Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Our God is Greater - Part 2 from My Perspective

To those of you who read my blog for crafty, DIY may want to skip this post. For those of you who just like to look at pictures...this post probably isn't for you either. Buckle's a bit of a book.

I've realized that sometimes, my posts are for me. I've always loved to journal, and sometimes this blog is just an extension of that love. This story has been told to many of you. Some of you experienced it right along with me. Some of you have heard it told by my parents or Jeremiah. Others of you may not have heard the great things that God has done for me and my family. All that to say, I think that this post may be more for me than for you (I say that because it is 4 am and I can't go back to sleep until I type some of this). I feel that all this will just keep bouncing around in my head until I share it. Maybe that's the Lord. Maybe I'm still a little bit crazy. But I've decided that it's time..

Six months ago, I was just going along my merry way - pregnant. I was planning the nursery, going to the doctor every two weeks, feeling like I was eating everything in sight. In my head, I had plenty of time to finish the nursery. Plenty of time to pack my bag. Plenty of time. Little did I know that things would not happen as I had planned. Little did I know, I was about to give birth to our son, Hudson, seven weeks early. Little did I know, my family and I would be heavily leaning on the prayers and support of many of you. Little did I know...

If you aren't familiar with the story of our son's birth, you can read my awesome husband's telling of the events here. We had the story printed up and mailed it out to people. We also handed it to many doctors, nurses, co-workers, etc. that asked about our story. We had random nurses ask if they could get a copy. Others that we had never met said, "Hey, I read your story - that is so amazing." We saw it pinned to a few random bulletin boards. Praise the Lord that maybe someone out there was encouraged by our story.

 I had Jeremiah write that post for a few reasons.
  1. I still have no memory of the events from the night before it all took place, or of Friday, November 30th (Hudson's birthday). I sort of feel like I started coming out of a VERY thick fog Sunday, December 2nd.  
  2. At the time, I was still having a hard time with words, reading, thought progression, etc. 
  3. Our God is amazing - and  we wanted as many people as possible to ready of the good things He has done for us. We pray that the events of our lives will point more to Jesus -because He was definitely the Miracle Worker for us. We hope that our story encouraged some of you, as well. 
  4. Many of you were praying for us, and we felt that you needed an update.

Some may ask, "Didn't you see the signs?" "Did you not know that you had pre-eclampsia?" "Shouldn't your doctor have caught it before it turned into a really severe case of eclampsia?"

To answer your questions, No...I had been to my doctor within two weeks of it all happening. I was supposed to be at an appointment when Jeremiah found me passed out. At that last appointment, all my levels and numbers were awesome. I had gained the perfect amount of weight. My blood pressure had been right on target my entire pregnancy (high blood pressure is a major indicator of pre-eclampsia). And she checked my ankles for swelling.

I had watched season three of Downton Abbey before it was released in the States. I don't want to ruin things for my friends that aren't caught up. However, "that" was the only time I had ever even heard of eclampsia. And Ashlee tells me that I acted exactly as the show depicted it. When it aired on television this past spring, I wanted to see it again - just to see them talk of the symptoms and such. But even if I had known more about the issue, it is still extremely rare that someone like me would develop this severe case, and that it would show up so quickly with no major warning signs. It was even more rare that I also had the HELLP syndrome (deals with the liver).

IF you would like to know more about the complications I had, you can read more here about Eclampsia and the HELLP Syndrome.

I was later asked if I saw the signs myself.
Was I swollen? I did swell ALOT right before it happened. But this being my first pregnancy, I didn't really have anything to compare it to. I knew that my sister had swelled before she had her daughter. I figured it was normal. Now, I look back at pictures from my baby shower just one week before his birth. I looked AWFUL! My nose was even swollen. Now I will know that sudden swelling is a warning sign. Did I have headaches? I have had migraines all my life - so a headache didn't really faze me either.  Did I have high blood pressure? My blood pressure had been great my entire pregnancy until probably the week of all the happenings. To all pregnant friends out there - CHECK YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE DAILY. Had I been doing this, I MIGHT have caught a sudden spike in my numbers. 

What do I remember? 
I wished, for a long time, that those days would come back to me. But my very wise husband told me to quit trying to dig up those memories.

