When I was about 6 to 7 months pregnant I started to show signs that pregnancy was taking a toll on me. I was swollen. My wrists were swollen, my hands were swollen and my ankles were swollen. Looking back on it, I really don't think there was a part of me that wasn't affected. And yet, I wasn't due for a few more months. It's not that I didn't try to address these issues. I brought it up at check ups and had my blood pressure checked regularly. I had my pee tests done with every check up too (pregnancy is so glamorous). I wore hand braces when I had carpal tunnel. I cut back on sodium to minimize swelling. I did what I could to handle the daily inconveniences. But nothing was a typical red flag. I did once have elevated blood pressure- the week of Christmas! So it was an easy flag to shrug off when it went back to normal the following week.
And yet. There was something that wasn't on point. We didn't, however, find out until this week seven years ago. It was a busy week as we traveled the PA turnpike to see family for the baby shower. On the way back west our truck broke down. We had to get it flat bed towed the rest of the way home (and my hubby got to take one for the team and ride in it like that with the dog- shhh don't tell anyone since I don't think that's legal!). Then we had to unload all the baby gifts from it and get home. I remember that I had a head cold that weekend too- 7.5 months pregnant and sick is memorable!
About 30 hours later in the EARLY morning I woke up feeling paranoid and not quite right. The first 6 months of this pregnancy were, aside from my swelling, pretty normal. I felt the baby at the typical times. I had energy and lack there of at typical times. But that night did not feel typical. I couldn't "wake" the baby. I didn't feel him react to me. It was concerning enough to cause me to call my midwives at the hospital and wake my hubby and head over there. Luckily I trusted my instinct and wasn't trying to "Power through."
It was an insanely windy morning and the roads were empty as we drove down town at 5 am. We even joked that it was a trial run for the real deal (a trial run in which I didn't bring a suitcase - mainly because I didn't think I'd need it and I hadn't packed one yet!)
This pregnancy didn't have the rush to the hospital in labor "typical" scene (it would take three more years to experience that!). No, we went in, explained our concerns and I got strapped up to monitors. For good.
Four hospital days later involving many doctor exams, ultrasounds, 24 hour urine analysis, blood work, heart monitors and blood pressure cuffs, this was my Facebook update:
Prayer request update
February 15, 2009 at 12:00pm
This week has been a whirlwind for our little family! From a baby shower celebration in Philly on Saturday to breaking down on the turnpike on the way home to sharing a household cold to ending up in the hospital at 5 am Thursday and not leaving... what is that they say about the rain?? Pouring? At least it's not a blizzard. Christian and I have been working this week on learning how to sing in the rain and have been learning lots about the challenge of that mission. Our little baby boy is still doing well and still in the oven. The current challenge is that I, the oven, have developed mild pre-eclampsia and am being highly monitored for any changes in blood pressure and other symptoms. If things get more risky to stay pregnant, they will enduce labor... and have told us that I most likely won't be leaving until the baby is born... so we're hoping to be able to make that last.The baby is almost 34 weeks and the NICU doctor was realistically positive about that. Regardless, we know we are in good medical hands here and that we are in God's hands no matter what. Please keep praying that our spirits will be positive, we will have the energy needed to get through this challenge and that our little boy will enter this world on God's time. The other morning God gave me reassurance in this thought: Our coming and going from this world is meant to be out of our control. The choice we have is what control we surrender to God with each new day.
Please pray that in birthing and parenting I learn more and more how to do this... thank you all for your support and prayers and we will continue to keep you posted as these modern hospitals believe in wireless ;-).
Love to all from Megan, Christian and baby Shane
It's the daily surrender that trips me up. It was almost easier to give this medical challenge to God (and the medical professionals) than to remember he is also present each day. Being a mom has definitely shown me that I have not mastered this. I also still think about this experience seven years ago with "what should I have done differently" mentality. After writing this status at noon, my organs started to fail and by that evening while visiting with my friend and husband I started feel sharp pains in my side. My liver was shutting down and upon further tests it was evident that my blood platelets were getting extremely low. I had developed not only pre-eclempsia but I was officially in the diagnostic category that everyone kept saying they didn't want to see: HELLP syndrome. The "treatment" was that baby needed to be delivered. That night we started induction. The 15th. He was born on the 17th. It was not quick or easy. And it took me a while to give in to getting an epidural. I am stubborn when it comes to the whole "I'll do it myself" mentality. I ended up asking for the epidural because I wanted to give my coaches- my mom and husband- a break! It was a much needed break.
