I must say, God truly spoke through him so wonderfully Sunday night. I'm so proud of him. I asked him if he would clean up his notes and send them to me so I could post them on my blog. So, my sweet hubbie sent it to me this morning (Yes, it is tax season and he is working :( )
So, in the words of the world's best daddy:
In observation of Sanctity of Life today, I have been asked to share our story of Eli. Many of you know who Eli is, but not all of you know all of his story and how our little man changed us forever.
I'll start from Eli's beginning. My wife, Jennifer, and I had been married for a little over 12 years and had three beautiful children at the time. We both wanted number 4 to top everything off and to "complete" our family. We found out that we were pregnant and were overjoyed. This was in August 2009. Jay, Cooper, and Lucie were just as excited as us - for the most part. Ironically, his due date was April 16th. Everybody who knows what I do for a living should get a kick out of that.
Well, for the three months following, the pregnancy seemed to be progressing just fine. We all had images of what our life would be like with our new little "peanut". Everybody had suggestions for girl names and boy names and we could not wait to find out if our little baby was indeed a boy or a girl. For the record, I thought our baby was a boy, but then again, I thought ALL our children would be boys. Even to the point of getting the ultrasound technician to check multiple times with Lucie and Amelia because I was sure that she had missed something.
The day finally came for our 20-week ultrasound and we could find out if we were having a boy or a girl. We decided to bring the kids with us and let them be part of this too. So Jennifer loaded the kiddos in the car and drove them up to our doctor's office in Montgomery. I was already at work and just met them there. They finally called us back to the ultrasound room and we all crammed in there with much anticipation…..
I know that most people have, or will be, at a point in their life where all you can think of is I wish I could go back to the way things were just one minute ago. Just minute ago, when I didn't know what I now know. Well, that time was upon all of us. Almost immediately into the ultrasound examination it was clear that something was very wrong. At that time, I wasn't sure what it was, but judging from the ultrasound technician's and Jennifer's reaction, I knew that our lives had just changed forever.
You see, Eli didn't have any amniotic fluid. Our doctor told us that it was most likely due to a problem with his kidneys. He was very caring, but he laid it on the line. He let us know that if the lack of amniotic fluid was because of the kidneys, then Eli had a condition that made him "not compatible with life". So there it was.
Jennifer and I had been through a lot with this doctor even before this. He knew Jennifer and me and he knew our faith. He never once brought up the option of terminating the pregnancy. We were told to go home, for Jennifer to put her feet up for a couple of days and drink plenty of fluids. In the mean time, we were scheduled to go up to UAB for a level 2 ultrasound so the doctors would try to diagnose what was going on.
We did what we were told. We went home and we waited. To be honest with you, we were pretty numb. We were holding out hope that there could be another explanation for the lack of amniotic fluid, but the more research we did, the more the reality set in that we were not going to have Eli with us for very long. That night after we found out about Eli's condition, we made a decision right then and there. Although we may not have Eli with us for very long, we do have him right now. As long as that was case, we were going to love him and enjoy being with him and just cherish the time that God DID give us.
We went up the UAB a couple days later and found out that Eli did indeed have issues with the development of his kidneys. He had poly cystic kidneys which basically made them non-functioning. The UAB doctor, was not quite as ''caring" as our doctor in Montgomery. He gave us the dreaded "not compatible with life" diagnosis and then asked us when we wanted to be scheduled to terminate this pregnancy. We were both pretty taken back by the casual nature of this request. We let him know that termination was not an option for us. He honestly seemed dumbfounded and couldn't understand why we would continue with a pregnancy that would result in death. We told him that our baby was very much alive at this moment and that we believe in a God that is fully capable of healing our child if it is in his will. Who are we to take that option out of God's hands? And even though we did say it, and it probably did not come through as a concrete thought at that time, we both knew that we had plans for our baby while he was with us!
However, I feel like I need to add that the doctor warned us that going through this pregnancy without amniotic fluid would be very painful for Jennifer and possibly for Eli. We had discussions about if we were being selfish and just putting off the inevitable. We prayed about it and did some more research and it did not take long at all before we were both at peace and knew that we absolutely made the right decision. And for the record there is no indication that Eli was EVER in pain or agony.
The next couple of months were really like a blur and full of mixed emotions for our family. I'm not going to sit up here and say that everything was great from that day on. It was toughest time in our lives. We were scared, we were sad, we were even mad. There were times when tears flowed freely and often. There were times when anticipation of what was to come felt like it was too much. But it wasn't like that the whole time. There were good times too. In fact, looking back, and I know it sounds crazy, I see a lot of joy in that time and Eli was part of us every step of the way. Eli took a trip to beach, enjoyed many, many Ben & Jerry's ice cream cups - chocolate fudge brownie was his favorite - so I've been told. He also enjoyed many avocado turkey burgers. I guess there is no accounting for some baby's tastes. He was talked to all the time, received good-night and good-morning kisses and hugs from his brothers and sister. And even got into a snowball fight. Selfishly, some of my favorite times were at night when the other kids were in bed, I would get a chance to talk to him and tickle him through Jennifer's tummy. When there is not any amniotic fluid, it is easy to tell how the baby is positioned. Anyway, I would tickle his little hiney and he would just squirm all around. Once every three weeks or so, we also were able to have an ultrasound. Now I know that the ultrasound was not necessary, but I think it was Jennifer's doctor's way of helping us how ever he could. This was kind of like our face-to-face time with Eli. The ultrasound tech was so unbelievably sweet. She had a way of stretching most ultrasounds so that they lasted 45 minutes to an hour. Even though we told her how much what she did meant to us, I don't think she could possibly realize what a blessing she was to us. And through all of this, I would just think to myself, "How in the world could we terminate a baby who was so much part of our lives?"
On Sunday, February 21, 2010.we had to rush Jennifer to the hospital. It was what is referred to as a cord prolapse. This is basically when the cord comes out before the baby. Normally, Jennifer's water would have broken and we would have had some kind of sign that she was in labor. But with no amniotic fluid, there was no water to "break". They diagnosed the problem in Troy and rushed her by Ambulance to Montgomery. The time had come to meet Eli face to face and, we knew, to say goodbye to him.
Eli was born via c-section in Montgomery at about 4:00. He immediately received a little medical help and looked like he was trying to rally some strength. He had already experienced so much in his short life, I guess he knew that he had a few more things left to do. During most of this time, Jennifer was in recovery and still did not have a chance to see Eli yet. So when she was out of recovery, Eli got to take a walk with just him and Daddy - a walk that I will forever cherish. He got to meet Jay, Cooper and Lucie Rose and feel their touch and hear their voices. And he got rest in his mama's arm and feel her kisses. Eli went to heaven that day, a couple hours after he was born while he was right there in his mama's arms.
Eli lived an extremely eventful life for a very short amount of time and he knew nothing of hurt or pain. He only knew love. And we found room in our hearts for even more love because of him.
Going back to that day at UAB I cannot fathom the possibility of choosing any other way that we did. I sincerely thank God for the time that we got to spend with Eli. What a blessing my family could have missed had we chosen another way.
Jamie read this to me before he shared in church Sunday night. I was reduced to a puddle by his precious words. My favorite part was when he talked about taking a walk with Eli. The one and only walk he would ever get with him. Jamie, I love you so much and I am so glad God made us for one another.