assemble the troops


May 11, 2017

As he went along he saw a blind man from birth. His disciples  asked him, “Rabbi, who has sinned? This man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man or his parents have sinned ,” said Jesus, “But this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  – John 9 1-3

I don’t know how to begin this post other than yesterday morning felt like i was hit by a truck driving at high speeds. i struggled and wrestled with God, drove home in utter numbness.
I woke up this morning my eyes opened but i didn’t move. praying to God that it was all just a really bad dream and I would wake up just as I did yesterday and my biggest concern of the day was finding clothes that fit. reality slowly started to sink in again that this was no nightmare i can wake up from no matter how many times i squeeze my eyes and reopen hoping by some sort of hollywood magic that it was a nightmare all along.

i’m going to start this off and probably close it by getting on my knees, clenching my hands together as tight as they can and begging just absolutely begging for your prayers on our little goldfish. I know that prayer has the power to change and heal. and i know that power and the gathering of believers can move mountains and work miracles.

that being said here is what is going on.

while i was driving to enroll our baby in daycare i received a call from my doctors office saying they had seen something yet again with the ultrasound of our baby. we have had about 4-5 total so far for various things that ended up being nothing so i wasn’t worried until they told us we were going to be referred to the fetal monitoring specialist in downtown. a bit uncomfortable with this message but still not overly concerned i tried to go on with my day and brush it off as another thing that would probably check out to be nothing. i did have a bit of nagging in my stomach though the term “specialist” just seems so scary doesn’t it?

tuesday we went in to our appointment with our normal doctor and she expressed some concerns about the unknown. they couldn’t see exactly what was going on with the babies heart and the level  of ultrasound technology wouldn’t be able to provide her with the answers to tell us if this was of serious concern or not. Please note: this is when a good doctor comes in handy. i told her they scheduled us for may 22 with the specialist. within an hour of leaving our doctors office the center called with a random opening for wednesday at 11am. that my friends, is a good doctor and team.

we got to the appointment early not nervous that much because we’ve been through the ringer like i said a few times with various ultrasound blips. we were called in and brought to a room with the most high tech ultrasound equipment i’ve ever seen. we met our tech and she got right to work. she even gave us a 4-d picture of our babe’s face. of course i burst in to tears. it was the most beautiful thing i’ve ever seen. it made it so real to me that this was a living, breathing beautiful actual baby growing inside of me. and it had joe’s nose which we both picked up on right away.

shortly after that we moved on to the important business. the reason we were there. the heart. originally it was noted that the baby had  a dilated pulmonary artery. according to everything my web md husband found it wasn’t the biggest of deals and indeed sometimes corrected itself. within about 1o minutes of the heart ultrasound our tech just said “i don’t like what i’m seeing i think the cardiologist is still here i’m going to try and catch her” and she left. i tried not to freak out and remain calm but that is not reassuring. i’m so grateful for her hustle though because while the first cardiologist was already gone the second one was able to be tracked down earlier than his afternoon shift. we met with a doctor before the cardiologist that explained what they were seeing. basically from a 10,000 foot view, the baby’s aorta is small and the ventricles are not right which made them think it was a pulmonary artery issue. the doctor was very kind and very thorough with us which we were so grateful for. we are not sugar coat it kind of people.

she asked if we had had the genetic test done earlier in the pregnancy. we opted out because no one in our family had a history of any genetic disorders. the risk to me (has a tiny tiny risk of causing miscarriage) did not seem worth it because we have a pretty healthy history. she then went on to explain that 30-40% of infants with this type of congenital heart defect also have Down’s Syndrome. that is when the world went fuzzy for me. i thought i was going to pass out. i didn’t hear much about what came next because 30-40% is a big number. i wanted to throw up, scream, pass out, actually get hit by a truck, and just sob all at once but i just sat there numb. we opted for the non invasive type of genetic test which the doctor informed us is probably a better option for this stage in the pregnancy anyway. and around that time the cardiologist came in (skipped his lunch) (did i mention how grateful i am for this staff’s hustle?) and him and our tech got right to work reviewing the heart again. the cardiologist showed us every area of concern they were seeing and said after this was done he would meet with us and tell us what it all means.

