Wednesday, 10 October 2012

During pregnancy - God answered my prayers with a 'No'

What's our cat's middle name?  This may seem a bit of a tangent, but to me it seems a great place to start to tell a story. This is a story I have been putting off telling for years.  I love our boys, it's not a given, but it is pretty normal to love your children.  Our eldest is 8 years old, and youngest is soon to be 6. My youngest asked me recently what our cat, Cocoa's, middle name was.  He was writing all our initials out on a piece of paper and of course Cocoa, didn't have a middle initial, it was news to me that she had a surname, but there you go.  

This caused a moment of overwhelming joy for me, looking at these loud, grubby, imaginative, adventurous boys. For many people pregnancy isn't easy.  I've alluded to my story before here.  What I have failed to do was share the story personally.  Make yourself comfortable, this may take a while.

Both of our children were planned, the second was a little more planned than the first.  During both pregnancies I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, my husband suffered as well, it was a long hard road for both of us.  It is never good for a man to feel helpless. Never. The first pregnancy we were not at all prepared for the horror of the months that followed. We were ignorant of what we were facing, having no idea we were facing a debilitating illness, which was caused by the little life inside me.

In case you haven't come across it before, you may be asking 'What is hyperemesis gravidarum (or HG)?' Well for me it was a shocking, emotionally exhausting and physically gruelling part of pregnancy. For a more graphic description of HG click here.  

Before I get into it too much I need to say; I feel very, very aware that for some people even to be pregnant is a gift from God, long hours prayed for and  a gratitude can not be measured.  I am also aware that some would wish to endure HG if only to be pregnant  This is probably the reason I don't like to talk about it too much.  I have some dear friends who have been down the road of infertility treatment, so I've had a glimpse through walking with them of the heartache. However we all have a story to tell and mine doesn't diminish anyone else's. If by telling my story, someone, just one person, is encouraged or pointed in the right direction for support, I will be one happy woman. The other point of telling my story is this; God is good, trustworthy and right all the time, even when we don't agree, 'feel it' or trust him, he is still trustworthy.  He is tender towards our pain and grief.  He doesn't enjoy our pain, he cries with us.

HG is not just morning sickness, it is "generally described as unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids."  That actually doesn't sound that bad when you read it on a page.  But at the time I could not raise my head from my spew-bowl and tell you it truly was bad.  During both pregnancies I was hospitalised   First pregnancy was week 11, I still can't believe that out of ignorance I endured 5 weeks of not being able to eat or drink much at all.  I hate to be graphic, but the best way I can get across how my body was shutting down, is to let you know my only bathroom visit for a 24 hour period was around 4 in the afternoon.  Clearly I was dehydrated, 3+ ketones present (for you medical people out there).  I had no idea, I thought I was just suffering from morning sicknss, and loads of women get that, so I would just have to deal with it.  I started my pregnancy at 57 kgs (126 lbs), I ended up at 50 kgs (110 lbs) at week 12 of the pregnancy.  

Sound fun?  No, and I was not a bad case of HG!  Some women are sick the entire duration of their pregnancy, I was fortunate, I was only sick until week 20.  Some women loose their lives to this illness, some women have to choose their own life over termination. Thank you Lord I was never in this position.  I would not dear to judge because I did not walk in those woman's shoes.  

I did however come out the other side of pregnancy with some psychological debris still embedded. During the many hours of lying in bed not being able to lift my head off the pillow or I would vomit up bile, in a constant state of nausea, I would, at times be crying my eyes out, feeling like I wanted to die. During one of these moments of desperation I prayed "God, please let me miscarry, I just can't do this any more". 

He answered with a no. 

To this very day, I am so grateful, as I look at my boy now, I am glad God says 'no' to us.  Yet part of me still feels guilty for asking him. I know in Gods tenderness he understood the motivation for my request, he knew my heart.  My boy is so handsome, smart, witty, and tender.  It took a lot to get him from conception into this world. God knew I would survive it, and so would my little boy.

My second pregnancy was a challenge in different ways.  I knew what I was in for and it was a big decision to go through it all again. I remember early on in the pregnancy, lying on the floor in our lounge head over a ice-cream container (I purposely opted to use something I didn't like so I wouldn't be put off anything in the future - didn't really like ice-cream - too cold), so there I was head over an ice-cream container, on the floor of the lounge with my husband tenderly rubbing my back.  I said to him "What was I thinking?  What made me think I could do this again?" He kept rubbing my back as I vomited up nothing but bile again, once again he felt helpless.  We made the decision to have another child together but he left it up to me to make the final call since I was the one who would suffer the most. I thought I could do it. 

Thankfully I was able to link in with an amazing website that informed me, and supported me to get help. It was a battle to get my Doctor to take me seriously (don't even get me started), but thankfully a nurse who was taking my bloods asked a few questions and took a urine sample and found out how ill I was, then finally the doctor took notice.  I was hospitalised at week 5 + 5 days.  

I was living in the UK at the time of the second pregnancy and not exactly excited to visit a hospital in the UK with MRSA at epidemic proportions as they were. But I would not go through those weeks of isolation again with no medication to help. I will never forget being in the ER, curtain closed on my cubicle listening (being nosey) to the talk around the ER and having a nurse with a loud voice read my chart and call out to another nurse down the hall "This one's 5 weeks + 5 days, she's got a long way to go"  and thinking, thank you so very much for the reminder!  It was 6 years ago, and I can laugh now, but at the time I wanted to kick her. Funny that, since I now teach my boys to use words not feet or fists. 

I gladly left the hospital rehydrated, with three different types of medicine, and a few stories to tell, ready to face the rest of the pregnancy.  God provided support through family and friends who came to care for my eldest son while I was laid up in bed.  God also blessed me with a husband who loved me in a self sacrificing way, he was my greatest support and I relied on him 100%. At this time of my life my relationship with God was rather temperamental, on my part. I called on him when I needed him, but when life was ok, I didn't need God, so 'forgot' to seek him. Thankfully life is different now, my husband is still my help and support but my Lord and Saviour is my greatest support. Although I still need to remind myself to stay reliant on Him. It's so easy for me to slip into 'capable woman' mode.

So here we are a 2 child family and staying that way, except for a cat called Cocoa ... middle name yet to be decided, here are some suggested options; trash can, plum tree, crack up, sumo wrestler, (caution: it's gets more boyish from here), jelly bottom, smelly boogers, elephant farts, penguin poo, caterpillar vomit, ... all such pretty names for a girl cat. So hard to decide.  One thing was clear when these names were being suggested  laughter was filling the whole house, you know the kind of laughter, the wet your pants giggling that is infectious and uncontrollable. 

That laughter reminds me again that these two boys are worth every moment I endured. 
And that is my pregnancy story.

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