Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Soup for the Soul (or should it be coke for the soul?)

Last Saturday, the ladies at my church had their annual Soup for the Soul luncheon. For those of you not familiar with this, it is a time when a bunch of ladies get together for fellowship, fun and food!

This year’s theme was Having an Attitude of Gratitude. Because I am friends with the organizers of this event, I got sucked into the skit. Okay, well, maybe not sucked in. I did enjoy it. But being in a skit in front of a lot of people is definitely out of my box. But anyway, I agreed. I was asked which person I wanted to be. I told them it didn’t matter to me. So I was told I was “the third person entering that isn’t Jesus.” Okay. I can do that. So I went home and watched the skit. Here it is so you can watch it too, if you want. 

Unbeknownst to the organizers of this event, I have been struggling with the issue of gratitude. Several of my friends who have babies around the same age as my precious lil ones are either planning to, trying to or are already on their way to having another baby. And while part of me is happy for them, part of me is envious, jealous that I probably will never experience that again. It makes me think of all the things I’ve missed out on as a mom of preemies, things that most moms take for granted. Little things like actually being able to take your baby home with you when you leave the hospital. Or experiencing the third trimester. Or things that I know seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, like getting a cute travel system, or being able to decorate a nursery. And on top of struggling with all of these, I feel guilty about feeling like that at all because I should be grateful for what I have.

God really is so good. If you have watched the skit, you will notice that my character (the third person to come in that isn’t Jesus) is thankful for what she receives. Not only is she not bitter when someone gets more than she does, she is excited for that person. I want to be like her.

I wish I can say that doing that skit magically changed my thinking and that I no longer feel like I missed out on something, but I do have to say that whenever those thoughts creep into my head, I remember 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” I know now that those thoughts telling me “You missed out on something.” “You deserve more than this.” “God is giving other people more than He is giving you.” Thoughts like that, they are not from God. They are lies that Satan is telling me.

Now, I’m not someone who blames Satan when every little thing goes wrong. But I am well aware that we, as Christians, are under his attack; he wants us to feel deprived; he wants us to be angry with God.

Well, I’m not going to believe his lies anymore. I am making a conscious choice to be thankful for my children and happy for my friends who are expanding their families. It’s not going to be easy, but this life isn’t supposed to be. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Journey To Motherhood

Some women have no problem getting pregnant. They decide one day they’d like to have another baby, their husbands look at them and boom- 9 months later, a bundle of joy arrives. I am not that woman. In fact, most women are not “that” woman.

When I got married 4 years ago, I was ignorant. I was uninformed as to how my body worked and how it was supposed to work and most importantly, that my body did not work the way it was supposed to work. When my husband and I decided it was time to start thinking about having children, we had no idea the journey we were about to undergo, the heartache we would experience, and the joy that ultimately would be ours in the birth of 3 tiny miracles. But let me begin at the beginning.
I met my husband Mark when I was 19. We instantly knew we were “meant to be”. We married 3 years after our first date, on June 12, 2007. We knew we would want kids, but we also wanted to enjoy being married first. So we enjoyed almost 2 years of wedded bliss before that we heard that clock start ticking.

It was February of 2009. I was going for my annual GYN exam, but this time, I was going to tell her I was ready to come off the pill and see what happened. I expected to get my period or to get pregnant. I did not expect to be diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) a few months later. For those of you who do not know what PCOS is WebMD describes it as

“PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common hormonal disorder in women that with interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries, or ovulation. It is the most common cause of infertility among women. PCOS occurs when a woman's body overproduces sex hormones, called androgens. The hormone imbalance prevents fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries from breaking open and releasing mature eggs. The fluid-filled sacs bunch together, causing many tiny cysts. Symptoms of PCOS include missed periods, abnormal facial and body hair growth, acne, and weight gain.”

This diagnosis rocked my world and shook me to the core. Now not only was I not pregnant, I may never be pregnant. I may never be able to carry a child within me. I may never be able to be a mother- the one thing I wanted more than anything in the world. In order to get a handle on things, I decided to go back on the pill for a while.

As always, God used this time in my life to draw me closer to Him. When I got diagnosis, I was on my way to a ladies’ retreat with my church. As I broke down crying in the car, the women I was riding with shared their stories, their journeys to motherhood. Some were easy-going, others were heartbreaking. I learned so many things about the women riding in the car with me.

It never ceases to amaze me to see God’s hand in things. Not one speaker in the conference was slated to talk about infertility or motherhood. Yet workshop after workshop, I heard over and over the faithfulness of our loving God. I heard from women who, by the very grace of God, overcame infertility. I heard from women who were still feeling that ache, the pain I was feeling. They were just trying to survive. And I heard from women who, after years of trying, never got the opportunity to be a mother and had to reconcile how a God who loves us SO much (and oh, how He loves us…) can deny a woman that joy. I got much more out of that conference than I ever expected.

Fast forward to August 2009. This is when we decided to actively try to conceive (TTC). I go off the pill and nothing for 3 months. No surprise there. My regular OB sends me to a reproductive endocrinologist. After a few tests, we start Clomid. Absolutely no response. So we move on to injections. I didn’t expect to respond well to them either, but I did. I had 4 eggs ready to go. I still didn’t think I’d get pregnant that time. I knew women who had 4 eggs ready several times and never got pregnant. So I was cautiously optimistic about the whole thing, praying for peace and strength throughout this whole ordeal.

Then the day comes for me to take my pregnancy test. I wake up early that morning, scared to death. I finally take the test and I see the most beautiful two lines in the world. I’m PREGNANT! I run into the bedroom, jump on the bed and tell my husband.