i was focused on one thing, not crying and breaking out into an open sob. i felt like if i showed my emotion cards they might try to “take it easy on me” and not tell me everything i had to know. wither that is rational or not it’s how i felt.

just as he promised we wrapped up the ultrasound and he gave us a few minutes to meet him. the second that door closed we just broke down in sobs. we knew at this point it wasn’t a blip, this was the real deal. and we were going to have to deal with it. i sat there trying to collect myself begging God in my head and heart to make everything ok. just make this all a mistake that makes us grateful. I don’t want to be the blind man i just want everything to be ok and i can be so grateful for miracles elsewhere just not in my baby. not because i didn’t want a miracle i just didn’t want to be the reason to need a miracle. does that make sense? i’m real logically especially with God during trauma.

we collected ourselves, dried our eyes and tried to look as presentable as possible and followed the cardiologist to one of those small consultation rooms. he came in with charts, and books, and information and walked us through what was going on. so here it is.

baby has a condition called ASVD . To see what exactly this means and view charts I attached the link here to CS Mott.  the cardiologist was very confident that our baby has a very typical case of this type of congenital heart defect. this surgery has been performed 100’s of times right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The rest of our babies heart looks good with the exception of this “hole”.

The plan is to wait as long as possible after birth to have this surgery but surgery is inevitable. the recovery time is anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks and most children go on to live healthy, normal lives with monthly to yearly check ups.

while this was good news all things considered it breaks my heart. breaks joe’s heart. it’s impossible to fathom that a baby who looks so beautiful and perfect on the screens, that i can feel move and kick has anything at all wrong with him or her.

we are meeting with the team again in two weeks but were also told that we will now be delivering downtown Grand Rapids so we are close to the specialist and best critical care around. Baby will have to stick around to be monitored before being sent home to be home before surgery. this is good news, that baby can come home with us where it belongs for a few months God wiling before we have to go back. The bad news is I have a new team of doctors and my current doctor will no longer be our delivery doctor. this hurts more than i can explain. I was absolutely in love with this care team. my doctor is a wonderful christian woman that i never questioned or doubted. I knew that with each decision she made it was as if it were her own baby. care like that friends, is extremely difficult to find and relationships like that are not built over night. While I am so so sad about that I am so so grateful for the level of facilities, care and specialist we have literally in our own backyard.

now for the genetic test. after this was all done and we wrapped up with the cardiologist and doctor we were sent to the lab to take a bunch of my blood. this method is better for this stage of pregnancy because by now the babies skin cells are floating around in my blood stream and the cells is what they test. we will not get these results for another week or two (max). this is the most troubling of all. we can fix the heart (while it’s so so scary) but if our baby has  Down’s Syndrome it is a complete life change for all of us. one that we never thought we would even have to think about. Friends i’m begging you that this test comes back in our favor. I sat there and watched the nurse draw about 4 tubes of blood just praying over each one that it was good and healthy and this was just a big scare to make the surgery less scary.

it was about 4pm by this time and joe and i had not eaten a single thing. we went out for pizza and while it was delicious it had no taste. we sat there numb just staring at each other. we decided to get some prints made of the baby’s 4d pictures that the tech so graciously gave to us. we then went and bought some apple trees to plant and keep our minds busy the rest of the night. my mom came over to talk a bit and we walked her through the day which was therapeutic to talk about.

we went to bed utterly exhausted and both just prayed this was a nightmare we would go to sleep and wake up from. but this is our reality. and it’s times like this that I’m so grateful that I have a God to run to for answers and friends like all of you to help me be a prayer army for this little baby.

i told you in the begging that I was going to beg. so here I go again.

