Jan 29, 2014

Big God: The Story of Hannah Grace: Part Four

I told you I would make you laugh, but then I realized that maybe you and I don’t have the same sense of humor. Either way, these are the parts that make me laugh. The crazy parts of labor that I’m sure almost any mother could relate to. There is beauty in childbirth, I really believe that. The ‘delivery’ part is absolutely incredible… the ‘labor’ part, not so much.

And again, if this is the first part you're reading, you can find the first parts of Hannah's story here.

Big God

There we were in that same hospital room and the doctor returned. We gave her the go ahead to break my water. In just a few moments I went from being so very afraid to so very grossed out. It felt like I’d peed my pants. Fifteen thousand times the normal pee, and there stood a nurse and a doctor and my sweet husband watching me do it. Oh I was so embarrassed.

They tell you when you’re pregnant that water breaking is different for different women. Some women barely notice their water breaking and for others it’s like Niagara Falls. I’m not sure if the hook thing the doctor used had anything to do with it, but it was surely Niagara Falls for me.  My sweet husband got me out of bed to clean up, and the nurse lady changed the sheets. I wondered why they didn’t break my water somewhere other than the sheets of the bed, but who was I to question. I did get up and I made the mistake of looking back at the bed. Don’t look back, that’s my advice. Apparently our sweet little Hannah had decided to go the bathroom, number two, while on the inside and that was the most disgusting thing I’d ever seen.

I got cleaned up, the bed was fresh and clean. Then I sat back down on the bed. Apparently there can be a round two. Niagara Falls take two. I was so confused. Up we went back to the bathroom to clean up. And I asked the poor nurse to change the sheets again. I know that’s gross. It’s just my fair warning to all the other expectant moms who didn’t know. I had no idea. I’m so glad I didn’t think it would be fun at that time to have other people in the room!

After all the waterworks we settled back into bed. They put down a protective layer on the sheets and we were good to go. I felt like a four year old who still wets the bed, wait, make that a twenty-six-year-old. But I was once again comfortable and waiting on the next contraction.

Then the contraction hit. And they had warned me that the contractions would feel stronger once the bag of water wasn’t there to cushion things. They were right. Contractions started to get much stronger. I was glad though, that meant things were working, we’d be progressing.

A few hours later I wasn’t so happy about the progress. The pain was increasing and the contractions didn’t let up. I’ve heard that Pitocin can often intensify contractions beyond what normal labor would cause when given in high doses. I’m no doctor, so I can’t confirm that, but let’s just say we were up there in the Pitocin numbers because the goal at the hospital was just to get the baby out. My original plan was to have a natural unmedicated birth. Kyle even knew the ‘no’ list in case I looked crazy and no one in the hospital would take my word on anything. No Pitocin, no pain medicines, no epidural. I’d explained to him that if we’d want to go natural with no pain meds and no epidural that avoiding Pitocin would be critical.

But plans change. Our plans had already changed so much in that hospital. I was ready with my Bible verses about the Lord’s sustaining strength in difficulty; I had my playlist to remind me of the Lord’s goodness in adversity. I knew the breathing, the relaxing, and the stretching exercises we had practiced. But we’d lost our baby girl. I was grieving the loss of my daughter and all the strength I had left was grieving. All the mental capacity I had was getting me through the pain of loss, I had none left to get me through the pain of childbirth. I feel like I’m somehow making excuses, like I need to justify my decisions, but I needed every moment in that room that I could slightly control to be wonderful. And I looked at my husband and I said, ‘babe, I can’t do it. I can’t do all of it, all of this at once. I can’t convince myself that no medications or no epidural are better for the baby because she’s already gone. And we already have so much medicine in me.’ And of course he hugged me, he supported me, and let’s just be honest I think he wanted me to get the pain medication the whole time. So I quickly followed up with, ‘next time though, next time when there’s not all of this, I’m going to do it, just not today.’

So we had the nurse come in and tell us about our pain control options. We had two options: a medicine called stadol or an epidural. Everything in me wanted to avoid the epidural so we decided to go with the stadol. They said the stadol would last for about an hour and that it might make me a little sleepy. We decided we could try it for one hour and if we didn’t like it, we wouldn’t get it again the next hour. And let me tell you now that I don’t recommend it, if there had been a live baby in my body when they gave me that drug I would have been worried sick about what could have been happening to her. But at the time, there was no baby to worry about, so instead we tried it.

