Jan 11. 2010
Sunday was Beatrice’s first birthday. It is one of those times you just want to be alone. Conversation was burdensome. No one around me could understand what I was feeling. How could they? I couldn’t even articulate it. Still can’t. And probably never will. I am surprised the enduring hold this precious little girl has on my heart. Maybe because I think about her, wonder about her, and pray about her almost everyday. After all, for a brief time, I was her Mommy.
I don’t know where she is celebrating her first birthday. It could be with a loving family. But because of the severity of her heart condition, she may be celebrating as she sits in the lap of Jesus. Either way, for Bea, it is a win-win situation. There-in lies the paradox, the conflict of emotions we experience on this side of the veil. Joy-pain. And peace.
Happy Birthday precious Bea, where ever you are.
A few months ago, Maggie asked me to tell her about when I carried her in my tummy. “Oh boy, here it comes.” I thought. I had wondered when she would finally start asking the tough questions. “Maggie, I didn’t carry you in my tummy. I wasn’t able to carry a baby in my tummy. But I carried you in my heart.” “Mommy, did your heart get really big when you carried me?” “Oh Maggie, my heart got so big, I thought it would burst!” So much joy- and in some ways, even a greater miracle when the Lord brings a child into your life, chosen from hundreds of thousands of babies, just the right one, at just the right time.
So when you see a beautiful little face with those eyes- eyes just like Maggie’s- so wise beyond their years (and in this case, a hint of impishness, even at 8 months old), you start to sense that same stirring of life deep in you heart. I fell in love with this child, the first time I laid eyes on her picture. I couldn’t get her out of mind. So after staring at her picture on the waiting child list every day for a week, I finally submitted an application. She had a congenital heart defect but initially it didn’t seem so bad. We were accepted as a candidate to adopt her. Then we got the bad news. She had one of the worst CHD. I talked to several colleagues familiar with this defect. A cardiologist I work with looked at her echocardiogram. It wasn’t good. Open heart surgery is imperative. The procedure carries a 10% mortality. There is a 35% chance she will need at least one more open heart procedure. She has an 80% chance of reaching her tenth birthday.
The reality, as one of my friends said: It was very likely we would bury this child. She would not outlive us like kids are supposed to do. Parents are not supposed to bury their children. Literally, from hour to hour, my heart changed direction on this decision. Joe and I talked for a long time. He wasn’t daunted by the odds. I was so proud and moved by his response when I told him about her chances of becoming a teenager. “But we would give her one heck of a run!” What we both agreed on in the end was the timing was wrong. We just weren’t in a position to jump right into the monumental care this child would require. And what about Maggie? Was it fair to expect her to finally get the little sister she asks about every week, only to watch her undergo so much pain and perhaps, have to say goodbye to her? What about my Mom? This would be a burden she would be effected by as well.
Thursday night at work I talked to a physician who shares the Faith. He gave me some great words of advice. Right from the start I had the feeling we may be this child’s best hope of survival. One of my friends said as much. But this doctor wisely told me not to let guilt play any role in making this decision. I told him we would know when we made the right decision. We would have peace. And we do. But this peace floats on waves of pain. This is a miscarriage of the heart. We have lost a baby whose face we had already seen. I could almost feel her in my arms. And I know for as long as I live, I won’t forget her precious little face.