Motherhood

I Couldn’t Fathom

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By:  Sherry Clair
(Continued from: I Didn’t Want Him)

We shared the news with family and began moving forward; however my anger at God had not dissipated and I reminded Him often. Just over six month pregnant, I was taking a moment to mentally glare and grumble at God. I was suddenly so overwhelmed with such a fierce love, a severe longing and desire to have my baby that it brought me to my knees, sobbing. I wasn’t frightened by his movement anymore; I was terrified of never feeling it again. I wasn’t overwhelmed at the possibility of difficulties in the future but overcome with the absolute want and need to have a future with this baby. For Abi to hold her brother, for josh to meet his son, to hold him in his arms and tuck my nose into his neck and breathe in the scent that would be so uniquely Gabe. I WANTED my baby. I knelt begging for forgiveness and praying for my son. I was no longer angry, but I still wanted to understand why? The answer that I FELT was clear, Lazarus. I found a bible and began to read.

Lazarus and his two sisters; Mary and Martha were beloved friends of Jesus and he often stayed with the family when his travels brought him through Bethany. Martha often served as hostess and Mary spent time listening and learning from Jesus. Mary even acted with extravagant abandon and devotion, when she used perfume, costing a year’s worth of wages, to wash Jesus’ feet, unknowingly anointing and preparing him for his upcoming burial.

In John chapter 11 we discover that Lazarus has fallen ill, his condition is so concerning that the sisters send word, imploring Jesus to return and heal their brother. Despite the fact that Jesus loved the family very much, he remained where he was for two additional days stating in verse 4 that “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death, no, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this”.

When Jesus decided the time was right for him to return to Bethany, the disciples attempted to dissuade him, expressing their concern over the risk that he was taking traveling through the area where so many were scheming for his destruction. Jesus was unmoved and shared with them in verse 11 “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up” seeing the disciples confusion he continued “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes I am glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come let’s go see him.” When Jesus arrived in Bethany he was told that Lazarus had been in the grave for four days; by all appearances he was too late.

I stopped and reread; Jesus loved this family, but didn’t go to them, he let Lazarus die. I didn’t understand, Jesus had SAID that his sickness wouldn’t end in death. I could understand why leaving the work God had given him might not have been possible, but I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t have healed Lazarus anyway. In Matthew chapter 8 a centurion came to Jesus requesting he heal his servant, who was in bed at home. He knew that Jesus had the authority to just speak and it would be done. If Jesus did it for the centurion’s servant why didn’t He do it for Lazarus?

I kept reading; understandably Mary and Martha were devastated. Not only had they lost their brother, but I imagine that they may have felt a loss of hope. If they believed that their brother would not perish due to the awesome authority of Jesus, it must have come as an even bigger shock when he did succumb to his illness. Mary, Martha, their family and the community were grieving the loss of their loved one when Jesus arrived. Martha and Mary, each in turn, went to him saying “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died”. To them, the chance for a miracle had passed away when their brother breathed his last breath. It must have been so difficult for them to understand, why a man who had performed countless miracles and had the authority to make the lame walk, give sight to the blind and a voice to the mute, let someone he loved perish.

Jesus knew Mary and Martha’s hearts; he knew that they believed the time had passed to heal Lazarus. Mary, Martha and the entire community stood wailing and grieving over the loss of their loved one. As Jesus stood witnessing this overwhelming grief, he was deeply moved and became very troubled in his spirit. John 11:33 describes his feelings as “a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled”. I couldn’t understand why Jesus could be angry with Mary and Martha, he was the one who let Lazarus die. I am sure that he felt some frustration over the disbelief that he was witnessing in Mary and Martha, but maybe His feelings weren’t directed only towards those that were present. I believe that it was toward death itself; the pain and sorrow that had to be caused to ultimately bring glory to God.

Jesus was so troubled within his spirit over the situation that Verse 35 says that He wept. Jesus wasn’t weeping over the death of Lazarus, he KNEW that Lazarus had to die and be raised from the dead. He was weeping with and for those that he loved. Understanding the way Jesus felt standing outside Lazarus’s tomb, I was able to understand the grief that He must have felt when we received Gabe’s diagnosis; the sorrow that he had to have had over my devastation and anger when my prayer hadn’t been answered. How wrong I had been that day when I turned my eyes towards Heaven imagining a heartless and detached God, His heart had to be aching as much or more than mine at my sorrow and despair. It didn’t bring God any joy to not send the answer we were expecting.

Verse 39 finds Jesus going to the tomb and demanding that the stone be rolled away. His request met resistance from a concerned Martha, who still didn’t understand what was about to occur. She responded “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible”. Jesus must have been further troubled knowing Martha was almost unknowingly refusing a miracle because she was concerned about the smell. Jesus could only respond to Martha by saying “didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believed”. In verse 41 Jesus turned his face towards heaven and said “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Verse 43 then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out”.

Lazarus was dead; his heart had stopped pumping blood to his organs causing them to shut down and stop working all together, the blood pooled in his body becoming thick and stagnant. He was not breathing; no oxygen was being shuttled to and from the lungs. Lazarus had been taken and prepared according to Jewish customs. His body cold and firm, wrapped from head to toe in burial cloth, laid inside a cave, covered with a large rock and left to decay for four days. Jesus called out to him, called him to draw breath and life back into body, for his heart to beat again; Lazarus stood and exited the tomb.

