Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Report (2)

The remainder of my pregnancy went very normally. However, I was in a constant state of panic. At first it seemed to simply be "new mommy jitters," but brief moments of panic began to turn to days of worrying, trips to the doctor's office out of "concern," and constantly anticipating the worst. I was now living with and being controlled by a spirit of fear that continued to grow out of control. As a woman who knows the word of God, I knew that I had every weapon I needed to combat and defeat fear, yet as the days passed, I continued to make excuses for my new companion. I chalked my spirit of fear up to me being a concerned and attentive mother. Therefore, fear also became pride. It was April 6, 2009. I had finished my last week of work the week before, and was at home preparing the house for the arrival of the baby. My dearest friend was over helping me to clean everything, once again, so that it was all just perfect. The baby wasn't due for another two and a half weeks, but this morning things felt different. I was busy cleaning and putting things away and the house was nearing perfection, but I kept having what I thought to be non-alarming Braxton Hicks contractions. It was around noontime that I realized that my Braxton Hicks contractions sure were coming rather frequently and regularly. I began to time them using an app on my iphone. A few more hours passed and my contraction log revealed that I had been having very regular contractions that were four minutes apart for several hours. My friend suggested we at least call the doctor's nurse to get her input. I, reluctantly, called the nurse who suggested that I come in to be examined right away. Although my bags were packed and the baby's diaper bag was ready to go, I didn't feel the need to take anything with me. I believed this trip to the doctor's office to be a big waste of time. On the way, I called my husband to let him know that I wouldn't be home when he got off work because I was at the doctor's office. I insisted he stay at work, but he insisted on meeting me there. The doctor who was on call called me back to be examined. I could feel fear as it gripped my throat almost closed and made my whole body feel like a wet rag. The doctor took one look at me and said, "If a woman has to ask me if she is in labor, then she isn't, but I'll examine you anyway." This examination took all of a few seconds and he followed his last statement with, "You are in labor and you should go right now across the street and check into the hospital. I will call and let them know you are on your way and will be by to check on you after you get settled in." Again, things became a big blur. I should have been experiencing so much joy. I know that some amount of anxiousness and uncertainty are expected for any expecting mother, but especially a first time mother. However, what I was feeling was more than nerves. Fear had followed me to this day, and I had not used the weapons I knew I possessed to defeat him. My flesh held onto fear. My mind enjoyed his company. It was my spirit who quietly whispered the truth: "God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of love, peace, and a sound mind." Again, my flesh spoke louder. Again, as my flesh took control, my spirit took a backseat. The next ten hours went far from smoothly. Although I can't recall most of that time period, I do remember the moments when I was greatly afraid. My baby was in distress more than once. His heart tones kept dropping, and right near the end his heart tone was lost completely a time or two. I remember the crowd of nurses rushing in to poke and prod to get his heart beating again. I remember this state of panic I was in, alert enough to know that things weren't going as planned, but not alert enough to effectively ask why and hear an answer. I could hear my mother praying out loud on one side of me and I could see my dearest friend on the other as she wiped tears away from my face. The last thing I remember hearing was her saying to me, "God has not brought you and this baby this far to leave the two of you alone now." Immediately, for a split second, I was able to connect with my spirit again, and I found comfort and peace in this. Minutes later, at 1:53 a.m. on April 7, 2009, Tucker Davis Smith was born. This moment was joyous. It may have even been the last joyous moment I experienced for quite some time. Tucker was tiny. He weighed only five pounds and nine ounces. However, he seemed to be doing perfectly. This was what I had been waiting for for so long. I had the perfect husband, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect family car, and now, I had the perfect baby. I needed this baby to meet these unspoken expectations I already had. I needed the world to see our family completed perfectly. I needed the world to see that our plans had unfolded perfectly. I needed to check this off of my "to do" list and move forward.

