I can still remember the night my cell phone rang just shortly after 8:00pm on a Tuesday night. As soon as I looked down at the number and recognized it as the number to my doctor's office a tight knot formed in my stomach. Somehow, I knew I was about to hear something that would rock my world. "Mrs. Crayne? This is a nurse from your doctor's office. I'm sorry that I can't answer any of your questions, but I had to call you to inform you that the test results from your baby's ultrasound did not come back normal. We have discovered multiple cysts covering both kidneys". It was impossible to stop the fear and tears that began to wash over me in that moment as I found myself pleading for answers. "I'm sorry Mrs. Crayne, I can't answer any of your questions, all I can tell you is that you need to make an appointment as soon as possible to follow up with your doctor." In that moment, my world came to a screeching halt. First thing Monday morning, I found myself 45 minutes from home in a new doctors office, where following a 2 hour ultrasound, my husband and I were taken into a small room, sat down in two cold metal chairs, and told, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but it doesn't look like your son will make it to term, and if he does, he only stands a very small chance of survival" God, however, had a different story in mind for Elijah. It's a story about faith. It's a story about hope. It's a story about a miracle.
As I quietly feel apart, I felt the calm, reassuring hand of my husband next to me. As the genetic counselor asked us if we had made a decision about the pregnancy my husband was able to speak what both our hearts and our faith told us. We were keeping Elijah for as long as God would give him to us. It was in that little room that Elijah's testimony of God's power and goodness was beginning to form. I remember hearing my husband, almost laugh as we stood up to leave, say to the counselor, "See, what you don't understand is, God has a plan for our son and His plan is to heal him."
I wish I could say my faith was as unwavering as my husbands, but in the beginning, I struggled. With ever doctors appointment we were told over and over, "His condition hasn't changed. "Abortion is still an option" (this was offered ,unbelievably, even up till I was 32 weeks pregnant). Every little baby kick I felt didn't bring joy, it brought waves of fear. "Would I ever get to hold him? What will our lives look like after he's born? What if I God doesn't heal him and I have to plan a funeral?" I prayed and prayed for answers. Finally, one afternoon, I was vacuuming and feeling Elijah's usual baby kicks, getting quite stronger now, and suddenly something in me changed. There inside of me was life, moving, growing, breathing - living, and as many days as God was going to give me to share in the life of my son, I was going to take joy in him, I was going to have hope. I was't just going to believe in miracles - I was going to ask God to give me one!
I turned off the vacuum, and for the first time, felt renewed, purposed, and like a Mama Bear ready to fight for her young, I grabbed my Bible and demanded for God to give me His answer. I'm not one to encourage the "open up your Bible and point" philosophy when it comes to hearing the voice of God, but in this case, I was desperate and didn't know where to look. I needed God's direction. As soon as I opened up my Bible, I found myself staring down at Psalm 139:
13For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
God knew my son. Though I may not have understood His purpose or His ways. I could trust that God had a plan and that ultimately, whether Elijah was born into this world, or born into heaven. God was going to use him for something great.
Elijah was born in under two hours of labor on September 11, 2009. We barely made it to the hospital! After he was born, the midwife handed him over (I hadn't planned on a midwife, the doctor just didn't make it to the hospital in time) and I remember the relief of being able to hold this little man in my arms. They sent him off for another ultrasound on his kidneys and told my husband and I we would need to make an appointment with a specialist in Children's Hospital in Washington DC to read the results and begin the next steps of treatment. Still, for both Ben and I there was a quiet peace and a growing faith that God had a miracle in store for us.
Elijah was six weeks old when we arrived in Washington DC to meet with the specialist. We were escorted back to another little room where we waited to hear from the doctor to come in and discuss his findings of the ultra sound. When the door finally opened, we were staring at the face of a very puzzled specialist whose first words were, "Can you please tell me again why you were sent here?" I could feel tears of joy being to fill my eyes because I knew what was coming next. The doctor finished, "I have checked his ultrasounds over and over and there are no cysts on either of his kidneys. You have a perfectly healthy baby boy".
Elijah starts kindergarten this Fall and out of all my kids, he's the one who is sick the least - he has never shown signs of a disorder of any kind. Of all my kids, even at just 5 years of age, he is the first to offer comfort to someone who is sad, or offer kind words to someone in need. His heart is sensitive to everyone around him. I know there are many Moms out there with stories similar to mine. Some have experienced the joy of a miracle, others the heartache and tears of letting go long before any parent should ever have to. I can't speak for every situation, or to God's purpose behind every heartache, but I can speak to you who are facing the same news, the same agony that I felt when I first learned my son wasn't supposed to live. When life is out of our control, when our ability to fix something is beyond the work of our own hands, there is only One that we can turn to.
There is only one of two answers in response to Elijah's story. Either the doctors were wrong from the beginning, and they urged me to terminate the pregnancy of a perfectly healthy baby, or there is a God who is real, a God who has a plan, and a God who still performs miracles.