It’s not too shocking that we occasionally meet someone for the first time, and at some point in the conversation hear the words “ohh, you’re the ones with the little boy that we prayed for years ago.” This actually happened a week ago. Although I’m not a big writer, I’ve been wanting to write about Brocks beginning for a long time. Talking about it last week encouraged me to go ahead and write.
I’ll just start at the beginning.
It actually started with feelings of fear, shame, and embarrassment. Along with being extremely nervous and anxious, we were initially ashamed that we had become “that couple.” You know- the one who gets pregnant outside of marriage. I was only 19 and we were both still in college. I remember being so upset that my “good girl” reputation was going to be tainted. Ryan was nervous because it meant that he would be graduating college and immediately starting a family.
Thankfully we had an awesome pre-marital counselor who helped us realize that our baby was not a mistake. He wasn’t an accident. He was made and formed with a purpose by a God who loves us. Being pregnant only sped up our marriage plans. We also are so blessed to have an amazing family, and great friends who were supportive.
We found out mid-October that we were pregnant. By the beginning of November we were engaged and planning a wedding. Our wedding was to be in January. The plan was that we would both finish the semester at LCU with Ryan graduating, and me transferring to a different college. New college. New town. Newlyweds. Pregnant. It was a lot to take in. November was mainly just full of wedding planning and school. December, however, brought a new challenge to the mix.
Our first sonogram at the beginning of December was just like most couples first sonogram. Exciting and scary and unsure of what exactly to expect. We were both thrilled when we first heard our babies heartbeat, and had measurements taken. We even thought that we could tell that it was a boy! Then came a moment that I’ve experienced a few times since then. Without saying anything, the sonographer got up and said “I’ll be right back.” Instead of coming back with a CD or some sweet little pictures and saying “we will see you at your next appointment”, she came back in with a doctor. A doctor who informed us that our baby had a birth defect.
Whoa! Not something we ever dreamed coming. Basically he told us that Brock had gastroschesis, and that we would need to leave for a couple of hours and come back to meet a High Risk Specialist.
I remember going to breakfast with Ryan, and neither of us having much to say. Just prayers. And questions. And Why us? When we went back, the doctor went over everything. Information overload. The news was a lot to wrap our heads around. Our baby would be born with his intestines outside of his body. His abdominal wall didn’t close like babies are supposed to.
This news put a whole new twist on our wedding. While we were (now) excited about a marriage and a baby and our future. We were also afraid. We were afraid of miscarriage. Afraid of a NICU stay and surgeries. We were afraid of how we were going to pay the bills. Afraid of moving. But we were in it together. Brock only made us stronger as a couple.
January through April would be a pretty typical newlywed first few months. These months we were discovering how to be husband and wife. Learning to live together. Who would do dishes and who would take out the trash. Who would pay the bills and who would do laundry. We were sorting through the little things. We had found a great church family, who became a big blessing while Brock was in the hospital. And we tried to not stress about what was to come.
Of course, I couldn’t not think about it. Babies like these occasionally died in the womb and were stillborn. So during Calculus 3 and Finite Math, instead of focusing on the instructor, I would keep tallies at the top of my notes on each time I felt the baby. We were meeting pediatric surgeons, and High Risk doctors, and had multiple sonograms and OB appointments each week. We toured the NICU.
End of April our sonograms started getting scary. Brock’s organs were all becoming enlarged. Abnormally enlarged. I still remember the first time it really hit me. It was a Friday, I was about 32.5 weeks, and supposed to have a quick sonogram checkup and then head back to take a Probability and Finite Math test. I went to my appointment alone because Ryan was working, and I had had so many by this point that he wasn’t coming to all of them. There was no need to. I would just go, do a quick scan, see that things were OK, and then leave.
The Not-So-Good Sonogram
This time was different. This time wasn’t good, it wasn’t quick. His already large organs were larger. We weren’t sure if they would still function if they continued to grow. Again, the sonographer had to call the doctor in to meet with me. Our doctor informed me once again that these babies are occasionally stillborn. She said that I would likely deliver soon, because now the complications of prematurity were less risky than the complications from the birth defect. She told me that I had to count kicks hourly. I was scheduled for another sonogram 3 days later and sent me off. I was devastated. Crying, I called Ryan and met him at work to tell him. I ended up completely missing my test.
That Sunday I had a baby shower at my best friend’s house. This put my mind at ease. It was small and it was most of my closest friends. I felt peaceful, and the little baby gifts got me super excited again!
Monday I went back for my sonogram, and things hadn’t gotten any better. They sent me home to eat lunch and get my bags. I’m a big time procrastinator, so of course I wasn’t packed at all. Ryan and I took our time, went out for lunch, packed, picked up our apartment a little, and then headed back to the hospital to check in. I was regularly monitored and we were scheduled to deliver at noon on Tuesday.
Brock was born Tuesday weighing 5 lbs 2 oz and with all of his large and small intestine outside of his body. He also had hydronephrosis, which meant that both kidneys were severely enlarged.
The next 2 months were some of the hardest most challenging months of my life. They were also the most rewarding. I learned that I truly have no control over a lot of things. All I could do was give Brock to God and hope and pray that Gods will for Brock matched up with mine.