The arrival of Mae Ellyn was one of anticipation and God intimately and intently designed and delivered her to our family on August 27, 2014 at 5:24 AM.
She is special in more ways than one.
Nichole and I wanted to share with you about our journey over the last 34 days and ask for your prayers as we move into a future we are still learning about.
“Every good and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights…”
On August the 27th at 5:24 a.m., after only 4 hours of labor, our little Mae Ellyn Boggs was born in our home surrounded and welcomed by family. Mae Ellyn was prayed for over a year earlier by many of our children who had begged us to have another baby. It would be this very thing that would later bring Keith and I great comfort.
Some of the older children attended the birth and even our new puppy, Bennett, tried to stick his head in the door. We were all anxiously awaiting her appearance! What a wonderful surprise the little ones who were sleeping sweetly would have when they awakened.
As I drew Mae Ellyn up into my arms and heard her first cry, I was thankful once again for a beautiful and perfect little baby. She was a little blue looking and her face had eyes that were swollen, a crooked nose, and lightly bruised. But, oh so perfect! She had been a little cock-eyed in the birth canal, which caused the distortions. It also may have slowed labor just a bit, so that our midwife, Brenda, could arrive on time and Keith didn’t “deliver babies.”
In the moments and hours that followed, Brenda would politely ask the rest of our family to leave the room as she wanted to talk with me and Keith alone. Both of us later told each other that we thought she was about to say something about me. But, we soon found out that she had suspicions that Mae could possibly have Down Syndrome. Because of noticing four or five indicators, she recommended a second opinion and more testing to make sure Mae was okay.
Her heart and other things would need to be checked rather quickly in hopes to catch a possible defect that could bring her harm. All of her checkups have gone great. Her heart looks healthy so far. She had some slow weight gain, but that is doing better. However, after waiting 4 weeks, it was verified through blood work that she did in fact have Down Syndrome.
Initially, coming from a place where we knew very little about Downs (still do), we were surprised and saddened. What did this mean? Is she going to be ok? Did we do something wrong? What will life be like for her and for us?
After many days of wondering and pondering, and through many conversations of others sharing such sweet stories, I had come to John chapter 9 in my Bible reading. The disciples came to Jesus about a man who was blind. “Did this man sin or his parents sin that caused him to be born blind?” they asked. Jesus response to them was, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”
Mae Ellyn is “the works of God…..”
A dear friend of mine, who was praying for us and for Mae as we awaited results, told me, “Nichole, we must remember that all of this…. all that God has allowed… it is His Kingdom work. When God says, “This is for my Kingdom,” we say “Yes, Sir.” I pray that I will never forget her wisdom as I watch Him work.
I could share so much more, because so much has happened over this last month. It has been a wonderful month! I will end my part of the story with a glimpse into the day Mae Ellyn was born and a passage of Scripture.
That evening on the 27th, Keith and I decided to share the news with the children. I believe we knew in our hearts already. As they all gathered in our bedroom, we told them of the possibility. Tears were shed. We really didn’t know why we were crying. The little ones certainly did not. What we did know, is that we wanted, with all our hearts, to trust the Lord.
We laid little Mae in the middle of our bed and Keith began to read Psalm 139. As we leaned toward her, some were holding her hands, some caressing her little body, we went around and those that wanted to, prayed to Almighty God. We lifted up our heart cry for her and for ourselves. Morgan (our second daughter), at the request of her daddy, began to play a song on her guitar and those that could began to sing.
The love we had for the little one God entrusted us with grew 10 times deeper as they left the room than it had been when they entered. We were stepping out in faith and trusting that He knows best. Something we continue to repeat.
She is precious. She is sweet. She is so beautiful. She is His and she is ours. May we love her well… may we love each other well.
“For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.” Psalm 139: 13-18
This has never been more real than it is now,
I was the first to hold Mae Ellyn and even though I was joyful my focus was not on her, it was on Nichole. She had challenges after Maleah’s and Mercy’s births, so focusing on Nichole was priority for me. Nichole is an amazing wife and mother. Not only does she do me good, she does our children good as well. I praise God for her and our children rise up and call her blessed.
As time went on that morning, Nichole was a little light-headed which concerned me and I never felt like she was in the “safe zone” especially when Brenda asked everyone to leave the room so she could speak to us. My heart sank as I looked at Brenda and waited for her to speak.
The words I would hear from Brenda were bitter (the meaning of Mae’s name) to my ears as she shared about her concern for our little girl and the possibility of Down Syndrome. I must have said “Down Syndrome” thousands of times in my mind that day. What does this mean? What do we do? Who do we tell? What do we say?
God led us and we followed.
Things slowed and as time allowed, we made calls and sent text messages to friends and family we knew would pray. We also felt that it was very important for us to tell her sisters and brothers. I thought… we are a family and we need each other for the journey that is ahead.
Looking back, on Christmas Day in 2013, our children celebrated with great excitement when we told them number 9 was one the way. The announcement of another child was the highlight of Christmas and their excitement and celebration was special then, it is even more special today.
August 27th was a long day for me. I was both tired and troubled. But the way the day ended would be the most intimate and impactful worship experience for me as a man. I was moved as a husband and as a father and God was at work in each of our lives.
Family worship (or Bible Time as we like to call it) is a priority for us. We do not get to have family worship every night, but we try to have time together with the Scriptures, prayers, and singing most nights. We know we need Him.
We gathered the children and Nichole’s mother around little Mae Ellyn who lay on our bed. As I began to tell our children, I knew what passage God was leading me to read to our family for hope and comfort…
From Psalm 139, God used the following to bring light and beauty out of the darkness…
“Even there Your hand will shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”
–Ps. 139: 10-14
After reading and crying, I asked everyone to touch little Mae with their hands. I felt led to lead us in a prayer of dedication to Our Great God for her and asked each one to pray that wanted to. The prayers were simple. The prayers were powerful. One child praised God, remembering their excitement on Christmas day. One child thanked God for giving Mae Ellyn the last name Boggs. God moved in our darkness with “light” and “beauty,” which happens to be the meaning of Ellyn.
For me, the day that started with bitter news was now ending in the most powerful worship experience I have ever had. There, in the center of our bed was light and beauty surrounded by lots of love. In the midst of that room God brought great healing to my heart, after all He is the Father of lights.
On Tuesday, September 23rd, we received a call from the pediatrician’s office informing us that our midwife’s concern for Down Syndrome was in fact a reality for little Mae Ellyn, and for our family.
As I think about the days ahead for her and for each one of us, I am very hopeful. Just as God takes her hand, I know He is taking our hands. He will lead her and He will lead us. I am certain that God will hold her while He is holding us. I am confident that in each step of the way the night shall be light about us and marvelous will be His works!
That my soul knows very well!