I haven’t written a blog in a while. More than six years, in fact. A lot has changed in my life, marriage and children being key. My latest child was added to the family exactly two weeks ago, and I feel compelled to share the list of miracles and answered prayers that accompanied his entrance into the world.
When my water broke in the middle of the night—finally—after a long and debilitating pregnancy—I called labor and delivery at the hospital where I was supposed to deliver. Our insurance is Kaiser Permanente, which is also the healthcare provider. Sometimes this is great, sometimes it is a little limiting. There is only one KP hospital in San Diego with labor and delivery. And they informed me that they were full and that I should go to their Palomar hospital location in Escondido, a city 45 minutes away without traffic. On the verge of panicking, I recalled that with my first child, Dr. Hulley told me that if labor and delivery told me they were full to come anyway. They could not turn me away. And so we did.
I was put into a triage room, and the nurse wasn’t very encouraging about it. She predicted that I would be there for the duration of my labor and delivery. It wasn’t very pleasant. My contractions were starting out slowly, staying seven to five minutes apart for the first five hours. By then I was getting so uncomfortable that I was trying not to freak out at the prospect of staying in that room longer. A new nurse told us that five babies had been born in one hour, and those rooms would be opening up, but she claimed that “a whole unit” of pregnant women were ahead of me, waiting for labor and delivery rooms. My hope plummeted to the ground, and I prayed, “God, please, if it won’t inconvenience someone who needs it more, can a labor and delivery room open up for me?” Not five minutes later the nurse walked in and announced, “We have a room for you.” I smiled. Thanks, God.
Shortly after settling into our beautiful, spacious, and comfortable labor and delivery room, night shift changed to day shift, and my new nurse arrived. Her name was Sara and it was her first day back from vacation. She was so cheerful and funny, and I knew she loved her job. No one is happy at work on their first day back from vacation if they don’t have true love for their job. She ended up being awesome. Amazing. Meant to be. Divinely arranged. She was the nurse I needed that day.
I got an epidural shortly thereafter, which was no picnic, but it quickly gave me some much needed relief, as my contractions picked up very suddenly. After laboring comfortably for four hours, I was hopeful my cervix was dilating well. But when Sara checked, it had only gone from 2 cm to 4 cm. She and the midwife decided that I would need Pitocin to speed things along. I was discouraged, just wishing my body could simply hurry up for my second child that everyone had promised would be faster and easier. And so, I prayed. I said, “God, please help my cervix to open up. Please give me strong contractions.” Even with the epidural I could feel the contractions, and I did have some long and strong ones. Only a half hour after deciding I needed Pitocin, Sara checked me again. She looked up and said, “We don’t need Pitocin. You’re 8 or 9 cm now.” Another smile. Thanks again, God.
She left me to keep laboring, confident that I would deliver the baby soon. Her confidence in me kept me going. While the midwife just smiled weakly and said, “You might have him today,” Sara said, “I’m here till 7:00. You will have him on my shift.” Her steadiness and certainty never wavered, and that kept me grounded even when I doubted.
My contractions were getting painful, and I decided to push the remote to increase the epidural injection. From past experience, it usually injects twice after I push the button. Not only can you hear the machine pump the medicine, but you feel a cold squirt throughout your back as the medicine injects. Well this time it kept injecting. And injecting. I don’t know how many times. At least 9. It was still going when Sara walked into the room, and by then I was panicking and couldn’t even explain myself. I said, “it won’t stop. Why is it still going?” She had no idea what I was talking about and just tried to calm me down, telling me it was doing what it was supposed to. It stopped, and she chose then to check my cervix. 9 ½ cm. I suddenly started feeling extraordinarily numb, and it wasn’t just my legs and belly. My fingers started tingling before going numb, and my head started feeling fuzzy. I couldn’t seem to breathe right and I felt like I might faint. I tried to tell Sara, saying, “something’s wrong. I don’t feel good.”
“You just need to close your eyes,” she replied.