Here is what did happen two days and lots of medical intervention later:
February 19, 2009 at 12:44pm
We have good news... despite the long trek to get to a happy ending. We have a new son- Aaron David Shane. He was born on Tuesday at 2:15 in the morning and was born at 34 weeks- premature and only 3 pounds 4 ounces and 17.75 inches long. The process in getting to this ending was filled with challenges and tests of endurance and faith. But, the blessing has arrived. He is breathing on his own and is slowly being weaned from IV fluids and other supports. I am still in the hospital from the effects of Pre-eclampsia- basically a condition caused by pregnancy that triggered my body to start to shut down and decide that the pregnancy was over. We were able to have Aaron without a c-section, but only with significant major medical interventions- as I descirbed it, I had some major hospital "bling" going on- with IVs in both hands and a bunch of other monitors and medicines... In the midst of all of this, God was able to work his magic and provided us with peace and endurance. Christian was an amazing birth coach and we have found this week to be one that has grown not only our family but our marriage. Thank you for your prayers and offer for support. Aaron will be in the NICU for a little while longer- although he is proving to have God's strength in him too and is making amazing progress in such a short amount of time. We will keep you posted. We also want to say that we want to encourage prayers of gratitude for the medical support and wisdom that exists at Magee and for all the wonderful people who have been here for our family. This birth has given us an amazing story of God's promises and His plan and how it needs to sometimes differ from ours to produce miracles. Pictures to come soon once I'm home and fully wired up!
I think one of the reasons that I reflect back on this whole experience with emotion is not only because it was intense and emotional (and the birth was only the beginning- the roller coaster ride that is getting your baby out of the NICU is harder) but also because it's so easy to accept that I am not in control and that God is. It's so easy to take for granted all that you have and to try to control it all again.
Today I was working through a study on the Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer and one of the pieces that we are told to put on is the "Breastplate of Righteousness." Heh. Good luck with that. I'm a mom. I am not righteous. Luckily I read more closely because that is exactly what God knows and assures us of- there is no one righteous. Phew. Well, okay. I can do <not> righteous. As explained in the study- trying to chase perfectionism prevents us from chasing God. Yes. This. I need to repeat that as a mantra: Trying to be perfect prevents you from chasing God. Another phrase that I recently heard was EGO stands for Edging God Out. *Punch to the gut*
When we focus on self, there isn't room for focus on God.
I look back at my pregnancy and my labor with our little one and wish it had been perfect. I feel envy for those who had perfect deliveries and I feel fearful of not being able to be perfect. Well I need to let that go. We mom's can all let that kind of stuff go. I am not going to be perfect. I am not going to be a righteous mom. It just isn't going to happen. In this world I am going to be the "Oops, I messed up again, please forgive me" mom... well that's what I am aiming for because asking forgiveness is a no joke challenge for the ego too.
God can be righteous and his Son can be perfect. I am working on accepting that this is the gift given to me. And I can remind myself that giving up control is the closest I will get to righteous. If you have a burden as a mom that you are carrying around- whether it's trying to compare yourself to other moms who are doing it all or compare your kids to other kids who are doing it all, or striving for perfection based on the world's standards- feel free to drop that weight off here. There is no one perfect. The Perfect One has come and gone ahead to prepare a place for us.
While it's emotional and a little draining, I am grateful that I can use our son's birthday to remember that this is a life long lesson. And so begins day one of continuing to work on that lesson.
When the kids aren't acting the way I would like. I need to let go of control. When my house is getting destructed while I am cleaning, I need to let go of control. When I am tired and T.V. watching is about all I can organize, I need to let go of control. When my kids channel their inner cats and dogs and the din makes me want to hide like a bunny, I need to let go of control. When dinner is blah and not at all the Cooking channel inspiration it was supposed to be, I need to let go of control. It doesn't mean it's all going to go to chaos. But it does mean I don't need to get upset, angry or envious when it is chaotic.
This is still real life. It's the life where God wants us to be faithful and loving and kind and truthful and NOT perfect. We need him for that gift of righteousness.
God knew I was going to need to keep learning.
And so I lay down my regrets and feelings of shortcoming and acknowledge that God is in control and I am just a mess that needs to be cleaned up. I can handle that and so can He. *deep sigh of relief*
So be human, be kind and loving and keep trying even when you're not!
You are loved regardless.