When you talk about wanting to have a baby and grow your family, rarely do you discuss all the things that could go wrong. There are baby showers and well wishes and in my experience, everything was smooth sailing until the day she arrived. All of a sudden what was a normal delivery became an emergency and words like “no heartbeat” and “limited brain function” were muttered. That was seven years ago and you would never know that our talkative, energetic, compassionate daughter almost didn’t make it. Our fourth pregnancy had all the risks of a fourth c-section but little did we know, that is not what would occupy our prayers and concerns. I went in for our first ultrasound, accompanied only by my 4 and a half year old. As soon as the image appeared on the screen I knew something was wrong. My fears were later confirmed when the doctor came in and informed me that our baby had an abnormally large amount of fluid behind the neck and along the top of the spine. I had a basic understanding of what that meant, having friends and family who had walked the same road with their children. What came next was something that I had not encountered in any of my pregnancies- a doctor encouraging me to “consider my options.” I knew what she meant, though she herself would not say it. The ultrasound was clear, our baby’s fate was sealed and it was time for me to “consider my options.” We were told that there was a 5% chance that our baby would be normal. Nearly impossible.
The following two weeks were long and hard and full of tears. We told the genetic counselor that we would not pursue any further testing and would simply wait and pray. At our following ultrasound, this time my husband sitting beside me, we saw a miracle. The fluid had subsided. It was still noticeable, but it was noticeably smaller. We were encouraged and continued to pray that our little one would be well.
As we discussed names for our baby (we knew now that we were having another girl), we tossed around a few ideas but nothing felt quite right. Around the 30 week mark, I was once again praying for this little life and the name Josie came to mind. I knew one Josie growing up, but it was not a name that we had considered with our other three daughters so it took me by surprise. When I looked at the meaning of the name, I knew that it was the Lord who had spoken . . . Josie means “The Lord increases.” It was He who made her and He would sustain her, no matter her estimated percentage of survival or normalcy. Her fate was sealed but sealed in the hands of a good Father God who loved her. I still hesitated to say that her name was Josie. I asked my husband, “What if something is still wrong?” It took me a few weeks of praying and listening, but I realized that no matter the outcome, I would have to choose whether or not I would trust the Lord. Even if she was born with only days to live, He would still be the one who holds her.
On the day she arrived I was calm and ready, ready to meet her and to see her face. She came in the morning and I knew that she was ok when I saw my husband’s face. Relief. Gratitude. Awe.
Josie is now eight weeks old and is doing wonderfully. Those weeks and months of unknown are fading as we enjoy her coos and smiles. And yet, I know that this is not some people’s story. Some are encountered with the reality of the 5%. One of my dearest friends did not have eight weeks with her daughter. She had eight precious days before she said goodbye. I look forward to the day when all things are made whole and right and the tears and the questions are gone but until then I will choose joy and gratitude. He is good. Indeed, He is good.