Anxiety pushes her way to the front of the line.
She shoves Discouragement, Poor Me, even Faith and Obedience back and she steps up close and demands to be heard. Her voice is so loud and she hands me a cocktail she mixed with Circumstances. She and Circumstances have been conspiring, they’ve been working on this for a while.
And I’m having a really hard time with all of this.
Because Anxiety will not be ignored.
In my usual fashion, I am dealing with what happened now that all is said and done. My health is mostly stable, my baby is doing well, I’m on payment plans with around 15 different health care providers. Things are settling down. Life is settling down. My Present Circumstances are steady, calm and good. And my heart and soul are kind of in pieces.
And usually, I don’t like to write to you guys until I’ve figured it all out and am on the road to okay. But I keep waiting and it’s not happening and I’m thinking it might be a little bit. So, here I am. Telling the truth. The truth of the now.
This is hard.
I am thankful.
And trying to reconcile the two is the hardest part of all.
I almost died and I lay in my bed at night and replay the moments before surgery and the memories after. I feel sick with fear and grief when I ruminate on the events of life since June when I was six weeks pregnant and began to hemorrhage for the first time. I feel such a void where Nora’s twin should be. I feel cheated when I think about that other baby, the last trimester, when I think about those days I was too sick to visit Nora in the NICU, when I think about how I can’t even breastfeed my baby. I can’t even give her that. The blood loss made it so.
And it feels surreal. Because this experience was crazy. I had never even heard of accreta or percreta before all of this happened. Kid number six was my first preemie and it is a whole new world that is counterintuitive in many ways.
Yesterday, I sat on the floor with Nora’s first two months of life spread out all around me. Sorting pictures for her album. There, the ultrasound showing baby A and baby B. Words typed out- “Doing fine, Mom and Dad.”
Photos of bed rest. Claire eating Chinese food in my bed. Toys and books strewn around, because this was the only place I could be. I stayed in that bed almost the whole summer and the bleeding never did stop.
Pictures of my first hospital room where I hunkered down and prepared to spend five weeks that ended up being only eight days. Where I first learned about accreta. Where I prayed and cried and felt I might die of homesickness. I had no idea the gravity of placenta percreta. No idea what was to come.
That day that the hemorrhage got so much worse, right after my family left from visiting me. How close to my heart I hold that visit, because it could’ve been the last.
The magnesium drip, the heavy bleeding, the nervous doctors and nurses bustling around getting me ready for this surgery. My husband said, “I love you.” and it could’ve easily been the last thing he ever said to me. I remember the operating room and even as I type, my stomach rolls and twists. I woke to the wrong time of day (1pm, not 1am) and scared faces and more nervous medical professionals. I want to know about Nora but can’t speak because of the tube in my throat. John shows me her picture, this picture.
Those hard days in the hospital, when I felt so battered and my heart was taking a beating too because a tiny baby that wasn’t finished growing was in the world. Doctors said, over and over again, “We are so glad you’re here. We didn’t think you were going to make it.”
Nora was three days old when we finally met. A far cry from a squalling infant placed on your chest to nurse immediately after birth.
A week at home where I cry often and easily, where my heart is bursting with love for these ones I almost left behind, where my heart longs for Nora and for normalcy. Pain, painkillers, exhaustion, that blessed breast pump yielding almost nothing. We put up our Christmas tree and we laughed and loved each other and it was hard but I was thankful. Always thankful.
I’d been home eight days and then the fever came, the vomiting came, the erratic heartbeat. John ferries me quickly to the local emergency room because I am so sick. They run test after test and conclude that I have an inflamed uterus. Since I have no uterus at all, we request that I be returned to Norfolk Sentara. And that’s where I go. Just down the hall from Nora…but since I am so ill, I can not see her. John shares pictures and stays by my side. I have never felt so sick in my life.
Finally, after a week, the heavy duty antibiotics begin to work. My battle bruised body is putting up a fight and I am on the mend. Nora and I are together again. She is so small against my chest and as I always do during kangaroo care, I cry as I hold her.
Home again and I hold everyone close and cry often and easily…again. I take it very slow because I am afraid of getting sick again but weeks pass and Christmas comes and goes and I keep getting a little bit better. January 14th comes and we bring that sweet baby home at last.
And now the challenges are different. I have to keep her healthy and well and that is hard to do in our active and bustling household. Kids coming and going, bringing in new germs. Some of us get sick with a stomach thing, some get sick with fevers, some get sick with respiratory stuff. And every time, I fear we will end up in the hospital again. Nora is strong but she is still fragile.
I am strong but I am fragile. My stomach is a mess from that week of antibiotics. My heart and soul are fragile and raw. I am feeling cooped up and locked in because you have to protect preemies through quarantine during flu and RSV season.
And all of these things are what weigh on me now.
All of it.
And I give myself the grace to realize that all of these things can weigh on me and I can be having a really hard time but that does not mean I am not thankful. Because I am so thankful and I am counting my blessings and I am praising God for my life and Nora’s and for all of those that I love. I am thankful for so much from the past months.
That can be true and this can be true too: This is hard. This has been hard. This will be hard.
I want to laugh with no fear of the future like that Proverbs 31 lady but I am just not there yet.
This is where I am. Thankful to the point of tears. Struggling to the point of tears. And my hopes are in the One who saved me, not just from death on November 19th, but from weight of my sin. My hopes are in the One who stands with me and holds my arms up. I can be thankful, have hope and still struggle.
It was hard to give myself permission to feel it all. The good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the blessings and the trials. They all coexist together.
So bear with me, friends as I work through this stuff. Pray for me. I think it’s going to be a long road.