Later that week we met with the other doctor. The waiting room was small and packed full of people. We waited over an hour in this room, watching people come and go. The room was thick with fear and worry. There was no back door here, no way to escape the tears of grief and heartbreak.
When my name was finally called, we were escorted to a cold, dark room. I sat on the table while Daren sat across from me, feeding Ruby a bottle. A friendly sonographer came in, introduced herself, and began the sonogram. She started to point out its body parts, “Oh look at the sweet little feet.” I was trying so hard to ignore the images on the screen. I didn’t want to be sentimental during this sonogram. I just wanted the facts. What does its head look like? Without commenting on the head, she printed up the images, handed them to me, and told me that the doctor would be in soon.
The doctor was small, wiry, and old. He looked at the images and then explained that, indeed, the head and brain were not developing properly. Then he said that it was one of two birth defects, Hydranencephaly or Acrania. It was still too early to confirm one or the other. He explained the differences, but I wasn’t really listening. I did hear him say that it was probably Hydranencephaly, because Acrania is the more rare of the two. I also heard him say that they both carried a poor prognosis. He said that he would contact Dr. Deem with the information, and we would need to decide whether to terminate or carry to term. I quickly told him that we didn’t plan to terminate. He nodded, indifferent to my choice, and turned to leave. Before he left, I asked him to write down the birth defects for us. I didn’t want to try to figure out spelling in the car again. And then he was off to the next pregnant women.
The week before Daren started a new job at TCU’s Institute of Child Development. After this appointment, we swung by TCU to ask if he could have the rest of the day off to spend with me. They might as well have pushed him out the door. Of course you need to be with your family. We left and went to my older sister’s house. I needed to sit and talk and cry with Anna. I handed Matt the piece of paper the doctor gave me. Hydraenancephaly. Acrania. He explained the birth defects to us in a way that we could understand. I listened this time. But still the same prognosis: poor. As we were leaving, my four-year niece, Charlie, brought me a gift. She told me that the gift was for her baby cousin. Mommy told me that the baby is sick. Inside the bag was a stuffed lion and a card that she colored on. My sister wrote:
“We wanted you to have something tangible as you pray for this little life inside of you. We chose a lion because we serve the King of the Universe, who also meets with us daily, hears our cries, and wipes away our tears. We love you and this child inside of you.”
I cried, hugged Charlie, and mouthed “Thank you” to Anna. Now I had something to hold onto; I needed this little stuffed lion.
Daren’s boss called him later that day. She asked if we would come by TCU on Saturday so she could pray over the baby and us. Yes. Please! We will take all the prayers we can get. So on Saturday, we drove to the TCU campus to meet with Dr. Karyn Purvis. This was my first time meeting her, and I was a little nervous. Dr. Purvis was a well-respected author, a true advocate for children, and a powerful speaker. People from all over the world wanted to learn from this woman. But when we walked in, I saw this sweet grandmother coming towards us. She embraced Daren and then pulled me in tightly. I immediately felt overwhelmed by peace. We all sat down and Daren filled her in on the all the appointments and current prognosis. She explained to me that her mission in life was to love and serve children, specifically the unwanted children. I thought about how earlier in the week I was asked if I wanted to terminate this baby inside of me, this unwanted child. She then asked us if she could pray over the baby. I wish that I could remember her prayer word for word. This sweet, gentle grandmother transformed into a powerful, bold disciple. She prayed to God with an intimacy and wisdom that gave me chills. I do remember that she asked God for His mercy on this child. God’s Mercy? What does that look like? Surely that means that we won’t have to suffer too long, right?