Thursday, August 23, 2012

valleys and mountains and all kinds of cliches.

so, a lot of people have told me how well i'm doing, how surprised they are that i am keeping (or trying to keep) a cheerful attitude about this whole broken pregnant thing.

my reaction? what else am i supposed to do?

am i supposed to whine, rage, complain, be bitter? am i supposed to let myself sink into the kind of darkness that is not anywhere close to being helpful in moving me THROUGH this? sinking seems to indicate being stuck, and i'm physically stuck enough. i don't need any extra emotional or mental or spiritual stuckness.

so i've been trying to soldier on, and it helps so much to see progress.  yesterday, i got down the stairs on my own and actually got up off the stairs without any help. it just sort of happened, and it was kind of awesome.

but with any of this stuff, there are always setbacks, and yesterday was a big one.

baby girl is breech, so i have to have a c-section.

i would like to say that i didn't see this coming, that i didn't know i was going to be asked to do this, that i didn't know that additional challenges were coming our way, but that's not really true at all. i think i knew, all along, that this was what was going to happen.  that's how God works in my life--He prepares me as much as He can along the way. 

but i was definitely hopeful, and i thought that she had turned.  they told me in the ER with my leg that she was breech. i thought maybe she had turned in the fall and would turn around again.  i thought i had convinced myself that she had.  no such luck, unfortunately. 

so here we are, a day and a half away from baby day and yesterday i was entirely shell shocked.  i don't know how else to describe it.  i wasn't surprised, but i was petrified. fear from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes and everything inbetween. i think i had imagined that it would be so much worse than it really will be--that my present condition will be almost impossible for mobility, that i will tear open the incision, that i will not be able to function in that much pain.  that taking care of my most basic needs will be impossible. that i will never, ever get to the 2nd floor of my house again. 

these are all fears, and like all fears, they are probably rooted in some degree of truth but have blossomed into something entirely overwhelming (much like the renegade bush outside my kitchen window--that thing is a demon).  the overwhelming is usually what paralyzes, and it's also usually what isn't actually so.  strangely, i find that to be true. the things that scare me the most are usually the things that never really happen.

in the meantime, though, the paralytic nature of such fear makes it almost impossible to move forward, in faith or hope or any kind of positive emotion.  instead, you just sit there, wrapped up in the fear, and wait for the worst to happen.

in this case, it means that i was dreading the birth of our baby.

isn't that awful? i hope you take that in the spirit in which it is intended--i don't dread meeting tessa. i just was so wrapped up in the logistics and scary nature of it all that i was missing the point.

we are having a BABY.

she's a miracle. her lungs are mature. she's healthy. she's about the size of maggie when maggie was born (i apparently grow them all the same size, though we'll see...).  she's active and kicking and apparently really likes being nestled up near my heart.  she's her own person, she does things her own way, and she refuses to listen to anyone else's ideas for her.  she reminds me of me, in that way.

i worry, still, that there's something wrong with her.  not a thing has been detected on her 3 ultrasounds.  i feel certain something would have, were there something to detect.  but i still worry a bit, especially with all that has come in our path the last few months.  i just worry that somehow, somewhere, there's another shoe that's about to drop.

but regardless, i have been praying to move forward with faith and hope. hope is so much what i need: hope that i will have the strength to do all that i need to do, hope that the path for us will be made clear, hope that we will have sufficient for our needs, hope that our family will be whole and healthy and strong and normal again soon, hope that our burdens will be lifted in some small measure. 

i need hope. i cling to hope, especially for myself.  i cling to it because, in the face of something i have never experienced, hope allows me the capacity to believe that i can face just one thing at a time and conquer it. hope allows me the space to know that, hey, i don't have to know it all right now. i just have to take it one step at a time.  that's all i need.

and if that's all i need to do, i think i can do it.

it's trying to see farther than that, trying to move more than that, that makes me a little bit more than just a little bit afraid.

so in the meantime, i pray for hope and i pray for joy, so that i can go into this with full confidence that the ONLY thing that really matters is a healthy, happy, strong new baby. 

everything else, i can weather.  i'm strong enough for that, i think, in my strength and in my weakness. 

i'd like to say i know why all of this is happening. i don't. all i know is that every single day, i have more of a testimony of the goodness of people, of the capacity of the human heart, of the strength of the individual, and of the absolute and total dependence i have on my Heavenly Father.  i'm still not great at praying like i should, and i should read more scriptures. but i have no doubt, not even a little bit, that He knows me, He loves me, and He is holding me and my family in the hollow of His hand. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

weakness: broken but not broken.

i have never been as in need as i am now and it's very frightening at times.

if you don't already know this about me, i am not someone who readily asks for help. in fact, i think i resist it because i don't want to be seen as weak, or because i don't want to put anyone out, or i don't want to cede control of the way i do things or my life.

you don't get those kinds of choices when you can no longer put your weight on your left leg.  you don't get those kinds of choices when you can't climb the stairs in your own home. you don't get those kinds of choices when the discharge instructions say that you should keep your affected leg elevated AT ALL TIMES. you don't get those kinds of choices when you can no longer care for your 1 year old on your own.

sometimes, asking for help ceases to be a "luxury" and suddenly becomes a necessity.

in those moments, it's very frightening.  though i am getting much better at doing some things for myself, i am no longer in the position to be the caretaker. i am the cared for, and boy can i tell you that that is hard for me.

