Friday, May 7, 2010

why am I still surprised?

A couple days ago, I got the results of my gestational diabetes test back- and I passed!! My levels were great and I am free and clear of GD, thank goodness!

What's funny, is that I was convinced I had it. I was washing my face in the bathroom last night and telling my husband for the 15th time that I don't have GD. He goes, 'I know, babe, you keep telling me that. Why are you so surprised? It's a good thing.'

Of course, I know it is a good thing. It's a wonderful thing to not worry about balancing sugar and protein, to be able to enjoy a bowl of ice cream at week 57 of pregnancy. (I've developed an equation that factors in humidity, the # of children you are chasing, and your actual gestational weeks to come up with this number- don't question the science.)

It's a great thing that gestational diabetes will not be a focus of this pregnancy. I had it with Jack, but was fine with Tyler and Kaiti, so why am I so surprised that I don't have it now. Why was I so willing to accept that because I had that icky thing before, I probably had it again? 

Part of the answer is that, statistically, if you have had it before, the odds are, you will get it again. And even though I always kept my sugar levels well within the healthy ranges (actually, my problem was more that they tended to drop really low in the morning) the percentages were still stacked against me.

But the main reason I was convinced I had this was because when the ride you're on takes a hard jerk to the left, you can't really sit back and relax for the rest of it. It's hard to accept that the road might be smooth ahead when you're still rubbing your neck from the curve that just thrust you into a state of alert.

This is my 5th pregnancy. Kaiti's was the only really peaceful, uneventful one. 

We conceived our first baby within a couple months of our wedding. I felt so blessed to be given what I had always dreamed of so quickly. I was not even 8 weeks pregnant when I was buying maternity and baby clothes. And then, around 11 weeks, we learned that this was a baby was a child we weren't meant to have. We waited, hoped they were wrong, prayed for a different ending.....but it didn't come. It was devastating. It wiped me out and shook the way I looked at the world. We were sent home to wait for that life to come to and end.

When I lost our first baby, I hemorrhaged and had to stay in the hospital for a couple days. I declined the blood transfusion and was told by my OB that because of what had happened, it would be a while before my body was ready to conceive again- he estimated at least 6 months before it would even be possible.

I was pregnant again with 3 months. After having lost a child, it was nearly impossible to really get excited in the beginning. Every cramp, every twinge gripped with me fear, and I questioned whether God would be taking this baby from me before it ever left my womb- again. I seemed to have a lot of pain, and when I got to the point where I could not take not knowing if my child was dying inside of me, I went in to the doctor's. I was exactly 10 weeks. As soon as the ultrasound picture came up on the screen, I saw a teenie little white spot pounding away in the center. A baby, whose heart was beating! I could not believe it. They also saw what they later determined were fibroids all over my uterus, which is what they said was causing the pain. You have NO idea how relieved I was to find out that some bothersome growths were the source of my discomfort. 30 weeks and 2 days  later I met my son, Tyler Adam, and felt so washed over with love that I literally had to stop to catch my breath. I watched as the world, as life around me, took on a different color. At long last, I was a mother to living, breathing child all my own.

When Tyler was just shy of 6 months old, we found out we were expecting again. Without planning or really trying, this sweet child entered our lives. My pregnancy with Kaiti was a peaceful and content as can be. I got sick, sure, but I always took that as a wonderful sign. And after 20 weeks, the nausea stopped, and all was well. She was the perfect pregnancy. Her birth was equally wonderful. This little girl amazed me. I remember feeling the tugging and knowing the moment she was out- and immediately hearing my doctor say- 'She is a beauty!'. Boy, was she!

It took a while for my husband to jump back on board the baby train. Kaiti had pretty intense colic (constant vomiting, only pooping via enemas, round the clock crying) and really threw us off our game. Tyler was the easiest,  sweetest baby, so it stood to reason that our combined DNA created only content and laid-back babies, right? Kaiti was God's answer to us-- 'Not so much', He seemed to be saying.

We started trying in the summer of 2007 for baby #3. Getting pregnant was never difficult for me- in fact, I seemed to get pregnant when logic and doctor's told me I could not. So when it did not happen instantly, I was dismayed. We were also dealing with Jeremiah's deployment schedule, which made things a little tough. But after about 6 months, I felt defeated, and thought, okay, so He only wants us to parent 2 children. The monthly disappointment  that would arrive, indicating without a doubt that I was not pregnant, was too much to bear. I was gearing myself up for acceptance and forced myself to count my blessings instead.

Two weeks later, while my husband was at sea, I felt awful sick during a field trip and laughed when some of the ladies suggested it was morning sickness. No way. We had given up on 'trying'. I stopped at Publix, picked up a test for about the 33rd time, chastising myself in my head all the while for setting myself for let down once again, and went home right away to take it. Before I even set it down, I saw the plus sign appearing on the screen. I was ecstatic. I went back to the store and bought 2 more all seemed to good to be true. I called a friend over and asked her to examine the test for me. Maybe it was a mirage?

