Truly Trusting God--Being "Quiverfull"

I just re-read the post before last, where I first mentioned the aneurysm and the fact that it was caught in time to get it fixed--if I wasn't pregnant. Then in my last post, I mentioned the baby was a girl. LOL! Guess there should have been an "announcement" post in between!

So...what was my reaction to this news, and what does this mean for my health? Well, I already knew from my research at that point that getting pregnant with an aneurysm at all was a risky proposition, since pregnancy hormones make your connective tissue (including arteries) stretchier. When you have an aneurysm (which is a weakened, bulged or stretched-out section of a blood vessel), making your blood vessels even stretchier with pregnancy hormones isn't the greatest idea. Not to mention, I don't just have an aneurysm and a bicuspid valve--both those conditions are symptoms of a greater problem...Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease. This is a type of connective tissue disorder, which means that my connective tissue (including arteries) has a tendency to weaken, which is why aneurysms can happen. So adding pregnancy to the mix wouldn't have been my first choice.

I have found out since my diagnosis that my aneurysm was NOTED in the results of at least THREE prior tests, but for some reason my old cardiologists and/or radiologists didn't seem to think that it was important to tell me I had an aneurysm in a bad place that was already big enough to dissect or rupture. Rupture--as in, KILL me! No big deal, right? Sheesh! Had I known, I could have had the aneurysm repaired before baby number 4 OR baby number 5!!! Which is what I would have chosen to do. Now I can't get it repaired without seriously endangering the life of my baby. So now I wait. I know some of you would say that if I really cared about my other children, I would take the risk and have the surgery, rather than leave them motherless. There are worse things than being having a mother that passes on a legacy of treating a new life with disdain, and shows you that she values her life over that of your unborn sibling...which implies that she values her life over yours. That's not a message I want to send to my children. Just my view point on the subject.

That's not to say that I think having the surgery is necessarily a mortal sin or anything. It is not equivalent to an abortion if I had the aneurysm repair surgery and the baby died as a result. That would not be doing anything directly to the baby. In fact, should my aorta was to start to dissect, I would have the surgery. In such a case, I would be in immediate and extremely high risk of death, and I would feel justified in getting the surgery, even though I'd feel awful if the baby died. In such a case, having the surgery may be the baby's only chance to live. I know I could get the surgery now, and it wouldn't necessarily be a sin if the baby should die. But for me that would be a morally "gray" area. The doctors say I could die any time. But I might not. There's no real statistics on this kind of thing, because it depends on the person and the circumstances.

So how did I feel when I found out I was pregnant? Not thrilled. It seemed like bad timing to me. I was really worried about dying. I was worried about my other kids. I spent a few days kind of freaking out, and worrying. I saw a surgeon to ask his opinion on getting surgery right away. My reasoning was if I was going to need surgery during the pregnancy, I'd rather do it soon, as it would be easier on me if I lost the baby early on, rather than later. He said if I chose to get surgery, I should go into it assuming the baby will die. That really struck home. I went home and prayed about it, and knew what I had to do.

God gave me this baby at this time for some reason. Even if this baby doesn't survive, she still has a purpose. Every life has a purpose. The only reason I was afraid was because my faith was weak. Many people have asked me online how I would feel if having another baby would jeopardize my life. It was easy then to say that I would feel the same. It was harder, once actually faced with that decision...especially because it was a dark time, faith-wise, for me. Now that I have passed through that valley, I can honestly say I still feel the same way.

At left: a beautiful life at 21 weeks gestation (stock photo, not my baby)

My time to die has been pre-ordained by God. On that day, I will die, whether I am carrying a child and die from a ruptured aneurysm, or if I am hit by a bus crossing the street. Personally, I'd rather go the first way. It seems, to me, to be a more "worthy" way to die. I'm not sure if "worthy" is the word I'm looking for...but you get the idea. Not that getting hit by a bus is "unworthy"...but if I get hit by a bus only because I didn't cooperate with the will of God and accept the gift of a child, thereby accepting the death He originally chose for me, then perhaps it is a less worthy death.

Once I made the decision to accept the will of God, I felt a tremendous peace. I have had a renewal of my faith, although I still feel I have a ways to go to get back to where I had been. I truly see this baby, and the aneurysm, as a gift from God. Even the aneurysm? Yes. Had I not been diagnosed with it, perhaps my waning faith would have been extinguished completely, and that would have left me and my family in dire spiritual straights. I truly feel that I will be okay, at least until the baby is born. I get a sense that God will reward me for accepting His plan. If I am wrong in having that feeling...if I did die from having this baby or the aneurysm, I would not regret my decision one bit. I'd rather die following the will of God than live while fleeing from it. There are worse things than physical death.

At right: Polyptych, "Life and Death of the Virgin"...who better than the mother of Our Lord to exemplify obedience and a good death?

All this does not mean I don't have compassion for those struggling with similar circumstances, or those who have made a different decision. While I may not agree with what others have chosen, I still sympathize with their plight. But if I were to make this post more politically or socially correct in order to avoid offending others, than I wouldn't be me. And it wouldn't be honest, either. If others find my opinions offensive, there are millions of politically and socially "correct" blogs out there to read. There are pitifully few blogs that tell things like they are, and say the things that need to be said. But if this post upsets many, yet helps a few, I'm more concerned about the few I may have helped. The others can always hit the "back" button. ;-) I do it all the time when I read something I think is idiotic! I don't even waste my time commenting.

Fortunately as time goes on, my options are increasing. My cardiologist is watching the aneurysm, doing monthly echocardiograms to make sure it's not growing. So far so good. If it does start to show growth, he will want to do surgery. Since I am getting close to the time that the baby is viable (24 weeks), that will give us the option of delivering the baby premature, if necessary. I hope to avoid that, but it is good to know it's an option soon. It would be far better for the baby to be delivered than remain in utero for a deep hypothermic open heart surgery.

So keep us in your prayers, please!

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