Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Blueberry Bush

In February I bought a small blueberry plant in my desperate need to successfully grow a living thing.  We had just found out about Gabriel's diagnosis, in fact if I recall correctly it hadn't even been confirmed yet, and I was frustrated that my body had failed not one, but two children.  Though my mind told me I had done nothing wrong in either pregnancy, my heart wanted a reason for what was happening.  I wanted to believe that I could just do things differently next time and all would be fine.  So, an employee at a local nursery helped me pick out the blueberry bush that looked the healthiest, and I brought it home and put it in a pot on our front porch.  For about two weeks I tended to it, but like many things in my life it soon got neglected as I used all my energy to just get through the day.  The plant turned brown and it even started to grow cobwebs, but it remained on my front porch, a constant reminder of another failure.

The day of Gabriel's prayer shower my sister noticed that one of the shoots which had turned completely brown (they all had -- a local farmer even told me it was done for if I didn't see any more green), had green growing from the bottom.  She recommended I peel back some of the dead leaves, clean the plant up, and resume watering it.  I saw the green, but never did get around to tending to it much since I had other plants that were healthy that I would rather fuss with.  But little by little I saw the green part get taller, and begin to sprout leaves. The plant is slowly getting healthy again.

They told me anencephaly is a fatal diagnosis.  I don't fool myself into believing that Gabriel will live a long life, however he has already exceeded my expectations.  Through no real fault of the doctors, we were sent home with little instruction as to how to care for Gabriel beyond his basic needs.  They thought, and the facts would support, that they were sending Gabriel home to die.  Admittedly, Ben and I have had moments, one just last night, where we thought he was leaving us.  But he holds on strong.  His brain seems to be relatively intact.  Two of the three protective membranes even formed around it, our pediatrician told us during a house call yesterday.  He is highly functional, and actually very strong for a newborn, making attempts to hold his head up that surprise my mother every time.  He refuses to die.  I don't know how else to say it.

Since our diagnosis friends have sent me inspirational stories of babies like Faith Hope, who survived 93 days after birth.  I wouldn't allow myself to think too much about those cases, as I knew the chances of even one day were slim.  I am ashamed to admit that I was resigned to Gabriel's fate.  I still am.  But I'm beginning to see that resignation doesn't have to mean hopelessness.  I have talked often of my faith in God and Heaven, but I haven't spent much time thinking about the miracle of life here on Earth for Gabriel.  I presumed it would be much shorter than it has been.  But in 19 minutes he will be six days old.

I have written of Gabriel's strength while in utero.  He was active, with strong movements, and I trusted that his strength would carry him through to a live birth.  I had no idea how strong he really is.  None of us know how strong we are until we're in a situation that tests that strength.  Every day I see just how fitting Gabriel's name, which means "A hero of God," or "God is my strength", really is.  He is my hero.  He inspires my faith and even my own strength as I care for a special needs baby that I didn't know would still be here today.  He is indeed the angel here on earth that I have so often heard him referred to as.  I will not spend my time waiting for him to die, as if he were a lost cause.  Instead, just like him, I will live.  I will live for him and with him as long as he will stay with me.


  1. Several times each day, I say a prayer to thank God for the time you are having with Gabriel. But, I am also reminded that things happen on God's terms. There is a negative way to read that, but I am hoping you see the positive side. The positive side says that God will not take him before his time. It is not doctors who decide, but God, and God clearly wants Gabriel to be here with you.

    Gabriel has touched and inspired so many people, Andrea. You are never alone- you carry hundreds of REAL friends who care very much, and who rejoice in every moment you have with Gabriel.

    Many, many hugs my friend.


  2. I cannot stop reading your wonderful story. This made me cry. It made me ashamed of how frustrated I get when my girls don't sleep, or when they fuss, seemingly for no reason. It made me ashamed, but grateful that I, too, get to experience this wonderful journey of motherhood along with amazing women like you.