Day 33 – Miracles

PART I

Miracle [mir-uh-kuhl] – noun
1.  an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
2.  such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
3. a wonder; marvel.

Nora is a miracle, as is all life, in that she is a work of God. It is also a miracle that she’s come this far. Through all of the critical stages of pregnancy, she’s managed to persevere with a stubbornness that can only be attributed to her mother! I read today that 50% of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities. With so many things potentially in error with Nora’s genetic make up, there is also an abundance of efficiency present to have enabled her to have made it this far to 30 weeks! That is a miracle.

I’ve played out all sorts of fantasies in my head — an out of town area code shows up on the caller I.D. and “Maybe it’s the lab calling to clear up a terrible error that was made with the amnio results!!”, “Maybe the vials were mixed up!”, “Maybe the person reading the results was new and inexperienced!”, etc., etc.  The amnio results are said to be 99% accurate. It’s not so much that 1% shred of hope, or a possible error that I’m hanging onto, but rather God’s infinite power. Our God that created an entire universe has the power to cure a tiny baby with an extra chromosome.

I won’t sit here and pretend that I have God, faith, and religion all figured out. I don’t think there is anyone on this earth who could ever fully grasp the vastness of it all. Ultimately God wants a relationship with us, and what ever vehicle gets us there is all that matters. Arguing about religion is almost as silly as arguing about Ford vs. Chevy. One can point fingers and admonish the other driver for his lack of discernment. They can argue about the superior horsepower of one over the other, plaster “Piss on __________ ” stickers all over the back of their trucks, all in attempt to one up the other. But does it REALLY make a difference? At the end of the day, both trucks have 4 wheels, an engine, the ability to get people from point A to point B, and sometimes out of messy situations. In my opinion there is no “right” or “wrong” way. So it is with our faith.

In the words of Paul, “For Christ sent me to preach the gospel — not with human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” – 1 Corinthians 1:17

The disunity amongst us empties the power of the cross. That’s what it says in the Bible and that is what I believe to be true.

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PART II

Shortly after Nora’s diagnosis, my Mom was going through old letters and correspondences that belonged to her mother, my Grandmother. Among them was a letter about my grandmother’s first cousin Fr. Joseph Cappel. He was a Maryknoll priest that served as a missionary in Curepto, Chile from 1943 until his death in 2004 at age 95. By all accounts, he was a humble and incredible man, ministering to the poor and needy in his community by bicycle almost up until the day he died. There were 3 funeral masses said on his behalf just to accommodate his mourners. Recently, for reasons I’m not quite sure, his body was exhumed to be buried in a different location. It was then that it was noted that his body was still perfectly preserved! Many in his community are regarding this as a miracle and are seeking to have him canonized into sainthood — to have him officially recognized by the Vatican as a saint. Part of the canonization process involves documented miracles, as defined by the first definition above. Without any further thought on the matter, we immediately began praying for Fr. Joseph Cappel to intercede on our behalf and on behalf of this little baby! A  specific prayer was written out in the letter to put forward when praying for a miracle:

Father God, Holy, Good and Merciful,

We give thanks to you for Your Son, Jesus, our brother, who had pity on so many needy, when He was one like us.

To Him, Father Joseph Cappel F., Missioner of Maryknoll, consecrated his whole life, which he gave completely to Your favored ones, the sick, the poor, the sorrowful and the abandoned.

Lord Jesus, come now to our aid. We implore you that, by the intercession of Fr. Joseph Cappel of Curepto, You grant us what we request, Virgin Mary, Mother and Lady of the Rosary and of Maryknoll pray for us also. Amen.

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A couple of weeks before we found out the gender of our little one, I was looking through genealogy information to find out the exact relation of Fr. Cappel.  I was overwhelmed with emotion to learn that he was the son of my great great Aunt Nora. “Nora” being the name I was so fond of, and that I had already picked out for a little girl. “Wouldn’t that be something if this baby is a little girl,” I thought.

Signs, prophecies, hints, premonitions? I can’t say, but somehow I can’t add “coincidence” to that list and I will continue to pray for that miracle.

Day 31

Today was the first day I was able to look at the ultrasound pictures that were taken at the beginning of January. After the diagnosis I’d stuffed them all into an envelope and “never wanted to look at them again”. Today I looked at them in a whole new light. They were no longer just “Baby with a chromosomal disorder”. They were pictures of my sweet Nora — my precious baby girl with the cutest little nose and mouth. She has a perfectly round little head just like all of her siblings did.

