Pregnant with Hope, I learned quickly that doctors' visits were eerily equal to withdrawals from my spiritual bank account. To remedy, Chappy and I would attempt to make spiritual deposits by digging into God's Word days before, reminding ourselves of His unfailing promises. The news was too often grim and so it seemed the enemy would literally extend his long pointed claws deep into my soul to gut and steal away every ounce of hope he could find in my body. Dejected and dismayed, it was common to see my head hung low and tears streaming when I would climb into the minivan for the ride home. Chappy would often hold my hand in complete silence...giving it a squeeze every now and then as if to say: "I wish I could make this better."
But this doctor's visit was different.....enter Dr. B:
It was a sunny day and all the regular doctors were out on the day I met Dr. B. The way he glided into the room with his shoulders straight, head held high, and nod of the head, it was evident immediately that I was not his first patient. Portraying the confidence of a leather-skinned cowboy proudly wearing calloused hands born through years of handling rough rope and wide-eyed cattle, this was definitely not Dr. B.'s first rodeo. It seemed equally evident that Dr. Cowboy would rather be anywhere else than in the examining room with me.
After a brief introduction, explaining he was filling in for the high risk doctors I was accustomed to seeing on my frequent visits to Vanderbilt Hospital, he leaned against the counter and began flipping through my file. I suppose he was wearing bifocals of some sort, because his glasses were hanging precariously onto the end of his nose, and as he would flip the pages, he would glance up to look at me every few seconds over the top of the glasses before looking down to begin flipping and reading again. Closing the chart with a loud thud between his large hands, he finally asked:
"What in the world are you doing here?"
Having felt subtle pressure from the medical community many times about our choosing NOT to abort little Hopey because of her extra chromosome and heart defect, my husband was a bit edgy with doctors in general. In response, he nearly rose out of his chair as his voice boomed to the arrogant Dr. Cowboy:
"What do you mean....'what in the world are we doing here?" His tone was full of sarcasm.
Dr. B., catching on very quickly to Chappy's response, stood straight, waved his hand and answered with a smile: "No, no, no. You have taken me the wrong way. When I asked what your wife was doing here, I meant that the high risk clinic typically sees mothers who are at high risk during their pregnancies...high blood pressure, sugar, etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your wife; she is very healthy. In your case, it is your baby that is at risk."
From there, Dr. B. went on to explain how he could view hundreds of ultra-sounds of babies with Trisomy 21 and every one would be born unique. Markers that are seen in the womb do not signify developmental milestones a baby with Down Syndrome will achieve or not achieve. And then he reached for his wallet.
"I don't ever share this with patients, but I am going to show you something" he mumbled as he dug into his pocket to pull the wallet from his pants. He then proceeded to open it and flip through colorful pictures of a family he was obviously proud of. Looking up with a sort of smirk, Dr. B. lost his cowboy persona and began to speak to us as if we were his dear old friends:
"I know grandparents are not supposed to have favorites, but I have a favorite grandson." Pointing to a sweet little face, he gently whispered: "His name is Seth."
It only took a quick glance for Chappy and me to realize that Seth had been blessed with an extra chromosome. We all smiled. Chappy and I teared up, but nothing more was said for a few moments.
Dr. B. slapped his wallet closed and shoved it back into his pocket, leaned back on the familiar counter again with folded arms, and with great sincerity he spoke these words that Chappy and I have remembered for over 5 years:
"You don't know it yet, but you are in for one of the greatest blessings of your lives. The little baby you are carrying will teach you about a love you have never experienced before. She will love you unconditionally. If our paths ever cross in the future, we might share some words or even a glance, but on that day, we will both know that you understand what I am telling you today is true....that indeed, you little girl is one of the greatest blessings of your life."
Chappy and I left the hospital with a deposit in our spiritual bank account after that appointment with Dr. B. It was a few weeks ago, over five years later, that our paths crossed with him again at the Frist Gala in downtown Nashville. What transpired between us will amaze you....God, truly, works in mysterious ways.
(to be continued)