Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Recounting the Miracle of Basden

Running into the mall yesterday to grab a makeup bag for Basden, even the nature of her gift screamed "teenager!" I flew through the food court to grab Chick Fil A, her requested birthday lunch, thinking of Basden's bright, generous smile.
Sporting a day-old pony tail, no makeup, and running shorts, I noticed two women and younger girl move into line behind me, and how nice they all looked.
I glanced back with a smile, "Wow, you all look beautiful."
They smiled back, awkward but kind.
What's her name?" I asked of the daughter.
"Millie, and yes, she loves fashion."
I admired Millie's sparkly hair bow, her carefully combed and styled hair, her cute red dress, and those black boots adorned with sequins.
"She's eighteen," her mom said.
Taking my food, I told that sweet girl, "Well Millie, you look fabulous." Millie's eyes met mine but with no visible response, her expression rather blank and her mouth drawn into a taut line, her lips unable to speak words that her mind could likely process. She lay leaned way back in her wheelchair, not able to sit upright, her hands resting on the chair's arms, unmoving.

I choked back threatening sobs as I walked towards my car. Sweet Millie. The encounter ushered a fresh realization of Basden's health even after all these years.

It’s never too late to recount a miracle.
Especially when that blonde, blue-eyed miracle lives up to her (middle) name, JOY, and brings so much of it into our lives.

Basden Joy Wilson.
Thirteen years old this week.
Thirteen years of recounting the miracle that for some reason God decided to give us ~ her deliverance from a debilitating syndrome that may have snuffed out her young life soon after birth.

As we anticipated the birth of this baby girl, prepared a nursery full of dainty, feminine decorations and ruffly dresses, the Lord allowed us to wade through Basden's pregnancy with her diagnosis of Dandy Walker Syndrome ~ a rather rare disorder characterized by excess fluid on her brain and a ventricle that was forming abnormally.  Dandy Walker wreaks a variety of side effects ~ everything from mild cases that require a brain shunt put in after birth, to severe mental retardation and death. It was a waiting game, and we wouldn’t know how severe her case would be until after she was born.

There’s a real weight that comes with the realization that your unborn child is not forming normally. It’s fearful and endearing all at the same time.

Our family and friends knew of the diagnosis, and we felt tremendous support for Basden’s life and health. I knew she was covered in prayer, and that the Lord was designing her perfectly and exactly to His specifications. But as strangers congratulated me on my growing belly, and asked boy or girl, due date, etc., I kept the unknowns of her health in my heart, and it was nice to pretend in those moments that all was just fine. It helped to celebrate the upcoming birth of this baby, special needs or not, with strangers who didn’t know the fears tangled in my heart.

At the time I was walking regularly with a friend, Darby, who I’d asked a couple years prior to meet with me. I’d admired Darby through high school and even as I’d come home during college, she would jot a note on an envelope in the church pew and pass it to me as the service ended. Darby is one of those people whose words and thoughts are so intertwined with Scripture, that I just wanted more of her in my life. Darby has four amazing boys, one about my age, and her youngest, a teenager at the time, was born with Down Syndrome.

So the minute I saw the sonographer’s expression fall in that initial “bad” appointment, I’d been exposed to a couple of years hearing of weekly updates of Jordan’s antics, and the beauty of raising a kiddo who so brilliantly and effortlessly displays God’s grace.

In addition to Darby, our family held a soft spot and expertise with children with special needs. My mom was immersed daily in fighting for special needs children as a diagnostician and school administrator, and Corbin’s sister worked with some severely diasbled children and spent her winters teaching special needs kids how to ski. Of course the Lord was going to give us a gift of a special child!

The best way I can describe Basden’s pregnancy was that poem of the footprints in the sand ~ I felt like I was carried. I felt an umbrella of grief and uncertainty, but there was much hope and trust in that umbrella too. And the best gift, besides Corbin and so much family support, was peace. I really believed the Lord knew what He was doing, and that it was good. And that he would equip me one day at a time. So looking back, I felt carried during that time ~ carried with peace and trust that I couldn’t have manufactured if I’d tried, it was His gift to me.

One of the biggest things I learned from Darby was that, “Until that baby is in your arms, you don’t have the grace to deal with the fears that surface.” It helped me keep an open hand and push away fear of the unknown. I had opted during early pregnancy to not have special screenings for malformations. I didn’t go online to learn all about Dandy Walker Syndrome, because I knew that would promote more fear than it would truly prepare me. We would not know until she was born what her true complications were, and I wanted no part in borrowing worry about something that we didn’t need to deal with anyway. I knew that I would be provided resources and knowledge and help as I held that babe in my arms and truly knew her.

Another nugget from Darby, one that gave me hope ~ "Many of the things the Lord asks of us to struggle through, to give to Him with an open hand, never actually come to fruition."

Around 2am on November 15th, her actual due date, Basden came into this world quickly and without complication. Even during labor, I knew she was just perfect.
Now, that may not have meant perfect in the world’s eyes, but she was perfect.

I held that precious little thing in my arms all night and was so grateful for this beautiful, perfect baby girl, and I also knew there was something incredibly special about her. That the Lord’s hand was on her. And that her hours-old heart was drawn to him.

An MRI at 48 hours old demonstrated what I already knew ~ that she was perfect. And her brain, which in 4D photos two days before her birth showed extra fluid and an unformed ventricle, was perfect.

We watched her milestones with an extra measure of gratitude: signing “more” and “please” with those chubby little hands; laughing and cackling at her brothers; taking those wobbly first steps; learning to read; memorizing songs and poems and Bible verses. She was amazing!

Several months into Basden's (SUPER-easy) infancy, I had kind of convinced myself that she was never really diagnosed with Dandy Walker syndrome, that it wasn’t that serious. At six months old, I took Basden and a homemade pound cake to the high-risk doctors' office as a thank you. Walking into their office, my heart raced, and the difficult emotions I’d felt during pregnancy washed over me. The two physicians passed Basden back and forth, in awe of her perfect round head and enormous blue eyes tracking with them, her laugh and her clear intelligence and health. They looked at me and said, “Wow, she is a miracle. We would have never guessed it. We never expected this ~ something changed in the two days before she was born, because there’s no medical explanation.”


Basden Joy, I love you. On this thirteen birthday, in more ways than one, I pray you recognize that God perfectly created you to His specifications. So very grateful for thirteen years of recounting His miracle of you.