A few weeks ago, the Lord let us in on a secret--our baby has spina bifida. We missed the normal quad test because we were on vacation, but the day after Labor Day, we were at the doctor's office for an ultrasound. The office had recently gotten a new 3-D machine, and we were excited to come home with the little picture. The ultrasound tech was doing the normal review--those of you who have had children know the drill:
two arms, check
oh, look there's the face (of course, I don't see it)
But then, as the tech is looking at the head, she says, "I see a problem."
I was devastated. For the next two or three minutes, the technician is looking at the baby's head and I'm wondering what kind of "problem" we have. It felt like an eternity, and I have absolutely no clue what she's talking about when she says, "the ventricles look a little big." I think it was another few minutes before she told us that she thought our baby has spina bifida.
"Spina bifida?" I vaguely remembered that it was some nervous system problem that we learned about in high school biology. I had no idea what it was (that would change in the next six hours). Susan and I sat silently, waiting for more information--Susan was crying, I was desperately trying not to. And I was thinking of all the worst case scenarios--is it lethal to the baby now? Will the baby live very long after birth? Will the baby make it a few months? a few years? Will the child have severe mental impairments? All the while, I was praying that the Lord would give us strength to know how to react and what to say.
The ultrasound technician finally told us that spina bifida is a defect in the spinal cord that occurs when the vertebrae don't fully close around the spinal column. The spinal column protrudes out of the spine into a sac that protrudes from the baby's back. (I'll put together a more technical post with more information later).
Twenty or so minutes later, we sat down with a gynecologist who assured us that spina bifida is not lethal, that people with spina bifida usually live "full and active" lives, and that we needed to make an appointment with the perinatologists. Little did we know that this would be the first of many new doctors we would need.
A few minutes later, Susan and I were walking out of the office. We were stunned and rather numb. When we stepped outside, the sun was shining and the weather was beautiful. I don't know if I'll ever forget the incongruence between our emotions and the beautiful weather.