I've told the "story" many times - but it's pretty much all second hand information. It seems that every time I hear the story told, I pick up a new detail or I hear a part of the story that I've never heard before. In my mind, I have a picture of how it all went down - but I really can only rely on what I've been told. I don't remember feeling sick the morning of. I don't remember going to bed the night before. I don't remember going to the living room at some point. I don't remember feeling weird. I don't remember being combative (they tell me I put up quite a fight, at times). I don't remember the ambulance ride. or being wheeled into surgery. None of that Friday. None of the that Saturday.

I look back now and realize that I hadn't been feeling well for a few weeks. I was super tired. Super worn out. Since this was my first baby, I simply thought it was all part of being pregnant. I remember the last Sunday we were at Silverdale before he was born, I didn't even feel like singing in the choir. I hadn't been sleeping well. Most nights, I ended up on the couch - I felt I could breathe better there.

The night before, I kind of remember not feeling like myself. My best friend tells me I came over to her house, but only stayed about fifteen minutes (which is abnormal). I was supposed to have a baby shower that Saturday and she was showing me all that she was planning. She said I didn't seem that excited (also abnormal).  Just a few weeks ago, I found the bag that I had taken over to her place that night. It still had my cricut in it (Which she was using to make party decor). That night sort of came back to me at that point.

Friday, the morning of Hudson's birth, I was supposed to be at a doctor's appointment. I remember feeling like I was dreaming. I thought, in my dream (but it probably wasn't a dream) that I was supposed to be at my appointment, but I couldn't figure out what time it was. 

 You always see in movies how people are completely "out of it" for a while. I just never really thought I could have one of those stories. I'm told that after I finally woke up in the hospital (after much prayer), that I was talking and such. But I just "wasn't myself."

Many doctors thought I was "back to myself" long before that, but my family knew that I just "wasn't Cindy." Retelling the things I said and did at the time is now comical, but at the time, they weren't sure if the seizures had given me brain damage or what. My sister had taken some pictures the first time I held Hudson, and I am so glad.  I have no memory of this event...or the second time I held him. She had printed one of the pictures and had it in a nice frame on the windowsill of my room. They tell me I would see the picture and say, "Oh, that's cute." Keep in mind that I look horrible in that picture (as most women would after a traumatic birth experience). Awful. They knew when I "came back" I would not think it was "cute." (And they were right.)

I start to sort of remember things on that Sunday. It felt like I was in a thick fog - I remember being very confused that family members were there. I think I looked at my in-laws and asked Jeremiah, "Is that your mom?" -- trying to figure out what was going on. I kind of remember a young looking intern coming in, and I think I said something like, "What is he, 12?" after I told him, "And what can I do for you?"

I kept seeing numbers everywhere. Have you ever seen those funny pictures of the word "JESUS" where you have to look at the negative spaces in order to read the word?

I felt like all I could see everywhere was the negative spaces. I remember two doors, side by side, in my room - and all I could think was, "There's the number 11." I kept seeing all circles as clocks. People's faces. The letter O in words. All clocks. There was a bulletin board in the room with papers pinned to it randomly. To me, it seemed like a clock. I believe I also laughingly told a nurse "Who did that to your face?" I still don't know why. But in my mind, I had reasoned out that everyone in my situation feels this way, and so, the hospital must play tricks on them.

In order to combat my seizures, I was given magnesium sulfate in large doses. I can blame some of the fogginess on the mag. And, since I was quite combative before the delivery of the baby, I was also given lots of stuff to calm me down - and they may be why I didn't wake up right away

Sunday evening, someone suggested that I go see Hudson. I thought I could walk down there myself. Jeremiah and the nurses insisted that I be wheeled down to the NICU. Half way there, I realized I was worn out from this trip even though I was in a wheel chair. I didn't have any energy. The NICU will let you hold preemies around feeding times. Since the baby isn't really supposed to be out in the world yet, they seem to do better if they are not stimulated very much.  I barely remember the experience of seeing him for the first time. Pictures show me that I did hold him that evening. But I remember thinking over and over, "I already had the baby and there he is. I already had the baby and there he is." A nice nurse filled us in the on the details of Hudson's day - how he was doing, how much he was eating (through a tube), how well he was breathing on his own, etc. After just a few minutes, I was ready to go back to my room. My mom tells me that my whole face had changed after seeing Hudson.