Let me start off by saying that I don’t do drugs. I’ve never done drugs. Some people have and they change and that’s their past, their testimony. But that’s not me. I’m the girl who won’t take medicine when she has a headache. My mom said she used to try to get us to take doctor recommended medicines when we were younger and that we’d pull her aside and remind her that the DARE officer told us to ‘Say No to Drugs.’ My poor mom. Anyway, the only other time I’d had any heavy medication was when I got my wisdom teeth out, they gave me some medication during surgery and it made me so sick that I never even opened the bottle of painkillers they had prescribed. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t all about the labor medicines.

But they said the stadol would help, so we said yes. Then the young nurse assistant-ish lady came in to give me the stadol and I asked her about the medicine. Her response was, ‘most people don’t like it. Makes you feel drunk.’ I wasn’t impressed. Our other nurses were the best people I’d ever laid eyes on, but this one must have been the medicine lady or something but she was different. After her comment I worried as she gave me the medicine through my IV, I watched her and I freaked out when I saw bubbles in the tube. Apparently that’s okay, unlike in the movies, but she scared me a little. Either way, as she put the medicine in she said, ‘you may start feeling it in a few minutes.’

I didn’t get a few minutes. It was instant. Instantly the room started spinning, and at the time I didn’t think it was funny at all. Now though, we laugh about it. The room started spinning and immediately I had to close my eyes and lay my head down. I tried a few seconds later to open my eyes again and decided quickly that was a bad decision. Kyle was sitting next to me and I tried so hard to tell him I wanted ice chips, but I couldn’t get the words out. My thoughts were going so fast jumping from one thought to the other that I was getting frustrated that I kept forgetting the word for ice and I couldn’t communicate. Kyle later said I was crazy. I was apparently saying words like ‘Kyle’ ‘ice’ ‘elephants’ ‘dancers’ ‘Kyle.’ That’s not a sentence. That’s not natural. I felt like I was in that creepy scene of Dumbo with all the bubbles and elephants. Mind you, I’ve never been drunk before and this whole thing sure didn’t make me want to try it.

The hour was long, I’m sure Kyle was quite entertained. The bad part was that the pain never went away. It’s like the medicine just made me crazy, maybe it was supposed to distract me from the pain, or make me unable to remember it, but it didn’t lessen the pain one bit. I’m not sure why anyone would ever, knowing the effects of that medicine, choose it in childbirth. I later read the side effects and warnings of this stadol and it says to let the doctor know if you’re hallucinating or dizzy. Yep, didn’t know that was a bad thing, they weren’t too concerned. But in an hour I was fine, the drug was slowly wearing off. And we decided we didn’t want any of that ever again.

So we went back to breathing through contractions, which remember I had to do during the stadol anyway. I was glad my body was working to push the baby out, but the pain did get greater. It got to a point that I was exhausted and I couldn’t do it. I reminded Kyle, and I told him we’d need the epidural. But I again reminded him, that I was encouraged that it wasn’t as bad as I thought and that I knew that next time, when we had a baby that was alive, I could do it. I was proud of myself for making it so far, but I knew that my heart couldn’t remember the agony of pain, I just wanted to remember with smiles any moments we had left with our baby girl.

So they called the epidural man, they call him the anesthesiologist, but I was just glad when he got there. He was quick and it was painless and by the very next contraction they had to tell me from the reading on the paper that I was having a contraction. It was wonderful. I could also feel and move my legs and I told the man that and he explained that they shouldn’t ever give me enough medicine to make my legs unable to move, just enough so the contractions weren’t painful. That was one of my fears with the epidural, so I liked this man. I was okay with that. He also explained to me that the epidural space in your back in shaped in such a way that gravity affects an epidural. If you’re sitting up the medicine drips down the space faster making it less effective on the upper part of the abdomen. He told me this in case my contractions were high and told me to fix the problem I’d just need to recline. Nice man, I'm sure all the mothers love him.

It’s funny how things went back to normal so quickly. The pain was gone and I was very tired. I didn’t calculate it at the time but it was Monday night and I’d had less than two hours of sleep since Sunday morning. I’d been up for almost 36 hours straight at that point. By the time we’d really sleep again, even if only for two more hours, I’d have been awake for over fifty.

