Back to the drawing board

Wow!  Seeing Mother’s day yesterday made me think that I probably should continue my story.  The thing is that the next part of my story is where God unfolds mysteries in my life after years of heartache.  It is another very clear picture in my life of seeing His mighty hand move me.  So, I’ve thought long and hard about how to proceed with this blog.  I really want the words to leap out of the computer, into your hearts, and to encourage you, strengthen you, and stir your faith in Jesus Christ my Lord.  There are still times where I shake my head and think that things could not have really, truly happened as they did, but nevertheless, they were truly miracles unfolding in my life.

With my body suffering from grade 4 endometriosis, the doctors told me that the infertility issues would only rapidly progress in my body.  So, if I wanted to have another pregnancy, time was of essence.  So, as soon as we could, we resumed the process of blood testing, shots, and all of the fun of infertility treatments for about another year.

Around September 2005, the doctors wanted us to think of proceeding on to In Vitro fertilization (IVF).  We had some savings that we were holding up just for that possibility and we had every intention to move on with IVF if that is what the Lord would have for us.  However, when it came time to make that decision, I could not get a peace about it.  For some reason, it just didn’t seem right for us.

After much prayer and thought, David & I made the decision to keep Emily as an only child and to cancel all infertility medications, tests, and treatments.  Our worldly mindsets brought us comfort in thinking that we could spoil the socks off of an only child without the burden of further financial demands.  Ha!  The joke was on us 🙂  Of coarse, God had other plans for our lives, but He let us live that dream for a couple of months!

You might be thinking…  I’ve heard this story over and over…  you got pregnant as soon as you stopped trying…  But, that is not what happened…

At the time, we were attending a very large church that had multiple young married age classes.  One day, a respected leader in the church made an announcement in our class.  I’m sure he made that announcement in several classes and perhaps his message and choice of words was the same in each, but God orchestrated his exact words in our spicific class that day.  He stood at the front of the class and announced that an Adoption and Foster Care group was forming at the church and shared their plans for their first meeting.  He said, “If you have ever thought of adopting, have adopted, are currently in the process of adopting, or ever think you might consider adopting, come to the meeting!”

We had already arranged for a date night the night of the meeting and had babysitting in place.  As we talked about it together, we agreed that if we ever might consider adopting, say…  5 years down the road, it might be nice to have some preliminary understanding and information on the topic.  We really didn’t have any other plans for the evening besides grabbing a meal out together, so we decided to go.

The meeting was very informal and consisted of testimony after testimony of adoption stories and how adoption and fostering has blessed the lives of many different families within our church.  They were heartfelt and moving stories of how God brought families together.  So, on November 6, 2005, David & I left the meeting with thoughts that perhaps, in 5 years or so, we would possibly adopt.  However, neither of us felt that the time was then…  just possibly someday.

But, when God has a plan, may His Will be done…

David could not sleep that night.  He tossed and turned as God brought the pictures and stories over and over through his mind.  He prayed, read the Word, and could not sleep that night as he wresteled with God over adoption.  When I awoke the next morning, David was anxiously awaiting.  Funny thing is that when I woke up, my immediate thoughts were that we were supposed to adopt.  Not in 5 years…  Now.  Those were our first words to each other on the morning of November 7, 2005.

 

Bundle of Joy

Finally, the day had arrived for Emily to be born!  The labor & delivery went very smooth so I couldn’t complain much there.  I will say that the fatigue you feel postpartum is incredible!  I wasn’t sure I would ever have energy again, and I wasn’t even in labor all that long!

Weighing just 6#, Emily was a beautiful child (once they got her cleaned up)!  DSC00125.jpg

It is absoluetly AMAZING to witness the miracle of birth – especially after such trials with infertility!  One strange fact is that Emily was born on the anniversary date of my miscarriage so many years before.  March 1st.  I think it was just one of those little winks from God telling me that He’s got this 🙂

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I’ll never forget bringing her home.  I wasn’t scared, just exhausted and curious to see how our lives would adjust to our new addition.