Friends, Family, Prayer warriors, I am begging for your prayers.

pray that baby albers is genetically healthy. that this test is going to come back just fine

pray that if the test doesn’t come back the way we had hoped that God gives us the strength and grace to see his plan and purpose and the strength to take the necessary next steps

pray that baby albers stays in my belly full term. the longer he/she is nestled in there the better surgical results we can expect

pray for the team of doctors that will be working with our baby. pray for their rest, strength, knowledge, guidance and a steady hand.

pray for the strength of joe and i to remain healthy and level headed close to each other and close to God.

pray that someday we can all look back on this and talk about how God has worked an absolute miracle on our little goldfish.

anything else you want to toss in there I would greatly appreciate. Prayer has the power to work miracles my friends and we need you.

i will keep you posted.

much love,

joe, abby and goldfish.



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  1. Sarah Vos says:

    Praying hard for you, Abby. ❤️

  2. Elma says:

    Praying that the Lord guides the doctors in your care.. Praying for a healthy child..but whatever you are faced with God is right there by your side and all of us who love you!!

  3. Stacey says:

    I have a friend who went through something similar and the doctors in Grand Rapids are amazing you are in great hands. I can’t say I can relate to what you are going through but do know friends that have had similar experiences can now look back and see how perfect their child is for them even with the challenges they face.

  4. Kari Haynes says:

    Praying for your sweet family.

  5. Deborah says:

    Praying for you and at sweet baby.

    I hope this will bring you comfort. When I was pregnant with my oldest, I went in for a typical ultra sound. At some point faces changed and people came in. It was a blur really. Basically the team told me that I needed to prepare for a miscarriage They took back all the info/materials they gave me that day and told me to go home and what to expect they set me up the next day for a different ultra sound just in case. Well, that was the worst night of my life. Waiting to loose your baby. THEN nothing happened. I went in for a second ultra sound and he looked to be okay. He was born just fine and is now 20 years old. I pray this over you and your baby today.

  6. Hannah says:

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

    Prayers & encouragement for you daily from here on out

  7. Laura Lynn says:

    Sending prayers to you, Joe, and your sweet little baby. Praying for positive results, good news, great health, and strength. <3

  8. Sue says:

    Prayers and hugs ….. sending much love your way.

  9. Anna says:

    Praying over you and with you Abby. Miracles happen. With love and Blessings, Anna

  10. Bethany Lucas says:

    Sending so many prayers to you and your precious babe!!

  11. Janice Moran says:

    Just as scripture says, it’s not mom’s fault, it’s not dad fault, it is and will be ‘so that’ Gods glory will be seen.
    Our small group has been studying prayer based on sermons from our pastor on Sunday. We have covered a lot of things.
    Why pray? How to pray? What is our motive in praying? Does prayer change things?
    It’s been quite a series and each of us has gleaned something different from it.
    Personally…prayer is communication for me with my Abba Father, creator of ALL things, and yet His greatest love is us! How crazy is that. With communication comes relationship. And getting to know each other. And again I’m reminded He loves Me. We are So Loved. Praying that you are able to rest and take comfort in that love Abby. That all things that this journey is taking you on now will ultimately bring Him glory. Prayers for a peace in your heart and mind that ‘He’s got this’.

  12. Justin says:

    I don’t know you but your story came up on my Facebook news feed. Hopefully it can encourage you that during our pregnancy we were told our baby had several issues one of them being a VSD and small pulmonary artery and that she would require surgery immediately at birth. She was born with no major health concerns and never had to go into surgery. There’s always hope and you have a Father that loves you and cares about your baby. Run to him. Even if your story doesn’t go the same as ours I know he will comfort you and walk through any journey you may find yourself on.

  13. Jennifer says:


  14. Heather says:

    So many prayers. Devastating that you have to go through more uncertainty. Our God is an awesome God. Let’s rest in his ability to move mountains and carry you & Joe through this. Xo

  15. Emily F says:

    Praying for you and baby!

  16. Karen says:

    Sending prayers to you and your sweet baby!

  17. DW says:

    I don’t know you, but your heartfelt dependence on God and cry for His help struck me. I will join you in praying, along with so many hundreds and thousands of others. I love you, your husband, and your little goldfish, in Jesus!