When it finally sank in, I decided I could not wait 4 more weeks to tell my husband I was pregnant in person. Though not ideal, I knew I'd had have to tell him over the phone or through email. So I called a friend and asked her to get a message to my husband on the ship and have him call home.

He called within an hour and his voice was clipped with fear. I have never ever done that before- asked him to call home from the ship. I really didn't think it through- that his mind would go to panic before it went to joy. He said, 'Are you okay, are the kids okay?', in one sharp breath. I had a whole thing worked up, but I couldn't take him worrying one second longer, so I said simply, 'We're fine. I'm pregnant!'. He laughed, and I did, too. 

He was home for about 2 weeks and was scheduled to leave again very soon (within a week) for a 4 month deployment when we got a call late in the night. It was my Dad, telling me he had come home to find my Mom, on the floor, not breathing. She died, alone in a home, with no one to hold her, no face to see one last time, and left this earth. And us. 

I was hollow. I felt like a shell. I felt removed from everything around me and despite being surrounded by my husband, my children, my sister and he family, and my dad, I have never felt so alone. The child growing inside of me survived a wicked, ugly storm......but for the grace of God. My husband deployed the day after we put my mom's ashes into the ground. I stayed with my dad for some time, and then took my children home, where I would mourn quietly in the echoes of my home. 

I was determined not to let grief seep too deeply into me. I did not want this new life tarnished by sadness, nor did I want my children seeing the only parent that was present at the time falling apart. It was a constant struggle. Life without a mom is something no daughter could ever prepare for- at any age. But I carried on and tried so hard to fill our lives with joy and love while my husband was gone. Many a night, though, I broke down and wept while my children slept, tucked  safely in their beds.

My husband came home, and my spirit settled some. I had someone who could walk with me- I didn't have to keep doing it alone. I thought I survived the worst.

And then we went to Jack's fateful ultrasound. In that cold examination room, we learned that our child had a struggle ahead. His body was made in a way that would make things difficult for him. They didn't know much, but what they did know was very concerning, and linked to a host of other issues. When we first found out, the news was grim. I remember going home, stunned, and praying to God to just let our child survive, to let us hold him, and come what may, we could handle it.

He was born, and taken away, and within a few days, the prognosis shifted. He would not need any life-saving surgeries. I was stunned. It was something they had prepared us for, and here my child was, not needing what they thought would be necessary for him to grow and thrive. I remember the NICU doctor telling me this, and feeling confused. I was surprised.

Then later, after a scary night in the NICU, and watching what looked like our son taking steps in the wrong direction, I was gripped with fear again. His poor little heart just could not regulate itself, and despite being intravenously fed, he was producing green bile that signaled something bad. We had just been told that he might get to go home, and then this episode set us back. While I prayed for my son to be made well, I nestled into a place of acceptance. I didn't see it as letting go of hope- I saw it as accepting reality. If you have spent any time in a NICU you know how easy it is to arrive at such a place.

But then, just a few days later, and he was doing better. Once again, I was surprised. Then we talked taking him home. And a couple days later, we got to bring our son into a home that we had welcomed three children into!!

And over the past year and a half, as we have met with a handful of specialists and geneticists, who all were brought in to help us understand our child, we continued to walk away with better news than we ever expected. And each time, we were surprised.

Why am I still surprised?

This question is one I have been asking myself a lot lately. Honestly, the only answer I can come up with is one that my heart does not want to accept.

I'd like to think my surprise comes from that fact that we've had very intelligent people present us with an idea of what life for Jack would be like. And in none of their scenarios did my child get to walk away from this genetic condition, completely unscathed. These doctors, experts in their fields, shared in my surprise.

But I don't think that is the full reason I am still surprised. And the answer I feel in my heart is something I struggle with.

I think that, despite clinging to what I know about my God, my faith needs strengthening. I think I have set my sights so much on the jerks and twists that rose from our path, that I've failed to focus on the rest of the ride. I've not been setting my sights on the peace and joy that comes from making it over those bumps and twists.

I'm not sure if my heart is trying to protect itself, causing me to accept bad news before it even arrives, or if something bigger is at play.

Either way, I am aware that I need to learn from this. I need to figure out why I am surprised by good, instead of praising Him for it. I've felt a pull lately that I know is so much deeper than me and where I am. I feel like my faith has been at surface level, and I need to really get into the trenches. All this time, I thought that my faith saved me from feeling the stabbing pain of losing my mom. But now I see that while I prayed and found acceptance in my head, my heart was not fully in on it.

If I know anything about Him, I know this......He is in control and His ways are not meant for human understanding. The way He works surpasses anything our minds can fathom. It does not matter that 99.9% of the time, things go a certain way. He works in the .1%.......but just as much, He is there and He is present in the other 99.9%, too.

Why am I still surprised? He has shown Himself to me over and over again. He has quieted my fear and shown me  that His hands are busy in my life.

I need not be surprised. I need only acknowledge and revel in His work. All of it.

And that is where I feel my heart pulling me now.

--- I started writing this post a week ago, and was very hesitant to share it for anyone to read. It is not easy to admit to people- AND MYSELF- that my faith needs work. But I decided to be honest here and hope that my heart will be seen. 

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