Chuck, I’m pregnant and very fearful that my baby will be born with birth defects. Have any advice? – “Fearful” in Florida
January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, so your question couldn’t come at a better time.
To be honest, my wife, Gena, and I encountered those fears in our own lives when she was pregnant with our twins.
Just 12 days into Gena’s pregnancy, she developed a severe case of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome – a complication from fertility medications. Her abdomen swelled up with fluid called ascites, making her look as if she was already nine months pregnant. Her ovaries were the size of footballs, and one wrong move could have caused one of them to rupture. The fluid caused so much pressure on her internal organs that she needed oxygen to breathe.
Gena’s condition was critical, and the doctor stated that she had just two options. Because there was no immediate remedy, she could choose to try to ride out the long, painful and unpredictable road to recovery, realizing that her and the twins’ lives were hanging in the balance, or she could abort the pregnancy.
Gena and I felt vulnerable and helpless. Many of our well-meaning friends and family members advised us to abort the pregnancy. Gena and I talked and prayed together about what we should do. Then she shared with me the story of what happened to her during the embryo transfer.
Our unborn babies were just 2 days old. Gena was lying on the hospital bed in the small procedure room, nervously waiting for the embryos to be transferred into her womb. The nurse asked the doctor to show my wife something. Agreeably, the doctor nodded her head “yes,” and the nurse elevated the head of Gena’s bed.
What she saw had the appearance of a window that was encased in solid steel. Fascinated and curious, Gena thought that whatever was behind that secured window must be of great value. As the doctor opened the steel-plated door, exposing the window, a bright light shone out.
What followed the light is what changed Gena’s and my view of conception forever. She was listening to the most beautiful classical music that she ever had heard, being quietly played to our 2-day-old unborn children. At that very moment, she realized these doctors knew that embryos respond well and have a better chance at survival when provided with a life-enriching environment.
Gena was forever changed at that moment. She realized that human life truly begins at conception. And after she conveyed her experience to me, she asked me, “Why would God be so gracious to bless us with these two miracles of life if he was not going to see us through this pregnancy? We need to trust him!” I agreed with her, and we did.
Not too long ago, we celebrated our twins’ 11th birthday! And they are testing for their black belts in karate in a few months. (We can’t thank God and Dr. Greggory Devore enough for saving the lives of Gena and our twins during her pregnancy.)
Fear can be very debilitating, no matter what form it is in, especially when it concerns human life. But we have to remember that most of our fears are only in our heads. That’s why I often recite the acrostic for fear: false evidence appearing real.
We also must remember that the only way through our fears is to face them head-on. Rather than succumb to their crippling voices, however, start focusing on how precious human life is and the fact that God holds it in the palm of his hand.
The Psalmist wrote, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” God also says in the Scriptures, “For I knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb.”
Meditating on those types of positive thoughts as a part of your proper prenatal care and development (including a good diet and moderate exercise) will ensure that your baby will be as safe and secure in your womb as he or she can be.
In the end, we ought to love and cherish the babies and children in our lives (in and out of the womb) no matter what their strengths or disabilities are. And who’s to say that their disabilities won’t turn out to be their greatest strengths? (Consider the global impact that Nick Vujicic, who has no arms or legs, is having with the success of his organization, Life Without Limbs.)
Gena and I join millions of others who believe that God blesses us with the children we have. We may make mistakes, but God doesn’t. There are no illegitimate babies in heaven – only those God designed and purposed.