Doctor Maloney was a fantastic doctor, a grandfatherly type with a great bedside manner. He made you feel like a member of his family, rather than a patient. He told us that my water had actually ruptured the day before and our baby was at risk. He wanted to perform an emergency c-section.
After all these years, I can still remember the rhythm of those ceiling lights as they wheeled me down the hall and into the operating room. I was so relieved to see Chuck walk into that room, but noticed the small green hat barely covered his thinning blonde hair! We listened to the doctors talk about their vacations and their families, then a baby cried. "It's a girl!" Our baby girl!
Elizabeth Meigan! We had picked out the name months before. They wrapped her in a blanket and handed her to Chuck. He held her out for me to see; she was the most beautiful child ever born! As the anesthetic took over my senses and I drifted off to sleep, Chuck took Beth to the nursery to be weighed and measured. The pediatrician on call looked at Chuck, "Did you know your baby has Down Syndrome?"
Chuck went out to tell the family that Beth and I were both doing well, but didn't mention anything about this stunning news. The nurses put Beth in the nursery window and our family gathered around to get a good look. They commented about her perfect, little round head, they hugged each other; but no one noticed what the doctors had discovered just moments before.
Chuck drove home that night, keeping this shattering news to himself. He prayed and asked the Lord if there was anything he could have done to prevent this. John 9:1-3 came to his mind, when the disciples ask Jesus who is to blame for the man born blind. Jesus tells them that no one is to blame, but that this happened so the work of God would be revealed in his life. Chuck crawled into bed and closed his eyes, but unlike most nights, it took him a long time to fall asleep.
As Chuck was hearing those mind-numbing words the night before, I was being wheeled into recovery, then to my room where I slept hard all night. The next morning my pediatrician came in and sat on the edge of the bed. He told me that Beth was showing signs of Down Syndrome. He talked about chromosome tests, specialists, therapy... his words drifted off into the air. I remember something about chromosomes from Biology class. Why didn't I notice last night? Does Chuck know?? As the doctors words filled my mind again, I found myself crying uncontrollably. My phone call woke Chuck. He could tell by my tears that I knew. He came to the hospital and pulled a chair up beside the bed. He took my hands and through his tears he asked, "We can still love her, can't we?"