I was determined to breast feed her to give her the healthiest start to life as possible.  However, that was probably one of the toughest things I have ever decided to do.  She ate just fine, but slow, and then she threw it all back up and cried for more.  It was miserable!  I don’t know how I made it through that time as it was one big brain fog of exhaustion.  I slept when I could, but it was never enough!  Because I was breastfeeding, I wasn’t too hip  on anyone else helping.  Emily was also colicy and cried all of the time.  I was falling into post-partum depression.  I wanted to close myself up in the house and never come out.  I didn’t want to admit failure in breastfeeding & I desperately wanted to provide the antibodies for Emily.

Finally, my pediatrician convinced me that I needed to do something to get some sleep.  He encouraged me to try some formula with her.  It was probably the best decision ever!  To help with the colic, I had limited my diet down to chicken & rice, but now I was free to eat again!  I was free to sleep again!  And, she didn’t throw it all back up right away…  Strange, but sometimes the best thing to do is not what we immediately think.  I am so thankful for that pediatrician for that advice!  It changed my outlook completely and I could finally enjoy my little blessing.

The next few months (and years) flew by!!!

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Change in Plans

Soon into my pregnancy, David’s work changed and we decided to move back to the Dallas area.  For future reference, I do not recommend a move during pregnancy!  Overall, I had no complications, but the fatigue and lifting limitations make it a tough transition.  Nevertheless, God provided help from all of our friends both in Louisiana and Texas to come to our aid.  I cannot recall the exact details of why everything happened as it did, but I think David had to start his new position in Dallas, leaving me to drive the Uhaul.

We decided to build a house in a new neighborhood, so that meant that we would have to spend 3 months living with David’s family before our home was completed.  I remember leaving our Louisiana house for the last time.  I spent the night with some great friends and shed tears as we said our good byes.  I made the long drive in the Uhaul truck and showed up at the home David grew up in.  Strangly enough, David’s parents were also building a house and had recently sold the house to David’s brother, Kirk.  So, it was going to be 3 months of a full house…  David’s parents, his brother & wife, and us.

I have vivid memories of our Texas friends trying to “birth” our temperpedic mattress through the small staircase that led to our upstairs apartment that had once been our newlywed home.  After much sweat, laughter, and a few tears, we were able to get our necessities upstairs, and the excess stuff placed into storage.

We went almost daily to check on the status of the construction of our future home.  Building a home is exciting to watch, but stressful to go through, and pregnancy hormones make it even worse!  By the time it was completed, third trimester “nesting” started to hit and I wanted my home settled!  At 7 1/2 months pregnant, I was finally able to move into our home.

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I don’t know what it is about pregnancy, but it is like there is an unwritten club that you join during that time.  People open doors for you, give you their seat so you can sit down, carry things for you, and well…  just baby you.  It is fun being spoiled!  Life is filled with doctor appointments that just progressively get closer together the farther along you are.  The first glimpses of your child on sonogram are amazing!  Convinced that I must be having a boy, I was shocked when the doctor said it was a girl!  My God had given me the desire of my heart.

Every flutter, hiccup, kick, and movement were precious to me.  I had waited so long and God was giving me those experiences.  New life is miraculous and amazing!  The pain of miscarriage and infertility were still there in the fears that something bad could happen at any time, but I had to just trust in God.

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It was exhausting trying to get everything in order.  Getting the nursery put together was one of my top priorities.  After painting, changing my mind on color, and having David to repaint the ceiling, the nursery was finally complete.

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Life was exciting!  We were expecting our first child, we had a new home, and David was doing good with his job.

Praise God through whom all blessings flow!

Whispers from God

2002-2003

Today I’m going to share another moment in my life where I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the God of Heaven & Earth heard my prayers and answered.

If you know me personally or have read my posts up until now, you probably know how much I wanted to have a child.  I cannot put into words the hormones, emotions, and dissappointments that infertility makes a couple travel through.  The miscarriage had been so many years previous, yet the pain in my heart was still fresh as I  longed for what I had lost.  I cried out routinely to my God to hear my plea.  I wanted a child.  Not just any child, I specificially and selfishly asked God for a blonde haired, blue eyed, baby girl who was just like me.

