Strong: Ability to withstand great force or pressure or wear. – English Oxford Dictionary
Things that have taken me to my knees over the past two or so months:
- I had a baby. Maxwell “Max” Atlas Webb. He was 5 lbs 7.5 oz and 19.5 inches.
- A c-section.
- I had high blood pressure that was well, super high. So high. Scary high.
- Max had an infection and jaundice and went under the bright blue lights and in the “house” as my daughter called it for 48 hours.
- My anxiety levels went through the roof.
- I joined Rodan + Fields in the middle of all that. Am I asking for stress? Well, yea sometimes I am, but it is something that I like doing. No pressure, right?
- Max developed colic. I went 4 days on 2.5 hours of sleep. ( Yup, you read that right).
- I went back to my day job.
- Writing this post. It’s taken me almost a month to actually write it without sobbing. Someone once said – once you can tell the story, you are healed. Writing heals. Here is the story that keeps tears in my eyes and my heart sober and grateful daily……
Child birth itself is a big deal. There are people in my life that have given birth to many children. Say 7? Say 11? Say what? I barely got two out without dying. I say dying, but with my daughter I wasn’t really close to that. I just developed high blood pressure that with delivery can be reversed. Preeclampsia. This time, my blood pressure was up and down the entire 9 months. I was good the day I delivered. It was even a little low. I was more worried about the spinal block. A good friend and sweet nurse held me close through all that. All was well. Or so it seemed.
On Tuesday after giving birth, I had a horrible headache. I kept telling myself it was a caffeine, no sleep, stress headache. Nothing helped. I was walking down the hall and a nurse saw me. She took me back to the room and told me to call the doctor. I had been discharged at this point and only hanging around the hospital, because Max was sick and I was not leaving him. I felt horrible. The sad part was, I still kept on. I still kept pumping, feeding Max through a tube, walking and drinking water – just as the doctor ordered.
Brandon was keeping the balls juggled at home. We had help with Mallie over the weekend, but now it was a juggle day to day with all the snow. He was busy dealing with snow days, school being cancelled, and trying to take care of our daughter. I told him I had never had a headache like this, ever. He said ” drink a Coke. I’ll be there soon.” I called the doctor. The nurse came and took my blood pressure. It was 160/101. Not so bad, right? 😉 yea right. I was told to lay down and wait. The headache – it only got worse. I woke up at 3 p.m. and I called the doctor back. I was doubled over, double visioned, not sure what day it was in trouble. 3 nurses, 2 doctors later my BP registered at 172/123. I was still walking and talking and crying somehow. I was being readmitted.
A nurse, Emily. Emily was her name came in and told me that I had to be on a Magnesium Sulfate drip for at 24 hours, maybe 36. My daughter was in the room and Max was behind her in the “house.” I had to make Mallie leave because of the side effects of the medication. I did not want her to see me like that. THE hardest thing I did was tell her she had to go and she could not be with Momma. I was told to kiss and hug her tight and a good friend shewed her out the door. My heart literally walked out of that room. I didn’t know how sick I was, I just knew what I was facing was going to be horrible by the look on everyone’s faces.
Emily reassured me I would survive this, but right then my BP was high and I needed a high short dose NOW. How did she know that? Because, she herself ( a friend of my dear cousin) had been through HELLP. There was a 8% chance of developing it after delivering for someone ( like me) who had history of preecplampisa. Lucky me? I made the 8 %! ( insert sarcasm 😉 ) Then my veins blew. My BP was going up. It took 4 nurses to get a vein going. One nurse walked out and a team came in and I was in the air looking at them, wondering why this was so urgent. I was okay, right? After a long while, Emily hit the right vein.
Emily held my hand as she hit the start button on the IV machine. She quoted the scripture at the bottom of this blog. ( hold on for it- I promise it’s a good one). She told me this medicine would burn me from the inside out. That was the entire purpose to bring my blood pressure down. My friend, Renee stayed the night with me. She made sure I was covered in ice. She made sure I had a nurse when I needed one. She made sure Max was fed and changed and warm and in his “house.”
The first bag of fluid. LAVA. PURE LAVA. It felt like PURE LAVA being poured down my throat. My entire body then felt like it had been engulfed in flames from then on out. Then the anxiety came. Then the hallucinations. Then the I can’t do this any longer hours happened. Emily came and sat me up in the bed and said ” YOU GOT TO DO THIS. YOU HAVE NO CHOICE. YOU HAVE BABIES TO TAKE CARE OF.” The doctors came in. They looked nervous. My cousin gave me a blessing from our church. Then another man came and gave me a blessing. I just looked at Max the entire time. Sometimes he was clear and sometimes he was fuzzy. I knew he was there and I keep going. I kept burning alive ( that’s how it honestly felt) because he and Mallie needed me more on this side of the dirt, than the other. Emily never left. Lori never left me. Cristina never left. Harmony never left. They were some of my constant angels.
