Facing an enemy

March 16th, 2010

I wrote the following post a few days ago, but hesitated about posting it.  It’s been so very dismal, dreary, dark and dripping wet around here that it seemed like just too much.  But today we woke up to a beautiful, clear blue, sun-warmed world.

My thoughts have been such a weird juxtaposition of the present reality of life and the contemplation of the reality of death.  “In the midst of life we are in death.”  Posting this today is Just Right.

But now I want to think about something else for a while.  This is a great day to go in search of some pansies and maybe some flip-flops.

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If you asked me who my enemies were, I’d have a hard time coming up with any.  Hmmmmm.  Is there anyone I’d avoid if I saw them at the grocery store?  Maybe our former family doctor.  (But you’d be afraid of him, too!)  Other than that, I can’t think of anybody.

There is someone who keeps bugging me.  I’ve had to face him a few times, but most of the time, I can duck into the next aisle and dismiss him from my mind.  He is not my friend.  I want him to go away and never come back.  But he knows where I live and he keeps showing up, not taking no for an answer.  The other day, he wedged his foot in the door, followed me into the house and cornered me.  He took my face in both hands and made me look him in the eye.  I couldn’t get away.  I thought I would suffocate.

I have learned enough about Down syndrome now that I can see it is not an enemy.  The thought that Verity has Down syndrome no longer makes me feel sad, afraid, or uncomfortable.  I want to embrace it, not slam the door in its face.

But the past few days I have come across more and more stories of babies who did not live until birth, or who did not survive the first year of life.  Joining those stories in my mind are other stories, notes, facts, all reaching critical mass in my mind, forcing me to turn and face the reality of the enemy.

“Susanna, I have had a hard time deciding what to say to you that will encourage but let you know that I also realize that Verity might not be of this earth.

I think the hardest thing you are going to face is not that she will be special or people will want to know if you are “done” because you might have more children with “problems” but the fact that she might not make it at all.”

The mother who wrote the above words to me lost her little girl at almost full term.

And she is absolutely right. Verity is in a medically precarious position, and she hasn’t even drawn her first breath.

Here it is in black and white~

“Statistically there is a greater chance of things going wrong, which is why a proactive approach is best in terms of medical care.  Remember that both the placenta and umbilical cord have an extra chromosome as well as the baby.  A Down syndrome pregnancy is considered “high risk” and although the studies vary, the CA Birth Defects Monitoring Board states a 24% chance of loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, neonate I believe are all included).

I don’t want to make it seem scarier than it is, but that 24% loss rate for a Down syndrome pregnancy is from the time of diagnosis forward so it is a figure from a later point in pregnancy, not an overall loss rate.  So it is a relatively high figure as compared to a typical pregnancy at that stage of gestation.

I only say this because a heightened sense of caution by a pregnant mom and her doctor (whether from a confirmed diagnosis or greater chance) could potentially save the baby’s life.”

I’m not dramatizing this.  I am calling it what God calls it.  “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.”  Using smooth euphemisms for uncomfortable subjects does not make them less of a reality.  We believe in Jesus Christ the Truth, not in some superstitious, power-of-positive-thinking, man-made, pseudo-spiritual malarkey.  This enemy is rude, ugly, hateful, very unwelcome and must be reckoned with.  What do I say to him?

I say this now, and I will say it again, as often as I must look upon his detestable face:

“Death, you are an enemy, but you are not in charge.  You are not the boss.  You can’t do anything that God doesn’t let you do.  And some day you will be swallowed up in victory.  O Death, where is your sting?  O Death, where is your victory?  God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


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7 Responses to “Facing an enemy”

  1. Lisa says:

    The scariest thing I ever faced was not knowing if my baby would make it to birth. It was about two weeks between an ultrasound that showed a number of serious issues and the time we decided to go ahead with amniocentsis. I read your post about pulling out the pink baby clothes – I was there myself, terrified that she might not come home to wear them. But you know what I did? Looked the enemy in the face, trusted God, took the clothes out of the bin and filled the drawer.

    I am so glad you found me! I wish we were close and could be face to face friends too but we’ll have to see what we can do online here. As I read through your blog I was teary from the moment I first saw the name “Verity.” So beautiful. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or just want to chat. Also, not sure if you saw it but my Magdalena had surgery for an AV canal when she was 4 months old. I’ll check back to see how everything goes with your fetal echo. Sometimes I think one of the hardest things can be dealing with the medical professionals. I’m shy and emotional. I’ll be praying for you Susanna.

  2. Susanna says:

    Teary eyes here, too, Lisa. Thank you for giving me your email address and for praying!

  3. Esther Glick says:

    YES!!! You made the right choice Susanna!! We stand with you in Faith and say NO to the devil and his cruel tactics. Everyday we will choose and declare LIFE. We will not make agreements that are not according to God’s heart.
    I know from experience that some days this is easy to say, but another thing to walk it out. When you live each day with a terminally ill child the devil knows exactly when you are at your weakest, most vulnerable moment and brings all kinds of doubts and fears. He is so cruel. For me, he has often tried to use physical exhaustion to get me worn down so I don’t feel like fighting anymore. But greater is He that is within….. Ah, the POWER of listening to HIS voice. Calms all fears and sets us back on that secure rock that never moves.
    Blessings~~

  4. Joy Horton says:

    What truth, Susanna! I stand in awe of what God is doing with your faith – and mine from reading your words. Yes! Death is going to be SWALLOWED up one day. The devil only *thinks* he is having little victories here and there but what a joyous day it’ll be to witness his undoing together!

    I love you!

  5. Robin says:

    Susanna,
    I’m standing beside your family in prayer! I cry with joy for you every time I read your posts… I have been overwhelmed by the goodness of our Father in Heaven. To the world it looks like we are walking through the worst things possible but only our Father knows the depths of love and truth and healing that His presence is bringing into our hearts! Rebekah’s and Verity’s lives are gifts! We, their Mommas, are blessed by God that He would choose to pour such grand truths into our hearts through such wonderful daughters! Thank you for speaking out these truths so that my heart is reassured that our God is all that I believe He is!
    With Love- Robin

  6. Laura (kidsmomofmany) says:

    Susanna,

    I just read your post and I am in awe that you chose to quote me. Writing that to you was so hard but I wanted you to know I am here for you. Praying also that the the cardio appt. goes well and you are accepted as a patient.

  7. Susanna says:

    Thank you for praying, Laura! And thank you for the DuPont recommendation. They’re looking good compared with Hershey.

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