For the next few days, I had a hard time reading. At first, I couldn't read at all. Everything looked jumbled. It slowly came back to me, but I remember looking at the menu - Instead of "cheese pizza" and "tossed salad" I read "tossed pizza" and "cheese salad." I remember realizing I had my phone beside me in the hospital bed. I had a text from my sister, who had gone back home by that time. I think I managed to get a two or three word reply to her. It must have taken me 15 minutes. I couldn't figure out how to use my phone. I remember handing it to Ashlee saying, "What is wrong with my phone? All the words are jumbled up. I can't read my text messages." She just smiled and shook her head at me and said, "It's not your phone." (You have to realize she is probably one of the few that could just flat out tell me "You are a little crazy right now" and I wouldn't be offended.) I had a hard time with dates, months, days of the week, etc. for a while. We have a video of me Sunday evening where I say, "I didn't think I was going to have him until September...or February."  -- I was due in JANUARY. Jeremiah would ask me if I knew what the date was and I would reply, "Monday." And the more recent I had met someone, the harder time I had recalling who they were. But, Praise the Lord, all of that eventually came back to me. It was so frustrating to me because I KNEW that something wasn't right. I knew I couldn't read things. I knew that I should remember certain people.

Jeremiah was so great to answer so many questions for me (sometimes over and over again), speak to doctors or visitors on my behalf (I would just look at him when asked a question and he would know that I wasn't sure of the answer). I am the type of person that likes to be in control 100% of the time. And so, all of this was definitely different for me.

A friend that I had known since childhood was actually due on November 30th, but she ended up delivering a few days late. She later told me that when she heard what was going on with me she wasn't as upset about her little guy making a late entrance. She figured that I needed all the prayers that day.

When it came time for me to be discharged from the hospital, they offered us an empty room down the hall. Most mothers with a baby in the NICU want to stay close by in order to be there for all his "hand-on" times. But I felt differently. I remember just wanting to go home. I simply couldn't rest in the hospital. My body was tired of those beds.  I was privileged to have my mom stay with us. I remember being so overwhelmed when I got home. I just walked by Hudson's room and saw the piles of unfinished projects. When I woke from a nap, my mom said, "Let's set up the nursery." That was exactly what I needed at that point. I needed to feel that I could still prepare for Hudson. Even though he would end up spending 17 days in the hospital, I needed to get things ready for him at home the way I had planned.

We made daily trips into the hospital. It was hard physically to sit in the NICU. I could last about one "hands-on" time a day. They would let me change his diaper, take his temperature, and then hold him as they fed him by tube.

I would look at the other moms who were there at every feeding. I felt guilty for not being there every time, but my body still had some major recovering to do. One morning, before we headed in for our daily visit, a friend of mine text me. She said, "Don't think about the hours you're not with him. Every minute you hold him is just extra time -- you didn't even think he would be born yet."And from that moment on, it was easier for me to look at my time with Hudson as a gift.

I still had a few emotions to work through. It seemed that I still didn't feel "connected" with Hudson. I didn't remember his birth. I thought I had another 2 months to get ready for all this. I only held him once a day. I was sending him milk, but I didn't really feel that I was caring for him. I didn't even tell Jeremiah I was feeling this way. To me, it almost seemed like he was just a cute baby in the NICU. I didn't WANT him to have to stay in the hospital, but I think that time was as good for him physically as it was for me emotionally. By the time they released him, I was ready for him to be home. I had healed some physically and was ready to start this parenting thing. I remember about 3 days after we brought him home, I thought, "NOW he feels like my baby."

I still don't know what it's like to give birth. I still don't know what labor pains feel like, or what it would be like to carry a baby full term. But that's OK - The Lord took care of us. He gave us a miracle little boy named Hudson. We had prayed early on that we wanted his life to mean something. And I pray that God was glorified through our story.

The Lord knew.
Maybe this was the whole reason Jeremiah is a police officer - he remained super calm in the midst of a traumatic time. He was able to radio for the ambulance and possibly save precious minutes.

Maybe this is the whole reason that we live next door to my best friend. They did so much for us, supporting, helping, gathering phones and shoes, packing me a bag, locking the house back up, helping to get me into the ambulance.

