I don't much like the morning after a sleepless night, but I've found that God gives me sleepless nights as little gifts. When I can't sleep I know He is trying to tell me something. Tonight it's a message of hope, it's a message of peace, and it's a reminder of how much He loves and cares for me and this little one growing inside me. It is a reminder of what He has done for me and what He promises to do for me always.
Emma is our second daughter, she has strawberry blonde curls and a smile that would melt even the coldest heart. She loves music, she loves to go into the kitchen and turn on "her" CD of classical music and dance. She insists on listening to "her" music in the car and singing at the top of her voice, and I must say for a two year old she has a lovely voice. Every time I look at her I'm reminded of what a miracle she is.
I had a very difficult time with her pregnancy. I was weak the whole pregnancy, I just felt sick and tired. At about 6 weeks I started bleeding and went to the doctor and was given a 50% chance of miscarrying. They couldn't find her heartbeat on the first ultrasound, I spent a very tearful two weeks of follow ups to see if my baby would make it or not, the only thing I knew for sure is that I loved my little one, and even though I had faith that God would carry us through anything, I didn't want to say goodbye, I wanted to hold that baby, I wanted to kiss that baby, nurse that baby, raise that baby, hope for that baby, dream and plan for that baby. God had given me that baby, and He had given me a love for her so deep even though she was the size of a bean. We waited the two weeks and came out of the doctors office with joy. There was a heartbeat and the cause of the bleeding was found and was on it's way to healing, the doctor gave us a 90% of a successful pregnancy.
The weeks went by, I felt weaker and weaker, but that baby was growing, and that was what mattered most. Around 20 weeks we had another ultrasound and learned that Baby Teghtmeyer #2 was another girl. So I knew my little baby was my little Emma, and Emma means "strong."
Week 30 came and with it some early contractions that sent me to the hospital. There the alarm for my blood pressure kept going off alerting us all that my blood pressure was at least 140/90. The nurse commented on it maybe being because of the pain. It was established that the contractions "weren't doing anything" so I was sent home and told to rest.
Week 31 came and I went to the doctor and he was a little concerned that my blood pressure was still around 140/95 and that my face and ankles were swollen beyond recognition and that I had rather a lot of protein in my urine. I still had no idea what all that could mean, I was told to watch for an increase of my blood pressure, headaches that wouldn't go away with Tylenol and rest, more swelling, contractions, and I was told to rest. Week 32 came and with it the worst headache I'd ever had in my life complete with seeing those little floating guys and flashes of light and my blood pressure was up, to about 150/97, and when I talked I sounded like a drunk. When we told the doctor this he said to get to the hospital, right now!
This time I didn't get to go home. Through the fog of that headache I could make out phrases like "deliver the baby tonight," and "seizure," and "steroid shot to get the baby's lungs ready." It was like a really bad dream. They had called an ambulance to take me to a hospital with a Newborn Intensive Care Unit and a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist. I was so scared, I felt the panic of what was going on, the possibilities that my baby may not make if she were born now, the possibilities that I might leave my oldest daughter without her mother, and the whole time the headache pounded making everything spin and the ambulance sped and rocked and creaked and there were kind hands checking my vitals, checking my baby's heartbeat, and there was God, who was holding us both and giving me back my calm.
By the time we arrived at the hospital, I felt a little more with it. I was able to answer some of the questions the nurse asked as I was placed on the hospital bed. The specialist came in and explained that they were going to begin me on blood pressure medicine and wait to see what happened, the goal being give the baby as much time inside of me as possible, and explaining that this was Preeclampsia, and that the only cure would be to deliver and I would most likely not make it to term. Then I was allowed to sleep, it was after midnight and I was more than ready.
I spent 2 or 3 days on the hospital in the Special Care Unit. When I was released my blood pressure was still high but no longer creeping up there, I was put on strict bed rest and sent home with a 24 hour urine collection kit, the second of many as I had already done one in the hospital. They had to know just how much protein was in my urine at all times because if it got too high, they had to deliver the baby. My how I hated that red jug and that "toilet hat."
I spent 20 hours a day sleeping, the other 4 were spent eating, going to doctor appointments, turning in my collection, and collecting my collection. I later learned that at that time my kidneys were shutting down because of the internal bleeding from my blood pressure, one of those things they don't tell a pregnant woman because she'd become hysterical, and that was why I was sleeping so much. I sometimes had the clarity to pray, I couldn't focus my eyes to read. Mostly I just slept knowing that there were people praying us through this and that God was still holding us both.