I had been through several rounds of oral medications and my doctor wanted to try 5 more months of infertility treatments before doing an exploratory laproscopic surgery to look for problems.  I was tired of trying and trying only to be disappointed month by month.  I begged God to tell me if and when I would get pregnant once again.  One night, I felt a still, small voice from within me telling me that I would have 3 months of treatments, have surgery, and then get pregnant.  Not an audible voice, just there in the stillness of my prayer.  Wait…  Did I imagine that?  3 months didn’t make sense!  The doctor clearly said 5 months, then surgery.  Afterall, if God heard me, couldn’t he just touch my body and make it all well without all of the treatments and surgery?  So, I pondered these things in my heart.

As I took injections for the infertility treatments, I started cramping worse and worse.  I was cramping so bad that the doctor was treating me with narcotics to control the pain throughout the entire month regardless of where my body was in the female reproductive cycle.  After 3 months of this agony, the doctor called me back into his office to talk about our options.  He said that I was having way too much pain and he thought it wise to go ahead and do the surgery to see what was going on.  Chill bumps immediately went up my spine!  It had been 3 months of treatment since that still small voice, now I was mysteriously being set up for surgery because of the pain?  Surely not, I wouldn’t let my hopes get up, but I knew that surgery needed to be done.  I knew something was wrong.

The surgery itself was uneventful.  The results?  Stage 3 endometriosis causing the cramping.  They removed the endometriosis as best they could.  I also had cervical polyps that we were told probably caused the first miscarriage.  I had never felt like something was wrong with the baby on the first pregnancy.  Somehow, I knew it was me.  Anytime someone said that there must have been something wrong with the baby, I would tell them, “No, it was just too perfect to be born into this sinful world.”  Now, I know.  It was my body, not the baby’s.  Perhaps God did think that child was just too perfect to be born into this sinful world…

Finally, the time had come when I would do another round of infertility treatments- this time with the endometriosis freshly cleaned out and no more cervical polyps.  Such a long wait in between, but this time I had more hope.  They had found the problem and fixed it as best they could.

I remember looking over the pregnancy test that I took early because I couldn’t wait any longer.  The second line was faint, but it was there.  I showed David.  He looked up shaking and said, “that’s positive!”  It hit me…  That still small voice had said, 3 months of treatment, surgery, then pregnancy.  It happened exactly as I had heard.  My God had heard my prayers and answered them.

Money, Money, Money

2001

David’s long awaited graduation from anesthesia school had finally arrived!  He looked at positions in California as well as Texas, but didn’t find much at the time.  That search led us to Louisiana just across the Texas border.  So, we said so long to So Cal and made another long hard move across states.  Unfortunately, being fresh out of college and being showered with the first really good paying job in our lives, we turned to material possessions.  Our first search was a home.  We found a large home on lake Toledo Bend.  We were blinded by the beauty of the land and wanting to posess a home that proclaimed David’s hard work at school.  So, the home we purchased was large but outdated which we planned to change quickly.  Our dream home didn’t come without struggles.  We somehow got convinced it was okay to buy the home without an official inspection.  Bad move.  The septic tank was broken and expensive to repair.  The fireplace was set up to blow hot air, which we loved once as it got fixed, but David got his chance to crawl through tiny attic spaces to try to figure that one out.  I know there were more issues, but I can’t think of them right now.  I just remember that it wasn’t as golden of a find as I thought at first.  However, the neighbors and people of Louisiana were extremely nice and the serinity of that place was amazing.

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I had hoped that I would be able to stay home with a baby by that point, but apparently, that wasn’t happening.  So, I took a position at the local hospital working as nurse educator, infection control, and employee health.  This also brought in a bit more money for us to spend.

Since we had owned our first little fishing boat earlier in our lives, we longed to get back on the water to waterski (wakeboard for David).  One of the first purchases David wanted while living on the water was a wakeboard boat.  Of coarse, that came with an expensive boat lift to take it out of the water when not in use!

