Monday, July 7, 2014

His Yoke is Easy and His Burden, Light

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

A sweet friend sent me the above passage from the Gospel reading for this past Sunday, and I've been resting in its truth ever since.

As I have shared here, my current pregnancy started without much hope, but turned into a miracle of life.  Miracles aren't always simple, though, I'm learning.  

In late March, at 16 weeks, I had a hemorrhage that led to the discovery that I have placenta previa.  In late June, at 25 weeks, I had another hemorrhage, accompanied by a little hospital stay, that led the doctors to conclude that I was at high risk for a dangerous complication called placenta accreta, due to multiple risk factors, including two C-sections and two D and C's following miscarriages.  Although they thought from the sonograms that I did not have accreta at that time, they recommended a follow-up on the accreta and modified bed rest due to the complete placenta previa.

So...I rested.  The children spent a lot of time snuggled with me, reading books and playing games, and we scrambled to get plans in place for the longer term, to allow me to spend as much time as possible off my feet.  

Those plans included my mother coming to the rescue once again, on the first flight from Alabama, and our lovely friend who has helped us in summers past taking on a larger role in the children's care.  It was so strange to go suddenly from being the one taking the children on adventures to the one receiving pictures of my children out and about.

But I think we all managed pretty well, and I was--and am--so thankful for the blessing of being able to entrust my children's care to people who love them and care for them so beautifully.

I had my first appointment with the high-risk obstetrical practice last Tuesday.  After almost two hours of songram and a 1.5 hour consultation with the doctor, Mama and I walked out rather shell-shocked.  The most important information was that the sonograms do show placenta accreta, and actually, it looks like I have the most severe form of accreta, called placenta percreta.  They can't be completely sure from sonogram imaging, but it appears that the placenta has grown completely through the uterine wall and is now at the edge of the bladder wall.  

The high-risk specialist explained that what this means for baby and me is that the best case scenario for delivery is now at 34 weeks, which would be August 21.  If we are able to make it that far, and have a scheduled delivery, then the plan would go as follows {if you're comfortable reading about medical procedures}: I'll receive an epidural in the morning, then be taken to interventional radiology, where they will thread balloon catheters through my femoral veins, to be used during surgery to reduce the bleeding.  Then, I will go in for a combination C-section and hysterectomy.  The Mister will be able to be with me for the delivery of the baby, and I will be awake for that time.  The high-risk obstetrical team will deliver the baby by using a vertical incision to about 4cm above my belly button and removing the entire uterus, which then will be cut from the top down the back side to get the baby out without cutting through the placenta.  The Mister and the baby will go straight to the NICU, and I will be put to sleep by general anesthesia.  Then, the gynecological oncology team will step in to perform the hysterectomy.  Gynecological oncologists are the surgeons most skilled at this type of surgery, because, as I understand it, they are accustomed to dealing with parts of the body having grown and attached in ways they weren't supposed to.   The surgeon will separate the placenta from whatever it has attached to outside the uterus (like the bladder) and repair that damage.  Then, I'll be sewn up and likely taken to the ICU for a couple days' stay, before being transferred to another unit.  Major blood loss is expected--I learned today from one of the doctors that the national average of blood loss for this type of surgery is 5-6 liters--so the blood bank is already prepared with matching blood parts for transfusion and that team will be in the OR, as well.

The doctors had explained that they usually follow a "three strikes and you're in" rule, as far as hemorrhaging and hospital bed rest go.  On the evening of the Fourth of July, I hemorrhaged again, so the Mister and I arrived by ambulance to my home for the next couple of months {at least, we hope it's that long!}.  It was found that I had had a small placental abruption and was showing signs of pre-term labor.  I spent a really gruesome, but ultimately effective, 36 hours on a magnesium sulfate drip to quiet the contractions.  The nurse they called in to cover my case was told that they were delivering my baby that night, so I am really thankful that that did not turn out to be the case.  Once I stopped contracting, I was put on an oral medication to precent further contractions and transferred to the high risk unit, where I will stay until we deliver the baby.

Now, I even get pictures of what life is like at home.

