Written by: Dianna Abrams, Guest Contributor
Faith is a universal value we share, but not all of us have faith in the same being. Some believe in one God, others believe in many Gods, and still others believe there is no God at all. I always wonder which one of us is right. But truthfully, I think we all are. I believe faith is a combination of what we grew up believing and of the choices we make when life gives us an unexpected turn.
To understand my story you must understand where I was right before I found faith. I have always believed in God but I also have a scientific mind. I hold a doctorate in physical therapy from one of the top universities in the country. Any question I ever ponder, is always researched thoroughly. I make lists to weigh out pros and cons. I read the literature. I prove my answer.
When I became pregnant with our second child, I had a routine ultrasound at 11 weeks. Being a younger mother, always taking care of myself throughout the pregnancy, and having an easy first pregnancy blinded me from thinking there was an option that this normal, routine ultrasound would be anything but that. I remember clearly when the technician turned the screen away from me; her eyebrows now crossed, as she stopped pointing out little baby body parts. I faintly asked if everything was okay but I knew in my heart I feared the answer.
She looked at me squarely and said, “ I am going to send you upstairs to meet with the doctor, there are concerns with your ultrasound images.”
I sat motionless. It may have been for only a few seconds but it felt like a lifetime. In those seconds I feared the absolute worst. The dream of my two children growing up close in age and being the best of friends were nearly destroyed in that moment. I began to blurt out questions, which streamed into one constant question of why, while tears streamed down my face.
In the days after, our lives stopped. Our work stopped. This baby was all we could think about, cry about, and talk about. The next three days were spent doing blood work, invasive testing, speaking with genetic counselors, discussing our case with the best doctors in the world and a lot of family prayer. With each conversation, our chance of a normal pregnancy and child become worse.
By the time they were finished with testing. our doctor came in and told us there was a 10% chance this baby would be okay and she believed the baby had an extremely rare genetic disorder-- one that would not grant a child life outside the womb.
I wept. As moms, finding strength and energy is what we do. Before this, I would consider myself strong and able to take on anything this world throws in my direction. I have a severe case of the I-can-do-it's. But not this. I could never swallow the idea that I would not hold this baby. I looked at my husband as my deep source of strength in that moment. As fate would have it, both of us are fairly educated, but he is different than me in the sense that he always moves in faith.
He didn't flinch at this news- not for a second, he simply clung deeper to his religion. I remember him saying "okay-- 10%-- we can work with that. There's still a 10% chance our baby is totally fine." I rolled my eyes at him like I always do, but I was moved by his profound strength-- and I knew it was not his own. He truly believed in God and the power of prayer. As I stared at my husband that night, sleeping with his yarmulke on, I continued to ponder faith.
We took time off from work to be together as a little family. Our house that was a constant revolving door all of a sudden became a hide away. We went into parenting survival mode but in this non-stop-parenting world I was in the midst of potty training my daughter-and no matter what was going on, I had to keep going for her sake.
For those who have experienced potty training-- it means long hours on a cold tile floor. At this point I had a routine to find the coziest spot on the rug and wait while my daughter did her duty. I remember after this appointment, lying down on the cold tile and crying. I thought about how strong my husband had been in that appointment and for a moment I was envious. He did have his moments-- while his strength was profound and the news brought him to his knees in despair, to his core he truly believed this child would be okay.
So there I was-- listening to my daughter sing her ABC’s so gracefully while admiring her pee when I found God. I stopped crying. I could not bear the load of this news and so I decided at that moment, I was not going to any longer. I spoke loud and clear against my tile floor:
"Hey big guy-- I am choosing to believe in you. I am choosing to believe you have a plan for our life and for this child. I don’t intend to understand it. I only pray that our life can include this little one. I pray for healing but also the strength to cope with your answer. I am a mother pleading to one-day hold this child, so this I give to you.”
I tried those words on. They echoed against the tile floors and through my soul. The I-can-do-it-must-control-everything...completely let go. And I had never felt more at peace. I found my strength in giving my fears to a greater being.
The next day, the genetic counselor told us our results were normal.... "remarkably unremarkable,” words that will always hold a special place in my heart. The terminal genetic disorder had been ruled out. As time would show, all of our child’s results would come back “normal.”
What a beautiful word it was, every time we heard it, “normal.”
We were elated.
After all of this, as the dust began to settle, the normalcy of life started to creep back into my world. Old thoughts and tendencies entered my head, and I would be lying if I said I was a woman of strict faith. But I knew I needed to make a decision about what I believe. I stand here today because I chose faith --And I believe it chose me.
It was there on the bathroom floor where I found that science can only take us so far-- but there is faith. Faith can be rooted in anything. Faith in a God, Faith in the strength of love. Faith in the power of prayer. And so I chose to believe in faith.
From that day-- our son-- has brought us together as a family, to choose prayer. To slow down. To find beauty in the darkest places because, believe me when I say, it exists. The woman I was when in that ultrasound room believing the world was conspiring to destroy me has decided to believe this was Gods plan to strengthen me.
So what have I learned from all this?
We can't choose what happens to us in this world, we do not decide the outcomes-- but we decide how we react to what life throws at us. The truth is not everything can be fixed- some things can only be carried.
I once believed that God gives the hardest challenges to those that can bear the weight--but now I believe he instead gives us strength to carry that load. I've learned that faith finds us in the oddest places and when we least expect it, like a bathroom floor.
While we await the arrival of our beautiful boy, from this day forward we will forever cherish the remarkably unremarkable days, and continue to choose faith as our guide.
Dianna Abrams is 30 years old from the Boston, MA area. She is married to her absolute best friend and rock. Together, they parent a beautiful two year old little lady and cannot wait for the arrival of a precious baby boy. Although her favorite title is "mom", Dianna is also a physical therapist in Boston, MA.