  18. Lauren Guess says:

    Praying SO hard for y’all!! If it makes you feel any better at all, 3 of my siblings & I tested positive for Down Syndrome, with my test coming back so much so that they tried to convince my mother to have an abortion as they said I’d die within hours of birth. Lucky for me my mom said let it be in gods hands & we all came out perfectly healthy! Not even a trace of Down syndrome out of all 12 children.
    Have faith, we will we be praying daily

    • That is absolutely amazing. I have heard of a few stories where doctors suggest aborting the pregnancy due to genetic or health issues. I have been so grateful to have doctors that I know are of faith and believe that this miracles like your mothers can happen.
      Thank you so much for your prayers, it means so much!

  19. Kim @Irishman Acres says:

    Prayers sweet mama! And your sweet lil babe looks so adorable in that picture!! ~Kim

  20. Kate says:

    As a momma who has had 3 miscarriages and is now pregnant with her Rainbow baby, I am thanking God for our little baby, but it is difficult. This devotion is amazing, my favorite takeaway was this line ” God’s Word is infallible and the only thing that can be relied upon. And He absolutely loves it when His children live by what His Word has to say! The devil will tell you, “You will not be able to handle your pregnancy.” Be willing to fight with him and say, “My Father says I will have a beautiful pregnancy. I am taking Him at His Word and so I refuse to believe your lies.” God has a plan, try to see the grace and light in this situation through the darkness. I will be praying SO HARD for you and your dear goldfish and husband, and your team of doctors and that our God works miracles! This verse is also one that touches my heart every time.

    Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    • Thank you so much for sharing Kate. We have experienced one miscarriage before this baby. It is absolute heartbreak and takes true strength and the power of God to make it through that.
      I am so so happy for you and your rainbow baby. Will be praying for a happy healthy birth and delivery for you too!
      Thank you so much for sharing and for your prayers.

  21. Linda Andersen says:

    I will be praying every day for you, Joe and sweet baby goldfish. He does work miracles and yes, all of your family and friends will see you through. That includes all your Instagram buddies that you have never met but will all be praying for you. That would include me! Try to rest and just pray. I will be talking to Him all day every day on your behalf.
    Love and hugs,

  22. Kristin says:

    I found you on instagram and love your funny instastories. I will be praying for you, the baby and your family during this time. I just wanted reach out to you tell you that I am a nurse who works in cardiac unit with babies and I take care of babies all day long who have had this surgery. The thought of surgery on your baby can be scary just know they will take good care of your baby. I know in difficult time it is a scary one but just know my family will be praying for a healthy baby

    • Thank you thank you thank you kristin. I am so grateful for people like you who put mama’s hearts at ease. You are a true blessing!
      Thank you so much for your prayers, it means more than you could ever know.

  23. Martha says:

    Praying for you all! God is the ultimate healer

  24. Jane Armstrong says:

    I’m a mum from the UK and I’ve been following your instagram, reading with interest your pregnancy posts.
    It sounds like you both have had an incredible shock, and are now very scared. All I want to say is your baby is your baby, he or she will be perfect to you and you will love and care for him or her irrespective of any imperfections (in other people’s eyes) None of us are perfect, nor can we know what any day might bring us. Your baby will be beautiful. Good luck with your adventure. X

    • Thank you so much for your words of encouragement Jane. And you are so right, this is my baby and it will be perfect to me no matter what. Thank you again!

      • Jane Armstrong says:

        I had an ectopic after my first baby, had to have emergency surgery. Thought it was happening again in pregnancy #2, but she was born healthy, 4 more babies, then finally another ectopic to finish my baby days. Plus 2 miscarriages. Every single baby was a blessing. Eldest is 28, youngest is 14. Motherhood is wonderful…I’m following you with immense hope and excitement x

  25. Lisa says:

    Prayers to you and your sweet family.