Obviously, this is not what any of us would have chosen.  I don't want to be on bed rest, I don't want to be away from my husband and my children.  I don't want the baby to be delivered early.  I don't want to be having a hysterectomy, and certainly not under the frightening circumstances that I will be having one.  But I know--without a shadow of a doubt--that we are in the Lord's hands.  And that whatever happens, He will make good of it.

The Mister and I have always said that we would take as many children as God would give us.  I am so thankful that He gave us the grace and the desire to accept with open arms and in pretty rapid succession these beautiful gifts.  Now, it seems my childbearing years are coming to a close.  Earlier than I expected and definitely not in any way I could have imagined.  But even with that sadness, He is giving us one final gift of life born of our love.  We are so very grateful for this baby whose life we thought was not to be.

This morning, after cruising the Amazon Prime movie lists for a good hour or more, I decided to spend a little time coming up with some worthwhile goals for this stretch of rest I have in front of me.

1. Grow the baby.
2. Pray the Rosary each day.
3. Watch those movies that people always talk about, but that I've never seen.
4. Write a little.

For the second item, I thought to myself that I needed to ask Mama to bring my Rosary up to the hospital, and made a mental note to do so.  But God knew better than to leave it to my multitasking brain.  Just a few minutes later, a lady from the chaplain's office stopped by to administer Holy Eucharist.  This time--unlike at past visits--after I had received the Eucharist, she asked whether I had a Rosary with me at the hospital, and pulled one out of her pocket to give to me.

Everything is going to be ok.  I do not walk through this alone.

His yoke is easy and His burden, light.


Eleanor said...

Oh, Elizabeth! I am so sorry to read about ALL that you and your family have been through. I cannot imagine the stress and sadness that you are processing. You are such a wonderful Mommy! I am thankful that you can rest and will pray for a long, healthy pregnancy and delivery and sweet baby boy!! I will pray for wisdom for the doctors and for rest and peace and health for your family while you are in the hospital. Thank you for sharing and keeping us updated.

Wanting What I Have said...

You're so brave, Elizabeth. I am so proud of you and Jacob!! We continue to pray for all of you. Much love.

Rayne said...

Hello, My name is Rayne and I found your blog through a friend's blog. Just wanted you to know I am praying for you and your sweet family. I am 31 weeks, and cannot even comprehend all that you are going through... Praying for peace and rest during this time. I am an avid reader, so if you need any good suggestions to pass the time let me know :)

Tracy L. Alcock said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I went to the University of Alabama with you, where we were in some form of Honors course together.

I have followed your blog off and on, and I have loved seeing how beautiful your children and family are.

I wanted to send you a message so that you know that even people you may not know -- like me -- are praying for you during this difficult and scary time. You are a wonderful example of an exemplary wife, mother, and Catholic, and my prayers are absolutely with you and your family over the next few months.

May God's blessings be on you!

-Tracy (Bradshaw) Alcock

Anonymous said...

Please know that Uncle Martin and I are keeping you and your family in our prayers.
Love Aunt Janice and Uncle Martin

Leslie said...

Elizabeth, I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I will be praying that everything goes smoothly in the next several weeks. I wish I could do more than that.

Vir said...

Sending lots of prayers up. You are constantly on my mind. Love you dearly!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, What a beautifully written blog...I was forwarded this from our WWP group and know you are in my thoughts and prayers. You are not alone and your testimony of faith is so evident and clear ~ I wish you continued courage and strength. My family and I will pray for you and yours. May God bless you and keep you...and may you feel His presence and protection at this time! With all my best wishes, Michele G.

Sarah Barry said...

I am so sorry for all you are going through. I prayed for you this morning after reading this post.

Mary Louis Quinn said...

Oh my goodness, this brought so many tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for all you are going through. I can't even imagine. Download "Come to Me" by Aaron Shust (basically those verses from Matthew) and "It is Well" by Bethel Music/Kristene DiMarco. Those two songs bring me lots of comfort. Praying for you!

Jeanne & Martin said...

We are praying in New Orleans for you, your family and the new addition who hopefully will wait until late August to come. Stay strong & keep your head up. You're such an inspiration. -Jeanne (upchurch) de Laureal

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth - praying for you and your family. Just saw a tv report on service dogs for diabetics who can sense if the levels are too high or too low, and provide an alert to the diabetic.