Several years ago my husband, Chris, and I were told we would never have biological children. That’s a long story….(a future blog entry) Then we were blessed by foster care, adopted our son, Nathan; my miracle boy. We had a foster daughter, Raechell, and her son, Izaiah, whom we love completely. And then we found out I was pregnant with our daughter, Annabella. God was blessing us with four miracles. After all the waiting and praying… it was finally happening; our little family was growing.
Two weeks after my daughter was born via C-section I began to hemorrhage. I remember, vividly, sitting in the bathroom trying to weep quietly, afraid of waking up my newborn daughter. The pain in my back and abdomen were excruciating. I was exhausted. After all it was 2 AM. I was confused. I couldn’t figure out what was happening. I cried out for my husband, who came rushing into what looked like a murder scene in our bathroom. He immediately went into emergency mode. He packed up the diaper bag and was able get our newborn baby into her car seat without waking her. Raechell was asked to watch the other kids in the house, who were all still asleep. Chris carried me and the baby to the van, and we sped off to the hospital.
By the time we arrived at the hospital I had lost a lot of blood, and was still hemorrhaging. At this point things get a little foggy. My memories are shrouded in a white light. I remember specific moments, but not the entire event. I recall the doctors (3 of them) coming into my room to perform a checkup. My mom and dad arrived looking calm, but frazzled. I was laying on a gurney, crying out from the pain and reaching for my mom. My body was convulsing uncontrollably. I was shaking so badly that my husband had to hold me down, so the doctors could perform their checkup. My mouth was dry, my back was arched from the pain and my head was spinning. I could hear my parents talking about how pale I looked, “you can’t even tell she has freckles.” I was sweating, and freezing. My mom kept stroking my hair and my arms, telling me everything was going to be ok, and whispering prayers. My dad sat next to my bed with one hand on my leg, praying silently, his face in his other hand. My poor husband was pacing the room, asking every question he could think of. I could tell he was in panic mode. Annabella slept in her car seat.
It took the doctors very little time to decide something was seriously wrong and that I would need emergency surgery. I clearly remember the looks on their faces. I remember thinking “Oh God! It’s bad.”
As they were wheeling me out of the room I began rambling off my To-Do list for the day: “I can’t have surgery. How is Raechell going to get to school? Rae can’t miss class. How will everyone get where they’re supposed to be if I don’t take them? I left laundry in the washer. I was going to clean the house today. What about the baby? How is she going to eat? Who’s going to take care of her? She needs to be fed. It’s about that time. Nathan needs help on his project. It’s due Monday. The materials are in the van…..” My mom and dad were weeping through their smiles, trying to look brave. My mom was trying to reassure me, “Everything will be ok. Don’t worry about all that right now. We got it covered.” I turned to look at my husband. His eyes were huge. He looked frantic. My heart ached for him. I tried muttering how much I loved him and tried to tell him that I would be fine, but no sound would come out. He kissed me on the forehead, told me he loved me and they whisked me away.
By the time I arrived in the pre-op room I wasn’t able to make a coherent sentence. I tried asking the nurses questions. My mumbling was . I tried telling the nurse I wasn’t in pain anymore so we don’t need to have surgery, but then realized I was still convulsing uncontrollably. My brain was all fog. I could see the clock on the wall and the white ceiling. It was so cold. My mind was racing… “I can’t die… my husband won’t be able to handle it…please God!… with a newborn baby… and the kids…. he can’t handle it… what will happen to them?… But if this is it, I’m ready to go.”… and then… nothing.
My emergency surgery, Dilation and Curettage (D&C), was supposed to be 45 minutes. It turned into 4 hours! My husband, mother and father sat in a waiting room for 4 hours, waiting. No one ever came out to give them an update. Not once!
I’m not exactly sure how long I was gone. Seconds, maybe minutes. However, I coded and paddles were used. The words “very rare complication” were used when the doctors explained I needed a complete transfusion. They estimated that I lost about 3 pints of blood before I arrived at the hospital, and another 4 pints during the surgery. The human body only holds 10 pints (or units). I was classified a Class IV Hemorrhage: a loss of 40% or greater and is considered the maximum amount of blood that an adult can lose before the body can no longer compensate. The body can no longer keep up with the blood loss and the person is in serious trouble. Without very fast help the person will die. And I did.
But, thank you, Jesus, I did not stay dead!
I spent several days in the hospital and eventually went home. However, I was right back in the hospital two weeks later, hemorrhaging again. I was diagnosed with placenta accreta.
As a result, a decision was made for me. I had a partial hysterectomy. Ultimately the decision was the best choice for my health; although it took me a long time to see it that way. At that time, I would have done, said, sacrificed anything to maintain the ability to have more children. However, the doctor and my husband thought it would be best if I had a hysterectomy.
The following two years would be the two hardest years of our marriage and my life. The toll that the medical procedures (3 surgeries in 4 weeks: C-section, D&C, partial hysterectomy), the hemorrhaging, the complete transfusion that I had to have done; all of that damaged my body, my spirit, my heart, my mind, my faith and my marriage. It changed me forever. I spent two years trying not to be bitter and angry, and failed miserably. I kept replaying it in my mind: If only I had gone to the hospital sooner. If only I had been coherent enough to make medical decisions for myself. If only… If only… There had to be another way.
I went to counseling, took anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, and sleep aids. (all prescribed) I wrote songs about depression and finding God in the midst of pain. I journaled, a lot. I questioned God. I questioned my husband. I questioned myself. My faith was tested. I doubted everything and everyone. Our marriage endured a brutal time. The important thing to keep in mind is that we went though it, together. We made it to the other side. Neither one of us left or “checked out”, physically or mentally. My wonderful husband persevered through my anger, and continued to love me, support me. He never stopped loving me. He stood by my side. Grieved with me. Loved me. Never left.
Today, and every day, I am grateful. God’s endless mercies, patience and love for me still amaze me. He blessed me with my husband and all of my children. They are all my miracles, my blessings, my life. God used the circumstances surrounding the birth of my youngest child to change me forever; He taught me through dying that life is fragile and valuable. I will not take it for granted.