But the real surprise came a few days later at my first ultrasound. We’re sitting there, in indescribable anticipation, waiting to see our child for the first time. The doctor looks at the screen and says

“Yup. There’s one.”
We’re having a baby!
“Oh wait, I see two.”
“Wait, I take that back.”
Was one a shadow?
“I see three.”

I was terrified. I had no idea what would be in store for my growing family. I hate to admit it, I was a little angry with God at that point. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to do this. Then I heard Him say to me, “I’ve brought you this far. I’ll take you the rest of the way, if you let me.” I had a long, hard, journey of faith ahead of me.

My pregnancy was “easy” as far as multiples are concerned. I developed gestational diabetes at 16w, but that was easily controlled by diet. Besides that, everything went smoothly until I hit 29w. That night I went into the bathroom and saw that half of my face was sluggish. My husband and I went to the ER. We didn’t know what to think, but stroke and heart attacks are more common in women with multiples, so we weren’t taking any chances. Thank God it was “only” Bells Palsy (“paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of your face.” WebMD). So I was sent home with an eye patch and eye drops, and told that it should clear up on its own after delivery.

Smooth sailing for another week or so, until Wednesday, August 25. At a routine visit with my high risk doctor, it was decided my BP was just a little too high- not dangerous, but high for me- and he wanted me to be in the hospital under observation. So the next morning I was to report to Labor & Delivery for 24-28 hour monitoring, I’d be likely going home on Friday. My trio had other plans.

The next morning (Thursday), I woke up to a gush of fluid. I thought my water broke. So we rushed to the hospital. Thankfully, it wasn’t my water breaking. We still don’t know what it was, actually. But since I was there, they put me on monitors and we waited for a bed to open up.

Later that night, I started contracting. Mild contractions, but not enough to cause cervical changes. They decided to give me the steroid shot to mature the babies lungs, just in case we delivered. After a round of terbutaline (the medicine from Hell), my contractions stopped (of course, it made my heart race to 130, so they stopped it- but it had done its job). The next morning, I started contracting again, this time- I dilated to 2. They gave me magnesium sulfate. If terbutaline is the medicine from Hell, mag sulfate is from the 9th circle of Hell. It made me feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest and nearly stopped my breathing. But, it also stopped the contractions… for a while.

Everything seemed good. It’s 9:30 pm Friday night. My parents are with me in the hospital, my in-laws had just left. It’s been decided that I am in for the long haul. Confined to the hospital bed until I deliver in hopefully 2-3 weeks. So I decide to send my husband home to get a few things, since we hadn’t been home since Wednesday. The plan was for him to go home, shower, get a good night’s rest, and come back in the AM with my hospital bag. No one anticipated what would happen next.

Everyone had left. I was finally alone (and loving it!). I hadn’t been alone in 3 days, so the quiet was very nice. It was just around 12:30, and I was thinking how nice it would be to go to sleep. I page the nurse to help me to the bathroom. And that’s when everything changed. As I’m walking out of the bathroom, I feel a gush of fluid. It felt exactly the same as Thursday morning, so I didn’t think anything of it. But the nurse insists we call the doctor.

Of course, the doctor on call has the biggest hands I think I’ve seen on a man ever. (You moms know what that is like). But I had dilated to almost 4, and Baby C’s sac had ruptured. It’s show time!

I have the nurse call my husband. I was too upset to even speak. I’m 31weeks 1day pregnant. These babies are coming too early! It’s just too early!

It frightens me to this day how real and strong denial is. I was adamant about not having those babies. The nurse finally had to say to me, “Honey- I don’t mean to be mean. But if you don’t accept that these babies are coming tonight, I’m afraid you’ll have a nervous breakdown.” As they were wheeling me into the OR, the reality began to set in…

It is amazing how fast and furiously people work when a woman with triplets is about to deliver. My husband arrives and they give him a gown, hat, mask. As they start to wheel me down to the OR, the wheel on my gurney breaks. So now, my husband and the two nurses are trying to keep me calm and get the bed into the OR. At the time, we were really frustrated that the bed broke. (But God knows what He’s doing. Because the bed broke and they didn’t have another bed available, my double room became a single room for the remainder of my hospital stay. I’m so glad because I couldn’t imagine how it would have felt to have a roommate with her new baby in her arms while my three were in the NICU)

The OR was a madhouse. There were 19 medical personnel in the delivery room. 3 neonatologists, 3 pediatricians, 6 nurses for the babies, 2 anesthesiologists, 3 surgeons, and 2 nurses for me. To say it was chaos is an understatement…

So Saturday, August 28, 2010 my 3 miracle babies were born. Ashley at 4:45, weighing in at 3 lbs 5 oz, Brent at 4:46 weighing in at 4 lbs even, and Carolyn at 4:47, weighing in at 2 lbs 4 oz.

We got to see them before they were whisked away to the NICU. We only heard Ashley and Brent’s first cries. There wasn’t enough room in the OR for three teams of personnel to work on the babies, so Carolyn’s team moved to a room across the hall after she was born.

That’s the beginning of our story. My little miracles are going to be 14 months old on Friday. They are healthy, home and wonderful. I could write forever about the NICU stay, which lasted 24 days for Ashley, 42 days for Brent, and 58 days for Carolyn. The agony of having to wait 7 days to hold my son, and 19 days to hold my tiny Carolyn. Thank God I was able to hold Ashley the day they were born. I could write volumes on what it was like when they came home. But I won’t. At least not right now. I am interested in what you are interested in. What do you want to know about the life of a M.O.M (mom of multiples)? Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions or anything you’d like to know. Since this is my first post, and I have no idea how many people will read this, I can only say I’ll do my best to answer everyone.