Friday, July 19, 2013

Past Is Prologue

"Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy grace I'm come.
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home."
Robert Robinson, 1757

Ebenezer, contrary to popular opinion, is not just the name of a miserly Victorian businessman.  It first came from 1 Samuel 7:12

"Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us."

Ebenezer, the stone of help.  A memorial to the faithfulness of Jehovah.  My previous posts have been my Ebenezer.  A record of what has been and how God has brought me through it all.  It is only by His Grace that I have made it this far.  And I am trusting He will take me the rest of the way, throughout however many days and whatever kind of experiences, all the way home.  And when I get there, I will have a story to tell and a song to sing!

After Elle was born, I had a lot of emotional and physical effects to deal with.  Immediately after the crisis was over I experienced an adrenaline high of epic proportions.  I had a baby girl and was alive to enjoy her!  Let's order pizza!  I received visitors all evening and laughed and glowed.  I was feeling no pain and ready to party.  That night I couldn't sleep.  I just stared at the ceiling, remembering all that had happened.  The next two nights I couldn't sleep either.  Once I got home I slept some, but couldn't sit still.  I was becoming dead tired, but this nervous energy kept me up and on my feet.  It prevented me from napping with the baby.  I started experiencing vivid memories/flashbacks throughout the day.  Any time I had a quiet moment to think, that's where I went back to.  Over and over and over.  I couldn't stop it.  My heart would race, my senses quicken, the place where I was would fade and I could see the bright lights of the delivery room once again.  The ripples of blood, the inscrutable eyes of my doctor over his mask, the crushing pressure and the 2 liter pitcher filled with what looked to be pulpy tomato juice but was actually my own blood.

Those memories led to remembering the loss of Micah.  Blood and helplessness was what tied it all together in my mind.

As the months went on I became more withdrawn.  Spending more time staring off into space.  Less involved with my husband or children.  By April I didn't have hardly any emotions left.  I felt blank.  And I knew that should scare me.  Throughout the summer I continued a dizzying rollercoaster of ups and downs.  When I was up I would tear the house apart and stay up cleaning until 2 in the morning.  When I was down I could scarcely get out of bed.  By August I had reached the end of my rope.  I knew I needed help.  I did NOT want to take anti-depressants.  The very idea scared me to death.  But living like this scared me even more.  I did not trust my primary care physician to be sympathetic to my phobia of prescription drugs.  So I switched to a different doctor.  One I knew to be more natural in his approach.  His P.A. was very understanding.  She recommended that I try a supplement, SAM-e, first and if that didn't work we could try something else.  I did my research, and could not find one bad review, news article or complaint about it.  So I bought a box.  Best decision of my life!  It's possible that the improvement came from the "placebo effect".  I don't care.  Placebo or not, I felt better with no side effects and no fear of what was getting into my breast milk.  It wasn't the complete answer, but it helped me get to the place where I could help myself.  (or rather recognize what it was that God was doing in my life.) 

Just like a numbed foot coming back to feeling, long-numbed emotions will hurt!  It takes awhile to get used to feeling again.  There was a lot of crying and feeling helpless and hopeless.  A lot of saying thoughtless things and hurting other people and feeling incredibly guilty.  A lot of fear that I would never be normal again.  But I knew what I wanted.  I wrote it out and put it on the refrigerator.  I wanted to be free.
Free to live.
Free to love.
Free to serve.

  One evening I was huddled on the bathroom floor, crying my heart out for no particular reason.  Robert put his arm around me and asked if I wanted to seek counseling.

It was just the permission I needed.

I called the ladies at Grace Bible Church and set up my first visit.  These ladies have been trained by the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) to give Biblical counsel, advice and hope.  They gave me love and compassion.  They listened and prayed with me.  There was no condemnation of me as being a baby or a drama queen or unspiritual because I let myself get down.  The first thing they did was give me scriptures to explore why God allows suffering.  There is never such a thing as random or senseless acts of suffering.  God loves me.  He is refining me.  I cannot become the person He wants me to be without walking this path.  He will show me the next step.  One day I came in complaining of how hard the week had been.  Rhoda simply asked, "How did God help you through this?"  That stopped me short.  I couldn't think of anything offhand.  If God's mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great, is it possible I had huffed right past and missed out on those blessings?  Like a rushed meal that gives precious little benefit to either the taste buds or the digestion.   My view of my past experiences gradually began to shift.  On the two year anniversary of Micah's loss I also had one of my worst periods ever.   I'm talking blood all over the toilet, my clothes and the floor.  Which of course triggered a vicious flashback.  In that moment I determined that I would not fight it, I would let myself experience the whole thing, but from a different point of view.  Instead of feeling like a victim and remembering everything that went wrong, I was going to remember all the little blessings that God sent my way.  I was able to watch Josiah's soccer game and he won!  God gave us free pizza by spinning their promotional wheel at Hideaway Pizza.  There were people praying, people coming by the ER to visit, people bringing food to the house.  There were kind nurses and doctors.  I've never had a serious flashback since.

There was one telling incident that also happened about that time.  It's a little humorous now.  Just a little.  But it showed me a lot of what was going on in my heart.  I am a control freak.  It all started with me wanting to understand every aspect of what happened to me.  What causes PPH, how is it treated, is it preventable?  Which led to wanting to understand what makes doctors tick.  How do you become a doctor?  What sort of person even wants to be a doctor?  Do they still enjoy it?  I started reading blogs and biographies.  One particular book caught my interest.  Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs: The Making Of A Surgeon by Michael Collins.  And it's companion, Hot Lights, Cold Steel:Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Year.  Exactly what I wanted to read!  Other than cussing like an Irish construction worker, (which is what he was until his mid twenties) he is a most engaging writer.  I was completely caught up in all the challenges of overcoming his lack of education and putting himself through medical school.  When he and his wife were expecting their first baby, I couldn't wait to see it through his medical eyes.  He briefly mentioned that his wife might have had a blood clot and they decided to take Heparin as a precaution.  4 chapters later his first child was born.  He rushed out to phone his family.  When he returned to her room it looked like a murder scene.  His wife had hemorrhaged very badly as a result of the blood thinner she had  been on and nearly died.  I felt like I had been punched.  This was too much.  I hadn't seen it coming.  And it made me mad!  I should have known.  All the clues were there.  I should have foreseen what was going to happen and been prepared so that I would not feel so shaken now.  Crazy, huh?  It took awhile, but as I began to process what I felt and why it dawned on me: I want to be in control.  And short of that, I at least want to be prepared for every eventuality.  I'm trusting myself to get me through any emergency.  Not God.  Not God guiding my doctor.  Just me.  No wonder I panicked!  And I still struggle with this.

  I'm about to get a lot more practice in trusting.

I'm pregnant again.  

"Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy grace I'm come.
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home."