Today, June 22nd, is the first anniversary of the worst day of my life.
On June 21st, 2015, it was Father’s Day. It was an extra-emotional Father’s Day for my family because my own Father, was leaving the next day on a 10 day mission to Iraq. I don’t know if any of you have traveled to Iraq lately, but getting there, and staying there, is currently quite dangerous. There is a lot I can’t say in regards to his trip, but my family and I were quite nervous for his safety. Regardless, he felt called to go, and we knew we had to let The Lord use him. That night, we went out to dinner and then dessert, gave him his gifts, and said our goodbyes.
My dad hugged me a final time before going our separate ways “Don’t have that baby while I’m gone!” he said. “I won’t. I promise.” And I truly meant it. I was only 35 weeks pregnant after all.
The next day, I would be hospitalized.
The next morning, we woke up and Kurtis drove me to my 35 week appointment. Everything looked good except they were concerned that my blood pressure was a little high. They had me stay late for extra monitoring to make sure everything was okay. Thinking everything was fine, Kurtis stepped outside to get on a conference call for work, while I sat in the doctor’s office alone, listening to the baby’s heartbeat.
The doctor came in 20 minutes later, and by the look on her face, I knew something was wrong. Kurtis was still outside and I was alone and terrified. She told me based on my blood pressure and protein found in my urine sample, they were officially diagnosing me with preeclampsia. She told me what preeclampsia was. That my body was basically rejecting pregnancy. That this could result in heart attack, seizure, stroke, and even death. She told me that I should go home and rest and gave me a list of signs to look out for and told me if I had any of them to go to the hospital immediately, and the baby would then have to be delivered. One of the signs was severe headache, that would not go away after taking tylenol. I felt a knot in my stomach and told her I had had a horrible headache since that morning and had taken tylenol hours ago to no avail. I watched her face fall as she told me I needed to get to the hospital right away, and that she was going to call them immediately and tell them that I was coming. I was still alone.
I wandered out into the parking lot, choking back sobs, searching frantically for my husband. I finally saw him around a corner, yelled his name, he lifted his head and his eyes met mine. He took one look at me, barked into the phone at his boss that he had to go and ran to me. I told him what happened through tears and we headed for the car. He prayed over me and the baby and we sped to the hospital. We spent hours in triage while the monitored my blood pressure, trying to decide how to treat me. Eventually, they admitted me.
In the 3 hours since I had arrived my preeclampsia had progressed from mild, to moderate, to severe. They took blood. They took urine. The hooked me up to machines and poked and prodded me. Kurtis called my mom to come stay with me while he went home to get us clothes and other necessities. I wished more than anything my Dad could be with us too.
In the next few days my blood pressure would go up and down, eventually resulting in the emergency delivery of our son via c-section. Preeclampsia robbed me of so much.
(The above image was made using Little Nugget. A photo editing app for parents to capture milestones such as this one. It is available now in the app store!)
Preeclampsia robbed me of my father being present to meet his grandson after he was born. Preeclampsia robbed me of having my father by my side during the scariest event of my life. Preeclampsia robbed me of a labor experience. Preeclampsia robbed me of a birthing experience. Preeclampsia robbed me of a newborn experience.
I am a Mother and yet I have no idea what birth feels like. I have never felt a contraction. I’ve never dilated. I’ve never pushed.
I do know what it feels like to recover from abdominal surgery. I know what it feels like to monitor your blood pressure at home. I know what it feels like to obsess over every little symptom, wondering if it could kill you.
I am a Mother, and I could have died while becoming one.
I am not the same person as I was before June 22nd, 2015. I have never dealt with more stress, more devastation, more disappointment. I was broken. I was weak. I was depressed. And I was sick. So sick, anxiety ridden, and terrified.
But in the year since, I have recovered. I have survived. I am stronger. I am happier. This horrible experience resulted in the greatest blessing. An extra 5 weeks as the most wonderful role on the planet. Sawyer’s Mom.
It took a huge toll on me both mentally, emotionally, and physically. For so long I longed for a normal birth experience. To go back and re-do that horrible week in the hospital. That horrible day I was diagnosed. Is there something I could’ve done differently? Something to prevent this horrible disease from threatening mine and my then unborn child’s life?
There is nothing I could have done. And I am so lucky. I am so lucky to have made it out with my health in tact. I am so lucky that Sawyer was born with strong lungs and no major health concerns. I am so blessed. So blessed.
I thank The Lord every day for taking care of me. For watching over me. For his hand in the whole thing. I wasn’t supposed to go to the doctor that day. It was supposed to be a week later, but something came up and I had to reschedule. It makes me sick to think of what could’ve happened if I hadn’t rescheduled and my blood pressure had continue to climb all week without my knowledge. We could’ve lost Sawyer. They could’ve lost me. I know it’s no coincidence we had to reschedule and I thank The Lord every day for intervening on my behalf. Kurtis wasn’t supposed to be with me. I was supposed to go to the appointment alone, because he had to work. He was able to switch his shift at the last second and come. That was no coincidence either.
In the past year The Lord has taught me so much. About myself, about strength, about trusting in him, and about Motherhood. Preeclampsia is part of who I am. It made me a Mother to the most beautiful little boy. I am filled with joy at the things it’s brought me. It made me a Mother. Kurtis a Father. Our Parents Grandparents. Our Siblings Aunts and Uncles. I would do it all over again, in a heartbeat.
Thank You, Jesus, for this precious gift of health, of life, of family, of love. I am speechless and humbled at the thought of it.
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 weakness so that Christ may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.- 2 Corinthians 9-10