Picking up where I left off.

I can not believe it has been over two years since I made the time to sit down and blog!  I started to say, “find the time” but despite my busy schedule, time  was and is available. It was me who wasn’t!   I feel like I left you hanging mid sentence.   I had so much to say and I left you… sitting there… hanging on to my last sentence..   So I’ll pick up where I left off..

“And then the call came, Mrs. Harvey… the test was positive. Your son has Down Syndrome and will be mentally retarded. Wait!!! What??!!”

The time it took for me to fully process what the Dr. said, felt like a space of two years. There was a long pause.. I said retarded?  She said yes! Children diagnosed with Down Syndrome have limited mental capacity.. Her words were cold… lacking empathy.   I sat there… in the driveway, with tears streaming down my face.  I said ok and hung up the phone in total disbelief.  We prayed… that this baby would be ok.  I waited for years…  I took a vow of celibacy, for 13 years I saved myself for my husband. I believed God; I trusted him yet in that moment I felt completely forsaken.  I dialed my husband’s number and when he answered the phone, I asked him where he was and he said he was around the corner.   I said I just got off the phone with the Dr. and got the results of the amniocentesis.  I recall telling him the results but I don’t remember what I said.  All I vividly remember is the cry that came from the core of my being.  I couldn’t really make sense of it all… I felt broken… my heart was instantly shattered and my faith was shaken.  My husband didn’t say much when he arrived.. he hugged me for a long time.  We were actually packing up my home, preparing for our tenant to move in.  We agreed that we would not share the results with anyone.  Our tenant arrived and we quickly regained our composure, went in the house and begin packing.  The first evening was a complete blur.  I remember calling my Boss and through gut wrenching sobs, I shared with her what the Dr. told me.  She shared my grief and was graciously supportive.  She told me to take as much time as I needed.  I needed a week!

For one week, I sat in the lazy boy recliner and my husband laid on the couch. We barely ate. We did not say one word to each other for an entire day.  We were not mad with each other, but our disappointment was manifesting as deep despair.  We sat in each others presence, the way Job’s friends sat with him.  In Silence! desperately waiting for someone to call and say that it was a mistake. We waited but that call never came.  The next day, I asked my husband what were we going to do?  My husband said, the only thing we know to do and that is to trust God.  I remember asking, how do we do that?  How.??!! I didn’t really expect him to have the answer but I wanted God to know I was questioning him.  I wanted God to know I was disappointed.  I wanted answers from God himself.  But like my husband and I were on that first day.  God was silent.

Isaiah 64:12 Will you restrain Yourself at these things, O LORD? Will You keep silent and afflict us beyond measure?

Psalm 83:1 O God, do not remain quiet: Do not be silent and O God, do not be still.

 

 

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Whose Report Will You Believe?

Like most people I use social media to keep up with the lives of family, friends and former coworkers.  FB has reminded me of birthdays, anniversaries and announcements of baby births.  I get to see graduation pics as well as accomplishments, promotions and weddings.  Facebook certainly has its benefits. The clever thing about Facebook using the new memories feature is that we are often reminded of things that happened during the same time last year or in the past several years that we would have otherwise not normally thought of.  I was reminded by Facebook of life changing memories a few weeks ago. As I looked back over the pictures, my mind was flooded with various emotions. I have been reflecting on those memories ever since.  On Labor Day in 2011, over 50 family and friends gathered in our home anxiously awaiting the gender reveal of the miracle baby I was carrying. The pictures that flooded my Facebook page on the day of the reveal spoke volumes. Friends and family from all around the US and abroad joined in our excitement and celebration.  And if pictures were worth a thousand words, those pictures would have screamed words like: faithful, awesome, amazing, praise God! ! A modern day miracle baby. We called our baby a miracle because after two missed pregnancies and the diagnosis that a viable pregnancy was slim to none, there was no other description that seemed fitting or appropriate. And after being told it was unlikely that I would conceive, we walked away from our final fertility appointment telling the Dr. who delivered the grim news… that we chose to trust God. She warned me in no uncertain terms that getting pregnant could prove to be life threatened for me, based on my history. It was at that moment my husband and I chose to believe the report of the Lord.  We agreed that no matter what happened… from this point forward we had to trust God. We left that appointment hopeful, despite the report we received.  We decided not to share the news with anyone.  That night as we walked into our cell group bible study, a friend said to me, I prayed for you today and God said that he was going to restore your womb and you surely will conceive and have a baby.  She was unaware of the grim report we had just received hours earlier and she proceeded to pray fervently over my womb.  And three months later, almost to the day….guess who was pregnant.  You guessed it!!