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The boat on the right belonged to my parents, but they left it there as we had the extra lift and so we could ski or fish anytime we wanted.  There were fish and turtles that would come up to the dock and you could easily feed them by hand.  We also had a duck named Hector that loved our pug dog!  I miss Hector – he was a good duck…

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We finally had money for vacations.  We went on a cruise with my parents to celebrate David’s graduation.  The beaches of the Carribean are breathtaking!

We had just about everything we wanted.  But, my body still longed to be pregnant.  We found an infertility doctor in Shreveport and began testing and treatments.

I do not write this today to make you jealous or to brag.  In fact, David & I are quite ashamed of how frivolous we spent money during that time in our lives.  I remember all to well the frustrations I felt when we were newlyweds and I would just wish Publisher’s Clearing house would show up with a big check, or that we would inherit a bunch of money from an unknown distant relative.  Anything to make paying the bills easier.  I thought everything would be good if I only had some more money.  However, we were blessed to have the chance to experience financial stability, but that did not bring true happiness, just more worries and responsibilities.

 

My God is Greater!!!

Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD God almighty, who was and is, and is to come!

It is my hope that by writing these stories and walking you through the years of my life that you would be able to see Jesus.  That you would be able to reach out and grab hold of his garments and He would heal you, restore you, and sanctify you.  Beloved, there is a real enemy out there who seeks to destroy, but my God is Greater!!!  I have seen my God living, breathing, and guiding throughout my life and I want the same for you!  If you do not know Him, please call out to Him.  In your head, or out loud, speak the name of Jesus and ask Him to reveal himself to you.  The ground that you and I stand on belongs to the creator of the universe.  As in classic feudalism, surrender your allegiance to our LORD and He will provide salvation, protection, and guidance, along with countless other things.  But with my LORD, this will be for now and for all eternity not as a mere vassal, but through adoption as sons and daughters of the great high King!!!  To God be the glory forever and ever!  Amen.

California 2000-2001

David & I were accustomed to going to church weekly and being involved with other christian believers.  Our hearts ached at the thought of leaving our group behind as we set out on a new journey for California.  However, God had that one covered as well.  A friend of ours at church, told us about a couple in California close to our age who might be able to help us get plugged into a church.  Sure enough, we met J & K as “the man in the red hat” and they became wonderful friends!  They introduced us to Harvest church in Southern California where we attended together.  We lived life with them for those couple of years.  We went to Disneyland and acted goofy together.  They were an unexpected blessing!  They were our family!  We still love J & K, but the distance keeps us from seeing each other often.  But, thankfully, we have Facebook!  But, even in the smaller concerns of life, God provides!

Desperate to take in every opportunity of the beautiful state of California, we were always on the go.  Whether that meant to work, to Disneyland, to the beach, or to the mountains for snow skiing, we were always doing something.  My body was exhausted emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  As I said before, David & I had some of our darkest days of our marriage during this time in California.  There were several factors playing into this, but mainly we were both living in selfishness and pride, looking forward to graduation where we could go on with our pretentious lives.  Even though I was being broken physically, I still had a lot of emotional and spiritual work to be done!

I remember too well the hours driving home from Big Bear with my legs uncontrollably aching and cramping.  However, I knew that they needed to be rehabilitated and snow skiing was my favored choice of exercise.  Big Bear…  ah…  the stories…  The earthquake!  Yes, we were on the ski lift during an earthquake once.  Again, God provided protection for us!  We just swung in our little seat dangling above the mountain!

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I remember too well the paths that led to the beach.  Many required walking down a steep hill to get to the gorgeous sand and waves below.  Walking downhill was harder for me than uphill.  My crazy muscles were backwards!  Nevertheless, I remember the embarrassment of having to sit and rest frequently to make my way down.

