Our Storm

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It’s been so long since I’ve posted here.  Life has a way of the days adding up and speeding forward through seasons… and that’s what it’s done for us – until something devastating stopped us in our tracks.

I’m a little over 20-weeks pregnant and over the past week and a half we discovered and confirmed that our sweet expected Baby’s earthly body has some critical abnormalities which will make it impossible for Baby to live long after birth.

This sudden great testing of our faith is a journey we have just begun, and we will need a lot of support and prayer.  I’ve written more details below, if you are interested in following along with us.  Many hands {folded in prayer} make a light load. 
  With Greatest Thanks, Shannon (& Jeffrey)


First Drops of Rain

On Tuesday, July 22, we joyfully set out for our 20 week ultrasound – the kids stayed home with my Mom who was in town (it also happened to be her birthday), expecting to learn soon if the baby was a brother or sister upon our return.

Half an hour later, Jeff and I sat in the waiting room of the clinic, chatting quietly and listening to the upbeat pop music playing on the pandora station over the waiting room speakers.

I kept sipping from my cup of water, having been reminded by the scheduler over the phone, that I needed to have at least 5 cups of water prior to the ultrasound.  So I drank until my bladder ached and finally the technician called us back to the room where I could not-so-gracefully climb up on the table next to the ultrasound machine.

We were seconds away from seeing our 5th baby on the black-and-white screen.  I expected to see within the first minute that this baby was a boy, as I had felt certain the entire pregnancy.  And if I was right, then Jeff owed me a snow-cone on the way home.

Soon our baby’s little image was on display, and we quietly let the technician spend the first few minutes looking and measuring.  The quiet began to bother me, so I started making little comments, “oh, I see some feet”…. “Are we looking at the top of the head there?”  She was kind but short in answering my questions.

As the minutes dragged on, I sensed that something was wrong, especially since she kept looking again and again at our baby’s head.  I knew in my heart something wasn’t right.

Finally she abruptly stopped and told me she was going to let me go empty my bladder and come back.

I silently obeyed.  I knew this wasn’t a good sign.  The ultrasounds for my other four babies had never lasted this long or been so quiet.  Something was wrong.

When I stepped back out of the bathroom, the tech let us know she was going to ask the radiologist to come back and take a look with her while we continued the ultrasound, and with that, she left the room.  I held Jeff’s hand in silence.

Several minutes later we began round two of probing my belly and looking at our baby’s head from every possible angle, except we couldn’t seem to get a good look at the face.     Baby was wiggly, but curled up in a comfortable position and it seemed to me that he/she didn’t have much room to move around – was the placenta abnormally large?  I listened as the tech quietly mumbled things to the radiologist – terminology which didn’t make sense to me, but I picked up on phrases such as “is that the left side?”  Answered with “I can’t find structures on either side.”

It seemed to last forever and as I kept my eyes glued to the baby on the screen, a song kept playing over and over in my head, “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you….”

The radiologist began to talk to us in a very quiet voice and again – terminology which made no sense to us.  By the time we were wiping clear jelly off my belly, all we understood was that something was wrong with our baby’s brain development, the amniotic fluid was low, and that our doctor would be calling us to explain more and would be sending us to a specialist.

Even the gender was still a mystery.  I had asked the technician to look one more time, hoping to bring home some good news to the kids, but she was unable to get baby to move his/her little legs out of the way. It was only as we were walking down the hall towards the exit that I realized we didn’t even have a print out picture to show the baby’s brothers and sisters.

I shivered walking out the clinic door and was thankful for the warm sun.  We climbed back into the truck and just sat there for a few minutes.  I was struck with how different this had turned out from what we were expecting just an hour before.

Jeff started the truck and we prayed together.  Then he started to move down the road towards a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant we had talked about going to for a little short date before returning home to the kids.

My mind reeled.  While I thought this couldn’t really be happening, I also thought this didn’t really surprise me that much.  Since the beginning of the pregnancy, I’d had this feeling that this surprise blessing was a gift to be held with open hands.  I had not expected to be expecting again, after all that God has given us, and at my age.  I had been trying to get over baby fever and get ‘okay’ with the idea that my 2-year-old was my last baby afterall.  So when the positive sign showed up on that pregnancy test, I had the feeling from the start that I shouldn’t take this for granted, and that ‘anything could happen.’

Still, as we got out of the truck and I glanced up at Jeff’s reassuring smile as he opened the door for me, I felt like I was floating in a fog – a scene that couldn’t really be my life.

Please don’t let this be real.

The place we walked into was tiny – really no bigger than a single-wide trailer.  Booths and tables were packed in where they would fit.  A cooler of bottled drinks from Mexico stood in the corner, and the kitchen was behind the counter, separated by a tattered curtain.  Some kind of saga was playing out in lighting-speed Spanish on the overhead TV.  This was place was perfect; I was in my happy zone.  Jeff took a phone call from our pastor while I chose a table and slid onto the bench, only to hop up a minute later when a girl standing behind the counter begin asking me what we wanted to eat.

Between bites of the best torta I’ve ever had in my life, and sips of Orange Fanta in a glass bottle, the reality of the situation begin to set in.  The atmosphere of the restaurant was strangely comforting to me, but then I would start crying with no warning, only to be okay a minute later.  We tried to talk to each other, but there was so much to process.  We had already started texting friends and family who were anxiously awaiting our ‘happy announcement’ of boy or girl.  So when the news begin to trickle out to only our closest friends and family that ‘it looks like something is wrong’, our phones were being peppered with reassuring messages of prayer and encouraging words.

These prayers would be pillars to lean on during the storm that was coming.

 To continue reading, click on Baby’s Story at the very top of the blog.





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