My husband and I were so excited that we were going to have a baby. We planned a vacation to Mexico as a last get away before our bundle of joy was due to arrive and while i was till safe for me to travel. While we were in Mexico, we got a call from my Dr. asking how I felt and to find out why I did not want to have an amniocentesis.  The Dr. went on to say that because of my age (and solely because of my age) his recommended was that if I were not going to consider the having the test that I would at least consider going to see a maternal fetal specialist.  I told the Dr. I wold consider it when I returned back to the US but for now I was going to enjoy my vacation.

Upon my return home, my husband and I agreed to see the maternal fetal specialist.  It was the Friday before our reveal party. The Dr. saw some abnormalities with the baby’s heart, she said these abnormalities were consistent with children who had Down Syndrome.  She asked why I didn’t want to take the Amniocentesis, I said in the end, i am having the baby regardless so taking the test wouldn’t do anything but cause unnecessary stress for the remainder of the pregnancy.  BESIDES, my miracle baby did not have Down Syndrome so the test wasn’t really warranted.  My husband jumped in, with concern in his voice and asked if I could still have the test ( since I was so late in my pregnancy)  The Dr. said yes.  My husband encouraged me to take the test, just to rule out the possibility for once and for all.  We talked about the risk, but convinced that our miracle baby was fine, I agreed but I assured the Dr. and my husband that the baby did not have down syndrome. My mind was already made up, I was going to believe the report of the Lord!  The test was completed and we were told we would receive the results on Tuesday.  (the day after the reveal party)

Labor Day 2011, The Big Reveal ….our home was filled to capacity… There was an unexplainable but very tangible sense of love and excitement in the air.  Chants of people shouting ( and I do mean shouting)”team Boy” or “team girl”  could be heard beyond the confines of our walls.  Our house could not contain the excitement. And as people waiting with extreme anticipation for us to cut the cake…. the lingering thought in the back of our minds was not whether the filling of the cake was blue or pink but whether the results from the amniocentesis were positive or negative.

We cut the cake……  “Team Boy” wins!  We’re having a Boy!  A namesake for the Harvey Legacy. The crowd roared!

And then the call came, Mrs. Harvey…. the test was positive.  Your son has down syndrome and will be mentally retarded.  Wait!!! what??!!

Psalm 27:13-14  Isa 53:1

Nevertheless…

I sat there perplexed not because the question that was just asked was a difficult one to answer because I had given it much thought over the past three and a half years. Now the question was staring me dead in my face, and I had to give an answer. Somehow saying the words out loud made the reality of what I was saying even more real. I was sitting in church following a Sunday morning service, speaking with a young lady who had recently relocated to Atlanta. We were talking about our visions and dreams and I was sharing my testimony about Jon Jon. She glanced over at him and smiled as she watched him play with the other children. She looked at me and smiled again and said, “If God could heal Jon Jon of Down Syndrome totally and completely would you want that?” As I sat there smiling back at her, I pondered how I could articulate my response in a way that she could not only understand but appreciate. I thought about the piece I read about “Holland” but certainly wasn’t about to try and recite that. (And by the way…if you haven’t read that yet. ..you should ) My mind fondly thought of the 43 days I was in the hospital on bed rest while pregnant with Jon Jon. I remembered my Dr’s and Nurses being very concerned about my skyrocketing blood pressure. ..and my newly appointed Cardiologist and Pulmonologist giving me more information than I thought I could handle about the Congestive heart failure I had recently developed. . I remembered my husband staying with me all night..then going home to feed and walk the dogs and going to work and coming back …not missing a single day for 43 days… I recalled a nurse asking me in amazement…”you know your baby will be born with Down Syndrome and you’re ok??! !” I thought about all of the visitors and all of the prayers that were prayed…all of the hope and all of the anticipation of the arrival of the miracle baby I was carrying. How could I explain to this young lady that days after we found out that Jon Jon had Down Syndrome we bombarded the throne of heaven with “nevertheless” prayers? We were “shaken” out of ignorance but nevertheless we were like the three Hebrew boys who faced the firery furnance… we knew on the date of the diagnosis that God COULD totally and completely heal Jon Jon but
we also acknowledged that if he didn’t, he was “nevertheless”still God and he could use Jon Jon in any state he was born in to bring hope, joy and incredible Glory to his name. We embraced that truth from that day until today. As I reflected the young lady patiently sat and waited for my answer. It was at that moment, I responded and said I want God to use Jon Jon inspite of the extra chromosome. I believe the miracle rest in the fact that Jon Jon is excelling beyond what anyone could have imagined. His extra chromosome makes him wake up with a smile on his face that can not be erased by the cares of this world. Jon Jon’s love is the perfect depiction of God’s love. It is without judgement or apprehension. His presence lights up a room.. his determination sparks hope…his joy is a tangible manifestation of God’s love. It is undeniable, that the extra chromosome makes Jon Jon who he is. God created him that way and to ask God to change him would ultimately mean I believe God somehow made a mistake when he created my son. I don’t believe that for one minute …
I looked at her and said I think I feel like Jesus when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane … he understood his plight and acknowledged that if there was another way he was open but “nevertheless” not his will but God’s will be done. Matt 26:39 I understand that mindset. I know that this journey will have it challenges… but I don’t want God to change a thing. I love Jon Jon just the way he was created. #reignbowaftertherain.

