We had our most recent doctor’s visit a week ago. In short, we saw Abel’s heart up close and were encouraged to find all the basic necessities to function properly, but we nonetheless saw a continuation of each Trisomy 18 symptom observed in our 18-week sonogram.
Appointment days are heavy for the both of us — that sentiment is shared by both mom & dad. The specifics of how that heaviness manifests itself has looked a bit different though. As general as I can say it, the atmosphere at our doctor’s appointments is largely and obviously emotional for Kelly, but can feel more informational in the moment for me. She’s laid out with gel on her stomach helplessly watching the screen, so seeing Abel’s condition confirmed up there strikes her straight in the heart. I’m the note-taker in the room… asking for clarification and trying to keep up, mentally synthesizing the medical updates — so it jacks me more in the head as I process the info intellectually.
In a small way, the setting of the doctor’s office is a snapshot illustrating some overarching gender differences that this mom & dad are learning throughout our first pregnancy.
I mean, I can say it’s “our” pregnancy and that’s technically true, but the obvious physical reality is that I am not pregnant. My role at this point is to support Kelly while she supports Abel (we all know I didn’t draw the short straw on that deal). But while Kelly gets the humbling burden of pregnancy, she also inherits the incredible privilege of an instant & indescribable connection with our son. God is quite literally and inseparably forming Abel within her every moment of every day.
For that reason and more, I just don’t (and can’t) have the same sense of ONEness with my unborn son that my wife does. She’s courageously carrying him through the third quarter while I’m cheering from the bench. And while I fancy myself an elite cheerleader (Go Kel Go!), the bottom line is that I’m not truly IN THE GAME with Abel until he’s breathing oxygen with me.
I say all that not to belittle my role as the non-pregnant husband, but to show that being fully present each day in the life of my unborn son takes some intentionality. And it’s in that way that I realized my life as a father has many parallels to my life as a Christ-follower…
For starters, I’m reminded that it’s very possible to know about someone without actually knowing that person. I think every red-blooded American at this point knows about Jesus… but I fear it is the vast minority who have actually entered in to enjoy the fullness of life that comes from a personal abiding relationship with Christ. In a similar sense, it would be possible & easy enough for me to acknowledge Abel’s existence with my head (and even with my words) while allowing my heart to remain far from him… But that’s very different than EXPERIENCING my son’s existence and FEELING the high’s and low’s of this current season we have with him while we pray for many more to come.
Furthermore, as any human being also knows, even face-to-face adult relationships take a lot of work to build and maintain. So it’s kind of tough to invest in a sacred relationship with someone you can’t see, touch, or hear… and in that sense, loving Abel right now isn’t a whole lot different than loving Jesus. Just as there are daily disciplines I put in place to develop my relationship with Christ, there are also daily disciplines that help foster my connection with Abel as his dad. While I don’t have the same gift of Abel’s everlasting Word in front of me, I can still write to him, pray for him, and actively process throughout this season for our little family of 3… And as crazy as it sounds (seeing as Abel has never uttered an audible phrase or looked me in the eye), I have grown closer to him even just over these past few weeks. In a less physical/literal way than Kelly, I do feel my heart being knit to his… It takes deliberate work, and it’s so very worth it.
So now I seek to ask myself these questions every morning and apply them to my relationships with my son as well as my Savior: How will I honor & enjoy to their existence today? And how will I intentionally invest in my walk with them today? What a shame it will be to neglect one or both questions in one or both relationships…
Abel is alive. Abel is my only son, and he is changing me. I don’t see him, but I love him and I’d gladly lay down my life for his. Humbling as it is, I know that the gracious God who created Abel loves him even more than I do.
Jesus, too, is alive. Jesus is God’s only son, and He is still changing me. I don’t see him, but I love him because He gladly laid down his life for mine. Humbling as it is, I know that I will never love our gracious God as much as He loves me.
We have committed to follow Him through this and any season, and we are consistently blessed and encouraged by your daily prayers for Abel’s healing. Please continue to ask, seek & knock… knowing that we have a Good Father in heaven who is faithful, trustworthy, and worthy of our praise in any outcome.
You’ll hear from Abel’s mom later this week. Sincerely, Daniel