One More Gift from God

She thought she was through having children, but He knew otherwise...

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- Posted on Jun 24, 2016

Ricci with her youngest daughter, Bree

Brandon, my youngest, only two, sat in my lap and watched while six-year-old Remi and four-year-old Savyn tore through the jungle gym and whizzed down the slide. From the outside, it looked like a happy family day at the park, but inside I was feeling anything but carefree.

Three months ago I’d discovered I was pregnant again. My husband and I agreed we were done having kids. We’d taken every precaution. Or so we thought.

Why are you doing this to me, Lord? I asked as my little one fidgeted in my lap. As a person of faith I wanted to believe there was a reason for everything. But a reason for a fourth child? Every child needs love, I thought, and with three young kids my love is spread pretty thin.

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I jiggled Brandon on my lap and glanced around the park. My eye fell on a little girl with Down syndrome. She was gorgeous, but she only reminded me about the results I’d soon be getting from my doctor. “CVS testing,” he had explained, “to check for chromosomal abnormalities.”

Because I was 36, my pregnancy was considered high risk. I couldn’t imagine managing a fourth child, much less a child with special needs. The little girl in the park ran around, pumped her legs on the swings and mastered the monkey bars like the others. But surely her medical condition raised challenges.

I thought of that little girl from the playground again later that week, when I opened a book and a scripture verse I’d written on an index card fell out. “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

I couldn’t remember what had prompted me to write out the verse from Matthew, but now it seemed appropriate. Soon I’d have another child of my own. Another child who could see things I couldn’t.

Some described people with Down syndrome as forever childlike. They never lost that blessed perspective. I tucked the index card back in the book. Is that your plan for me, God? I wondered. Can I learn from this?

A few evenings later, the doctor called with my results. “First, I’ll tell you it’s a girl,” he said. This baby is really happening, I thought when he confirmed my due date. But I still don’t know why. “There’s something else you need to know,” the doctor said. “Your baby is positive for Trisomy 21. That’s the technical term for Down syndrome.”

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When I hung up I walked into the sunroom to absorb the news before calling my husband. I cast my eyes around and saw a decorative plate we’d hung on the wall, an image of a little girl with angel wings. “Angel of Hope” the inscription read. Another scripture came to mind: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Was I up to it? I was a tired, “older” mom. My fourth child would need all the love we could give her and more. “How will we manage?” I asked my husband on the phone.

That Sunday morning I dreaded going to church. Practically everyone knew we were expecting; no one knew our recent diagnosis. I wasn’t ready to share. But I forced myself to attend.

At church I looked around and wondered how my daughter would fit in here. Or on the playground. In school. I was already overwhelmed by a fourth pregnancy. Now the fears seemed paralyzing.

Before the sermon, our pastor introduced a speaker. I sat up in my pew. We never had guest speakers.

“I wanted to talk about our youngest daughter who has Down syndrome,” the woman said. What were the odds? She spoke of the many blessings her daughter had brought to her family. I felt like she was talking to me. And I realized God had been talking to me all along, working on my heart. Preparing me to love my daughter not in spite of her condition but because of it.

Our fourth child wasn’t an ordinary child. She was a unique gift especially for my family. Her name is Bree Love. Because she makes it easier than I’d ever dreamed possible.

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