I don’t know why Gabe has Down syndrome; I don’t know why God chose this path for my family. I don’t know why bad things happen or why sometimes God doesn’t heed our call for help or rapidly answer our prayers. But I do that know Lazarus died. Jesus didn’t heal him from his illness; he grieved with and for those he loved. I also know that Jesus made an opportunity by not healing Lazarus; He had an opportunity to bring Glory to God.

Gabe is perfect; he is smart, strong and so sweet. He is joyous, inquisitive and gentle. He was born without complication and has had none of the medical issues and conditions that are so common for individuals with Down syndrome. He is growing and meeting his milestones. God didn’t miss an opportunity, he made one. When I look at Gabe I am reminded of Lazarus, I am reminded each day that of the opportunity that God has given us; one that has strengthened our faith, taught us unconditional love, and has brought Him Glory.

…I don’t know what your thoughts are, that’s a blessing and a curse. Maybe you’re in a similar situation, maybe you’re facing a prenatal or birth diagnosis of Down syndrome, or any situation that you just can’t seem to understand. You may not be the only one thinking the things your thinking, no matter how bad they may sound in your head. You know my thoughts now, and I hope you know that you’re not alone…

Motherhood

What It Should Have Said

By:  Sherry Clair

I was cleaning out my closet today; sorting through old clothes, photographs, boxes of odds-n-ends. The kids were happily running around the house playing with each other and being about as loud as a herd of elephants wearing microphones. They came running into the closet, scampered around the mess for a moment or two and then turned to run out. Gabe bumped into the chair that I was perched upon on his way by I had to let go of the box I was holding to steady myself. I reached down to pick up the papers that had been scattered and stopped.
I recognized it instantly. It was creased and wrinkled. There was a spaghetti sauce stain on the corner of it and ink smears where my tears had fallen onto the paper. I opened it up, smoothed it out and took a deep breath. I knew what it said, I had read it enough times that I practically had it memorized. It was given to me tucked inside a manila folder and placed in a binder alongside pamphlets and informational flyers. It was a life changing paper, one that altered the course of my family’s lives.

It said, 47, XY, +21, abnormal karyotype. Analysis shows three copies of chromosome 21 (Trisomy 21) in each metaphase cell examined consistent with the clinical diagnosis of Down syndrome.
It said, common manifestations include mental retardation, cardiac abnormalities, small stature, gastrointestinal complications, hearing and/or visual disorders and hypotonia. Social development is typically more advanced than intellectual development.
It said, there is a greater than 30% risk for fetal loss in the second half of pregnancy.
It said that there is an increased risk for chromosomal abnormalities in subsequent conceptions.
It said to me that my child, my son, was abnormal on a cellular level. That he would face physical and intellectual challenges. That there was a chance that I would not get to meet him. And it said that it could happen again.

It said to me that life as I knew it was over, the child I had dreamed of was gone.
It said things that made me not just cry, but sob uncontrollably. Things that made me go through the next several weeks worrying about the safety and well being of the baby growing within. Things that painted a drab and dreary future of abnormalities and complications. Oh how wrong was that paper.
What it should have said was; we have completed your testing. You are having a baby boy. His cells are more unique than most of the ones we see. Inside of each and every one of those microscopic discs is an extra twenty first chromosome. While the addition of this extra chromosome may make it more difficult for him to do all the things that children without Down syndrome do, it does not mean that he can’t. It does mean that he will find his own way to do them and he may do them at different times than children lacking this extra chromosome.

What it should have said was; While this little extra piece may seem daunting and overwhelming, included within it are some amazing things! There is a laugh that is contagious, it can fill a room and make even the most somber smile and chuckle. There is a determination that will sometimes test the limits of even the most steadfast parents. But that determination will be used to accomplish many things! There is an infectious joy that passes from this one little person to all those around them. There are hugs and cuddles and kisses and snuggles that are absolutely unbeatable.

What is should have said was: There are lessons tucked away inside that additional twenty first chromosome. These lessons are best taught by the little one who carry them. Lessons on acceptance, unconditional love, empathy, compassion and selflessness. Lessons that makes us view the world around us in a completely different light. Lessons that makes us stronger as parents. Lessons that remind us not to rush and to take time to enjoy the little things in life. Lessons that accumulate to make those around this little being, just a little bit better.

What is should have said was: Inside of this chromosome there is an extra dose of resilience and drive, humor and personality, understanding and patience. There is strength, forgiveness, steadfastness and even temper! There is sweetness, fierceness, willfulness, and stubbornness. There is rhythm and dancing, silly songs and imagination. There is intelligence and brilliance, ability and accomplishments.
What it should have said was: This chromosome’s effects are not just isolated to the one whose cells contain it. It will impact and touch all those who encounter this child. Hearts will be softened, perceptions altered and lives changed by this sweet boy. It will change you. You will learn more about yourself than you knew before. You will be an advocate, a voice. You will find a strength that you didn’t know existed, a boldness that may even surprise you.

What it should have said was: With this information may come a feeling of fear, worry, anger, disappointment, uncertainty or even guilt. Those feelings are normal, it can be challenging to imagine what life will be like caring for a little one with so much extra inside of them. Take some time and be patient with yourself. Remember that the baby you are carrying is still the same baby; you are just one of the lucky ones whose child contains a little extra amazing.
What it should have said was: Congratulations, it’s a boy!

Read more from Sherry at her website https://chroniclesofmommy.net/