  26. Heather says:

    The unknown is a scary road to walk, especially in regards to our unborn children. Our second child was diagnosed with Dandy Walker Syndrome when I was 26 weeks. We also were referred to a genetic counselor, advised to have an amniocentesis done to determine whether or not there was any chromosomal issues (namely Downs syndrome.) We have walked this road as well…while our specific babies didn’t have the same health concerns, know that there are people out there praying for you. Brings tears to my eyes remembering our experience and imagining how you are feeling right now. Praying that God can comfort you during this time like only He can and that peace and a plan will follow.

    • Thank you so much Heather. Did you have the amniocentesis done? It sounded so scary. thank you for sharing and your prayers.

      • Heather says:

        We did. We opted to wait until 30 weeks but felt like we needed to know what to expect at delivery, not only for us but also for the doctors that may be involved in our care. It actually was not as bad as I anticipated and they made sure to monitor our baby after.

  27. Heather Ryskamp says:

    I just want to encourage you that if your baby is born with down syndrome, it is not a bad diagnosis. DS children and adults are some of the sweetest people I know. While they may require a little extra health care in some cases, and they are slower to meet developmental milestones, I can pretty much guarantee you that a DS child will greatly bless your family. DS people can still do many things: I think of Chris Burke who played Corky on Life Goes On (I’ve met him!) and I know of another who has his own restaurant! I’ve been volunteering at the Special Olympics of Michigan state summer games in Mt. Pleasant for over 10 years, and the DS athletes are my favorite! They have a young athlete program they recently started for those as young as 2! They are adorable, and the volunteers fawn all over them! I am pregnant with my second child and at 38 years old, I am at a high risk for having a child with DS. If I do, I will not cry or be angry–I will look forward to what he or she can do, and I can’t wait to cheer him or her on at the Special Olympics! 🙂 Praying for God’s perfect peace!

    • You are so amazing and so right. I’ve been sitting here reflecting about the “what if’s” and all of these what if’s I will gladly take for a baby that is going to survive. I feel like yesterday I completely skimmed over that the babies with any of these disorders have a very high survival rate and that is good enough for me. I will be keeping you and your child in my prayers as well for a happy healthy delivered baby! Thank you so much for sharing.

  28. Sharon Pressey says:

    It takes a village to raise a child and your village is surrounding you with prayer right now. God never gives us more than we can handle – I promise you that. He never fails us. He is our strength and our hope. My prayers are with you and Joe and baby Albers many times a day and I will continue to storm heaven on your behalf. You are loved by many…

  29. Stacia Dortch says:

    Lord, God we know you hear our prayers. We know you want us to have the desires of our hearts. You know the desires of the hearts of Abby, Joe, their families and all who are joining with them in prayer. We trust in your perfect will. We trust you Lord that this baby will be perfect, healthy healed by your hand alone. We beg of you Lord to not allow Satan to cause a second of doubt or fear in the minds and hearts of such eagerly excited parents. We pray that this will continue be a blessed time of joy and celebration of this new, perfect life that you have created. Lord give this babies family rest in You. In Jesus’ precious name we do pray. Amen

  30. Kim says:

    Praying for the three of you. Hugs.

  31. Melody James says:

    I know it doesn’t ease your worry or fears…but my friend’s son and daughter-in-law have a little one (shes not quite a year yet) and she had the exact same heart defect and was born with Downe Syndrome. She is the most beautiful, precious little one I have ever laid eyes on. She went through the surgery has seen all the specialists…and their life is not what they planned, but would not ttsde precious “E” for the world. I am going to be praying for you, your husband, and your little one. I will add you to our ladies Bible study prayer list. I am going to pray exactly like you shared…for complete healing, but if the results sre different, for grace and strength for you as parents…that God would lead you and guide you as you parent your precious miracle. Sending you much love…a friend in Zeeland.

    • Thank you so much Zeeland. It’s so reassuring to hear that she had the surgery and had success. Thank you so much for your prayers, they are appreciated more than you know.