I made it almost 2 weeks at home. We went to the doctor on May 25th 2010, and I felt even worse, too bad to even recognize the headache or mind the spinning. When the doctor came in he looked at me and said "we have a problem." I thought, well duh! Apparently I wasn't so far gone to have lost my weak sense of humor. He explained that the last 24 hour urine test had the highest level he had ever seen in almost 25 years, he said it had to be wrong, it just had to be or I was peeing cream cheese. He wanted us to go to the hospital for our scheduled non-stress test and for more tests. At the hospital they determined once again that I needed to go back to the specialist and back into the hospital, the blood pressure was up to a very dangerous level, the protein was too high and they started me on anti seizure medicine because they expected me to go from Preeclampsia to Eclampsia at any moment. It was all so very reassuring, I think I had a panic attack if memory serves me right. My husband just held my hand and said, "it is going to be OK." I asked him how he knew that, looking around every nurse on the floor was in my room, that blood pressure monitor wouldn't stop with that alarm, they kept talking about an emergency cesarean today, another ambulance was on it's way, how did he know it would be OK? He gave me that look he gives me, the one I fell in love with, the one where I know he means what he is saying with every fiber of his being, and repeated, "it is going to be OK."
He was right. I made it 3 more days, celebrated his birthday and the milestone of making it to 34 weeks. Then the blood pressure went back up, I don't even know what it was, but it was high. I felt like I was dying, and I was. The doctor came in my room the morning of the 28th looked at me and said I looked like death warmed over, call my husband, get him there, the baby was coming today. Those words met me with calm, I was alone in that hospital room, hearing them all, and I was calm. I tried calling my husband, I couldn't reach him, and I was calm. I tried calling my mother, no answer, and I was calm. Two nurses began giving me more anti seizure medicine and I was calm. I finally heard what was going on in my body, I felt a little panicked, but it was replaced by that calm. A NICU nurse came in to explain the possible complications my baby might face at 34 weeks, and again the initial panic was replaced by calm. My family and husband finally arrived and there was a lot of talking and monitors going off, and the buzz of nurses coming and going and a building headache and the side affects of the anti-seizure meds making me too warm, then too cold, then sick, and the hours ticked by. And as the team came in to take me to the operating room, our daughter, Lilly arrived to see mommy off and hear that she was about to be a big sister. And God placed on my heart that it would be OK, that no matter what happened in that delivery room, life or death, it would all be OK. It was the most beautiful moment of my life. I felt God right there with me going down that hallway, going into that O.R. being placed upon that table, receiving that spinal block that I was previously so afraid of. He was right there when the doctor began cutting, right there when he pulled our Emma out of me and she gave that first wonderful cry that meant her lungs were working, right there when I heard the nurses declare over her red hair, right there as I stared at the wonder of that tiny little 4 pound baby who was just fine.
Emma spent 2 weeks in the NICU. They were hard weeks, I was recovering from the c-section, trying to spend time with my three year old as much as possible, and wanting my baby home with me. My husband had to get back to work. Emma was declared a grow and feed, meaning there was nothing at all wrong with her except that she couldn't eat on her own yet and needed an NG tube and she needed to gain weight. It was such a blessing that she was healthy. I don't think anyone can understand unless they've been there, but being in the NICU, even if your baby is doing well is hard, to say the least. While spending my time rocking my baby and trying to get her to learn to nurse, I heard fathers planning funeral arrangements for their babies, mothers weeping. doctors giving bad news, monitors beeping, nurses rushing around, it isn't exactly a very peaceful place, you can't have your family all come and celebrate the arrival of your miracle in a place like that. By the end of the two weeks I was emotionally drained just because of other people's babies, it did help me be even more thankful for the health my baby. And through all of that, God gave me strength, looking back I should have been exhausted, commuting from my parent's house to the hospital, getting up every three hours to pump milk for my Emma, having my arms literally ache to hold her whenever I wasn't with her, dealing with the emotions of my three year old who just wanted mommy to stay with her, and trying to recover from the c-section, not to mention how sick I had been before they delivered her, but He gave me the strength to deal with all of it. He promises us that strength. And He always keeps His promises, always.
I'm sitting here remembering all of this. It is like God is reminding me of His promise now to carry me once again. He has already brought me through things that would break a person if it weren't for His love and strength. He loves me and He loves this precious little guy I carry even more than I do. I know that whatever happens it will be OK. I am not promised tomorrow here on this earth, my baby is not promised tomorrow in my womb, but I am promised hope and eternity, I am promised that all things will work together for my good. I really do feel that my little James will be just fine and that I will be just fine, not sure what will happen in between, if we will have another NICU experience, I'm praying that we don't, but I know that The One who holds us will never let us go.
If I have learned anything these last six years, it is that God uses our children to teach us. He shows us what love really is, he shows us a small measure of how He must feel when we go astray, He shows us what sacrifice is. And He has shown me what it means to really trust Him with my life and the life of my children. I can place my hope and trust in Him.