Yesterday morning at 4:19am my third son was born. I've know for years that if God blessed us with a third boy, I wanted his name to be Michael. Michael is my middle name and somewhat of a family name as well. I only recently warmed to the idea of giving him the name Aaron as a middle name. I liked the connection it made to the Shust family (both Daniel and Nicky are named after family members) and thought it would give he and I a strong connection later in life.
Last May, while kayaking off the coast of Maui (how often will I ever get to say that?!) Sarah informed me that we were pregnant and we couldn't have been more excited. After all of Nicky's complications with EE and a near death experience or two, we weren't sure whether we could handle another child with all the care and attention Nicky demanded. But we felt strongly that we wanted more. God blessed us with another who, despite some complications in the pregnancy, grew to be a strong healthy little baby, due January 30th. The anticipation to such an event is palpable. The house starts to look like a baby lives there again as high chairs and cribs come down from the attic, the nursery gets reassembled and parts to the family band have long been assigned: Daniel on keys (or bass?), Nicky on drums (that was easy) so Michael will have to learn electric guitar. (That way when I'm old and cant afford Nate, Duffy and Coker, I'll hire my boys.)
At 37.5 weeks, Sarah had another of many sonograms and for the first time, doctors said that Michael should be much bigger. Within hours we were at the hospital and Sarah quickly delivered our tiny, beautiful Michael. Within five minutes a doctor told us that they were seeing strong signs of Down Syndrome.
The celebration came to a sudden halt.
Our Michael, who will be needing open heart surgery very soon for the often present AV Canal Defect, is in the NICU right now with an infection they can't locate, and Sarah and I have navigated the most bizarre, disorienting balance of being joyful over a new life surrounded by congratulations with grieving the loss of simple dreams we had for our boy and our life together, facing the unknown fear of how in the world to parent a child with Down Syndrome. We keep thinking all this is an absolute dream, because this is always someone else's story and never yours.
This story is ours, not just for today or for this year but the rest of our lives and as I type this I don't know what to do.
Sarah has had Psalm 46:10 on her heart for weeks. "Be still and know that I am God," and has felt the Spirit prompting her for about a month now to start a blog called "Down Came the Rain" and couldn't imagine why that title would make any sense unless our next child would bring more 'rain' into our lives. And she was pretty sure she couldn't handle any more rain.
And we can't. Joyce Meyer just tweeted that old saying that was cheesy to me before today: You don't need to know what the future holds, you just need to know Who holds the future. I've never cried before when I read that. But I did today.
Calloused and bruised, dazed and confused, I am not skilled to understand what God has willed or what God has planned, but my hope is in Him alone! God alone will receive the glory and the praise, He will watch over us in the darkest valleys and when the night seems long and He'll help us to see the way before us. All of my plans and all of my dreams, we lay before His feet. We submit to His design.
I get to remind myself of these truths every night I sing them.
Sarah and I now fearfully look forward to raising a second special-needs child, knowing that God has something up His sleeve! And that something will bring Him positive attention: glory. My resolve to be a good and faithful servant in His sight grows stronger. And I have a feeling we will see a lot of Jesus in Michael, our little angel.
Welcome to the Shust family, Michael. :)