Crystal Nickell: As I sit and tear up while sitting in a board meeting with Crystal, I know that her story will touch your heart too. To be around her today, one would think that she has had the posh life. But as you will hear, it’s hasn’t always been that way. We all know what is showing on the outside is not always what is happening in reality. I’m so thankful that I have been able to be apart of her sharing her story. I’m so grateful that she was willing to stand up for her child when possibly no one else was. To know her is to love her.
Recently a question was posed to a small group of women, in which I was a part, “Can you say you are 100% prolife with no reservations?” My mind drifted back 12 years earlier. I was sitting alone in a very small, cold office. I waited for a doctor I had never met to walk in and discuss this life I was currently carrying. I would have rather been a million different places as to where I was that day. I was seated on a leather, green couch that made terrible noises if I moved the least bit. There was a table in front of me and a seat to my right. The door had only enough room to open. I’m not sure why I remember these miniscule details. Maybe I was trying to keep my mind off why I was even there.
My husband and I were married in October 1997. In June 2000 we had our first bundle of joy. Our beautiful daughter came into this world and turned ours upside down. We never knew how much love you could possibly have for a child you just met. We worried over every single detail like stuffy noses, whimpers in the middle of the night and falls that didn’t really amount to anything. We were definitely the typical first time parents. And despite our every effort to keep her little forever, she started her senior year of high school just this week as I’m writing this.
In 2004, we found out we were going to have another child. My husband was self-employed which meant if he didn’t work, he didn’t get paid. So because we knew the drill, or so we thought, the day of my scheduled ultrasound I decided to go alone. I promised to call him and reveal the gender as soon as I could. He had never said the words aloud, but I knew he was hoping for a baby boy. And I have to say so was I.
I arrived at my appointment and once called back, the radiologist went to work. I heard the heartbeat and looked at the fuzzy image on the screen. She told me very soon the gender was male and I couldn’t wait to call my husband and give him the exciting news. She then asked me to have a seat in the waiting room. I can remember sitting there looking at the pictures of my precious baby boy anticipating his delivery. It wasn’t long until my name was called again. This time my ob-gyn was waiting for me in the room I had just been in minutes earlier. He told me the radiologist had spotted something on my baby and he had confirmed it was a cyst on his brain. He went on to say a lot of doctor terms hard for me to understand, but it all came down to my son had a possibility of being born with a birth defect. The joy I had felt vanished and replaced with fear of the unknown. I had opted against, just like I had with my daughter’s pregnancy, to have an amniocentesis testing early in the pregnancy. I now wondered if the results from that would’ve warned me for this type of news. Before I left, he made me an appointment with another office that could take more in-depth pictures and be able to describe fully our situation.
I remember getting in the car and just crying out to God. This was not the news I wanted to call and discuss with my husband over the phone. My mind just couldn’t embrace everything I had been told, but it was getting late and I knew he would just end up calling me soon. I dialed his number and began to weep. Heaving between fragmented sentences, I finally shared the news.
The appointment my ob-gyn had made for me was only a week later, but the days before dragged on what seemed like forever. This time my husband wasn’t going to let me go without him. For as much as I can remember about this time in our lives, there is much I forget and probably for good reasons. We arrived at this new office and got into a huge argument as we were parking. I have no idea today what it was over, but I assume all the fears and apprehension we both had felt over the past week had surfaced and I wouldn’t allow him to go back with me when my name was called. Being stubborn and proud are two things the Lord continues to work on in me and I despise I would allow such qualities to show at such a vulnerable time.
Just as a week earlier, I was alone, but now with a new radiologist performing an ultrasound. She moved the cold device all around my stomach staring at the monitor where we both viewed a little life moving. Once she finished, I was lead to the small office I described earlier to wait for the doctor. I was so angry at myself for arguing with my husband and not allowing him to go with me and in general ashamed for acting so foolishly. I needed and wanted him to hear every detail alongside me. Finally, a tall, slender man entered the room and immediately began talking. His words were swift and very precise, “The ultrasound shows a cyst on your baby’s brain. Under Kentucky law if you want an abortion we have to move fast because of where you are in your pregnancy.” I sensed the room becoming even smaller than it already was. Did I really hear him say “abortion and move fast”? Since I was the only other person in the room I had to answer so I softly replied, “Abortion is not an option for me.” His eyes never looked away from my chart as he explained I would come back each month to discuss the cyst’s progression. I walked back to the waiting room to find my husband. I was able to hold back the tears until we were in our vehicle and I began to tell him every detail. Month after month we went back to this dreadful place together and would hear there was no change. In a way this was encouraging because it wasn’t getting bigger, but it wasn’t getting smaller either. We continued to pray and called on many family and friends to do the same.
The last ultrasound performed was very close to my due date. I watched the radiologist for any type of different expression, just as I had done at previous visits. She stepped out of the room not long into our visit and returned with the doctor who then began to stare at the screen with us. “There’s nothing there”, he said. I remember wondering if I had been dreaming because he couldn’t have possibly said what I thought I heard. But the cyst was completely gone. The feeling that came over me is hard to describe in words. I felt lighter than a feather, even though my belly was bulging in every direction. The burden of worrying and wondering had vanished. God had heard our pleas and completely healed our baby boy just in time for his arrival and I imagine He chuckled at my response of unbelief since for months we had fervently prayed for this very outcome.
Kyle, my second child, was born in May 2005 healthy and weighing close to 10 lbs. Since then, I often find myself asking the same questions. What if I had never attended church; What if I had never gone to Sunday school as a small girl and memorized the words to Jesus Loves Me; What if my husband and I had never asked Jesus to live in our hearts years before all these events took place? Since my life began, God was preparing me for an exact moment where I would choose life for another.
Things tend to come fairly easy for Kyle. He can walk into a room and instantly create a friendship, good grades and athletic ability come naturally. His zeal for life is quite evident. Numerous people have told me, “There’s something special about that kid” and silently, I agree with them. I know the enemy fought hard by trying to cause doubt, discouragement and bringing up the word “abort” so nonchalantly. God’s plan for Kyle’s future must be nothing short of amazing. Just as it is for every life He creates. I am beyond blessed He chose me to be a mother to both my children. They have made my life truly amazing.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
I thank You Lord for giving us Grace. I thank You for providing us with truth that will guide us in our walk daily. I ask You to be with those who are struggling with a pregnancy crisis, whether it is a possible illness, as Crystal’a was or a family crisis. You love those little ones before they are even formed. I ask You to protect them. Amen!