The Lord knew we would need our small group. We had really plugged into this group about three months prior - what a support team they have been! From meals to preemie clothes and diapers - we couldn't have done it without them. And two women in the group had already been in my situation - surprise cases of eclampsia. It was so rare to have someone to share with you how they experienced the exact same thing at the exact same hospital.

I think it is no coincidence that we live in a place that has one of the largest Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Tennessee. Many other parents with babies in the NICU were having to stay in the Ronald McDonald House because they lived far away. It's awesome to think that the main hospital where we live specializes in exactly what we needed.

I had always said that I didn't mind a C-section. I guess the Lord had been preparing me all along. It's funny now - a few months into my pregnancy I was telling my grandmother that I was a little nervous about labor. She said, "Back in the day, they gave me some drug...a doctor then woke me up to tell me if I'd had a boy or a girl. It's no big deal!" I remember saying, "I want the drugs they gave Nanny!" I guess in a way, I got them! ha.

We have a friend that knows a doctor who is studying eclampsia. The FDA has fast-tracked a drug that he has been working on that would keep a woman with pre-eclampsia from having to deliver early. He came to see me in the hospital. He was able to explain to my parents and Jeremiah in the clearest of terms exactly what was going on. He talked with my OB about future options. What a blessing to have someone like that interested in MY case.

The Lord also knew that I would need a friend to travel through this motherhood thing with. My friend from college delivered a beautiful baby girl the day before Hudson was born. We probably text once a week (if not more). "Is your baby doing this?" "Is this normal?" "Have you seen this before?"

All in all, the Lord took care of us. I am glad to be on the other side of it all - I'm healthy, my baby is healthy...what more could we ask for? It's taught us to be more grateful for every day. It's taught us to pray for our friends who are in trials of their own. It's taught us to not take our health for granted.

Every good book has an acknowledgement section. And so, before I close this LOOOOOONG post, I'd like to say a few things to a few people.

To my pregnant friends:
  1. Check your blood pressure. OFTEN. (The day I came home from the hospital, we bought an electronic blood pressure cuff). 
  2. Watch for sudden swelling. (From one day to the next, my shoes didn't fit. That sent this emotional pregnant woman into a state of tears. Ha. I now know that SUDDEN swelling is a warning sign.)
  3. Be aware of the signs of eclampsia - I really wasn't aware. 
  4. Pack your hospital bag the DAY you find out you're pregnant. (I thought I had plenty of time)
  5. Make sure your husband/family knows what you would want/your birthing plan. (I never thought that I would be unconscious for the birth and a few days afterward. I am so glad that we had finally decided on a name.)
  6. Don't wait until the last minute to finish your nursery. 
To my husband: Thank you for being my rock - I am so glad that God woke you up and that you found me. You truly saved my life. Thank you for all the help you still give me. I couldn't do this without you! And I don't want to do it without you either. I love you.

To my parents: Thank you for hoping in a car in a moment's notice to come see me. Being surrounded by family was some of the best medicine. When I woke, I told Jeremiah, "I knew my family would be here." Your constant support and encouragement are invaluable. (You can read my dad's posts about all this here and here). Thanks for all the trips you make to see us. Hudson is so blessed to have you as his Pawpaw and Nana. 

To my in-laws: Thank you for dropping everything to come, as well. Thank you for your support of Jeremiah during all this. Hudson loves his time with Papaw and Grammy. 

To Amy: Thank you for hitching a ride with a stranger (God provided) to come to Chattanooga. Thanks for taking pictures while I was still out of it. You knew exactly what I would want. Those pictures are so special to me. I feel like I can still experience those moments. Thanks also for all the answers to my random baby questions.(Read a post by Amy about all of this here).

To Ashlee:  You packed my bag for me, as soon as you heard - you ran over to help before the ambulance got there,  you sat with me in the hospital,  and you reminded me of my expiring Kohl's Cash. That's what a best friend is for!

To our family. Some drove up to visit. Some prayed. Some sent flowers or gifts. All of you mean more to us than you will ever know. How amazing to be related to so many believers! We knew our support team was praying hard. We knew that with each detail you received, you took it to the Lord in prayer. We love you!

To those who spread the word and shared our story: We believe in the power of prayer and we have seen first hand what it can do. As I was recovering, it was such an encouragement to me to see on Facebook all the people who were sharing our story, asking for prayer. Some people I didn't even know were praying on our behalf. That's what the family of God is all about. Some of my blog friends were posting as well, (like here and here).  God knew we needed all of you. We are amazed at technology and how it aided in spreading the word so that more of you could intercede for us!

