Nothing in this pregnancy has gone as planned and that includes what was to be my final echocardiogram to check Arrow’s heart. I arrived Friday, August 4th to Dr. Krabill’s office to check in for my appointment. Unfortunately due to my health insurance, Kaiser Permanente, which is a managed care plan, there was not a referral received and I was unable to be seen. We decided to reschedule the appointment for the following Tuesday when I was scheduled to be back down at Swedish for my weekly appointment, and hope the referral had come through at this time.
I tried not to feel frustrated that I wasn’t going to get more answers on Arrow’s heart that day, that instead I had to wait another four days. I tried to focus on the fact that in a few short minutes I would be downstairs at Maternal Fetal Medicine for my NST and would get to hear Arrow’s heart.
I laid on the exam table bed, hooked up to monitors listening to Arrow’s heart beat. I tried to find peace and joy in this moment, only I could tell by how my NST tech was watching the monitor Arrow was not moving as much as they desired. The tech had me drink cold apple juice, still Arrow’s heart rate would not increase the 15 beats they desired for the 15 seconds they desired. It would increase close to 15 beats but never the 15 seconds. The tech then tried using sounds to get Arrow’s heart to increase; again her heart rate would not increase the desired beats and duration they wanted/needed. After a 40 minute NST (they are to be 20 minutes) the tech decided to end the NST, have the provider review the results and decide next steps.
I walked the office hallway to the exam room for my appointment with Dr. Tran trying not to panic, trying not to worry and trying to just trust God in this process. I sat in the exam room waiting for Dr. Tran, hand on my stomach just praying; praying Arrow was okay, that she would be strong and continue to fight. Dr. Tran entered to the room, sat in front of me and said “Your NST is not giving us the results we desire. We don’t see baby moving at the rate and duration that would tell us she is ok. Given this, I tend to err to the side of caution so we have two options. Option one, we admit you to antepartum and monitor her for 24 hours, if she performs well you go home tomorrow. If she doesn’t perform well, we keep you admitted to antepartum, or as we then call it, baby jail, until she can be delivered or performs well. Option two, you drive home, have an NST at your local hospital and if the results are not favorable we transport you to Swedish and place you on baby jail.”
After discussing the two options in more depth with Dr. Tran, we mutually agreed the best decision was for me to be admitted from there to Swedish. I fought back tears as I texted Aaron telling him I was being admitted to be monitored. Everything moved quickly in terms of speaking with the doctor, being walked over to Swedish antepartum and then admitted to my room that I didn’t have time to call Aaron until I was settled in my room. Once I was settled in I was able to call him, explain in more detail why I was being monitored, what we needed to do with kids and to coordinate him coming down to stay with me.
It was hours until Aaron was able to make it down as we agreed he didn’t need to leave work early. I laid in my hospital bed, hooked up to fetal heart monitors, trying to read my book to distract myself and trying to fight back the tears. I was trying to keep the fear at a distance; but there were moments I couldn’t see the words on the page as my eyes watered and tears fell. As much I held to my faith and trusted God was in control, I was scared if I would lose my baby girl; if Arrow was going to be alright. I allowed myself to acknowledge these fears and worries as they were real, they were mine and denying them didn’t make them go away. As I felt them, as I cried tears, I prayed and gave my worries to God; I allowed myself to allow Him to bring me comfort and peace in the midst of the unknown.
Aaron arrived that evening about 7:00, at the same time the nurses were changing shifts. Our night time nurse would be Lynda. The moment she introduced herself to me I knew there was a reason she was our nurse, a reason beyond the fact that her schedule forced her to be our nurse. At that time I had no idea what it was, but there was a connection with her that couldn’t be explained; as she spoke to me, as she checked my vitals, I found myself finally being able to relax and just know that God was in control just like He was at Tuesday’s appointment when all results were good.
Later that evening I learned why she was our nurse and saw again how God works. Many would call it coincidence, and I won’t argue that, but for me, I know this was God working. Lynda entered the room to check my vitals and remove the heart monitor for the evening to allow me to sleep comfortably given Arrow’s heart rate and movements were looking good since I had arrived to antepartum. While Lynda was doing her job she was speaking with Aaron and me about how she was to run a 5k the following morning when she gets off work. We inquired what the 5k was for, to which is explained the race was to raise money for ultrasound machines for pregnancy clinics. She explained further there are studies that show if a woman sees her baby in ultrasound the rate of termination decreases and this is a passion of hers. Hearing this caused me to share with her a piece of our journey; I shared with Lynda that Arrow has Down Syndrome; that just today an article was released stating that Iceland is boasting they have “eradicated” Down Syndrome 100%. I continued to share of our journey and the counseling to terminate the pregnancy once we learned of the diagnosis. Lynda had a lovely talk with us about how all people have “something”, we just know what Arrow’s something is prior to birth. She shared of her son being a healthy baby, healthy kid, but as a young adult is fighting depression so badly he still has to live at home, is on medication and finds life hard; she shared of her daughter, healthy baby and as teen was diagnosed with diabetes. She then asked if she could hug me; and then reached over, placed her arms around me, hugged me and she stood back up, looked at me then at Aaron, and said “I am really proud of your decision. I know it may be scary, but I am really proud. Again, we all have something and I am so proud of you two. I will keep you in my prayers.”
Peace fell upon me as she spoke those words. God knew what I needed to hear. I am not a saint because I chose life for my baby with Down Syndrome. I am not a superhero, or anyone special. I didn’t know that hearing someone was proud of our choice, rather than questioning us, would give me the peace that everything was going to be alright. I didn’t know this simple affirmation would remind me that God has plans, not my plans, but His plans. I may not understand them, but I needed to continue to trust, even if the outcome was not what my heart desired, because He will always make good from all situations, and He would continue to walk with me, carry me and help me to find joy in the midst of fear, heartache and worry.
I fell asleep that night feeling calm, knowing God was with me in this journey. Lynda may think she was just a nurse at Swedish that evening, doing her job, but what she will never know is she was the speaker of words this mama needed to hear, at the time I needed to hear them; that her words helped me to relax, to remember God was in control and that my beautiful baby girl was in good hands.
I left the hospital the next morning for home as Arrow was “performing” well and providers felt she was healthy. As we drove home, Lynda’s words continuously echoed in my head, and the peace of those words continued to fall on my heart. It was like God was telling me “Tiani I am proud of you for your choice. I am proud you listened to me and not to the naysayers. I am proud you are choosing to love her even though you don’t know what the future holds, but even now you have given her all your heart; I am proud you didn’t listen to the fears that were being spoken to you but instead stood in faith.”
I'm a single mom of four radiant kids who believes in relationship with Jesus over religion. I'm trying not to battle with fear anymore - instead I am choosing to follow what God has called me to do. With that you'll find me here, trying to be brave, with the goal of being authentic and honest about God, single parenting and the beauty in the mess of my joyful chaos. It's sure to be a journey... and I am blessed to share it with you!