The Report (1)

  • It was July of 2008. My husband and I had taken a much needed break from a very long, painful, and exhausting battle with infertility. Getting away... that's what I needed. I was certain that would make all the difference. After all, another school year was quickly approaching. Students, parents, and fellow professionals would be counting on me to bring my best without my best being compromised by my circumstances. So, we set sail across  the Atlantic Ocean in search of sun, water, and lots of fun! Our trip was amazing! It was the first time in quite sometime that I had enjoyed myself without strings attached. For a few short days I wasn't a failure. I wasn't a woman who had everything she had ever dreamed of and lacked the one thing that meant the most. I was just a girl on a boat... a girl on a boat having lots of fun. Far too soon, we returned to our every day, business as usual "life in the real world." However, little did we know, life would never be the same. It was but a couple of weeks later when the new 2008-2009 school year was beginning. This is always a busy time for me as I prepare my heart, body, and mind for a new set of students with new needs and expectations. I noticed quickly that I didn't have as much energy as I normally do. I began to think that I had come down with a virus of some kind right before school was going to start. However, over the next several days, my virus did not seem to subside. Was it even possible? After all this time, had this one thing that had only been my fantasy, my dream, actually become my reality? In an effort to keep dreaming, I waited in hope for just a while longer. You see, it is much easier to be in a state of hope than in the reality of failure. It may not have been proven to be true at this point, but there was the tiniest chance that it was true, offering me the tiniest amount of hope. This place, this state of blissful ignorance was much more comfortable than disappointment and nauseating heartache and although in the back of my mind, I anticipated disappointment on the horizon, I had decided that a few days of hope and even pretending a little, was deserved, earned, allowed. Days kept passing, and I continued to be granted this grace period as none of my symptoms subsided or changed  much. It was time. I knew in my heart that the only way to move forward was to move out of this holding stage. After all, it was getting very close to time to start preparing my body for another round of treatment. It was late on Sunday night, August 11, 2008. I had convinced myself that one more night of hopeful and peaceful sleep should be granted and so I would wait until the next morning before the moment of truth. However, I must not have lasted a whole five minutes after crawling into bed. The next day began a new day, a new school year, new goals and new things to look forward to. I didn't see any reason to start such an important day off with heartbreak. At around 11:30 p.m. I crawled out of bed and quietly escaped. I grabbed the one sword that I had been fighting this battle with and quickly turned to 1 Peter 5:7. I prayed for a peace that would pass all of my understanding no matter the outcome. I gave my heart, my body, and my future to the Lord as I had to do daily. I said quietly to myself "Your ways are higher than mine, Oh Lord, and your thoughts are higher than mine. I will praise YOU in this storm." This seemed to give me the strength and courage I needed to move forward. It was only minutes later and I couldn't believe what I was experiencing. My human mind couldn't wrap around these results as fast as my spirit and soul did. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this moment in my past is this one simple truth: I knew in my heart as I rejoiced in God's goodness and faithfulness, that had the results been different, I would have rejoiced in His goodness just the same. At this moment, I knew I had grown spiritually. I hadn't "arrived" as many who have gone before me have done, but I had come to a place in Christ where I believed His word as it left my lips. I believed that His ways were higher than my ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts. I believed that whatever place or state I was left in, was the place He had for me. I was determined to praise Him in it, through it. The next few days for me are still a big blur. It was almost an out of body experience. This completion I had been longing for for so long was now filling me. Although I did not know this baby, I was still a mother. As much as elation filled me, relief swept over me. I had won. My battle was over. It was a good thing too because at this point I didn't have much fight left in me. Infertility was conquered and I was on the road to becoming a mother. I knew that this would be the most incredible journey God had ever placed me on. I looked forward to every step of it. I didn't know that it would be so full of heartbreak. I didn't know that I would begin to question my walk with the Lord and who He is. I didn't know that I would have to take each day one day at a time, barely pulling myself out of bed some mornings and waiting to be able to close my eyes each night to shut away the world. I didn't know that I would experience pain on a completely new level. There was much I didn't know, but I would soon find out. A couple of weeks went by and it was finally time for our first ultrasound. This day would make this dream I had been living in for the past couple of weeks my reality. After this day, I would be able to picture a real tiny beating heart and the sound of real life growing inside of me. This was the day I had been waiting for for so long. Many routine things took place once I arrived at The Woman's Clinic for my appointment. Everything seemed to be going beautifully. The best had been saved for the very last, and right before leaving it was time for my ultrasound. The technician was very quiet. She asked me again how many weeks pregnant I was. She showed us where the baby's gestational sac was forming and a few other routine things. She