I am brave because God is within me.
(For all of the posts regarding our 5th baby, please click here.)
This is the phrase I’m choosing to proclaim over my life, over each day, over each hour. I’m full of hope, and I will not live in fear over our baby boy’s diagnosis of Spina Bifida. Nor will I doubt the goodness that is yet to come.
When I feel fear come near, I think of Joshua 1:1–9 when God commanded Moses’ successor, Joshua, to be the next leader of Isreal. This was not an easy role, and the LORD knew Joshua needed to be brave. Three times in this passage God told Joshua to “be strong and courageous.”
And that is exactly what I am hearing God speak over me. “Be strong and courageous Maggie, for I am with you.”
We are treating this pregnancy the same as we did our other four pregnancies: with elation, trusting the LORD to do a mighty work through this child’s life. Truly, I share with you the only way I am able to breathe right now is because I know the LORD is walking before me.
I have since bought a couple of BOY newborn outfits, a washable puppy-dog “lovie,” and two new swaddling blankets. We are living bravely because God is with us. We will soon set up our oval crib and matching changing table.
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Allow me to be honest: when I don’t keep a Christocentric focus on my life, I am very fearful of the future.
I hear the enemy tell me so many scary things about my future, and I know they are false. God does not speak fear over me, He speaks LIFE and TRUTH.
I hear the enemy tell me I have to solve (on my own) the many details regarding the future, and that is false, too.
Three verses come to mind:
2 Timothy 1:7 –
“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Psalm 4:8 –
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 23:5 –
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
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I slept a total of 90 minutes Sunday, February 19th, the night before our big morning of appointments in Ann Arbor, MI. Our Airbnb was small, but our worship that evening was grand. Zack had set multiple alarms (haha) for the morning because we didn’t want to oversleep. All night long, while I was supposed to be sleeping, I kept wondering, “God, what are you going to do tomorrow?” The ways in which He chooses to work remain a mystery, though He reveals Himself to me when I draw near to Him (James 4:8).
We woke at 5am and expected God to show up in special ways at the Women’s Hospital.
Throughout my morning appointments, He did show up, though you can believe I also cried many times that day. It wasn’t until later that afternoon that I grabbed ahold of my mind (once again) and began to re-write the things I want to believe.
I am brave because God is within me.
I am strong and courageous, for the LORD is with me.
Our baby is wonderfully made. We will receive with rejoicing the knowledge God has given mankind so we can help one another.
First, my 90-minute ultrasound is still showing signs of Spina Bifida on our baby. BUT, we have a very active baby boy growing in my womb :) We saw some things that were unexpected, but we also saw a lot of health, and that brought encouragement. I will rejoice over all that God has done, and has yet to do, with this baby!
We then met with our Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist, reviewing even more specifics of what is showing up on the ultrasounds. We discussed at great length what surgery will look like, along with my after care, and the success rate with prenatal surgery regarding the areas of concern. I can’t believe this may be my future, but I accept it if that’s where God wants to lead us. We are praying that baby and I qualify for surgery in 6 weeks (24 weeks gestation).
Third, we met with a genetic counselor to give family history and discuss the details of having an amniocentesis. Friends, I am AMAZED at the insight doctors have as they learn about the way God creates life.
Our God is a God of order, intentionality, purpose, love, and miracles. Every single child formed is a miracle. The LORD shows Himself to us in the unique way each person is formed. We have ultrasound photos from 11 weeks, 15 weeks, and 18 weeks, and just within that time frame our baby boy is growing and reflecting his Creator. It’s miraculous.
I know I write of my tears and fears, but I’m also filled with much rejoicing. I have much to be thankful for, and I recognize that. I have chosen Christ, and because of that, I have nothing to fear.
Our last appointment was an amniocentesis, a prerequisite for prenatal surgery to even be considered. Zack and I had multiple weeks to weigh the pros and cons of this procedure; we did not take it lightly. In the end, I decided to say yes to an amnio (my first amniocentesis ever), and I will be very honest, a portion of me was afraid. There is risk every day, in every choice we make, though usually the risk is immeasurable or not even considered.
But this decision had a different type of risk. I had to evaluate what I felt God was calling me to do as the mother HE made me to be. I took this having procedure very seriously, so please be kind as you process what I went through.
As I wrote earlier in this post, God has spoken a very clear message over my life.
I am brave because God is within me.
We went back to the ultrasound room. The tension I felt inside my body was strong, but it was a choice. I could live fearfully or I could live with reflection over Who owns my life. I was honest with my MFM specialist as she and the ultrasound tech prepared for another scan. I told her I was afraid of having an amniocentesis. (As if she couldn’t already tell, snort.)
Here is another example of how God showed up in a very special way. After I told my doctor of my fear she paused and said to me, “Does it help to know I am not nervous?”
Oh, yes, yes, absolutely!
I cried during the procedure. I cried over the pain. I cried over needing to be still and calm. I cried as I recognized my smallness when compared to the kind, loving, big God I serve. Zack held my left hand as the needle went through my uterus. My doctor spoke truth and assurance over me the entire time.
Afterward, once my belly was cleaned up, I was reflecting on what we’ve experienced. Of all the conversations we have had with doctors and nurses and counselors. We were reminded of the type of care I have to practice for the next 24 hours, and I signed my name on the line.
The doctor was saying her goodbyes, reiterating what was next for our plan to care for our baby and me.
Before she left the room I told her, of course with a broken-up voice, “Thank you for being so gentle with me today.”
She paused, her posture visibly buckled in my presence. She grabbed my foot and said, “Of course.”
I truly believe that is exactly the way God responds to us when we give Him our thanks. He see’s our hurts, our concerns, the tiny details that make up our lives. When we invite Him in and show Him our gratitude for all He’s done, why would He not respond with tenderness?
I am past the 24-hour “watch” for any adverse side effects. I am praising God for carrying our baby boy through without concern!
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My God showed up for me in three really special ways on Monday.
Thank you so much for joining me and my family in prayer. Please continue to lift us up, and please – if you don’t yet know your Creator, invite Him into your life by recognizing the joy He brings as He walks alongside you and renews your steps. Ask Him to save you from yourself, to be your Savior.
He will bring you under His pinion as He goes behind, beside, and before you.
John 3:16 ❤️
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What is Spina Bifida?
Spina Bifida (SB) is an exposure of the spinal cord and fluid. This can occur anywhere on the baby’s back, and it’s exact location can cause a variety of side effects, including paralysis, motor function, and bladder/bowel control. SB cannot be reversed, but there are surgical options for improving the baby’s health and life.
What are the expected benefits of prenatal surgery on babies with Spina Bifida?
Many benefits abound:
- Improves motor function
- Improves cognitive function
- Decreases chance of infection at spinal cord exposure site
- Protection over injury of spinal cord during delivery
- May improve bladder & bowel control
- May improve ambulatory (ability to walk)