….is that it makes a homerun that much greater.
So I share with you about Monday, February 13th, the day our lives changed forever…the day that my wife and I were told about our little “gift in disguise”.
We were in the doctor’s office for a typical 4-month ultrasound of Maria Isabella’s anatomy, something Cristina and I had been looking forward to each month – a change to see our little girl in action. Coincidentally, it was the first time we actually got to see a close-up of her face and also the first time we could see her big smile on the screen
It was the final moment of the appointment that hit us like a-ton-of-bricks. The doctor arrived to relieve the ultrasound technician of her duty and to inform us that they had found a “little problem”. It seemed that during the 5th or 6th week of development, Bella’s little back wasn’t able to fully develop and instead of closing up over the spinal cord, a little hole was left in place.
BOOM. Even with the tears pouring down the sides of our cheeks, we felt numb and unable to move.
Then began the slow de-evolution of our child’s worth as the doctor (with good intentions, I don’t doubt) described the diagnosis.
From “your baby” to “the baby” and now to “the fetus…..”
“the fetus….has developed Spina Bifida and we need to go to my office to discuss your options” he told us as he awaited us in his even smaller office.
At this point, my adrenaline was pumping and therefore numbing my ears from allowing any of his medical terminology to enter and process in my brain. The words flew by my ears as he described the worst case scenario with this diagnosis and I entered into defense mode. My only concern at this point was the safety of my now sobbing wife and our little daughter safe within her womb, even with her now discovered “little problem”.
“The first option that most people choose when the fetus (again with this word that helps us sleep at night) has developed Spina Bifida, is to quickly end the pregnancy”.
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I think to myself… “Did you not just see the joy on our faces in witnessing the smile of our little daughter less than…..5 minutes ago?!”
Isn’t she beautiful! (little girl born with Spina Bifida)
My stare answered for my heart, and the doctor quickly laid out the next options in case we take (sadly the now rare, he tells us) path of continuing with the pregnancy. Again, these words fell upon deaf ears as both of us were had only two things in mind – meeting with our primary doctor and contacting our family and friends.
After jumping into a cab, we immediately contact our parents (tears ducts now working on full blast) when we realize that our little Bella’s mission had already begun. As Cristina and I hold each other in prayer, I witness something that no NYC cab driver would dare to do. Moved by compassion, our driver passes us tissues and then turns his meter off….during RUSH HOUR traffic in Manhattan. He explains to us that he is a father and that he can’t even imagine what it would be like to experience all that we were going through….and after attempting to offer him some sort of cash out of appreciation, he begs me to not “deny his charity”.
It hits us. This. This is Maria Isabella’s mission now, people giving-of themselves is now her mission.
For the remainder of that evening, Cristina and I passed through various waves of emotions – from the tears of mourning our “ideals” for our little daughter to the excitement and joy as we reflecting on the gift that she is and will continue to be.
Now that the initial shock of things has left us, we are doing very well! God has already begun working miracles in our lives and in the lives of those around us, all through our little gift, Maria Isabella. We are so excited to be a part of His greater plan and we will continue to update everyone as we go in to the next steps of this journey and we ask for your continued prayers.
Also, please understand that no matter how hard this all seems, Cristina and I are not sad. Of course within us there are moments of “sadness” and of re-learning what the word “normal” really means, but we are not sorry or sad.
Actually, through all of this, we feel blessed and at times unworthy to have been given such a gift. I can tell you honestly that I have fallen even more deeply in love with Cristina through this, and I have never felt more strong!
One of the many generous doctors that we have encountered in the past week shared something powerful with me. He said, “I have been working with children with Spina Bifida for years and even though it is hard to understand it at first, I always tell their parents, ‘You don’t realize how much of a gift this child will be to you and your family’. Even if it takes some more time than others, almost all of them come back to me to tell me that I was more right than they could have imagined.”
Cristina and I pray for the grace to understand this. We cannot wait to meet our little angel, Bella!
We promise, more updates to come soon!
Andrew, Cristina and Maria Isabella Pocta