  32. Amanda Rademacher says:

    Prayers for your family!!! My cousins went through something very similar and their son had surgery around 3 months in grand rapids also. If needed I can put u in touch with them.

  33. Praying for all of you, especially your sweet baby!

  34. Erika says:

    I found your blog post, and myself weeping with you. We are 21 weeks along & have had 4-5 ultrasounds as well, little blips happening along the way. So I SO relate. But after reading [crying] through your post, I went on to my devotions and read this passage:

    “5-6 God’s love is meteoric,
    his loyalty astronomic,
    His purpose titanic,
    his verdicts oceanic.
    Yet in his largeness
    nothing gets lost;
    Not a man, not a mouse, [my addition: goldfish]
    slips through the cracks.”
    Psalm 36:5

    Hope you find more grace & peace today!

  35. Marty and Lew Bronsink says:

    Abby and Joe, Lew and I have been praying for you and baby since we found out you were expecting. We do not know the ways of God “unfathomed and unknown.” He does use the trials in our lives to make us grow in our love and dependence on Him. I worked in perinatal medicine for a long time and have seen many miracles. We are praying for your faith to be strong in the Lord. He will give you the strength to manage whatever lies ahead. We do pray for a miracle.

  36. Laura says:

    I saw your post on facebook. Know we are praying for you in Forsyth, GA.

  37. Lauree says:

    Praying with you. My brother and his wife were told their child was going to he downs and he called me as ideas also pregnant at the same time. I told him I believe I. The power of the spoken word. I told him to only speak positive words of faith. The child was born completely healthy and is 12 years old right now. My son is also 12. Try and feed your faith not your fear. All is well. Xo

  38. Jackie says:

    Our first grand child was born at 32 weeks, weighing 3 1/2 pounds and 16 inches. My daughters pregnancy was going along fine and no problems anticipated, until she started early labor which I took her to the hospital for and they said she was dehydrated, gave her IV’s and sent us home saying it was false labor. About 24 hours later my daughter delivered. At 5 mos. of age I asked her doctor why when you stand her in your lap does she always pull her right leg up and not bounce like most babies. I was told I was an overly concerned grandmother who needed to find other things to do with my time. When Sidney reached 13 months she went to a different doctor due to insurance changes. The 2nd doc picked up on somethings and told us he was scheduling an appointment with a neuro doctor. After an exam of Sidney that lasted approx. 45 min. the neuro doc turned to us and said ” It is very obvious this child will never walk as she has cerebral palsy from trauma at birth. I told my daughter that day on our way home that I did not know how or when but this baby WILL walk. I am happy to say she does. She has trouble with balance at times so does not ride a bike and walk on balance beams, is not a track star etc. I am very proud to say that with 3 yrs. of physical therapy, swimming therapy and horseback riding , and her leg braces which she wore til first grade, she does walk. Last year she graduated high school in the national honor society and just finished her first year at Michigan State ( on the deans list both semesters) and is studying to be a veterinary surgeon. In high school she did 4 years of marching band. Yes she had a few times at band practice when she lost balance and would fall. She had many people praying for her and I feel our prayers were answered. So please know all can be fine. I am including your family in my prayers. Also one of the other people who responded mentioned how loving Downs Syndrom children are and she is so right. They are very loving , and hugging is one of their favorite things. They can also grow to do many things, it just may take a little longer for them to do these things. I was told when Sidney was small that special children are only given to special people as God knows who can love and care for them. God Bless you two.

  39. Nicole Allen says:

    Wanted to let you know that my pastor’s granddaughter just went through surgery in Boston for something similar. Her mom is a nurse practitioner in Oxford, Michigan. I could get her number for you if you’re​ interested. Lucy was 6 months old when she had the surgery this past March. Check out “Little Lucy’s Heart” on Facebook. It’s an amazing miracle! I think you would be encouraged…

Abigail Albers       Author

Abby is a wife and mother, antique shopper, entrepreneur, gardener, sheep lady, sequin enthusiast and your Midwest Martha Stewart Wannabe.. Follow her on instagram @adventuresinabbyland.

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