Three years ago today, after the most gut-wrenching 48 hours of my life, Max and I sat in the office of a perinatologist and found out that Donovan had Spina Bifida. We found out two days prior that something was wrong, but we didn’t know what. All we knew is that he had enlarged ventricles. Knowing nothing about the human body other than what I learned in my 7th grade health class, I had no way of knowing what that meant, or what it could be linked to.
I don’t really remember what I was thinking or feeling that day. I remember being confused – I didn’t know what Spina Bifida was. I remember crying. I remember finding some relief in the fact that he was diagnosed with meningocele only (that would turn out to be incorrect). I remember the doctor being so kind – he was honest with us, but not negative like I hear from so many other mothers. Maybe that’s because we were past the point of termination, but I’d like to just think he was one of the good ones that knew my baby’s life was worth living.
The next day, I wrote an email to pretty much everyone we know…
“Max and I ask that you please don’t be sad for us. We are doing fine. Of course it is nothing a parent would want to hear, but it is not life threatening, and it is not neurological. Every child is a miracle. We were blessed to be able to get pregnant and carry a baby to term, which is so much more than other people get the opportunity to do. Even in the worst of cases, he will be able to live a full and happy life. All of you that surround us will ensure that, we have no doubt.”
Clearly I was still a little confused, as is evident by my statement that this was not neurological – I think I meant cognitive?
Regardless, looking back, I have to admit that I am really proud of how we reacted. I still feel the exact same way I did that day. I still know people that have never been able to get pregnant or carry a child to term. I still feel just as lucky and blessed, if not more so, as any other mother out there.
Today we sat in a room with the staff that will oversee Donovan’s transition into pre-school, and out of state services. Throughout our hour-long meeting, their faces continually lit up just by watching him and hearing him. They were not evaluating him – we were just filling out paperwork. They called him a miracle. And, he is – but not because he is defying odds that other children do not. The fact that he can walk independently, while other children need wheelchairs does not make him more important.
The thing that is special about kids like Donovan is that they make people believe in miracles.
I don’t know why God gave him legs that work better they they are supposed to, or a shunt that has not given us a single problem from the day it was placed. I don’t know why he has the language skills of a five year old, and the sweetest personality of any child I’ve ever met (though, I may be biased). But, I think, it’s because God is using him to show people what is possible through the power of prayer and faith.
That’s the only explanation for any of this. And I think it is the perfect explanation.