October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I think today is the best day to address a question I received yesterday (anonymously). Here's what the reader posted: "I'm curious about what the decision was like to have a 3rd child. it had to have been scary. yet maybe by that time, you knew even if you had another child with SN you would be able to handle everything. not sure if your 3rd was planned (and none of my business). just so curious since so often fear gets in our way & it looks like it didn't for you. which is really remarkable."
[note from Jennie: for those of you not "in the community" or close to someone who is, "SN" means "special needs"]
[to anonymous: thanks for the "remarkable" comment... it's only by God's grace]
To answer that question fully requires some history. I'll do my best to be brief.
We struggled through infertility before we were blessed with Nathan. I won't go into all the details, but his name means "gift of God," and he is definitely that (I've been tagged to tell about the names of my children and I'll do that soon). After Nathan was born, we figured it would take another long journey to conceive again, so we started trying a few months after Nathan was born. We were wrong. We listened to my OB say "twins" at an ultrasound in April 06, and I can't count the number of times Mark said, "Wow" while holding Nathan, then just six months old. We became extremely excited to be joining the twins club. Fast forward two ultrasounds later and we found that we were not going to meet these little ones. It was the worst day of my life. I'll spare you the gory details. But you need to know that Joshua and Eli are still present in my thoughts and dreams. At the time I wanted no one other than our closest friends to talk to me about what we had gone through. Now here I am sharing it with complete strangers. I guess that's part of the healing process.
After that, God chose to walk us through infertility yet again. And we had to move for Mark's new job. It was almost a year later and we found out I was pregnant (after taking 8 days of Lupron shots for IVF... can you believe it?... the month we were going to try IVF and God gave us a little life without needing IVF?... sure you can believe it... read on). Because of the Lupron, I had to take progesterone and estrogen through the first trimester. And I had a SCH that caused a bunch of bleeding and we were given a 50/50 chance of miscarriage. But God wanted us to have this baby. THIS baby: Micah. (but picture, just for a moment, us having Nathan, Joshua, Eli, Micah and Matthew... five boys in under 3.5yrs?... no, it would never have happened, for more than one reason, and I'll share that below).
Yes, Micah was the next child God wanted us to raise. But it wouldn't be right for me to lie and tell you that I wasn't angry. And during those initial days after receiving Micah's diagnosis, I was angry not just about him having Down syndrome, but because I felt like God took away my twins and gave me a boy who was flawed. I know better now, but those early days of diagnosis are very dark days.
We always wanted 3-4 children so we didn't have my tubes tied after Micah, though we were asked again about it in the OR during my c-section because I had a major uterine window that would have ruptured if I had labored another hour (and did I mention that maybe, just maybe, that's why God took the twins when He did?... maybe the uterine window would have ruptured, killing both of them and I if I had carried them to "term"... not that this possibility makes me miss them less, but, well, don't we all try to figure out God's plan sometimes?). And, of course, we were crazy busy with Micah and open-heart surgery, and my brother's wedding, and... who would have thought...
That we would have a SURPRISE pregnancy! Yes, Matthew was a surprise, but we weren't preventing a surprise, if you know what I mean.
Just to let you know, the odds for having another child with Down syndrome didn't increase for us after having Micah. They put the odds at 1% for everyone (edited to say that I meant everyone who had a child with Down syndrome already), but by age 40 the odds are higher than that anyway. We weren't worried (though my perinatologist must have thought we were because she was pointing out every little thing about Matthew during my 20week ultrasound that showed that he likely didn't have anything wrong with him). I guess part of that lack of worry for us was because we figured even if we ended up with another child with Down syndrome, the odds were in our favor that that child would not have all the medical challenges that Micah has. But the primary reason was that after everything we had gone through up to that point, we knew that God was the One who was painting our family's portrait. He would give us the child He wanted us to raise. And He would choose whether that child would have Down syndrome (or something else much worse), or whether he would have blue eyes and an ear-piercing scream like you've never heard before.
All that to say... the choice to have a third child wasn't scary (and I usually consider him my fifth anyway). We knew we would have three or more. We just didn't know whether the next child would be our biological child or whether we would adopt. And we still might adopt someday, but that's a topic for another day.
Thanks for asking. Keep the questions coming. We're only halfway through the month.
[By the way, I saw our new house for the first time yesterday. Yes, it's true, Mark found the house over a month ago and we put a contract on it even though I had never seen it. It's very nice and I can't wait to get into it and get out of this apartment!]