveness offers, and He desires nothing more than for you to walk forward in hope. He will never leave you…He is faithful…always.
Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte
National Down Syndrome Adoption Network
Stand for Life: Choosing Life, One Story at a Time
You are so right by Your story. Never ever doubt that. Your baby girl was designed perfectly by God, our creator. He chose You and Your husband to be Her parents. You didn’t choose the genetic testing (just as I didn’t giving birth to a baby boy 8 weeks before my 40th birthday). Everything is exactly how God predicted it would be. How Blessed You are/How Blessed She is!
I too remember the day our world was turned upside down with my unborn child’s diagnosis of spina bifida. I remember too the night she was born and in my hospital room alone experiencing God’s comfort and peace wash over me as I laid there sobbing and fearful of the future. Twenty five years later and I haven’t once regretted my decision. She has been the light of our lives. Has it been difficult, yes. It has, but we all came through each difficult time and we all are stronger because of it. He knew exactly what He was doing when he created Katie. Beautiful post!
Please visit http://www.downsyndromepregnancy.org for free downloadable brochures for new parents; loved ones and friends and pamphlets for doctors. Available in Spanish also. Donations accepted too.
The support group on the website that is recommended is beautiful for prenatal and post natal diagnosis too.
Lots of strength and love always to us all.
Thank you so much for this beautiful post. I have been thinking and praying for your family and this post–well, it’s left me speechless. God is so amazing and so good. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Beautiful words. Beautiful heart.
A sweet boy with an extra chromosome has been in my third son’s school drama productions every year. They’re good friends, and he adds to much to the dynamics of the group!
What a blessing.
Beautiful, beautiful words! Thank you so much for having the courage to share the story of your precious girl and speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves!!!
Oh, this is so beautiful. I have never been to your blog before today, but I love it here. Your words are so honest and so full of God’s Truth. What a precious baby girl you have! And I love your connection to Ester. We all need to be modern-day Ester’s and make a bold claim to choose life!
Thanks for your honesty. I find it so refreshing and glorifying to God. 🙂
This is beautiful! Thank you!
Beautiful- it has been amazing to see God working in and through your family with this
Thank you for sharing your story! My son has hydrocephalus, and I’ll never forget getting the news when he was age 2. Knowing earlier would have changed nothing for us either and we are so thankful that we live in a country and a time period with surgery, he can have a full life. We also refused genetic testing. Your daughter is beautiful!
Such a beautiful story. Thank you so much sharing! Your daughter is so precious, inside and out!
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story. May I recommend a book, Karen Kingsbury “Summer”. It maybe hard to follow since it’s part of a series, but it’s such a wonderful story to how important life is… even in the womb. Your baby girl is gorgeous and going to do amazing things in life! Continue to share her story!
May God bless you for sharing your story and standing up for the weakest among us. We have a son with special needs, except his needs could have been prevented if his birth mom would have made godly choices while she was pregnant. As hard as it is to think that his “diagnosis” could have been prevented, our sons disabilities are part of the precious little boy he is.
This was such a powerful post and I’m encouraged by your boldness to speak out for the unborn. Our youngest (now 7 months) had several Down Syndrome markers through my entire pregnancy with him. He did not end up having an extra chromosome like they thought, but it breaks my heart to think that aborting him for that reason would have even been an option. Your sweet girl is adorable! I can’t wait to hear how God uses her for His glory!
This was the top viewed link at Mommy Moments last week and will be featured in the link up for this coming week 😉 Congrats!
Thank you so much, Faith! What an encouragement you have been to me this week!
Beautiful message! Important message!
I almost missed this post of yours. I’m so glad I didn’t. I will be sharing. 🙂
Thank you so much, Emily! I am so thankful for your friendship!
This is so precious and so needed, Liz!
I know it wasn’t what you were planning. The story hits my mamas heart so fierce.
But thank you for sharing your story with us – with young mamas everywhere who need to hear that God is still good and He still knows and has a plan.
I’ll be joining you in your message on Wednesday. My heart grieves especially when I think of abided little ones and when I fall into bed each night I pray for them all. It plagues me every night.
You are a good mama and you are doing good things over here. You’re an inspiration!
Ruthie, you continue to encourage me! Thank you! You are so, so loved!
This post in beautiful! You are so courageous and encouraging! Your story is beautiful one and I’m so thankful you were willing to share!
God bless you,
Thank you for encouraging me, Patty! I appreciate your kind words so much~
So beautiful Elizabeth! God’s plans are always better then ours and so perfect! Thank you for sharing your story and speaking the truth in love!
This is absolutely beautiful. Sweet, sweet Aubrey. She is such a joy. : ) God is using her to touch others’ lives already.
Thank you!!! We are so grateful for her life and her story!!