Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tommy's Story, by his Mama

Written by Kim Endraske

"Mrs. Endraske, you have three options.  You can terminate the pregnancy, you can do nothing and let nature take its course, or we can attempt an in-utero procedure to try to bypass the bladder obstruction."

"Doctor, termination is not an option for us.  We will not end this baby's life.  But, please, I don't want to go through the next six months waiting for the day my baby will die.  Please, do something to help him.  What can you do for him?  Can you save him?"

The doctor produced a blank piece of plain, white typing paper and began with a pen to outline our surgical options.  They could use a laser beam to open a tiny hole in the end of our unborn son's urethra, burning out the obstruction; or they could insert a shunt to drain his bladder out the side of his belly into the amniotic sac, bypassing the obstruction; or they could wait until he was bigger and remove him from my womb for surgical correction and then replace him for the remainder of the pregnancy.

I was only 14 weeks into my pregnancy.  I was barely beginning to show.  How could I possibly be facing these kinds of decisions?

By the next week, my unborn son's condition (officially titled Posterior Urethral Valves) had continued to worsen to the point that the doctor feared he didn't have much time left.  We hurried to operate before he gave way to heart problems likely caused by his ever-expanding bladder.

The in-utero procedure was attempted, but was unsuccessful.  Our baby boy, Tommy, was still so small and his position in my womb made it impossible to perform either possible surgical option.  After turning off the ultrasound machine guiding their instruments, my doctor asked me to return on Monday so he could check to see if his heart was still beating.  Following the longest weekend of my life, I learned that my son had indeed passed away.

At 3:35 a.m., on September 15, 1998, Thomas William Endraske was born silently into a dark, empty room.  His ten perfectly formed little fingers and toes, two itty-bitty ears and one teeny-tiny nose, dwarfed by his one big, bloated belly.


Tommy, by Kim Endraske

In the years following this tragic loss, I was propelled by the Lord to use this pain to bring Him glory. I approached my church about helping to start a ministry to other families continuing their pregnancy after a poor or fatal prognosis for their unborn baby.  It was named A Child of Promise and has maintained an online presence, providing counsel to searching families, for a dozen years.

Yet, God still would not let me stop there.  In so many ways, I had moved forward, but there was still a burning fire in my heart to comfort others who are in any affliction, with the comfort which I had received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:4).  I had indeed been afflicted, but I had also been comforted and that comfort had come in the good counsel of God's Word.

So, I began to study the scriptures earnestly, searching for the words that would bring comfort, truth, hope and peace to other families who were continuing their pregnancy.  My idea was to provide a companion for the lonely days, weeks and months that the parents spend waiting for the arrival of their baby.  I wanted it to be minister to any family regardless of the severity of their child's diagnosis.  I knew that all parents were in need of encouragement, whether their child had been diagnosed with a limb abnormality or Down Syndrome or Anencephaly.

After over ten years in the works, A Child of Promise: A Bible Study for Parents Facing a Poor or Fatal Prognosis for their Unborn Child by Kim Endraske has been published. While walking through excerpts of my own pregnancy journey, the reader reflects on applicable scriptures and journaling prompts.  Each lesson is broken up by the stage of pregnancy, from the initial excitement of finding out you are expecting; to the tests, questions and decisions faced; to the roller coaster of waiting for the child’s arrival and looking toward an uncertain future.  It is available on Amazon and other major book sellers.

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