So I laid down to sleep. They turned out our lights and the room was quiet. Friends and family filled the hallway, but we rested. Or at least we tried. When I closed my eyes I was so scared. I was so scared to miss one moment of this, because we had so little time before it would all be over. Forty weeks of anticipation and Hannah’s life would not begin at this hospital because it had already ended. More than that I think I was afraid that if I slept and I woke up that I’d know this wasn’t just a nightmare, but that I’d be sure it was real. I didn’t want it to be real, I didn’t want this to be our new life. I think I also felt a little guilty, that our daughter had died and I wanted to rest instead of weep for her. But I did cry. And I laid there in that bed for a long time without sleeping. I was exhausted but I was too scared, and my broken heart wouldn’t let me sleep.

Kyle woke up and checked on me. He left the room to take care of a few things and my dad came in. Later I would find out that my dad had been pacing the halls wishing he could do something. Wishing he could fix everything. They say men have a distinctive drive that makes them want to fix things, it was there in that hospital that remembered I was once his baby girl just like Hannah was Kyle’s. I would do anything for our daughter, and I realized my dad would do anything for me. I first understood that he hurt as he grieved the loss of his first granddaughter, but more than that I think he hurt because he saw how much I was hurting. Apparently when Kyle walked out of the hospital room, my dad jumped at the opportunity to come in and take care of me.

He came in and offered me water or ice. I told him I was tired. And you know what he did, he sat down on the stool next to my bed and he held my hand. And I slept. Because with my dad there holding my hand I could finally sleep, I was finally not scared to sleep. I’d be in and out of sleep and I’d wake up scared and then I’d feel his hand still holding mine and I could fall back asleep. He sat on the most uncomfortable chair in the room for what seemed like hours and watched me sleep, when I know he was tired himself. I have the best dad, the very best one. I'll never forget that.

The rest did us much good. We had a number of evening visitors and I was glad to see them when I woke. We had friends bring flowers and take pictures with us. Kyle’s family arrived and his sister brought us flowers too. It once again felt like a party in our room, it felt like a ‘normal delivery’ like people were there to congratulate us on the birth of our baby. It was nice.

In the middle of all the visitors, however, my physical pain started to return. I could feel contractions very strongly on my left side. Not only that but my right leg was so numb that my hand brushed across it in the bed and I wondered what that was I felt in the bed with me. It was my own leg. I got a bit worried, so we called the nurse. The whole gravity spiel from the anesthesiologist wasn’t a joke, and it worked in more ways than one. Since I had been sleeping on my right side the medicine was all going to my right side, none really to the left. So we propped me and my dead numb leg up on my left side to even things back out. It took a few minutes, but then we were all okay. I decided to quit rolling around after that.

Then we rested. We knew what was coming. We knew that birth was coming and we’d been excited about it for so long. We’d finally get to see our baby girl. But we also knew there would be pain, to look at your daughter and see that she’s gone. To hold her and see that she was so very perfect but that she was still gone. To see how big she was and how close we were to life with Hannah, but to know that was it, it would all end here.

The Lord was with us. I told you I had lists of Bible verses with me for my fight with the epidural. I told you I had playlists ready to sing truth to us in labor. And now I knew why the Lord had prepared my heart. This time, it was more than the epidural, it was for the Lord to remind me that he is our pain control he is our comfort even in life’s hardest moments. I prepared those scriptures knowing they were true. I sang those songs in the weeks before Hannah was born and I knew they were true. So after all this, I could stand on the knowledge that my God is good, because I knew it even before.

Many of you know I was exposed to tuberculosis and had to take many months of medication before we could even try to have kids. In those hard times, which seem pale in comparison to these days, but in those hard times when that medicine made me so very weak, when I grieved the time we’d have to wait before starting our family, the Lord had me write these three verses on the bathroom mirror.

Jeremiah 31:25 For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.

Psalm 91:2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

I brought them to the hospital with us, not knowing how it would all end. I’ve looked at them on that mirror and read them for almost six hundred days, the Lord was preparing my heart. How is that for a big God? Our God is big, and He is good. He is very good.

1 comment:

  1. Brittany, thank you so much for sharing your's and Kyle's and Hannah's beautiful story. God is using you to bless others.


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