left the room briefly and returned to tell us that the doctor would like to see us again before we left. In the next ten minutes, I went from experiencing the highest of highs emotionally to the lowest of lows. This would soon become my story on a day to day basis, but this first time I will always remember. The doctor told us that the baby was not viable. The baby's heart was not beating and the baby had stopped growing and maturing. He followed that with a few statistics and the "This is not your fault. You will be able to have a perfectly healthy baby one day," speech. However, I was no longer listening at this point. The report was in. My baby was gone. I wasn't a real mother. I wouldn't hold my baby or hear my baby's cry. At this point, I couldn't even imagine beginning to try again. I couldn't even think about starting such a long and painful journey again, just for it to end in heartbreak. My husband, who had met me at the doctor's office from his office that day, drove me to a friend's house to drop me off so that he and his friend could go back into town and pick up my car. I will never forget the hug my friend gave me that day. If I had ever questioned her friendship, I no longer did at that moment. Her heart broke into just as many pieces as mine did. As for words spoken or conversations to be had, if there were any, I certainly don't remember them. I do remember feeling as if I had all the support in the world. This support would give me the strength I needed to make the decisions I would soon make. Three days passed, very slowly I might add, and it was time for me to go in for a blood draw to check to see if my HCG levels were dropping appropriately. In a healthy viable pregnancy, HCG levels double every 48-72 hours. Because my body should be preparing to miscarry, my levels should be dropping accordingly. I had my blood drawn first thing on a Thursday morning. The lab technician told me that they would have the doctor's nurse call with the results, but it could take until the end of the day to get them back. I was in for another very long day of waiting, but I was beginning to find comfort and peace in the waiting periods. It was nearing the end of the day when I received the call I had been waiting for. I had been praying the prayer I had been praying for so long. I prayed "God, your ways are higher than my ways. Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts. This is the grace you have placed me in. I will stand firm in it. I will continue to praise YOU in this storm." The nurse proceeded to tell me that my HCG levels had risen, not fallen. In fact, they had doubled, just as they should do! I hear the doctor in the background as the nurse if she was speaking with me. He asked her to hand him the phone. He told me that although this was great news that I needn't get my hopes up at this point. He said that the best course of action was time, for time would tell all. He scheduled an ultrasound for two weeks later. During this two week period, there was a sudden shift in my faith as my emotions and flesh began to take over. My husband had had a dream of us holding a beautiful little girl around four or five years old at church. Others called in support to say that they had been given peace about the situation and knew in their spirit that all was well. Our closest friends and family members begin to join their faith together and began to pray for God's divine protection over this baby and our comfort and peace in knowing that God was who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. I'm not sure if I had ever seen this level of faith rise up in those I love most before. Even my husband was experiencing a peace that passes all understanding. He continued to talk about and plan for our baby as if nothing had gone wrong. However, my mind and my spirit were not connecting. In my spirit, I knew that I served the One who created all things. I knew in my spirit that He is the only Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. I knew in my spirit that He is the one for whom nothing is too hard. However, my mind and my flesh knew something different and were speaking much louder than my spirit. My flesh was fearful, doubtful, already grieving my loss, and often times angry. For you see, faith does not rise within us as a result of what our flesh desires, faith rises up in us as a result of what our spirit knows to be true. This two week period was the moment my life changing journey began. This was the instant that I began learning the most difficult lesson I have ever been taught. I began to learn the difference between fact and truth. It would be years before I learned to separate the two, and separating the two also meant learning to separate my mind and flesh from my spirit, but this instant was the beginning of my journey. The report was in. What did this mean to my mind? The facts were in. Facts are fact right? The fact is that this baby had no heartbeat. This pregnancy would eventually terminate. My hope of becoming a mother would still be just a dream and not my reality. The day of my ultrasound had finally arrived and I would soon learn that the truth, in turn, was quite different from the facts. The truth was that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. The report was in and the report was true. The truth was that my baby's heart was beating at a beautiful 157 beats per minutes. The truth was that my baby had grown perfectly in the two week time period and was developing normally. The voice of truth told a much different story than the facts I had believed. My mother's heart was immediately completely consumed with thankfulness, relief, elation. Far too quickly, I brushed the pain of the past two weeks off and jumped up to continue my new, now perfect, life as if the past two weeks had never occurred. With a quick "Praise be to be Jesus," and a jaunty little testimony now and again, I moved on. My flesh was quick to move on out of this place of uncertainty and insecurity. My spirit needed time to reflect and heal and so my journey, my battle continued.