Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined the people I would meet and the stories of their lives they would share with me through my photography. I believe this gig is so much more than taking pictures. I am connecting with people on such a personal level that I am blessed beyond measure. They share their lives with me, their joys, their triumphs, and even their tears. Sometimes, I have no words. Thank you for the gifts you give me.
Today, with the permission of Krystal and Chet, I am sharing their very personal journey through their pregnancy and their difficult diagnosis of carrying a little boy with Trisomy 18.
This is Krystal’s story and in her words.
When I was 10 weeks pregnant, I agreed to do genetic testing to find out the gender of our child early. My sister had done this with her two kids, and I just light heartedly thought, well it will all be fine and it would be fun to know for sure what we are having. We knew from an ultrasound later that week that is was a boy! I was so happy. A couple of weeks flew by, and I honestly never thought about the genetic blood screening again.
The phone rang one morning while I was at work. It was my doctor’s office and so I answered it. Never dreaming what was coming, I said hello. My doctor asked if it was a good time to talk, and I started to squirm a little, wondering what this was all about. He then dropped the bomb on me, “The results came back positive for Trisomy 18.” I fumbled around, asking, what was that? What did it mean? “The pregnancy is not viable” he said. I could not see straight, I could not think, I could not really understand what was happening. I wasn’t going to be a mother? My baby is going to die?
I was sent the same day to a perinatologist who performed a CVS, to either confirm or deny the results of the blood test. My entire family was shocked. Nobody knew what this was or that it was a possibility until this day. Over the course of a few days, we researched and discovered there was a chance for a false positive, especially considering my age. Everyone wanted to believe we would be one of the lucky ones. We weren’t. The results came back positive again, and this time is was a diagnostic test. Termination was offered, and in my opinion, somewhat “pushed” as the best option. “You can terminate this pregnancy try again and have a healthy baby.” I just looked at him. I never said anything one way or the other, but in my mind, this sounded so wrong. Ehhh, get rid of this one and get one that is perfect. I was so overwhelmed. I had an abortion when I was 20 years old…I know how cruel abortion is. I know first hand there is nothing merciful about it. Now, fourteen years later, it did not take me long to decide to carry my baby to term. I was not going to be the one who determined his lifespan. It was not my place. I believe God decides our story, and I dare not interfere this time.
I wanted to believe I could trust God with this. I prayed and said yes, I will be faithful. I will still believe you are a good God, no matter what the test says. Unfortunately, this wasn’t so easy for me. I was angry, hurt, and confused. Scripture made zero sense to me anymore, it no longer seemed to apply. I really struggled. I was unable to understand how He could allow this to happen, not only to me, but to anyone. I felt I deserved all the pain in the world, but this little person…he didn’t. He is innocent. Why is he to suffer? Many weeks and many questions later I was finally able to talk to God about it. He had a powerful message for me.
I had awoke that morning as usual, gone to shower and looked out my bathroom window. It was July, it was so hot and crispy. I spoke with God about how I felt, I asked him to send me a sign that everything would be ok. I decided to get specific. I asked for a storm, not just a rain shower, a full blown storm. I carried on with my day, not thinking much about it again. Evening rolled around, and I climbed into bed with my husband who was still up watching tv. It occurred to me that our French bulldog, Juan, had not come inside and it was dark. He has a doggie door so he can come and go as he pleases.
Concerned, I went to look for him. There he sat on the back porch just gazing at the sky. I said, “what are you doing bubba, come inside.” He would not come so I stepped out and looked up. All around us there was lightening. It was beautiful and there was so much of it. I sat with Juan and we just watched. I thought to myself, this is lovely. It isn’t a storm, it’s just heat lightening, but it’s lovely. I was ok with the fact that I got some beauty, but somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t really what I had asked for. I came back inside and went to bed. Juan still didn’t come with me. I waited a little bit, then went back out to check on him. There he was, in the same spot, still watching the sky. I stepped outside to go to him and this time I heard thunder. I ran back in the house to get my husband, and told him you have to come see this. I said I prayed for a storm and I think it’s coming. Together we ran out back and as we stood on the sidewalk, an almost cold wind blew so hard it nearly knocked me down. I felt a rush of respectful fear. I recognized who this was. I was being told loud and clear who is in control, and I almost crumpled at the realization that I am so small. The wind gusts were frightening to me, so I came inside and checked the radar. There it was…my storm. It poured rain with whipping winds, lightening, and thunder.
As it turned out, there wasn’t a chance of rain that night. There wasn’t a chance of rain that week. The next day at work, someone came in and said, “how about that storm last night?!” There was no chance of rain, it just came out of nowhere.” I smiled and said, “I prayed for that storm.” My anger started to fade after that night. I would not say that I understand what we are facing, but I know I am not alone.
I have had many highs and lows since that night. I go to see my son every two weeks at the 3D ultrasound place. He is beautiful. I have had multiple scans done, to which there is no evidence of Trisomy 18 other than clenched fists. His heart is perfect, his brain is developing normally, and he is a within normal weight range. My last 3D ultrasound at 32 weeks was wonderful. Gus opened his hands. We have never seen him do this before. He is by all accounts beating the odds stacked against him. I remember saying the night before we found out what the CVS results were…”tomorrow we find out what science has to say about Gus, but we believe what God has to say above all else.”
While I have no control over what is to be, I know it is evident that God is with us and Gus is proving everyone wrong. If this pregnancy is not viable, how am I still pregnant? My son is still thriving in my womb. Life is precious no matter how long or short it is. How would I feel if I had terminated? I imagine I would be tormented by the “what if’s” for the rest of my life. Every day with this boy is cherished.
The images Amy took mean the world to me. They show the love of two people fighting a battle most cannot see. You see a couple who have the look of two people excited to be first time parents. While this is true, what you cannot see is the struggle we have to endure, most of it hundreds of miles apart. My dear husband had to move to the coast for work so we would have insurance and was gone the majority of my pregnancy. I saw him a day or two every month. God’s timing is perfect and my husband was cut from his job recently and has moved home to stay until Gus is born. We will get by and it is worth every second he is home now for these last few weeks of the pregnancy.
Calloway Augustus Smith is due on November 24th, Thanksgiving Day. I can only hope and pray he beats the odds and gets to come home with us. He is a beautiful baby and he has changed our lives forever. Please keep Gus in your prayers.
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord…” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
You can follow along with Krystal’s personal blog through her journey here.
Feel free to comment belowto support Krystal and Chet’s journey and to pray for baby Gus.