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So, I want to end my story of our California days with another witness to God’s divine nature.  There was a couple (I’ll call them Tom & Erica) in the anesthesia program with David that were having legal struggles with licensing and ended up having to leave the program.  Everyone in the small resident anesthesia group was impacted and struck by the depth of something like that happening.  Reverting back to everything I had known growing up christian, I felt like I should write them a small note to let them know I was praying for them.  The only hesitation that I had was that I knew Tom was a very devout athiest.  Nevertheless, I heeded the tugging on my heart and wrote the small, rather meaningless note that most people read, smile, and throw away.  I did not know then the depth of that note.  I had no idea that God was at work there and I quickly forgot I had written the note as I didn’t get any response from it.  A few years later, I came across Erica and she shared her experiences that had unfolded.  She told me that what I did not know is that she was & is a christian and was having to sneak out of the house to attend church because of the tension with Tom’s athiest beliefs.  She said I had no idea of the degree of persecution that she was under at the time.  Tom and Erica’s marriage eventually ended in divorce, but she said that I would never know how much that note meant to her.  She doesn’t know how much I fought God’s calling for me to write it!  Out of faith, my hand formed the words on it, but trust me, I take no credit for it!  God had heard Erica’s cries and wiped the tears from her face long enough and He knew she needed the encouragement that she wasn’t alone.

So Cal….

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August 2000 –

As David’s residency would take up just about every moment of his time, I needed to find a job.  However, with my health status, I really wanted a position with more desk work.  I really loved the idea of being a nurse educator, but with my degree and work experience, that just wasn’t going to happen.  So, I interviewed several places & prayed about each opportunity before choosing to work night shift for a small, local community ICU.

I remember being paired with my preceptor for the first night.  Immediately as we were introduced, she was busy preparing medications for her patient that was not doing well.  We mixed the medication into the IV bag and she told me to hang it.  I told her that I had never worked that particular brand of IV pump before and she turned and said in a snappy voice, “I thought you were an ICU nurse!”  Baylor had an extensive ICU class and knowing I was well trained for the position, I argued back that I understood the medication, but I had never seen that particular IV pump and didn’t know how to quickly get to the titration menus.  I didn’t know at the time that outsiders were not easily accepted into this particular unit’s nursing staff.  My orientation was miserable!  She was never any nicer and I’m really glad I had the ICU knowledge I did from my previous employer because I would have never survived that orientation if it wasn’t for that.

Once off of orientation, things didn’t get much better.  I was a loner, an odd person stuck in a swamp of alligators waiting to get eaten alive.  The other nurses watched my every move.  One of the nurses wore a necklace daily with a witchcraft symbol that was a constant reminder that I wasn’t in the Texas Bible belt any longer.  Spiritual warfare was raging.

I had an unconscious elderly patient that was dying and had no family.  She had the doctor’s order for no cpr and on my shift, she was going downhill.  Knowing that she was passing away alone in an empty room, I pulled a chair up beside her bed and began my charting for the night.  I was the talk of the evening.  As the other nurses sat around, they kept asking why I was in there.  They kept telling me that she was unconscious and wouldn’t know I was there.  Regardless, I felt a strong conviction that I should stay with the lady – that I would never want to die alone, in a foreign hospital bed with nurses sitting across the hall giggling, snacking, and chatting away.  It just didn’t seem right.  Instead, she spent her last few heartbeats with me reassuring her and holding her hand.

Another evening, I came to work & took report on a lady who had leukemia and was feverish all day.  They had tried many things to bring her temperature down, but with little luck.  Ah…  My expertise with oncology!!!  I assessed my patient and I agreed that she looked slightly septic.  I looked over the antibiotic list and called the doctor.  I told him something like that the patient had good fungal and Gram negative coverage, but was not well covered for Gram positive bacteria.  He sat on the phone quiet for a bit as I don’t think he had ever had a nurse notice something like that before.  However, in the BMTU at Baylor, it was common knowledge.  He ordered the appropriate antibiotic and by the next morning, her fever had broken.

Another time, a patient was admitted needing to have a blood transfusion.  The patient was nervous and extremely concerned that he was to be admitted to another local hospital for a bone marrow transplant within the month and he didn’t want anything to get in the way of his bone marrow typing that he had already undergone.  With my extensive experience in bone marrow transplantation, I was the only one on the unit to be able to answer his questions regarding this and calm his worries.

