Two months ago at this very moment I was starting to think my contractions were real. They were feeling a little more intense than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been feeling for a few months. Even though they were pretty uncomfortable, they made me excited. I knew what they meant. We were about to experience something incredible.
Incredible it was, though not exactly as I had imagined. Sammy came into our lives and, in that moment, the clear, perfect, predictable path I thought we were on took a turn. At first I thought the path might take us some place completely different, but now I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure we’re going to end up in the same place I had originally thought, across the sea in East Africa teaching and doctoring. I do know, however, that the journey will look a just little different. I’ve already seen some hills along the path, the kind I can’t quite see over, so they scare me a little because I’m not sure what’s on the other side. I don’t know if there will be another turn, or a steep slope, or a gently rolling hill surrounded by green grass. But what choice is there? We could sit and try to stay on this side of the hill in order to avoid the uncertainty of what might come. But seriously, I just wouldn’t be able to do that. The unknown is far too grand. Yes, it’s scary, but I’m willing to bet it’s going to be really good. And who would want to miss that?
These two months have taught me one thing. Well, they’ve taught me far more than one, but there is one that stands far above the rest. That one thing is trust. I have never had to trust my Papa in heaven as much as I’ve had to since the moment Sammy’s little eyes met mine. The first few weeks were filled with moments of fear and all I could do was trust that I’m being taken of. Sammy is being taken care of. I was afraid to think about the future, the medical problems that might come up, the milestones that might be slow coming or that may not be reached at all, the challenges that my baby boy will face when people assume things about him simply by looking at him. I have had to trust deeply that God is good and that he has a purpose for Sammy. I thought I had trust before, but I’m learning that it’s a daily, sometimes momentary, thing. When new fears come up, or an older one resurfaces, I have to remember to trust again.
The first couple weeks after Sammy was born were the hardest, so far. I originally took the news of his diagnosis very well. As his mama, I just wanted to be able to cuddle him and love on him and give him everything, and that’s what I was determined to do. But after a week passed, I started to have feelings of deep, deep guilt. I couldn’t help thinking that I had failed my little boy in some way. Yes, I know that’s not the way it works, but try telling your heart that when looking into his eyes and wondering what his life will be like, knowing he’s going to face challenges I’ve never imagined. I cried hard while I cuddled him, wanting desperately not to think about special education classes, physical therapy, the possibility of a driver’s license or a girl friend, and life expectancy. These are all things I’ve assumed with Ella, that she’ll do well in school, she’ll get her license when she’s 16, she’ll get married and have babies and live to be old after a lifetime of happiness and adventures. In all of these moments, I’ve had to constantly return to the trust I have for Sam’s life. I can’t control it. I can’t change it. But I can ask God what he’s got for Sam and go hard after that.
God started giving me pictures of possibilities for Sam’s future during those really tough days. I can’t even tell you the hope and joy those pictures have brought. God definitely has something very unique and special for Sam’s life. Trusting that fully, I feel like I can deal with the sadness and guilt I’ve felt. I actually feel like those things are so much smaller now and that they’re being replaced with excitement of what is to come. The hope gives me strength when I learn about resources that will help Sam’s growth and when I’m invited to a support group for families of kids with Down syndrome. I’m still not ready to actually attend one of the meetings, but I think I will be soon. Right now, I just want to take care of my baby. My sweet little Sam who sleeps like a champ and loves to cuddle. My boy who has an amazing future in front of him and a mama who is learning what it truly means to trust. I’m so glad I have a Papa in heaven who cares about me so much that he’s right there every time I forget what trusting feels like. He wraps me in his arms and gives me pictures of the possibilities of life for my Sammy. And they are good.