I have dear friends with whom I really only interact online, save for the occasional writing conference I’m able to attend and other happy incidents. I love these people very much and feel their care for me as a blessing and a privilege.

Friends share things with friends.

My wife and I, and by extension our family, have been experiencing something very unexpected and difficult that we have finally made some progress on resolving. But this good news is weird that it’s good, because it is bad news that made this progress possible.

Let me explain.

Something like a half year ago, my beloved and I were talking about whether we really were done having kids. We have six and our youngest is now three and we felt good about the quiver-full we have. But we’d both had strong impressions that we were to get pregnant and have another one.

Frankly, we didn’t want to. Another baby is a reset. A return to long, broken nights, more diapers, random crying, and even all the joys that come with babies. It’s also that much longer we would need to corral small children and deal with the looniness that seems to manifest every time we go into a store.

But we felt strongly impressed. And we know that we have our agency and that we get to choose what we do in life and that God probably doesn’t have a horse in the race of how many kids we have.

That said, He does know what will bring us the greatest opportunities for blessings and progress. He also knows everything.

After a lot of discussion and prayer, and me being pretty stiff-necked, we decided that we would go ahead and try to get pregnant.

It worked out pretty fast.

My dear one got pregnant at the beginning of December.

And we very quickly found that we had no trouble getting excited about the new addition. We talked about cribs and car seats and strollers. I still did some mental grumbling, but it faded fast. And before long, I felt great about our choice. This would be a very welcomed baby.

I love the way revelation guides us and we can change our hearts as we turn to God and do our best to follow Him.

Last Friday, the 10th of January , my wife started bleeding very lightly. It got worse on Saturday.

We didn’t hang around wondering. We went to the ER Saturday evening– figuring we would go make sure all was well and then run some errands and then come home and have our usual at-home date.

We got to the ER at around 8:30PM and ended up making it home near 4AM.

They did an ultrasound at the ER to see what they could determine about the pregnancy. The gestational sac was smallish for where she was in her pregnancy. No heartbeat yet, but that was to be expected so early on.

The ultrasound tech spent some time looking at her kidneys, saying that checking the kidneys was normal protocol for pregnancy ultrasounds. If I see him again, I will hug him.

When the doctor came back after looking at the ultrasound footage, he informed us that my wife’s right kidney has a large mass on it. About 9 cm by 8 cm by 8 cm. It looks solid and that’s very concerning. The thing is: She has no symptoms that would indicate its presence and blood work hasn’t turned up anything wrong with kidney function.

So we would have had no idea that it was there except for this ultrasound tech doing a great freaking job sometime around midnight on a Saturday.

They did an MRI that night also, to try and get a better idea of what the nature of this mass is. It confirmed the mass was solid and concerning. Very possibly renal cell carcinoma.

Cancer of the kidney.

And there is no way it would have been found if we hadn’t gone in to check on the pregnancy. And this is the kind of thing that, by the time it manifests, it is too late to do anything about.

I can’t describe our reaction adequately, so I won’t bother even trying. My immediate thought was, “Holy crap, this- THIS- is why we were supposed to get pregnant. Without God saying to get pregnant and us choosing to follow, we would have had no idea.”

But it has been caught. And the kidney has to come out.

Of course, there’s a chance it’s a benign thing, and I actually think it might be, but it’s so big that a biopsy wouldn’t be definitive. The urologist/surgeon indicated that he would have very little confidence in a biopsy’s results, as the mass might include both cancerous and non-cancerous tissue. He says the kidney needs to come out, with the mass attached.

This can’t be done if there is an ongoing viable pregnancy.

And we still didn’t know if the pregnancy was viable. Her blood test came back as inconclusive¬†on Thursday the 16th and the next step had to wait until Tuesday the 21st. So much waiting.

And this thing might actually be cancer or it might not be and it’s better if it can just come out but that means we somehow hope that this is actually a miscarriage and how the hell do you hope that kind of thing but at least it’s better than actually having to choose between an elective termination and putting the mother of six’s life in danger but then maybe it really is benign but how do you really confirm that it’s nigh unto impossible.

So until Tuesday’s ultrasound, we were in a very frustrating, painful, stunned, holding pattern.

And I’m sharing this– which is likely the first in a series of posts as we find our way through this mess– because I know that prayer is powerful and I believe that things can turn out well. And we need prayers. And I know God didn’t actually, quite literally, guide us to what is essentially life-saving knowledge of the kidney mass for no reason.

At Tuesday’s ultrasound, we confirmed that she is having a miscarriage. It’s been going on for 11 days now. We hope the process finishes this week.

So now we can focus on getting the mass tested and dealt with.

That said, this means we lost our baby. Sure, it was very early on, but that doesn’t matter. It’s still a loss and it’s still rough– even with the blessed clarification that this provides.

What a strange thing. What an incredible thing to absolutely see God’s hand directly guiding this. He must have a very good reason to have gotten so involved.

And I can’t feel grateful enough that my dear wife and I were able to hear Him and chose to follow His direction.

And I can’t help but feel heartsick for my wife and what she’s going through and for the loss of who we thought would add to the joyful lunacy that is our family.