By Dave Moors, as told to Priscilla Tate Gilmore
Jan. 20, 2013
It was February 2001, and my wife, Dorene, was four months pregnant when we received the devastating news.
“Based on previous blood tests,” our obstetrician said, “there is a 10 percent chance your baby will be born with Down syndrome.”
Before that announcement, I had been excited about a second child. Now, sorrow, fear and a jumble of painful emotions filled my days. I learned how to cry. I cried at church, at work, at home and in the shower. I wondered, Why us? Why our baby? When will the blessings replace the fears?
No answers came, from people or from God.
I believed there was a God, but I didn’t understand Him or His ways. I wanted the wrong things fixed. I was frustrated that I, as the father, couldn’t find a solution to this problem. Employed as a mechanic in the construction industry, I controlled trucks and processing equipment. At home, I fixed plumbing, repaired electrical wiring, chopped wood, and remodeled the house. I struggled with surrendering my child to surgeons, doctors and more studies.
Two weeks later came the next round of tests: an ultrasound and an amniocentesis — a puncture of the amniotic sac in order to remove amniotic fluid around the baby.
More bad news.
“The baby has an endocardial cushion defect,” we were told. “Open-heart surgery will be essential. Swedish Hospital in Seattle is equipped to deal with high-risk pregnancies.”
A trip to Seattle followed. Dorene and I met the team of doctors and familiarized ourselves with the area.
A week later the nurse from our obstetrician’s office called. “The results of the amniocentesis have arrived. When can you come in?”
In the office, the doctor reported his findings. “It’s a boy. He has Down syndrome.”
Then he went on to explain our option in terminating the pregnancy.
Though I had trouble understanding God and His ways, I knew our baby was a gift. We couldn’t, wouldn’t, terminate. Dorene and I would do everything possible to ensure our son’s survival.
I checked my heart. Was I ready for the tremendous responsibility that caring for this child would demand? How would I handle the stress? What about the long drives and bumper-to-bumper traffic in Seattle? How would I handle the disruptions to my 2-year-old daughter’s life? Would there be lasting effects?
I tried to brush aside my mental chaos. Time to move on to the next order of business.
The pediatric cardiologist at Swedish Hospital explained the heart defect in layman’s terms. Some of my fears were released when we were able to do an in-depth study of Down syndrome and visit a family whose young son lived with the condition. Their child also survived the same open-heart surgery our son, Jason, would have to undergo.
Jason arrived by emergency C-section on Father’s Day, June 17, 2001, one month early. He weighed only 4 pounds, 7 ounces. After seven weeks, he came home in fragile health with a large hole in the center of his heart, about one-half inch wide and over an inch long. Before delivery, the heart surgeon had placed a band on Jason’s pulmonary artery to help diminish the blood flow throughout his body. In spite of that procedure, blood mixed in the heart, causing lower oxygen saturation. Jason had an oxygen saturation level of 80 to 85 percent. A normal level is 95 to 100 percent.
The goal was to get Jason’s weight up to 8 pounds. We would need to monitor Jason’s food intake. He came home with a nasal feeding tube and a very small stomach. Thus, feedings stretched over long periods of time.
We would also limit Jason’s activity. This included controlling his crying, because it would burn additional calories and inhibit weight gain. Breathing alone burned calories.
Above all, we needed to keep him healthy. Sickness would require stays in the hospital and demand supplemental oxygen.
Dorene rocked Jason for hours, and suffered from stress and depression. I didn’t know how to deal with all of this. The fear that Jason would pass away in the night gripped me.
In December, at 8½ pounds, Jason underwent open-heart surgery. The surgery was a success. Jason recuperated in the pediatric ICU at Swedish Hospital. One of his night-shift nurses told me her husband was a minister. Every night before dropping her off at work, they would stop at the church and pray for all of the children in the hospital.
I listened to her story, and was grateful for her compassion. But I was plagued with questions.
I spent the night in a small waiting room a few doors down from my son. As I lay on the couch waiting to fall asleep, I couldn’t help but think, Why would that nurse waste her time at church praying for these children when so many would suffer and die? Dorene and I had the saints and pillars of the church on their knees praying for Jason. But a surgeon had to come in and perform heart surgery. No miracle there.
At that moment, I felt the presence of God. I knew He had indeed performed two healings in His way and in His time.
Jason’s heart was healed physically; mine healed spiritually. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.
DAVE and DORENE MOORS live in Bellingham, Wash. PRISCILLA TATE GILMORE attends Liberty Christian Church in Salem, Ore.
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