A friend that I grew up with (we were born around the same time, went to the same schools, had brothers the same age that were also friends, etc.) has just given birth to a little baby boy today at 8:19am. It's her third baby and also third son.
Usually this wouldn't be something to blog about since most people at some stage of life have kids.
In my friend's case, however, her experience is something altogether unique and altogether heartbreaking.
Near the beginning of her pregnancy she and her husband learned that their child would be born with a severe heart defect that would mean he wouldn't survive. They were faced with the agonising choice of whether or not to accept the medical prognosis and keep the pregnancy or to terminate.
There are going to be people that argue for both options and in every case there will be a moral justification for it. Having been through a similar circumstance and having faced the same decisions to make I can appreciate how difficult it is to even have to be considering those options you previously thought were never going to be options. I know our personal experience doesn't equate to their nightmare but I believe we can still empathise.
They chose to proceed to term. Being convicted Christians I am sure influenced their decision but I can't say for sure and I know that sometimes when your convictions are put to the test they can turn out to not quite be what you thought they were. No matter the reasons for their choice, Kat and I applaud them for their courage.
As I write this post their boy has survived twelve hours and his circulation is slowly fading. Kat and I have been thinking about this all day and it's really heart-wrenching. We can't fully comprehend the pain and agony the family is going through, especially for my friend and her husband. To think how exhausted she must be after a C-Section at 8am and knowing that they must both be fighting for every precious moment they have left with their son. Our hearts are with them at this time. Their son is alive and is emotionally and physically with them. He's aware of everything going on around him. He isn't mentally underdeveloped or in any way emotionally detached from the reality: their son is as perfectly formed in every way possible like every other boy apart from the faulty heart, and the terrible thing is he's as alive and as conscious as any other baby.
I am so restless tonight just trying to imagine what it must be like: knowing your child is passing away and there's nothing you can do for them. Can they even hold him or is he in an incubator? Do they try to do anything to save him or is there a point where you accept his fate and make the most of the time you have left? We realised that they must obviously still have to feed him as one would any new born baby and that he must also cry and feel cold and tired as any baby would. They're basically just holding their child as parents would any other new-born. They're probably so exhausted and drained emotionally and physically right now but I can suspect they don't want to go to sleep for even a minute in case something changes.
The pain they must be feeling in their hearts and in their souls right now must be overwhelming. As a father I know how desperate I was to just hold and love my daughter the moment she came into the world despite how different she was from a normal child: I never wanted to let her go and I wanted her to know just how much we loved her. I wanted to grab her into my arms and hold her tight to protect her and shelter her. I can imagine the same thoughts and desires are going through my friends' minds right now.
I guess I'm just blogging as a form of catharsis to put my own troubled thoughts to "paper". Please keep the family and especially my friend, her husband and the little boy in your prayers...