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Saturday we go for the 4D ultrasound, which we’ll go to as a family. Gavin and Greta are excited to see their little sister. They realize she might not be with us long, but they love her none the less. They hug my belly and say goodbye to her before heading off to the bus stop, and pat my belly “hello” as soon as they get home. It’s sweet to have Nora included as a part of the family.

This sweet little girl who responds to the sound of my voice. I want to hold onto her forever and never let her go.

Day 29 – What’s in a Name?

It seems hard to believe that we’ve known about Nora’s diagnosis for almost a month now. The time has certainly gone by at warp speed. I’m trying to savor each little moment of my pregnancy, as I don’t know what to expect at the end of it all.

I am so much more tranquil about knowing her gender than I had anticipated. The moments leading up to the cake cutting were absolutely nerve wracking. However, once I had the conclusive evidence in the form of PINK cake, I heaved a sigh of relief and breathed easy with the knowledge of a baby daughter. I love being able to call her by name, my sweet Nora.

I’ve always loved the name Nora. I like the way it sounds, I love that it is unique, classic and simple. It is a family name as well. I had a Great-Great-Aunt Nora that I never met, but I’ve heard stories about her — what a neat, funny lady she was. Today I got a phone call from my Mom asking me if I knew what the name “Nora” means. I told her that I hadn’t had a chance to look up the meaning, but asked that she please enlighten me! “Elanora” (which is what Nora’s full name will be) means “from the shore”. How absolutely perfect. My most precious, sweetest “treasure” yet. (See Day 4) I had NO IDEA. (And God doesn’t have his hands all over this???????????????)

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I chose the name “Rose” in honor of Nora’s oldest sister, who shares the same middle name, also in reference to the Novena to St. Therese. At the end of the Novena a rose is received as a sign of answered prayers. Try it! Prayers were answered above and beyond with my first “Rose” and I DON’T DOUBT THEY WILL BE AGAIN. It seemed only appropriate.

Here is the video from yesterday:

Day 28 – Cake

We are in possession of the most beautiful cake. Thank you so, so much, C.J! We haven’t cut the cake yet, but plan to momentarily. Will the filling be pink or blue??? I have a flock of butterflies within. The knowledge of a little girl or little boy with a specific name is going to deepen my grief, but it will also intensify the great love I already have for Baby.

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“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born,I set you apart.”  – Jeremiah 1:5

… Stay tuned

Day 26 – Letter to Baby

Hi Baby,

You are so active inside of me right now.  I take such joy in your tiny bouts of activity, each little squirm and wiggle.  You are such a strong little thing, contrary to everything we’ve read about T18.  I’m so anxious to meet you, but hate the thought of separating you from the life line that has devotedly sustained you so far. The tie that physically binds us is destined to be cut in two, but there is a tie that will forever tether you to my heart. Nothing and no one can separate that bond. I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.

Condensed into such a short period of time, I hope you will be able to see and feel the tremendous lifetime of love your family has for you. I hope you will know that your sweet little life was not in vain. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, God’s work of art.

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Right now, as you’re nestled up inside of me, the concept of being without you seems blighting. But I will find solace in knowing that someday I’ll see you again. Your sweet Daddy and I will have an eternal little baby angel waiting for us in heaven.

I love you, little one.

Love,
Mommy

Day 24 – Trapped

Since the end of December I’d felt like a fly trapped between the screen and a window pane; searching in vain for a rip in the screen or a crack in the glass, some way to escape the possibility that I’m really locked in. Then the storm hit. I lay drowning on my back in the flooded sill, kicking my legs and flapping my wings, trying to breathe and make sense of it all. Not only was I trapped, I was going to be killed in here.

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The rain finally subsided and I was able to climb to a place of safety. Instead of continuing to struggle, I let the warm breeze fill my exhausted lungs, the blanket of sunshine dry my battered wings, and the blue sky soothe my many tired eyes. I get caught off guard by the left over rain drops that occasionally drench me all over again, but I’ve figured out they won’t kill me.

The distant sky is bruised with storm clouds, threatening to overtake the consoling sunshine. I am frightened, but instead of worrying about the storm’s fury, I find hints of hope and eagerness for it. Maybe it is THIS storm that will be powerful enough to rip the screen out of the window and free me to fly.