I would have thought that some of these experiences would have earned me at least a tiny bit of credibility with my coworkers, but no such luck.  I frequently went home in tears both from the cramping in my legs as well as the emotional daggers stabbing the ventricles within my heart.  I was spiritually perishing as I cried out to my God who did not seem to be there for me at the time.  “Why?  Why would I have felt so strongly that I was to take that particular job?  Why would my Jesus lead me into such torture?”  Still on the medications for the transverse myelitis, David & I were also fighting more than we ever had then or have since in our marriage.  Life was looking really bleak!

I rarely conversed with the other nurses, but one night, one of them suddenly grabbed a trash can and vomited into it.  I got up, put on gloves, gave her a wet washcloth, and emptied the trash can.  I was a nurse and taking care of that situation just came naturally – especially after years in oncology where that was a common scene with the patients.  She told me not to do it, but I did it anyway.  I know how crummy it feels to be throwing up.  I can’t remember now if she went home or just went to the break room & laid down, but I do remember that she was at least nicer to me after that.  Perhaps I made at least a tiny nick into the impenatrable clique of the ICU staff.

Suddenly, my patient’s heart rhythm changed from normal.  As I looked at the rhythm, I noticed the intervals getting longer, longer, longer, and then dropping.  I recognized the rhythm from my training as a 2nd degree heart block.  I immediately called the doctor as this can progress quickly.  Standing over my shoulder while I’m on the phone to the doctor is the nurse who was my preceptor.  Each time I would say that it was 2nd degree heart block, she would correct me and say it was just sinus pause and I didn’t need to call the doctor.  She took the strip out of my hand and ran it over to the cardiac intensive care unit.  She convinced the nurses there that I was crazy and calling the doctor in the middle of the night for a small sinus pause.  I was absolutly positive it was a 2nd degree heart block rhythm, but her persistance made me nervous and question if I was losing my mind.

Once home, I couldn’t stop crying.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t go on.  I had to do something.  Shaking and crying, I called my supervisor and told her I couldn’t work nights anymore.  I told her I didn’t know if I was going crazy, if the staff hated me, or what, but I could not continue the way things were going.  I was humiliated and embarrassed, but she assured me that she would work something out and to come meet with her that afternoon.

I remember sitting there, reviewing everything I had been through with the supervisor and the ICU nurse educators.  They looked at the rhythm from my patient and agreed it was 2nd degree heart block.  The ICU nurse educator was shocked that none of the ICU or Cardiac ICU staff could recognize the rhythm.  She took a deep breath and said she had her work cut out for her.  I poured my heart out and told them everything I had been through with my health and I begged to be put onto day shift.  They looked up, sadness and concern on their faces, and informed me that they did not have any ICU dayshift positions available.  However, if I wanted to transfer to another area of the hospital, perhaps they could accomodate me.  The ICU educator asked me how I felt about a desk job, that the med-surg unit was looking for a nurse educator.  I about fell out of my seat!  What???  They prefer to get someone from the hospital to take a position like that over an outsider.  I would be a transfer, and it might fit?  What???

So, yes, God allowed me to go through 3 months of a nightmare position at work to get my foot in the door and open the nursing education position that I had prayed so fervantly for.  God is faithful to anwer prayers even if it means 3 months of humbling trials!

 

Get a Move On…

Y2K…

As soon as we realized that David would need to drive to Ft. Worth for school, we moved to downtown Dallas.  Although my legs did not care to work properly and I spent many evenings driving the few blocks back home hoping that I would continue to push through the cramping in my feet & calves to get my car back to the parking garage of our apartment, I have fond memories of that part of life.  I was working at the BMT unit at Baylor and I loved my coworkers!  We were still able to continue meeting with our church group that we loved.  And, My brother rented an apartment across the street from us, so we spent many evenings together.

