Shattered Dreams?

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Unable to hold our son that night... :-(

Three months on, and I still see these images in my mind… How bittersweet those first few days were.

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I love the devotionals and blogs written by ‘Girlfriends in God’. These three women write so beautifully for Christian women about faith, life and love, and everything in between. It’s for parents, for busy professionals, for young women and older – for women everywhere.

I don’t read these devotionals every day. Today I read the post from 3rd October. I found this post so moving, so inspiring, so helpful. It’s about shattered dreams that we may face. This may take various forms, such as a divorce, the heartache of infertility, the death of a child, or losing one’s job, and so on.

Here is a snippet from the devotional:

“Every day I receive emails from women who have had their dreams shattered. A husband has an affair, becomes addicted to pornography, abuses the children, or deserts the family. A child gets caught with drugs, becomes pregnant, or dies in a car accident. Parents divorce, friends betray, careers come to an abrupt halt. The list is endless. So what do we do when our dreams are seemingly destroyed? The answer to that will shape the rest of our lives.

 

Does that mean we give up our dreams? I can promise you this, whatever dreams you have for your life, God’s dreams are greater. The power of the Holy Spirit the disciples received after Jesus’ resurrection, and the impact they made on the world thereafter, was beyond their wildest dreams. That’s what God does with a heart that is wholly yielded to Him. That’s what He does when we give our shattered dreams to Him. I have learned to stop saying, “Why me?” but instead start saying “What now?” ”

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When Asa was first born, it was incredible – now we had a baby boy and a little girl! This is the dream right? The dreams we had… Daddy would play football with his boy, teaching him to kick the ball, to ride a bike, to love God. Mummy would choose some adorable little outfits, pray with and for him, wash football kits. Emelia would tease her baby brother, try to dress him in girly clothes, force him to wear makeup or play hairdressers… Perhaps!

Later that night, in the Neonatal Unit, the nurse told us that our perfect little boy had some features of Down’s Syndrome and that the doctor would meet with us tomorrow to discuss it.

*BOOM* – shattered dreams. Would Asa ever get to play football with his dad? Would he be sporty at all? Would he…? Would he…? Would he…? The questions in my mind kept coming. That was possibly one of the worst nights of my life (other than the second night in hospital). My baby was not with me, and was poorly, fighting for oxygen and fighting an infection upstairs in the NNU. My husband was not with me – he was home without his wife and new child. My daughter was not with me – to make me chuckle or distract me from my pain. My God – yes He was with me. Thankfully He is always with me. The Bible tells us He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13 v 5), and I know that to be true firsthand.

 P1080936Daddy and his boy, aged 2 days old.

The next day, Saturday 7th July, we met with the doctor who confirmed his suspicions of Asa’s DS. We signed the consent forms for the necessary chromosome testing in a haze, a fog of fear, of worry and of pretending to be fine. I can honestly say that Jon and I thought our dreams were shattered. That second night I sobbed and sobbed, praying God to take the DS away, feeling utterly terrified and alone. What made it worse was that night Asa had two seizures and the doctor couldn’t tell me why.

While pregnant, even though we knew our baby faced a 50% chance of having DS, we didn’t really think it would happen to us. How arrogant we were. How ignorant and foolish. I wish with all my heart we had done our research… We would have seen that our dreams needn’t have felt like they were shattered. I wish then what I know now. That DS isn’t the end of the world. But I can’t go back in time and change that initial reaction. Those ‘bad’ days are lost forever, and I feel guilt for not fully being there for my son. I adore Asa, we both do. He is his own person. DS doesn’t define him. Our dreams for him are similar to Emelia’s – for us to raise him well, for him to be happy, to love God, to go to school and learn, to fall in love and to be loved. Are any of these dreams sounds familiar for your children?

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Sometimes life throws us a curve ball – something that we don’t expect, or imagine, or want, or know how to deal with… Stresses come. Illnesses happen. Death steals. Sin destroys. Yet there is one thing we can do – we can stop saying “why me?” and ask God “what now?” Trust in Him, lean fully on Him with all your heart and go with it.
(It’s ok, I’m telling myself this too, not preaching to you!)

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Our First Few Hours (Part One)

Welcome to our blog! :-)

We are starting this blog while our little baby boy lays in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, or UHW for short.

We arrived at the hospital just in time, with 20 minutes to spare! Time for a quick photo though!

We arrived at the hospital just in time, with 20 minutes to spare! Time for a quick photo though!

PART ONE:

Asa Jonathan Shaw was born on Friday 6th July 2012 at 8.02pm, weighing 6lb 9oz. We arrived at the hospital 20 minutes before he was born, yikes! Labour had progressed very quickly. In the 20 minutes before he was born, the midwife monitored Asa’s heart and he seemed to be a bit unhappy. When my waters were broken by the doctor, it was apparent that our precious little boy had emptied his bowels, most likely due to him becoming distressed at the very quick labour. Whilst the doctor was rushing to put the heart monitor on to our unborn baby’s head, out came our little Asa to greet the world. I went from 6 to 10cm in a matter of minutes! You hear about babies who ‘fly out’ – well, he was one of those babies! Doctors came running in. I was as ‘high as a kite’ on gas and air and feeling very confused.

Asa had swallowed ‘grade 3 meconium’ (the new baby poo!) while still inside me, which resulted in him having difficulty breathing. It was a very scary time. I don’t remember him crying. He needed help breathing and had an oxygen mask on. About 5-10 minutes after he was born, he was wheeled over to us very briefly, where I gently stroked our new born’s cheek before he was taken to the NICU as he needed to have the CPAP breathing machine. The Doctor (Dr Mally) was lovely, very understanding. I asked a few times whether they could tell if Asa had Down’s syndrome. Each time they replied that it was too early to tell. (I’ll explain in another post a bit about the pregnancy and our story).

...Before he was taken to the NICU
To not hold your own newborn baby after nine months of carrying him/her around and experiencing the pain of labour, is a very difficult thing to endure. A very unnatural thing. The midwife, Emily, was fantastic, and was very reassuring. She told us that after I had a few stitches

I could shower and we could see our son. Hooray!!! While I had a cup of tea and some toast, Jon was busy texting and calling friends and family to tell them our good news!

Seeing Asa properly for the first time in the NICU was upsetting yet wonderful. Upsetting because he had the CPAP mask on, laying in a warm neonatal incubator, with just a nappy on. His very first nappy that as parents Jon and I should have put on him. Upsetting because he didn’t look like our baby. Wonderful because here was our boy, at last, after a somewhat difficult pregnancy!

Unable to hold our son that night... :-(

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Today is the 13th of July, 2012. Our little Asa is still in the hospital. He has an infection due to swallowing the meconium. Plus he’s having lots of stomach aspirates and difficulty feeding, so he is currently fed via the NG tube. We miss him and want him home with us. It’s very hard.