Engaged, married, pregnant and home ownership all in a matter of 10 months–that is how Goose and I began our life together. Do I recommend it? No. Would I change anything about it? No. Sometimes God just takes you on a different path than you thought you were ready for but in the end, “it’s all good” as the saying goes.
That said, our lives were not always this fast paced. When we met we were 26 and 28 prospectively. We had missed the “ring by spring” boat in college and had taken our time growing up and finding out what and who God had in store for us. Even when we met, we took things slow, eyeing each other from across the room for nearly 6 months before taking that first step and then, it would be two years later before we’d make the commitment to walk down the aisle.
See, God knew what was in store for us when we got married and he knew that we needed those two years to really get to know each other before we got married. While I kind of wished things had moved a bit faster at the time, how thankful I am now for the patience and bonding of those two years. They have definitely helped us survive and even thrive during some of our lives’ most life-changing events.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you birth control in any form is 100% fowl proof. Ha! Definitely not true in our case. Danny and I had only been married 2 months before WHAM! Our lives took a drastic turn in a new direction. I never will forget the day I realized I was late. I was never late; I was always on time. And then two, three, four, and five days. And then the day when I took that test and it said “positive.” I even took more than one. “It can’t be right. How could that have happened?” And then, when I went in to tell Danny in the quietness of the room I heard only one word as he turned his head from the TV…”oh….” “That’s it?!” I thought. “I’m having a crisis here and that’s it?!”
The next month or two got no better. I was not excited about the prospect of a new baby–I had plans…things I wanted to do, leadership positions I wanted to pursue, a new husband/wife relationship I wanted to enjoy but I felt it all come crashing around me. Even my first doctor’s appointment was miserable. I figured that when you make an appointment with your OBGYN that they would do some test to tell you “you are for sure pregnant and here’s your due date.” Well, they didn’t do that with me. They instead said, “Go here, here, and here to sign up for your payment plan.” “My payment plan! My payment plan for what?!” I didn’t even see the doctor that day, just the nurse who told me the plan for the next nine months. And here I was still wondering, “am I really pregnant or is there something else going on with my body?” I left crying. I later learned that they were to have mailed me some paperwork and I was to have gone in for some blood work and other testing before that first appointment but since the office had messed up, all they could have me do was fill out paperwork for the payment plan. How miserable.
Over the next several months Goose and I underwent several changes. As he overcame his fear of being a father, I overcame my need to be the best at everything and just survive as I would make my multiple trips to the toilet throughout the day. Throughout my whole pregnancy I had maybe 6 weeks of freedom from the commode; it was awful. Every smell would send me off. Cooking chicken, garbage, or day old milk would send me reeling. Goose tried his best to understand but neither of us were ready for it; we were both trying so hard but it got so frustrating. Why?
Our first realization and change of heart probably came when we saw Peanut for the first time and heard her heartbeat. Even with that first ultrasound they could already see so much. But Peanut was not going to come easily. Two more doctor-ordered ultrasounds would follow as they monitored something that appeared like a tumor on her brain. Just as our hearts were starting to grow fond of this little girl that was growing inside me another whammo. God really likes to keep you on the edge sometimes, you know? Guess its one way to keep us praying to Him, although sometimes I just wish it wasn’t quite so drastic. Maybe we’re just so bone-headed that that is what it took for us to get on our knees.
Between all the ultrasounds, ultra-dad came out in Goose. He saw the need to provide his family a shelter so a house we searched for and a house we bought. The day we moved into our house we found out that Peanut was indeed a little girl. Something had told me that we were to have a little girl; I was elated. A girl.
After our third ultrasound and many prayers later, the doctors finally told us that the tumor seemed to have gone away and that it looked like we had a very healthy little girl. At last, life was starting to calm a bit. We were in our first home, we were pregnant with a healthy little girl, and we were actually starting to get excited about the possibility of this new little one (amazing how God changes your heart sometimes, isn’t it?). Goose was busy painting the nursery and redoing some furniture. I was busy registering for little baby things. It was finally starting to feel “normal.”
But what is normal? One Monday afternoon as I go in for my routine check-up, the doctor comes in all concerned and has me lay down on the table. “How do you feel?” “Have you had any of these symptoms?” Blah…blah…blah. I felt fine. I looked…well quite frankly I looked and felt fat but I just figured that was normal. My feet and legs were swelling. I was tired all the time. But I just figured that was part of the pregnancy. “Preeclampsia,” she told me, “you have preeclampsia.” ”Okay fine. So what do we do about it?” “You’re going to go downstairs right away and check into the hospital.” “Really, is it that serious? I mean, can I at least go home and get some clothes before checking in?” No. At 31 weeks I was admitted into the hospital for preeclampsia. Once again, it’s all in God’s timing, never ours.
For the next week I was stuck in a hospital bed on my side…my left side. Do you know how tiring it is to be stuck on your left side 24 hours a day 7 days a week? And how hard to type one handed? Guess God was just preparing me for typing with a newborn in my arms. Ha! Well all week I am stuck in bed. Blood pressure checks. Iron checks. Foot reflex checks. And the same old food every day. Come Friday my blood pressure (due to preeclampsia) had risen to some scary levels. I was told that come afternoon I was going to undergo a C-section.