For Such a Time as This…

A few weeks ago, I took my son Jon Jon to a routine Cardiology visit.  I was following up after a recent Urgent care visit to make sure the pins that were used to close his chest after his heart surgery were still intact.  We walked into the Doctor’s office and the Nurses were elated to see Jon Jon, noting how much he had grown and how vibrant his personality was.  Jon Jon in his usually fashion greeted everyone with a quick wave and a flash of his million dollar smile.  He found his way to a little boy who was sitting in the waiting area while his Mom finished up the check-in process.  I immediately followed Jon Jon to his new found friend because Jon Jon is known for his overly affectionate greetings.  I urged him to used” kind hands” and to my surprise Jon Jon climbed in the chair next to the little boy and said hi and then quickly ran over to entertain himself with some of the toys that were in the waiting area.  I left Jon Jon in the waiting area and took my turn at completing the check-in process.  I could hear Jon Jon’s cheerful chatter in the background as he entertained himself with the toys.  The nurse and I caught up on all of the exciting things that had taken place in Jon Jon’s life over the past year.  I shared that he had started Pre K and had adjusted  very well.  We shared that he was speaking a lot more and had mastered a lot of the goals set for him during his last school year.  After catching up with the Nurse I returned to the waiting area to update and sign some paperwork.  As I glanced over at Jon Jon I smiled internally knowing his journey and how far he has has come.  I said Jon Jon you are playing nicely like a big boy…Mommy is so very proud of you.  Just as I was about to finish signing the last page of the paperwork, the Mother of the little boy turned to me and said…. your son is blessing me so much right now! I smiled not sure what she was referring to exactly.  She went on to say I just had a little girl and she has…. And she burst into tears.  I knew what the end of that sentence was and I knew the emotions she was feeling at that very moment.  I could relate.  I stood up and walked toward this perfect stranger sitting in the waiting area of the Cardiologist’s office and opened my arms to offer her a hug.  She received my hugs and cried in my arms…. They weren’t tears of sorrow… But I understood those tears because I have cried them,  at times I still cry them.  But now they are silent tears…. Tears that acknowledge that my greatest fears have become my greatest joy. Jon Jon was born with Down Syndrome and what the second time Mom said without words was that her daughter who was just born, was also born with Down Syndrome.  She said he’s amazing! I said and she will be too!!! I told her she may not understand it now but having a child with Down Syndrome is an amazing and rewarding Journey.  All Children are Gifts!  but Children with Down Syndrome are an indescribable gift, it’s a surprise package.  As we sat there I began to share my story with her..(the one I will share with you).. All of the details…. she listened intently in amazement and while she was fascinated by my story, she could relate…because there were so many similarities.  We discovered that God had performed miracles in both Jon Jon and her daughter’s life. Life changing miracles that made the question of his existence impossible to deny.  And then they called her son’s name and she exited the waiting room encouraged and hopeful. The Nurse overheard our conversation and she too was blessed by what I had shared…..she said and just think if your appointment wasn’t cancelled last week and if you weren’t late today you would have missed the opportunity to meet her.  It was a divine appointment and it was at that very moment I realized that “for such a time as this”Jon Jon was born!. His story is a miraculous one indeed, one filled with lots of rain and many “Reignbows”.  And for this reason alone….  I can’t keep silent.  I must continue to share our journey..  Esther 4:14

Hello world!

After spending several months of my life in the “rain” of life’s experiences, I realized a profund truth.  There are rainbows after the rain! These rainbows are created so that we can see the beauty of the experience we faced.   It creates a level of appreciation and respect for the rain.  It makes us conscious of the necessity of the rain.  And in a weird way it makes us look forward to more rain understanding that more rain will bring new, brighter and even greater rainbows.  And if we are truly wise, we will learn how to “reign” in the rainbows… Sharing our rainbows help others draw strength, encouragement and hope from them.  It’s in the sharing that our “Reignbows” are illuminated the brightest.

“Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”- C.S Lewis