Most of you know that we had our fourth baby, a third daughter, Evangeline, this past June. What you likely don't know is that the doctors had told us that she would possibly have a myriad of health problems, the specifics of which would be uncertain until she was born. We have three other children, all perfectly healthy, and none that had any suspected health problems in utero or have had any significant health issues since, so when I was scheduled for my ultrasound that could detect growth, abnormalities, and gender, I was fine with going alone. Zach was deployed, and although I would rather he be with me, I was confident I could come up with some clever way to tell him the gender (which I naively thought would be the biggest news of the ultrasound) via Skype or the phone. The ultrasound took a very long time, much longer than any other I'd ever had. The technician took many images of the same organs: the heart and the kidneys, more than I had ever noticed in my ultrasounds with the other kids. I asked if something was wrong, and she didn't say, "No;" she simply stated that she was getting as many images as possible so the doctor could determine what was going on. I started to cry. When the ultrasound was finished, the doctor came in and told me to join him in the consultation room. I had no idea what he was going to tell me, but I knew it wasn't going to be good news. I tried to remain calm and collected, but inside I was aching for Zach to be with me. The doctor started using words like "heart defect", "kidney abnormality", "cleft pallet", "Down Syndrome", "advanced maternal age" (which I still beg to differ with!), and "amniocentesis." My head was spinning and he lost me in the details. I was scheduled for a series of ultrasounds to take place throughout the remaining months of my pregnancy so that they could track these issues and prepare appropriately. I was overwhelmed with all of this unexpected information, and was just in a daze. Before I left, the doctor asked me if I had any questions. Um, yeah! Where do I begin?! But all I said was, "Is the baby a boy or a girl?" He said, "Oh, the baby is a girl." This piece of information, which I thought would be the crux of this appointment, was mentioned as an afterthought. This was not turning out how I expected.
I didn't know what to do. I knew I needed to tell Zach all of this information, but I knew he would worry about me and the baby. He was so far away and wasn't coming home anytime soon. He called a few days later and we discussed everything. He, of course, was encouraging, assuring, and optimistic. We opted against the amniocentesis to avoid putting me and the baby at any unnecessary risk. I spoke with a few family members and close friends about the situation and also phoned my obstetrician from Charleston for her input and expert advice. I cried a lot; I prayed a lot; and I waited for the next ultrasound. The day arrived and again the doctor spoke with me afterwards. The kidney abnormality had seemingly righted itself, and the heart issue appeared to be getting better. Each time I attended the next ultrasound, the doctor talked with me afterwards, going over the images and discussing what was going on with our precious little girl. Each time the findings were better and more "normal." Zach returned home and was able to attend the final ultrasound of the series with me. The doctor determined that the kidney abnormality no longer existed. The heart defect seemed not to either, although he ordered an ultrasound to be done on her heart once she was born. While we were overjoyed at this, we still wouldn't know about her heart for sure until she was born. I didn't want my child's life to be full of health issues or be cut short due to a heart problem. I continued to pray and wait for "the big day."
We had come up with three potential name options for her (Luciana "Lucy", Chloe, and Evangeline "Eva"), but I always like to see the baby before we make the final decision. This is what we did with the others, and this was what I wanted to do this time. We prepared (as much as one can prepare) to become a family of six and finally went to the hospital on June 9th to have our baby girl. After a quick (but, unfortunately, not painless) labor, our little girl was born. She was beautiful, perfect, and 100% healthy! She had no problems, no abnormalities, no nothing, but an old mom that loved her dearly from the moment I knew she existed to that moment when I held her for the first time. We decided she must be named Evangeline which means "good news." She definitely was!!
This past November, I thought about something specific I was thankful for each day. As Asher, Soph, Zach, and I discussed this variety of things we were thankful for, I was reminded of what a gift our health is. We are so blessed with four healthy children. I often take that for granted and am making an effort to be more mindful of what a gift it truly is. God is good. Life is good. Celebrate it!