The next day the head nurse came in and told me if my anxiety didn’t decrease I was facing another 12 hours on the magnesium drip… also known as hell in a bag. I made Brandon hold my hand for hours. At that moment, I had never wanted my mom so much in my entire life and then I dreamed. I dreamed about her for it seemed years and I didn’t want to wake up. I dreamed of butterflies. Big huge colorful butterflies. Then, she pushed me. My mom pushed me away while I was hugging her. I woke up crying and feeling like my legs were gone. Brandon grabbed my legs and kept saying they are here you have legs! I didn’t believe him. My blood pressure went back up and Emily was there telling me I had to go back to my happy place. My happy place was the pool and sitting with my Dad and my entire family at Mel’s in Tennessee eating ice cream. At exactly 7:06 p.m. on my second day on the drip, they removed the IV. At that point, 32 hours later, I had expelled over 4 gallons of fluid. At exactly 10:30 p.m., the nurse let me take a shower. I felt semi- human, but I remember sitting in the shower chair with the water running over me and sobbing.
I thanked God for saving me. I knew exactly how close I had come to not walking or talking or hugging my sweet family again. I knew because in a strange hallucination, my mom was there telling me that she missed me but I had to be strong. I remember her pushing me away over and over and finally pushing me for good. I sobbed and sobbed. Lori the nurse, she just let me cry. She cried with me. She told me she was happy I was crying. Crying meant I was alive. I don’t know how long the shower ran. I think I sat in there for over an hour.
Brandon ordered pizza for the entire nursing staff and I ate two bites and slept for 8 hours. I’m not sure I’ve slept that long since- hahaha.
I was discharged a day later and we ALL went home. I was in the hospital for exactly 7 days. The nurse Lori ( who ended up praying over me) along with five other nurses in the maternity ward at Lewis-Gale Montgomery saved me. She sat me up in that shower and washed my hair and she told me how strong I was. I cried. I sure didn’t feel strong. I felt defeated. My husband’s prayers saved me. Those nurses saved me. The doctors saved me. God gave me grace and saved me. Did I feel unworthy of being saved? Of course. Nobody is perfect and I fall short daily, but he heard those prayers and poured mercy.
I went home and I remember taking a shower and putting on fresh clothes and sitting on the couch. It was so quiet. Three days prior I didn’t think I would ever be home again. I was tired. Exhausted. I didn’t think I would be able to get up and move or even possibly take care of a newborn and my daughter. Everything was fuzzy in my head for weeks. I’m still a little fuzzy and it takes me a few minutes to process things now. I’m told that will go away. It’s little things that are fuzzy. Like passwords and names of people I’ve known forever. Let’s hope that ends soon! 🙂
Two weeks later, I had a follow up appointment with my doctor. She and the other doctor watched my blood pressure for two long days. She told me she was afraid after 37 years of practicing medicine and delivering babies, she would lose a patient. The other doctor admitted to praying with his wife as they watched my BP on the monitor from his laptop sore and come down and sore again. Talk about a reality check!!??
I left that appointment feeling a little bit more thankful for doctors who aren’t ashamed to hit their knees too.
The reality checks are still coming and my knees are sore from hitting them harder than I believe I ever have.
Reality checks have been:
That Max is actually here. A tender mercy.
Being a mom of two has been more of an adjustment that I’m imagined. 4:30 a.m. feedings and working all day is harder than I remember.
Working Rodan + Fields made me realize that these women I’ve known for a couple of years aside from that avenue really had my back while I recovered. It really was a tribe. That women really do love each other.
Being thankful for my life. Like my heart beating and the breath I breathe in my lungs. Things people might complain about, I take glory in. Like dirty diapers and drama filled melt downs over bows and reading assignments. Yes it seems hard, but not lava being poured down your throat hard. I’ll gladly take that trial over and over to avoid being lit on fire again.
The first part of May, I was blessed to go on a Girl Scout trip with our Mallie. Our little Ms. Sunshine. She bounced on the air mattress and snuggled up to me and said ” I love you Momma.” Last week, I went on a little hike with her. We were walking back down with a group of girls her age and she said ” I did that Momma. I’m strong.”
We got in the car to drive home and she said ” You did it too Momma, because you are strong like me!”
Oh, Mallie you were sent mostly to remind Momma of the simplicity in life. So,this is what she reminded me of in that one statement:
On the days I feel defeated because honestly they aren’t not enough hours in the day, I’m strong.
On the days someone dings my car and looks and says “just a Ford ” and throws her hands up and gets on her cell phone and babels about useless stuff, I’m strong.
On the days I hear “Momma!!!” a million in one times, I’m strong.
On the days that I can’t bear to go to work and leave my babies, I’m strong.
On the days I don’t want to admit that I am weak, I’m strong.
When June comes every year and the anniversary of death looms, I’m strong.
On the days I feel that I can’t take the feeling of unworthiness any longer, I’m strong.
On the days I just can’t cook dinner and take out is the answer, I’m strong.
On the days I feel like everything is a juggling act with 10 balls in the air and I’m the clown, I’m strong.
On the days I look in the mirror and I really don’t like what I see, I’m strong.
I overcame that trial in the hospital, because of grace and mercy and prayers and because I’m strong.
I’m strong, because I was born half a Long and half a Scott. I don’t have any other choice but to be strong it’s inherited.
I’m a daughter of God and because of that knowledge, I’m strong.
“But they that wait
upon the Lord shall renew
they shall mount up with
wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint. ”
Isaiah 40: 31