By Nancy B. Gibbs
There are many important topics that arise in our lives. We often state our opinions without really giving thought to the ramifications of the decisions people make. It’s easy to stand up for what is right when the topic doesn’t affect us personally.
It was easy for me to write a skit which appeared in Standard Publishing’s Church Programs For Special Days. “The Lullaby” was chosen for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. I rejoiced when it was published and released, hoping that many people would read it and use it in their churches. I hoped that it would discourage abortion.
It’s easy for my husband, Roy, a minister, to preach against abortion and for life on the third Sunday in January each year. His messages have always been direct and powerful.
It was easy for Roy to choose a pro-life message when he ran for the office of Georgia State House of Representatives. He made a few enemies and the vote was close, but he didn’t win.
But fighting for unborn life became a lot harder when the decision transformed our own family.
Fast forward three years—we were expecting our sixth grandchild. This would be our son Brad’s first child. I received the news from him and his wife, Amy, the day after my birthday. So I referred to this baby as my birthday present in the making.
Brad and Amy decided to withhold the news from others for a few weeks. I was sworn to secrecy. It was hard not to share the joy with my friends, but I kept my lips zipped. Finally the day came and I had permission to tell the world that we were expecting another grandbaby. I was thrilled. I started shopping for baby clothes.
Another few weeks passed and I was scheduled to speak for several hundred ladies at a women’s event. On August 3, I turned on my computer and was just about to do some serious event preparation when the phone rang.
“Mama,” Brad said. “We went to the doctor today.” He paused, and I knew by the tone of his voice that he was about to give me some bad news. I didn’t have any idea how bad it would be.
“There’s something wrong with the baby.” He went on to explain how there were problems with the child’s brain.
“Maybe they are wrong,” I said wishfully.
“You didn’t see the expressions on their faces, Mama,” Brad further explained. “We’re going back tomorrow to have more tests run.”
In four days I was going to be speaking at the women’s event, and the topic was Faith of a Child. The thought crossed my mind that this talk would also be for me and my family. A challenge had been set before me. How would I respond?
I spoke, shared the news about my future grandchild, and followed with an invitation. Several people decided to give their lives to Jesus. Others, including Brad and Amy, made decisions to rededicate their lives to Jesus. They put their unborn child’s life in God’s hands.
A few heart-wrenching days passed. More tests were conducted. More tears were shed. The little girl Amy was carrying would be born with severe brain damage—if she even lived until the birth.
Four doctors encouraged Brad and Amy to end the pregnancy quickly.
“You should terminate this pregnancy and wait a couple of months and try again,” one doctor suggested.
“The decision to carry on with this pregnancy will not only affect you. It will affect your entire family,” another doctor said. “Every part of this child’s brain is abnormal.”
Doctors told them that the baby would probably not live to the due date. Others said the baby would die at birth. Then others said the baby would die shortly after birth. But only God truly knew the future.
A computer can be a source of wonderful or horrible information. I stayed on the computer for hours at a time. I found myself drowning in tears as I studied all the prognoses the doctors presented to them.
I can’t explain the pain I was feeling, not only for my grandchild, but for my children. I encouraged them to name the baby, celebrate the pregnancy, and rejoice in the fact that they were parents—even while Amy was pregnant.
And then I said, “You can’t stop the heartbeat that God started.”
Though the doctors continued to inform them of the “mistake” they were making by not terminating the pregnancy, Brad and Amy told the doctors that they were trusting God in this matter. They named their unborn baby girl Claire.
One Sunday morning I sensed God telling me, “That’s enough. Turn off the computer and get in my Word.” I began reading Scripture verses such as Psalm 139:13-16:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
I cried out to God and begged him to get us through the next few months. He gave us the strength we needed, even though we experienced many sleepless nights.
Finally the time came for Claire to be born. The waiting room was full of people. A text picture arrived on our cell phone, and we knew Claire had been born safely and was breathing on her own. She had health issues, but she was alive. We rejoiced. Two days later, our tiny granddaughter faced brain surgery.
God had a purpose for Claire from the very beginning. He knows everything about her. He gave her a job to do here on earth. And she has been doing her job well. Claire is now 3 years old. She has spent a great deal of time in hospitals and has struggled with numerous seizures and illnesses. Our family knows what a special angel she is. We love her with a tremendous kind of love. She is special, indeed.
Shortly after her second birthday, Brad and Amy were asked to speak at a banquet fundraiser for children with disabilities. They showed pictures of Claire and shared her life story with some of the most influential people in the region. Thousands of dollars were raised and several thousand dollars were given in Claire’s honor.
Brad and Amy have encouraged other parents who were told by their doctors to abort their babies. And other beautiful babies have now been born because the parents let God make the decision regarding life.
We don’t know what the future holds for Claire any more than other grandparents do—but we know the Bible tells us that the unborn are chosen children of God. Isaiah 44:2 reads: “This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.”
I do not always understand God’s will or why he does the things he does, but I do know that he is in perfect control of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5 reads: “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”
When we speak up for unborn children, we follow the teaching of Proverbs 31:8, 9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
God loves the little children. It’s not my right, nor anyone else’s, to stop any heartbeat that God starts. I will continue to speak and write about encouraging life. I will share Claire’s story with anyone who will listen. I believe in God, and I believe in life!
Nancy B. Gibbs is a freelance writer from Cordele, Georgia.
More About Claire and Hydrocephalus
If you would like to read more about Claire’s journey, Amy posts updates on her blog:
Claire’s diagnosis in the womb was hydrocephalus. Amy recommends this website for anyone whose unborn baby has been given this diagnosis (or for anyone who wants to know more):
The website has been created by a parent to encourage and inform other parents.
Amy and Brad also found encouragement and an online community here:
Be Not Afraid is a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to provide comprehensive, practical, and peer-based support to parents experiencing a prenatal diagnosis and carrying to term.