Monday, January 27, 2014

Beautiful

I carry this piece of paper in my purse, and have for several months now:



It is the copy of an ultrasound report I was given when I was 21 weeks pregnant with Juliette.

In addition to identifying her gender, her gestational age, and all the measurements they take at that stage, it related the following concerns:

  • Cardiac outflow anomaly
  • Descending aorta not well seen
  • Accessory vessel adjacent to left ventricle outflow

In other words, heart defects.

At the bottom was the recommendation for follow-up:  Needs cardiac ultrasound at BC Women's Hospital.

My doctor's office made the referral appointment, and I received a packet of information telling me what to expect when Matt and I went to the hospital: genetic testing and counselling; a detailed heart ultrasound for an official diagnosis; a meeting with specialists and plan of treatment by the end of the day.

I lay awake for part of each night in the week leading up to the appointment, replaying the possible scenarios in my head.  I wondered if she would survive childbirth, when my fully functioning heart would cease to pump blood to her lower extremities.  I prepared myself for the likelihood that surgery would be necessary shortly after she was born.

I wept.  I prayed.  I read the first chapters of the Gospel of Matthew.

And in my mind, I took my little girl to the shores of Galilee to see the One who healed all who came to Him there.

By then, she had a name, Juliette.  Matt and I normally waited until later in pregnancy to make a final decision, but I had been insistent that we settle the question now.

"I don't know how long we'll have with her," I told him.  "I want her to have a name as long as possible."

The days passed by as they did before, with paid work, housework, baseball and parenting.  But the worry weighed heavily on both Matt and me, and we grew taut as string just before it breaks.

I wondered if I would, in fact, break.

Until that moment, a week after the appointment in which I first got the news, when I lay on my back for the ultrasound at the hospital in which I have delivered all of my babies.  For twenty minutes, very little was said while Juliette's other organs were measured to ensure nothing was wrong with them either.

Then the radiologist moved to the heart.  Over and over and over she moved the scanning device, and we watched the picture on the large screen they have for parents.

Four chambers.  Regular contractions.  The scanning device moved the slightest bit to the side.

All at once, I saw it.  Not some strange, cloudy malformation that descended like failure into darkness.  Not some scrambling little "accessory" blood vessel trying to do a job it was never going to be able to do.

I saw the aorta.  The full aorta, arching like a cane before descending clearly down, down, down.

And I knew, before the first, second, or third doctor could confirm it, that everything was going to be okay.  They each came in turn, looking carefully but unable to see any of the defects named in the first ultrasound report.  And when they were absolutely, positively sure, we received the official diagnosis of Juliette's heart:

"Beautiful."

Modified by a second, equally unscientific word,

"Perfect."




I will show the paper to Juliette one day, when she is old enough to understand.  Though neither she, nor I, will ever fully understand what happened.

It is enough to know that what I feared was not, in the end, so.

That what was imperfect was, by a technician's error or the healing power of the God, made perfect.

Beautiful.

6 comments:

  1. All of God's mercies are sweet, but this...this takes the cake!

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  2. This brings back memories of my pregnancy with Michael, though of course it had a different outcome. First we were told something was wrong, then the follow-up where we were told nothing was wrong, but my mother's heart knew all along something wasn't right, and this was confirmed a few weeks after he was born. Still, it was all part of God's plan for him & us. I look at him every day and am amazed and inspired by our sovereign God, Michael, and the Doctors, and science. We have come so far!

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    1. Agreed--so thankful for all those who cooperate with God in bringing healing when diagnoses go another way, and thankful along with you that Michael's doing so well! One of the harder parts of the experience was seeing the sheer number of parents who were there along with us, with the same worried hearts, and knowing how many of them walked away with a different diagnosis/reality than we did. Those parents have been on my heart and in my prayers ever since.

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  3. A similar thing happened to some good friends of mine. They had one child through IVF, but all other attempts to have more children failed. Somehow (a miracle, in my opinion), they became pregnant on their own, then found out their son had heart and kidney defects and would need surgery. When he was born, no defects were found, and he is a very healthy, robust little man.

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