The door opened, and a doctor came in wearing a gray lab coat, carrying a thick medical textbook. I saw from his name tag that he was a high risk pregnancy specialist. The doctor opened the textbook and placed it on the table in front of me. He didn’t waste words. “We have reason to believe that your child has Fryns Syndrome,” he said, pointing to a picture on the page. He compared signs of Fryns syndrome with what he had just seen on our baby’s ultrasound: hole in the diaphragm over the lungs, cysts on the kidneys, a malformed head—the list went on and on.
“Even the ears look like they’re set abnormally low on the head, reaching almost to the shoulders, which is typical of Fryns babies.”
Tears gushed out of me, while the doctor watched pityingly. He went on talking, explaining to us that Fryns syndrome was fatal. The baby, who would be born with a host of mental and physical defects, might live for a short time, but would die within a few months.
Finally, we got up to go. The doctor said he was sorry and shook my husband’s hand. He tried to shake mine, too, but I waved him off, choking back sobs and clutching a handful of wet, torn tissues.
Prayer and support
My husband and I belonged to a couples Bible study, which was scheduled to meet that night. We decided to attend, even though our hearts were heavy. Our Bible study leader, who knew about our appointment with the specialist, met us at the door. “How did it go?” she asked. I just shook my head and started crying again. As the other members of our Bible study arrived, we told them our sad news. The Bible lesson was forgotten that night, as the group gathered around to pray for us.
I appreciated their thoughtfulness and concern. But it seemed to me as though all our prayers were like tiny pebbles, rattling helplessly against the stone wall of the doctor’s diagnosis. It was difficult even to know what to pray for. Some prayed that God would heal our baby, that a miracle would occur. Others simply prayed that we would find strength and comfort during this ordeal.
When we got home that night, my own doctor called. He had seen the ultrasound report, and admitted that it looked very bad. Still, he had arranged for us to get a second opinion the following week.
Sunday night, my Bible study leader called. “How are you doing?” she asked. I admitted that I was not doing very well. She told me that she was praying for me. I nodded at the phone. That was what people were supposed to say at a time like this. Then she said something else.
“I want you to know I’m still praying for a miracle. I’m asking God that He will override this medical report and give you a healthy baby.” I shrugged, again at the phone. “Thank you, but honestly, I don’t have the faith to pray for that myself.” “I will have the faith for you,” she said.
I thanked her again and hung up, my emotions in a whirl of doubt. In spite of my thoughts, a small spark of hope had awakened.
Forward in hope
And so, the next morning, armed with my Bible and notebook, I barricaded myself in our quiet lower room by the fireplace. There, for the first time in my adult life, I began to pray for a miracle.
That day, encouraged by the bold prayers of my Bible study leader, and by the verses in Scripture, I bowed my head and pleaded with God. I asked God, if it be His will, to bring our baby “back to life.” But I also asked for the strength and faith to accept it if His answer was “No.”
Our appointment with the second specialist took place the following day. This doctor was a quiet, courteous man who respected my request not to talk during the exam. I kept my eyes shut, refusing to look at the ultrasound screen. Afterward, the doctor turned on the light, shut the door, and turned to face us. I steeled myself for his report.
“Well, let me tell you what things I saw that concurred with the first report,” he said. He picked up a big pad of paper and wrote #1: Hole in diaphragm.
My stomach sank as I looked at the long expanse of paper below # 1 and wondered what would follow. The doctor’s pen hovered above the page, then stopped. “As far as the other defects that the original report showed, I saw nothing. The diaphragmatic hole can be repaired through surgery, and your child should be able to lead a normal life.”
I burst into tears. The doctor, obviously expecting a better reaction, peered at me in surprise as he handed over a box of tissues.
“They’re happy tears,” my husband said, as he kissed me and wiped my eyes. And they were! I was crying for joy. God had answered our prayers for a miracle with a resounding “YES.”
Three months later, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, whom we named Michael. He made it through the four-hour surgery on his diaphragmatic hole, and his recovery was swift and uncomplicated.
Five and a half weeks after his birth, we were finally able to bring Michael home to his nursery. As I put Michael to sleep that night, I praised God for the hope He had given me to pray for a miracle.