Our medical team took its most recent “biophysical profile” (BPP) of Abel that assesses 4 key areas: amniotic fluid level, muscle tone (the main indicator of cognition), overall activity & movement of the body, and movement of the diaphragm (preparation for breathing outside the womb). Each category is worth 2 ‘points’ and Abel got an 8 out of 8, telling us in layman’s terms that “he is a happy baby” 🙂
That said, there are still several unknowns that can only be revealed on Abel’s birthday, when Kelly is no longer performing any physical functions for him (the BPP is not used to gauge chromosomes and other Trisomy-18 markers). But for the time being Kelly’s womb appears to be a healthy home for our son to keep growing, and we continue to celebrate his young life as we head into its 34th week!
So… I can only assume there’s a full spectrum of experience among our blog-reading friends when it comes to all things PREGNANCY. Particularly for any fellas on the novice end, I can tell you there’s a whole wide world in front of you… If women aren’t complicated enough already, wait for the “WTF” moments as you learn what all goes on under those growing bellies in order to create & carry another human. It’s quite something. But hey, I’ll give us all the benefit of the doubt that ‘umbilical cord’ at least rings a bell. One Google search vaguely & hilariously defined it as “a flexible cable, pipe, or other line carrying essential services or supplies,” but here’s the bottom line: if baby don’t get what baby needs from the umbilical cord, baby don’t grow properly.
(Male Author’s side note: while I’m a HUGE fan of its work, I’m going to vulnerably admit that the word ‘umbilical’ gives me the heebie-jeebies for some reason. IDK. As we move on, I will henceforth refer to that bad boy as the ‘life cord’ – thanks for understanding.)
So Abel gets oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood from Kelly through the ‘life cord’, and then sends deoxygenated, nutrient-depleted blood back to her, and so on & so forth. Seeing how they are connected in that tangible life-giving way (plus the obvious fact that he physically resides within her), I think it’s fair to say that our son Abel literally abides in Kelly these days. And that can be verified by the fact that, by God’s grace, he continues to grow and develop and mature. Indeed, that is the evidence that Abel is truly & successful abiding.
- Using another illustration that would click with the audience of his day, Christ spoke of a similar concept… “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches…” (John 15:4-5)
Not unlike a ‘life cord’, it is the grapevine that enables growth & wellness. And any branch connected to such a vine will begin to produce grapes. Because that’s what healthy branches do—they bear fruit. Here’s a profound thought to help apply Jesus’ statement today, for those who may or may not routinely work on a vineyard:
- “It is to be feared that there are many earnest followers of Jesus from whom the meaning of this word ‘abide’ (with the blessed experience it promises) is very much hidden. While trusting in their Savior for pardon and help, and seeking to some extent to obey Him, they have hardly realized what closeness of UNION, to what INTIMACY of fellowship, to what wondrous ONENESS of life and interest He invited them when He says, ‘Abide in me.’” -Andrew Murray
So honestly, I feel like this (admittedly weird) umbilical analogy with Abel still falls woefully short of what it is to ‘abide’ in the Biblical sense of the word, because we haven’t even touched on love. It’s true that Kelly carries our son so that he may have LIFE — but more than simply sustaining him physically, Kelly LOVES Abel as much as one person can love another person. Their parent/child connection transcends an exchange of nutrients to reach a level of affection that cannot be adequately described. And it’s humbling to recognize that the same is true of the love Christ has shown for us, and for Abel, and for you… and that the God of the universe desires a personal connection with His image-bearers that goes so far beyond the leftover minutes of our day where we try and squeeze Him in, or often don’t.
- In the end, John 15:4-5 is a personal invitation. And it’s important to realize that Jesus isn’t trying to rip us off when he invites us to abide in Him… that whatever we appear to sacrifice is incomparable to what we gain by knowing our Creator… that our hearts are restless until they find their lasting rest in Him.
And so it’s fitting that the passage closes with verse 11 saying, “These things I have spoken to you that my JOY may be in you, and that your joy may be COMPLETE.” John 10:10 would also say that Christ “came that you may have life, and have it ABUNDANTLY.” Not just life after death. Not just warm ’n fuzzies on Christmas Eve. Life to the FULL here and now can be found in a fruitful, hourly, abiding relationship with a God who loves us. Try as we may, the abundant life can be found nowhere else. Let us “re-up” every morning and choose to ABIDE with the One who died & rose so that we may truly live.
There’s a lot on the docket coming up next week on Monday (12/21).
- We will have another 3-week “growth check” with Dr. Magee (last one of 2015 – whoa!). Ultrasound allows us to monitor his outer body and provide helpful indicators, but any ‘issue’ we see points back to cognition in Abel’s brain, so if y’all could please be praying for full cognition on an ongoing basis that’d be huge.
- Right after, we will see Dr. Eapen (the heart specialist) to get an up-close look at the little man’s ticker for the first time since August. His heart rate & doppler flow have looked good along the way, but there were a couple of potential issues to circle back with once enough time had passed. All to say, we would also love specific prayers for the outlook of Abel’s heart – this appt has been on the books for awhile and we’ll be eager to get in there to see how everything is looking.
- Lastly, we’ll see Dr. Martin on Tuesday (12/22) for a general check-up for the Mama.