it's not that i don't recognize that we need help. i absolutely do recognize that we need help. my husband starts his student teaching in a week. he will be gone for 8 hours a day, and i can't take care of my baby by myself.  we have tons of people offering to help, but it's hard for me to not stare that great gaping need in the face and have fearless confidence in other people. that's not to say that i don't believe in them or in their capacity to help, because i absolutely do--but it's more like i am not accustomed to this feeling, this absolute dependence on someone else, and so it scares me mightily to need so much.

the need itself is almost paralyzing, if i let it be so.

i have been humbled. i think that's not a bad thing. 

strength: broken but not broken.

i'm not sure who's still reading this.  it's fine if no one is, because i have yet to decide what to do with it now that i have another blog that deals with the kids and is protected. it will certainly take over the cute kid portion of our program, and i haven't decided if i just want to start journaling (so i can not edit myself at all) or if i want to keep this little portion of the internet for myself.

long story short, if i'm talking to crickets, it's okay. i understand.

lots of stuff going on here, most of which has been incredibly challenging.

on august 2nd, i fell on the stairs, did the split, and sustained an open fracture of my leg/ankle. i had surgery that day and was in the hospital for two more. i came home sunday and have yet to be able to get to the 2nd floor of my home. camping out, as my mother in law puts it, willy wonka style in my living room is what's going on up in here.

it's been a trial, a blessing, a learning experience, and a wonder all at once. 

i think there are moments when you see yourself for what you didn't know you were. that has been my experience with this, or at least it was for the first few days.  when it happened, i screamed in fear and freak out for about 30 seconds. then, as my wonderful husband rushed to see what happened (and it was abundantly clear that i had done something fairly horrible to myself), i switched into some sort of practical, deal-with-it gear.  i started rattling off directions, because he was understandably rattled.  "you're going to need to call 911." after he did that, i said "you need to call your mom and have her come up right away to watch maggie." and then "i'm going to need my insurance card. my wallet is in the green bag." and then "you'll need food for maggie and diapers and stuff" because he was going to follow me to the hospital in the van with the magpie until his mom could meet us there. 

after all of that was handled, i sat, beginning to shake in a splits formation on my stairs, clinging to the rail just above my head. 911 had said not to move me.  i wasn't inclined to do that anyways.  he sat on the stair below me to help hold me up. i prayed. he gave me a blessing.  i prayed that the ambulance would come soon, because i was so uncomfortable. it wasn't pain--just totally uncomfortable.  i was bleeding, and when the ambulance came (they didn't know it was an open fracture), they didn't understand why i hadn't moved.  so they helped me move.  and then they wrapped it up as best they could, and i scooted down the stairs, having the presence of mind to not get my one pair of maternity shorts bloody on the way. 

who does that?

we rode and i tolerated it.  we got to the trauma unit and i tolerated it. the only time i cried was when they tried to reset my dislocated ankle. even that wasn't too bad (by then they had given me the good drugs). i was more upset when they did an ultrasound and we found out that the baby had turned breech (i think she's turned again--or so it feels) in the fall. she's perfectly healthy and was the whole time, even under the influence of some pretty good drugs.

then they came and told me that the reset of my ankle had worked in one place but not in another.  i'd had enough by then. i told them that i needed my husband. the first time, i'd been by myself because he had maggie and the last thing i wanted my baby to be was freaked out by mommy freaking out.  this time? no way. i needed my husband.  he came. it was bad.  they couldn't get it back in and so they kept on trying. sorry to be so detailed, but i don't want to forget. i was sobbing, just saying over and over that i couldn't take anymore. 

they finally stopped, saying that they would do it in surgery.

yeah. thanks for that.

because i was 35.75 weeks pregnant at the time, they were very cautious.  on the one hand, we were far enough along that if anything happened, baby girl could be born and would be more than likely fine. on the other hand, it was two patients they were dealing with instead of just one.

as the stars always align when i have some sort of emergency, i had two of the top people on my team. my anesthesiologist was, in fact, the inventor of these nerve block pumps that they put into my sciatic and femoral nerve to try to kill the sensation enough to do the surgery on that alone. it didn't work, but it's what kept me pain and narcotic free for the entirety of my stay after surgery. he was wonderful, kind, and really concerned about me and my baby. i was very dehydrated when i went into surgery, so when they did the spinal (i was awake for the surgery because it's much safer for the baby) my blood pressure kept dropping. he told me later that i reminded him of why he hadn't done obstetrics in so long--it was too stressful!

they put me back together, ala humpty dumpty, with 2 pins, 1 plate, and an assortment of screws (cool tidbit: i got to look behind me and see the in-progress x-rays. it was very awesome to see all the hardware--and not a little surreal!).  they took me up to the ortho floor and i was remarkably not in pain. my husband was astounded. he expected me to be in horrible pain, but my pain never reached anything higher than a 3 or 4 on the scale of 1-10 the whole time i was there.

they kept me on the nerve blocks for 2.5 days, hoping to give me enough time to heal enough to get over the huge pain hump before heading home. they turned them off at 4am on sunday, and came by to see how i was doing. they had given me 2 tylenol when they turned them off. before that, my leg was really heavy and dead, which made moving really hard but made feeling also pretty impossible. when they came to check me at 8am, to see if i was ready to go home, they called me the toughest lady in the hospital. i thought they were joking, but they really weren't.

and in those moments, when i think back to them, i think "wow. i am much stronger than i think i am." you don't know that until you're tested. you don't really know what you're made of until you have to put it on the line. my mom has always had an incredible tolerance for pain, and i've always been the wimpy one. when they told me that i was the toughest lady, i thought "i am my mother's daughter." what a proud moment for me.