I remember how completely abandoned I felt by God as I awoke in the ICU and the reality of the severity of my condition came to light. The ICU at Northside is in the basement. There are no windows. I would literally look at the clock on the wall and know it was 2:10, but not have any idea if it was a.m. or p.m. I was not completely aware of how sick I was until a couple of nurses from the floor where I had spent 2 months on bedrest came in the room and stood at the foot of my bed, looked at me and cried.
I remember short visits from my family, my mother-in-law bringing countless Scriptures, the weary, worried looks on everyone's faces, being annointed with oil for healing, the video clips my husband would bring me of the babies in the NICU, and the hours of laying completely upright in my bed staring at the clock trying to figure out what was happening to my life. I scarcely slept for days once I was concious and extubated...I was deathly afraid of falling asleep and never waking up again. So, I passed the time by watching the clock and watching my heart monitors, as if I could will the numbers to improve.
On the 3rd day, the NICU nurses brought the babies down in isolettes in the middle of the night, so I could actually touch them and see them. My heart rate improved dramatically while they were in the room. I had to have a Doctor's order to allow me to see my own children. I was allowed one visit a day.
Two days later, I finally was weaned from my oxygen and was allowed to travel by wheelchair to visit with them in the NICU. That night, I spiked a 105 temperature and was diagnosed with an MRSA pneumonia, which meant I was on isolation & unable to see the babies for the next few days. It was the last straw. I remember crying out to God: "WHAT!?!? You have my attention. What do you want from me?"
I was released from the hospital 8 days after the babies were born. I was exhausted mentally, spiritually and physically. My heart function (EF) had improved to 35%. The doctors considered it miraculous how quickly my function had improved. There were still lingering questions about my long term prognosis.
The babies spent 4 more weeks in the NICU, which allowed me to get my energy back in preparation for their homecoming. As any mother of a preemie can testify, it is odd to know that your newborns spent their early days/weeks in the company of someone other than yourself, but 2 1/2 years later, I think it is safe to say we have made up for lost time!
I was denied life insurance last year (then later granted insurance by another company), but truly, my daily life is not really impacted by my health. There is an issue with one of my heart valves that we are keeping an eye on. I am on a couple of medications that I will take for the rest of my life to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. I was also very strongly advised to have a tubal, as another pregnancy would mean a 50/50 survival chance for me. I follow up with cardiology twice a year. My heart function is now at the low end of normal. I feel great. I am able to live life fully. I am a success story.
The truth of what prompted this series of posts is that I saw my cardiologist Wednesday. He was pleased with my condition and invited me to participate in a research study that will hopefully help physicians predict outcomes in the future. I agreed to do it. I then came home and read my new Triplet Connection magazine. At the conclusion of the editor's letter there was mention of a family in California who delivered healthy triplets this Summer. The mother experienced heart failure the following day and went into a coma. Six months later, that woman is still unable to speak or care for herself. She is awake and alert and can laugh, cry, smile and read--but she cannot care for herself or her children. As I read it, I sat and cried.
How dare I whine and complain about bad days and trivial things? Why was I spared? Why wasn't she? Only God knows.
I have no idea how to conclude this story, because it is still evolving. I am still processing this all 30 months later. This is the first time I have actually put it all to paper...and that is a start.
I do know that the words to Nichole Nordeman's song "You Are Good" really resonate with me these days.
"When the sun starts to rise and I open my eyes You are good--so good.
In the heat of the day, with each stone that I lay You are so good.
With every breath I take in, I tell You I'm grateful again.
When the moon climbs high before each kiss goodnight, You are good.
When the road starts to turn around each bend I've learned You are so good.
When somebody's hand holds me up helps me stand, You are so good.
With every breath I take in, I'll tell You I'm grateful again
because it's more than enough just to know I am loved and You are good.
How can I thank you? What can I bring? What can these poor hands lay at the feet of a king?
So I'll sing You a love song. It's all that I have, to tell You I'm grateful for holding my life in Your hands.
When it's dark and it's cold and I can't feel my soul You are so good.
When the world has gone gray and the rain's here to stay, You are still good.
So with every breath I take in, I'll tell You I'm grateful again
and the storm may swell, even then, it is well and You are good."