It was a young urban lifestyle that I had never experienced before.  We would walk to restaurants and throughout downtown Dallas.  However, I moved at a grandma pace.  Although the meds had the demylination under control where more damage was not being done to my spinal cord, it was just the start of the recovery.  I remember worrying if I could make it across the street before the light would change because I could not walk any faster.  Coming from my past in running long distance track and doing drill team, this was extremely difficult for me to experience & for David to watch.  Every evening I would cry myself to sleep through the never ending spasms of my muscles.  My doctors tried medicines to control the pain, but I don’t recall that they worked very well except to put me into a brain foggy trance-like state.  I felt like I was dreaming everything, that nothing was “real” and I didn’t really “care” about anything.  So, I became very selfish in my attitude and didn’t care if or who I upset.  This was definitely a low in my spiritual life.  However, I always knew that God was there with me.  He was the only “real” thing in my trance.  He was there listening to every cry I would make, but He laid low with any answers at the time.

I remember my friends at work seeing the change in my behavior and lovingly asking me if I was depressed.  I fought that thought!  How could I be depressed if I had God in my life??? Would going on an antidepressant mean I was going mental?  I had my professionalism & reputation to uphold and depression just didn’t fit in that model.  So, no, I wouldn’t accept that thought.  Not me.  Never.

I wonder if I had listened, what would life have been like?  Yes, I was depressed, but I wouldn’t admit it for several years.

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In the fall of 2000, David & I packed up & moved to California for David’s residency.  Thankfully, David’s dad packed his motorcycle and came with us to help us unload everything & get settled in.  Then, he drove back to Texas to leave us to David’s learning.

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We rented a house in Riverside, CA and started the next phase of our life.  The area was gorgeous & we loved the weather, the ability to go to the beach, and the ability to go to the mountains to ski.  California was very crowded & the traffic drove us crazy!  Also, it was not uncommon to wait in the grocery store line for an hour before checking out.  So, there were things we loved and things we hated.  We were constantly in the state of “we will stay after graduation”, vs “we will go back home after graduation.”

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What would this new life bring?  Happiness? Sorrow?  Healing?  Enjoyment?

Kneading me deeper still

Still 1999.

I would love to say that everything started to turn around at that point in life and that the miscarriage was just another hiccup in a perfectly normal life, but that is just not the case.  Truth is, I had fervently prayed the praise song, “Holiness, Holiness is what I long for…”  I was begging for God to wash me and make me Holy so that I might be a bright light for Him.  His kneading me as clay into the vessel He wanted to make of me started with the double vision and then miscarriage and is still going on today.  When the troubles first began, they were extremely difficult to bear, now I just tell myself that I am honored to have the God of the universe softening me, working me, molding me into what He will be able to use as a servant.  Don’t get me wrong…  I still cry, scream, stomp my feet and ask “WHY!”, but nonetheless, I have a peace now through hardships that guides my every step.  The hopeless “why does everything bad happen to me” feeling melts into my recognition of God’s work in my life.

Two months after the miscarriage, I had gone to the Rodeo with our church group.  I remember thinking that the seat seemed excessively hard that evening and that my rear didn’t feel right after sitting on such a hard bench for so long.  It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized that something was wrong.  Regardless of how hard that bench was to sit on, my rear should not still be numb after a full night’s sleep.  For the next day, I walked around with numbness & tingling hoping that it would just go away on its own.  But, as time progressed, the numbness and tingling spread down both legs.  Sigh…  Do I really have to go to a doctor because my buttocks is numb???  Seriously???

As I started to see doctors, test after test came back normal.  Normal bloodwork, normal brain MRI, normal everything…  The doctors began to ask David & I if we thought it could be just stress from the miscarriage.  They started asking if I had any family history of psychological illnesses.  However, while they were doubting the reality of my symptoms, the numbness & tingling continued to spread.  Within a couple more days, the numbness and tingling traveled up my back, through my arms, and across my nose.  At the point that I told the neurologist that I felt like it was too strong of a sensation to be my imagination or stress related, he ordered a spine MRI.  The MRI showed an 8mm demyelinating lesion on my spine with enhancement.  To look at the MRI, my spinal cord was lit up like a strand of Christmas lights.  Apparently, that is the “enhancement” that meant I had an active case of demyelination going on.  The myelin sheath on the nerves acts as a kind of insulation for the nerve.  Something was attacking the myelin sheath and leaving my nerves naked and sensitive.  Impulses do not move as quickly through these damaged nerve fibers and can cause numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, decreased muscle control, etc.

