Preeclampsia, the NICU and finding hope in the chaos.
” SPOILER ALERT: Endless naps aren’t as appealing as I originally thought… “
Six hundred and fifty-two hours.
These numbers represent the amount of time I spent on strict bed rest leading up to a failed induction and an emergency cesarean section that potentially saved my life. SPOILER ALERT: Endless naps aren’t as appealing as I originally thought… Time seemed to stand still and whirl before me all at once. It all began when I found out I was developing preeclampsia at my 26 week prenatal appointment. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. My doctor instructed me take it easy, as if that were a reasonable task as a mother of two wild and rambunctious little girls. I minimized my schedule when it was possible but despite my best attempts my condition worsened.
Our closest friends put together a little shindig at my favorite restaurant to celebrate our sons upcoming arrival. Immediately after dinner I was admitted into the hospital with an unbearable headache, nausea, pulse racing and continuously high blood pressure. It hit me suddenly and without warning. I was kept in the hospital for a few days to be monitored and after my blood pressure reached a normal range I returned home to incubate and rest. Having two toddlers, while my husband is working out of state (nervous laugh), makes a nearly impossible combination. Yet thankfully, I had the support of others that made what seemed unimaginable, feasible!
” While in bed the anxiety was debilitating. “
Even though I know being on bed rest is what was best for Everett and I, lying in bed and the occasional stroll to the couch daily evoked a host of unexpected emotions and insecurities. Various thoughts raced through my head from isolation, frustration, and fear to anxiety and helplessness. It’s like I completely lost control of my body, my baby’s development and our lives at once. I tried giving myself a pep talk and it ended in a pity party. I had to make hard decisions that weren’t popular for the sake of prioritizing my health and the health of my unborn child. During my time as a mandatory couch potato I had to humble myself and ask for help. I had to delegate. I had to swallow my pride and suck it up. While in bed the anxiety was debilitating. Questions swirled around in my mind. What’s going to happen tomorrow? Will I make it through this? Will I have a premature baby? What do people do on bed rest to remain sane? Did I cause this?
During the duration of those four weeks I saw my doctor frequently. He monitored me thoroughly and remained optimistic. Every appointment I’d try to will my blood pressure to go down as if it was something I could persuade. This continued until I was 32 weeks pregnant. I was admitted into the hospital once again but this time I wasn’t leaving. It had become too dangerous to remain pregnant; my blood pressure was stroke level for hours at a time and my doctor decided inducing labor was our best option. I felt excited to meet our little boy and concerned about my husband speedily driving home to make it in time. I was also terrified that I wouldn’t be able to deliver naturally or worse. After 21 hours of labor and no progress ion my worst fear was realized. I was going to need surgery. I was scared but relieved my doctor had multiple deliveries to attend ahead of me. I had time to pray with my husband, process what was going to take place, and give my daughters hugs and kisses before being wheeled back into the operating room.
Our son Everett Daniel was born 7 weeks and 4 days premature via cesarean. He has been in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for exactly four weeks today. Everett has made great strides in his progress but his release date from the hospital is still undetermined. I’m so thankful for the incredible amount of attention to detail my doctor took when it came to our health. What can I say? This was definitely not on my list of “what to expect when expecting” during this pregnancy and that’s ok. Motherhood is not defined by your perfectly executed birth plan or the type of delivery you experienced. Motherhood isn’t defined by your high risk pregnancy or preterm labor. These things don’t define your Motherhood. I am not a failure. My body may feel broken right now and I may feel shattered but I’m not damaged! I will heal and feel whole again. I’m going to gain my strength back day by day and I’m going to overcome the mom guilt that whispers in my ear that somehow this is my fault.
To every woman who has felt their body failed them. To every woman who asks themselves why or searches the web for answers only to come away feeling empty handed. To every woman who has experienced the joy of life within them, no matter how briefly. To every woman who’s birth plan went out the window. To every woman who felt crippled by fear and uncertainty. To every woman who felt it was too soon. I see you. I am you. Most importantly God sees you. I want you to know that you’re not alone.
God sees your sorrow and your silent tears rolling down your face as the monitors beep and ding. He sees your helplessness as you watch your child suffering, unable to ease their pain. I might not know you personally but I know your burden because I carry it too. Stop trying to shoulder the weight of the world. Lay it down. It doesn’t belong to you. I know your heart aches every time you leave the NICU. You may feel alone right now but darling, you’re not forgotten! You might feel like everything is spinning out of control right now but can I encourage you? It was never in your control to begin with! Phew. There I said it. None of this was in your plan, none of this was penciled into your neatly organized calendar but your baby’s arrival was carefully designed and determined by the Lords perfect timing. God has a miraculous plan for your child’s life! [Jeremiah 29:11] I pray that you find joy in the tiniest of victories. I hope you find peace in the knowing that the Lord has the last word concerning your child’s future. Trust Him completely with Desats, Bradycardia and all that comes with life inside a neonatal intensive care unit. You are being forced to learn to walk by faith and not by sight (or doctor’s diagnoses). You are being drawn closer to him. Hold on to hope Mama. This is but a fleeting moment, an introductory paragraph in the beautiful story that is unfolding!
Are you a NICU mama?
Have you experienced a high risk pregnancy or a traumatic delivery? Do you have a friend who is walking through this? I want to know your story!
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