Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ode to Rainbow Baby

I was watching Brucie try to crawl today. I was holding him to walk him to sleep and he stared straight back at me, with absolute adoration. I'm mesmerized.  And oh so blessed by my rainbow baby.

Bruce has brought such healing to our family and such joy into our lives.  We are celebrating new life.  Yes, I miss Bentlee.  I am sad she died. I have also accepted this loss and am at as much peace as I can be.  I know she was created for God's glory and His purpose in her short life is accomplished.  I could tell you so many things I've learned from her miscarriage.

Our original intent was to have a hysterectomy after she was born.  To be done having children. It was never about a number (we had 3 living children at the time), or even an age, just that God would guide us.  I was (am) in so much pain, I have had so many miscarriages, so many health issues during pregnancy, etc.  We thought a hysterectomy would solve some of my pain issues.

When she died we learned I have a blood-clotting disorder, an unspecified thrombophillia, and if I used the typical hormones post-hysterectomy I could get a blood clot and die, without warning. Same with all the hormonal birth control methods I had been using to manage pain.   Her death saved my life.  We were unsure if we could go through this again.  Losing a child is a pain without compare.  I went to a place so low only God could pull me out.  Though I know He could guide us through another loss, I didn't want to go there.

I look at Bruce and know - this is a child we were meant to have.  He was always in God's plans for us. He is a blessing God has given us to heal our family.  He truly is the desire of my heart.  And if Bentlee was here now, on Earth, in my lap, Bruce would not be.  Do not misunderstand.  I am not choosing one child over the other.  There is never replacing a child.  I am not happy she died.  I am acknowledging what a blessing Bruce is and stating how grateful I am he exists.

He is worth every single stab and poke - blood thinner injections daily the entire pregnancy, IV fluids every other day for months, and P17 shots (to prevent preterm labor) weekly for 20 weeks.  He is worth every day I spent for months collapsed in a weak, exhausted heap over the toilet. Nothing would stay down. Hyperemesis is more than morning sickness, it is an all consuming nausea that halts life. I lived in a pregnancy coma for eight months. My face was sallow and covered in blood spots from all the vomiting.

Every day I lived in a perpetual state of fear (eased only by the weekly appointment showing a healthy heartbeat), falling daily on my knees before the Lord, begging for the strength to make it through the day. That He would ease my anxiety and calm my worries. This is my 12th pregnancy. I was carrying twins, but by week 8 one baby did not have a heartbeat. By week 11, gone. Vanishing twin syndrome, no trace he/she ever existed. That makes 9 babies in Heaven.  I can't do this, Lord, nothing is worth this fear.

I was wrong. God knew better than me! I hold this baby close and know - he is meant to be here. He is a gift to me, as are all my children.  And he is more than worth it. All of it, and more. 

I thought I could never do it again - the sickness, the shots, the expensive specialty doctor and weekly ultrasounds, the anxiety and worry, the messy house, the bad mom, unable to fully care for the other kids. We found out I was pregnant with Bruce at a doctor appointment for an MRI I was to have before my hysterectomy.  

Yes, I still thought that was the solution.  I had a very expensive surgery called presacral nuerectomy, which severed the nerves sending pain signals to the brain.  It didn't fully remove the pain.  The doctor insisted what I feel is scar tissue pain, not from the endometriosis lesions.  A hysto was not a good solution, he said. Especially if I cannot take the hormones due to my thrombophillia.  But he was willing to do an MRI, take a look inside my (tilted, oddly shaped) uterus.  See if it would even help.  It was at this appointment we found out we were pregnant.

A high risk pregnancy is a challenge for the entire family.  Bedrest is miserable on all of us, not just me. Yet we made it through, just as we had done each time before.  My daughters are so responsible and helpful - and faithfully prayed for the baby every day.  My husband is amazingly supportive and so hard working. We went through all this with Dean and HE was worth it.  We can handle pregnancy, right?  It is different, after losing first the ectopic baby, then having a stillborn.  

This pregnancy became an opportunity to strengthen our faith and our bond as a family.  Bruce's birth was a truly beautiful experience - and he was my first baby never whisked away to the NICU.  He was in the room with us the entire time. Skin to skin and breastfeeding in his first moments. What an amazing gift God had given us. 

But it was enough, we just couldn't go through all that again, right?  No one could expect me to be pregnant ever again, right? That would just be stupid.  It can't be a smart move to have more babies, right? My poor health, premature babies, the expense, the stress, etc..... 

I signed the consent form for a tubal (tubal ligation - sterilization) at 6 months gestation. We prayed and felt this was God's will for us. I went NPO prior to my scheduled surgery and had all the bloodwork done. We felt confident this was right for us. Hours after Bruce was born, shortly before I was scheduled to have my tubes "tied," we prayed again.  That God would give us peace if we were in His will, and that He would protect me from anything outside of His plans.

Guess what happened? My doctor, who I had seen many times throughout my pregnancy, who delivered Bruce just 27 hours earlier and knew of my plans, came in that morning and refused to do the surgery.  I have had so many abdominal surgeries that a tubal was no longer a simple, minor thing.  He can't even see what's going on in there, he says.  It would cause more scar tissue and more pain.  Furthermore, I have only one tube.  

When I had an ectopic/tubal pregnancy 3 years prior they had to remove my right tube (and the baby) to save my life. It had ruptured and I was near death.  If there is no tube to "tie" there is no way to ensure 100% sterilization.  "An ambitious swimmer could make its way up to the egg without a tube" and I could end up pregnant anyhow.

Okay, vasectomy sounds like a good idea then, right? We made the appointment, had the pre-op exam, filed all the FMLA paperwork with Dan's job, requested the days off.  All of it. Then came a feeling of impending doom.  A sense of loss.  Dan didn't describe to me his exact emotions, just that he wasn't sure this was a good idea.  It wasn't the right time. There were insurance issues & the appointment was cancelled and rescheduled by the doctor.

If this is permanent we can do it anytime, right? Can we think about it again next year? We decided to pray on it all weekend and if we still felt this way Monday, we would cancel the surgery.  It is hard to explain what we felt, what changed, what happened.  But God moved us. Dan looked at me with tears in his eyes, holding our newborn baby, and said "Look what we almost missed out on."  (If we had that hysterectomy originally planned.)

{Look at this baby.  How can I imagine a life without him?}

Of course the further from pregnancy, labor, and delivery I get, the more I want to do it a hundred more times. My children are amazing. Every damn day I am thankful for them, even on the really bad days. The challenging ones, the tiring, draining ones.  I still find my purpose in mothering. So maybe God intends for our family to be complete, or maybe He is protecting us from surgery He does not intend for us to have??

We haven't made our birth control plans for life yet.  Our current plan is only a temporary solution.  We are still seeking clarity from the Lord. And we are living without regret.