Shock. That’s the only word I can use to describe the next three days. Shock. Goose and I had signed up for a birthing class; the funny thing was it was to be the next day–Saturday–the day AFTER Peanut would arrive. On top of that we hadn’t even had a baby shower yet. We had nothing. I mean I always thought I’d have my babies naturally. God created women that way so why wouldn’t I? A C-section? I didn’t have a clue what all that would mean and what all that would mean for me as a preeclamptic patient with a preemie baby. Shock.
A little after 3 that Friday afternoon, I “gave birth” to our little girl. I’ll never forget looking at her from that surgery table as Goose held her up to my face. I remember everything from her little bracelet to her blue and pink hat. So cute. But, I couldn’t hold her. I couldn’t touch her. I was drugged and as soon as the surgery was over I was going to be put under for 24 hours to help me recover from the effects of preeclampsia on my body. What was even worse was that as they led me out of the surgery room, they wheeled me right past the nursery where they were keeping Peanut under close watch as my friends and family stared at both her and me. So frustrating. So embarrassing. So maddening. Why couldn’t things have been different?
The next 36 hours were a blur. I only recall waking to request water and then sleep again. Friday came and went. Saturday came and went. Sunday, Easter Sunday no less, came. I was finally conscious but as of yet was unable to hold my baby girl. Why? Because I was not allowed to sit up even so they could wheel me down the hall. I remember crying for hours both awake and in my sleep that afternoon as I lay alone in my room while everyone else was down at the nursery. I do not recall ever having reaching a lower bottom than that. It was not fair!
By nightfall, the doctor gave me short-term permission to go see my baby girl and I remember holding her so tight and singing to her as she was hooked up to her tubes. She just had a feeding tube and several monitors and even though she drank from a bottle they kept her in the nursery just to make sure she was going strong since she was 6 weeks premature. Yet despite all, she was strong and defied their wildest dreams. Within a week both mom and daughter were able to go home; oh how happy they both were to finally be free.
Over the next week, I learned a new form of pain. Lands alive…surgery hurts! Just walking from the couch in the living room to the bed in the bedroom was almost more than I could bear not to mention the fact that I felt like I needed to do the dishes. Really? Dishes? Silliness I now know but I guess its the one thing I thought I could control at the time. There’s a whole other set of emotions you go through when you come home with your baby. For me, it involved being humble enough to let others serve you. Being one who enjoys serving others and taking the lead, it was very challenging for me to have my husband and mother and friends cook, clean, and take care of me as I remained bedridden for the next two weeks following Heidi’s birth. And then there was the jealousy and sharing factor–I couldn’t just hold and take care of Peanut all the time by myself. I had to share her. That for some moms probably isn’t as big of a factor as it was for me, but since I felt like I had already missed out on so much of Peanut’s life at the beginning, it seemed like every second mattered.
Such emotional highs and lows pregnancy and a new baby can bring. And then there’s post-partum depression and feelings of loneliness and inadequacy as you embark down a new road. For the first two weeks I was confined to the house. Preeclampsia had left me with high blood pressure and strong medications. I was not allowed to walk farther than 30 feet let alone drive anywhere. Goose returned to work. Family members went home. It was just me and Peanut. While in some cases it was good. In others, it was so lonely. Here, in a matter of a week, I went from being very involved in my church, a music teacher at a school heavily involved in year-end programs, a leader in several community organizations to nothing. I was no longer a teacher. I was not allowed to get out. Most of my closer friends lived at least 30 miles away. It was lonely. And tired. I would be the one to get up in the middle of the night to feed Peanut so Goose could be fresh for work the next day. I would be the one to change the diapers when they stank for the umteenth time. I was the one who cleaned house and organized the budget and did the “home” stuff now that I stayed home. I was tired.
Lonely and tired…two not very good combos. Top that with very overweight and you’ve got a recipe for depression. Prior to pregnancy I was very active. I ran 2-3 miles a day, biked to and from work, and lifted weights for an hour every evening. I wouldn’t say I was skinny (by no means) but I was fit. During pregnancy as the nausea grew and grew, any form of exercise went to the wayside and calming foods became a comfort. Post-pregnancy I was left 30 pounds overweight. For someone who used to care quite a bit about their health and fitness this was definitely disheartening but thankfully that was not end.
To top it all off, Peanut and I had a rocky start breastfeeding. Unknown to me, premature babies have a challenge breastfeeding since they haven’t developed a strong sucking mechanism by birth which usually develops around week 34. You have to start with a bottle, go to a tube, a syringe and then finally convert to breastfeeding if you’re willing to stick it out but it takes weeks. I remember the first time Peanut finally latched; she was nearly two months old.
I share all this so that you may know where I come from as I pursue this blog. The story doesn’t end here. It’s just the beginning. But sometimes it takes knowing the beginning to appreciate and understand the finish. As you’ll come to learn in future posts, Peanut and I are doing great. I’m within 5 pounds now of my original weight and feeling more healthy than ever. My husband and I both enjoy being parents and we’re still pursuing our love for each other every day. God is faithful. He will not allow you to be burdened with more than you can bear. I have grown so much this year as a person and a Christian in ways I would not have grown if these events had not happened to me. I thank God for all He has done in my life and I hope that it is now an encouragement to you.