They immediately called me in to stop the active breakdown of the myelin so my symptoms wouldn’t progress any further.  I took Solumedrol 1000mg/day x 3 days through an IV.  That probably doesn’t mean much to most of you, but the only time that I have given that much Solumedrol to a patient was to my Bone Marrow Transplant patients with severe rejection symptoms.  The Solumedrol stopped the myelin breakdown, but was just the beginning of a long recovery from the event.

What was causing the strange symptoms?  Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own myelin.  But, I had a second opinion with a MS specialist and he really didn’t think that is what I had because I only had the one lesion.  Was the double vision that had occured 2 years prior related?  Nobody had an answer…  only time could tell.

 

Why Me?

1999.  So many new adventures on the horizon!  We were ecstatic, elated, thrilled, but then my life came tumbling down off of that high mountain to the deep valley below.  On March 1, 1999, I miscarried at 7 weeks pregnant.  For those of you who have gone through it, I know you understand.  For those of you who have not gone through a miscarriage, I will make a feable attempt to shed some light into the heartbreak and emotions involved.

One moment, you are so excited for things to come- the next, you are embarrased, crushed, depressed, and heartbroken…  Why?  Why?  Why?  I was a very moral girl growing up.  I didn’t do anything wrong that I could think of.  I drank penty of water, took my vitamins, avoided caffeine.  Why?  Why did this happen?  Why can all of the immoral, sin laden people seem to get pregnant and have numerous kids?  Why are children born only to be put into foster care because their family is not in a place to care for them appropriately?  Why are there 10y/o girls that are getting epidurals by David for their deliveries, but I can’t maintain a pregnancy?  Why?

As if my raw emotions were not enough, add the hormone factor.  Being pregnant, I would cry at the drop of a hat when I didn’t have anything to cry about.  So, when those hormones are on board and there is something to cry about, it is really tough.  I felt like someone was ripping out my heart, stripping me of every ounce of happiness.  I cried more tears than I could make.

Then, there is the pain.  On top of the emotions, going through a miscarriage is really painful!  My abdomen was cramping so badly.  With every contraction, my body tried to cleanse itself.  The fact that I knew what was going on made the pain even worse.

Family.  It is really difficult to go through this as a woman.  However, you are not alone in your pains of your loss.  David grieved.  Grandparents grieved.  Aunts and Uncles grieved.  There is the waiting time to find out for sure that you are miscarrying and the heartache during that time.  Tears, prayers, hugs.  Nobody knows how to express their concerns and fears appropriately because pregnancy is not supposed to happen this way!

I remember the phone call from my sister in-law telling me that she didn’t know what to do because she just found out that she was pregnant with her first child.  Shell, thank you for being thoughtful for making that call.  You knew it would be very difficult timing for me to hear your news and you were extremely sensitive to that.  I think your phone call helped to numb the jealousy that would have normally engulfed my heart at that time.  I was happy for you, yet concerned about if the same fate would happen to you.  I prayed for you and your child.  My dearest Hannah, I praise God for allowing you to be born into this world and become the lovely lady that you have.  You stand as a living shadow of what could have been in my life.  However, looking back, I understand why God allowed me to go through this and I am grateful for being given the opportunity to watch you grow and develop through the years.

Friends.  Of coarse with a first pregnancy, you tell everyone you know as soon as you find out.  Why not?  You are so excited over the news that you can’t contain yourself!  So, there is a wave of congratulations that are behind the news of miscarriage.  To have someone approach you to tell you congratulations only to end their joy for you with news of miscarriage is tougher than anyone would think.  What is that person supposed to say?  Let me just tell you “I’m so sorry!” along with a big hug is appropriate.

Things to NOT say…  “You can get pregnant again”, “Oh, there must have been something wrong with the baby”, “I guess it was just not meant to be”, “at least it was early on”, “at least you know you can get pregnant”, and the list goes on.  Everytime someone said something unintentionally unthoughtful, it felt as though they were pushing a knife through my heart.  I made David tell most people as I didn’t have the strenth to endure it any longer.  This wore on him as well.  We were both depressed, saddened, heartbroken.