“No. I feel like if I close my eyes, I will never open them again.” At this point my husband Zaher had come over next to me, and Sara took a close look at me.
“Is she normally that pale?” she asked Zaher.
Suddenly she handed me an oxygen mask and called an emergency code. My blood pressure was plummeting, and with it went my baby’s heart rate. Several nurses came rushing in, and the midwife. I heard her call again, asking for a provider. I didn’t really know what was going on. I was just focused on trying to breathe and not black out. It crossed my mind that I might die (in hindsight, pretty sure I was far from it, but at the moment I had no idea what was happening, only that my heart wasn’t beating right and I was struggling to get enough air in my lungs), and I just said, God, I can’t leave Zaher with all these kids. They were about to give me medicine to stop my contractions, which at that point would have meant a C-section. Zaher was trying not to show how worried he was to keep me calm, but he told me he thought he was about to lose both his wife and his baby. It was terrifying for both of us. He grabbed my head and kissed my forehead in front of all the medical professionals. For anyone who knows how much Zaher hates public displays of affection, you know he was really truly worried.
Thankfully baby’s heart rate picked up again and they did not stop my contractions. They stopped my epidural immediately when they realized how numb I was and adjusted my bed so that my feet were higher than my head to let the blood flow upward. As I began to stabilize, a doctor who turned out to be the chief of anesthesia began trying to determine what caused this event. He used a pin or something to test my numbness. The only places on my entire body I could feel the prick of the pin was the right side of my forehead and my right shoulder. My entire body otherwise was numb. I was still on oxygen, and I started shaking violently. Nerves. It has happened to me in other scary situations. Like when my first car got totaled and I should have died but I walked away—on legs that shook like a jack hammer for the next five hours! I was shaking so hard this time that it was beginning to hurt. I kept biting my tongue, and my muscles were cramping up. I just couldn’t stop. Zaher was discussing with Dr. Orosco what had happened, obviously upset about it. I don’t even know what it was my husband said, to which Dr. Orosco replied in agreement, “I’m with you.” In that instant, it was God’s voice, not the doctor’s, saying those words. “I’m with you.” I stopped shaking instantaneously by no power of my own. One of the nurses looked at me and said, “Oh, you stopped shaking.” I just smiled. I wanted to say why, but I thought they might think I was crazy. Plus I was exhausted. Even though my shaking came back a few minutes later, I kept replaying those words in my head, marveling that God used Dr. Orosco’s words to speak directly to me and let me know He was there, which meant everything was going to be okay.
And it was. Less than an hour later I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy 9 pound 4 oz boy that miraculously only took 15 minutes to push out into the world.
(The cause of the above-mentioned event is still under dispute. I am convinced the epidural machine malfunctioned and pumped WAY too much medicine into me. Doctor says no, that the epidural catheter must have moved out of place, allowing medicine to flow into parts of my body it was not supposed to. This still does not explain to me why I went numb so quickly. But, does it really matter? I guess not.)
The next six days were rough, as I experienced a post-epidural tension headache that only went away when lying flat and worsened every day to the point I could barely sit up or eat. Apparently 1 in 100 people experience this headache to various degrees after an epidural, and I was one of those. How lovely. I tried praying that one away, but God doesn’t answer every prayer with a miracle. Modern medicine itself is oftentimes a miracle, so when a trip to the ER for a blood patch to fill the leaking disc in my back proved successful and relieved my pain, I took that as God’s intervention as well. In His own time. I learned that my pain tolerance is higher than I thought, and I won’t complain about simple headaches nearly as much now. In fact, I still have a dull headache 24/7, but I can live with that—for the rest of my life if I have to!
Now I am well and almost fully recovered and adjusting to my new life. God revealed Himself to me in so many ways during my labor and delivery and through the kindness of so many doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals during my stay at the hospital. He truly is a God of miracles.
If only He would answer my prayers for patience with my naughty toddler who is badly misbehaving as she adjusts to a new baby brother in the house.
All in good time. To everything there is a season. Until then, I pray on.