To those who prayed: We thank you! And we will never underestimate the power and encouragement that comes from interceding for others. I think it has challenged us to pray harder for others.

To those who stopped by to encourage us: Some were friends, some strangers (one lady brought by the devotional Jesus Calling), co-workers, etc. Whether I was coherent enough to know if you were there or not, I know that you were an encouragement to Jeremiah and my family. Some of you got on your knees and prayed with my dad. Others brought by snacks. One talented photographer friend took beautiful pictures of Hudson. Each gesture didn't go unnoticed.

To our church: We praise the Lord for leading us to join Silverdale Baptist Church. Pastors called us almost everyday, cards were sent, our progress was mentioned in bulletin - we know that you cared for us and we appreciate it. We love calling this church our home.

To Twin Oaks and First Christian (Our churches back home):We loved knowing that we had your support and prayers. You sent so many cards and encouraged our parents. We loved being able to finally bring Hudson to meet you/

To my Encounter family, Lima friends, TTU family: It is such a blessing to have such a huge circle of Christian friends praying with me. What a great extended family you have been!

To our small group.: The Lord led us to the greatest group of young families. From bringing meals and gifts, we knew we had your support. And to the two families in that group who have shared our situation with Eclampsia, thank you for sharing your experiences and wisdom. I'm not sure what we would have done without the preemie clothes and diapers that you gathered for us.

To those who sent cards: I love mail. For over a month, I would almost run to the mailbox each day, knowing that it would be FILLED with words of encouragement. We have all the cards stored in a box to remind us of your support and to one day share with Hudson of the events surrounding his birth.

To those who brought meals: I never knew how helpful that could be! It was so nice to not have to think about what to have for supper. You did the thinking for me! You kept my family well fed. And everything you brought was delicious. Some of you I knew, but some of you I did not. What a blessing and a huge help you were. You have challenged me to look for others who need meals.

To the two heroic paramedics: Thank you for your quick response and dedication to helping people. I am told I made you work quite hard on my ride to the hospital. Thanks for not giving up!

To those nurses and doctors in the NICU:. Your job is such a ministry - you were so caring and thoughtful. One of you put a picture of our little family in Hudson's bed. One of you made little impressions of his feet for a Christmas ornament. A few of you brought Hudson to my room to meet me (despite the rules and the beeping monitors). You took care of him when I couldn't. You encouraged me when I visited. You called us your "Christmas Miracle" and you shared our story. We hope to bring Hudson to see you soon.

To those who continue to praise the Lord with us: Thank you for celebrating each milestone with us. We don't take any moment for granted. Each pound Hudson gains, each good doctor's visit I have --We know that it is all a gift from the Lord. We pray that through all of this, you were able to draw a little closer to our Savior.

To those of you who haven't given up reading this looooong post: I leave you with two songs that seem to always be in my heart these days (Healer and Our God is Greater). When we sing them at church, I usually have to stop singing at one point to wipe the tears from my eyes.

We praise the Lord for the good things that He has done. 


  1. Well, now I'm just all full of tears and praising God! I'm so glad you blogged about this. I've been through eclampsia twice and watched Noah through a NICU window. God is there. He was with you and will continue to be. He is so faithful. God is being glorified! Love you.

    1. Love you too! Thanks for sharing!

  2. A book it was, but I enjoyed reading every word of it. I am so encouraged to know that you give God glory for everything that happen. I love your little family!

    1. My longest post ever! ha. Can't wait for you to meet Hudson...someday!

  3. Beautiful post and with everything I am going through right now, it made me remember how awesome He is....your story is so powerful and you.

  4. I am just a bucket of tears after reading this! Beautifully written, Cindy. While Samuel's birth was not anything as traumatic as Hudson's, we had complications and I faced the feelings of not feeling connected to my baby. It was only after I broke through the og in my mind that I began to feel like he was my baby, and not "some baby in the nursery." Thank you for sharing your story. Especially that bit of the story - it really encouraged me and helped me to not feel guilty for not feeling a connection with him right away bc of the circumstances of his birth. You made me feel like I can still be a good mommy even though I didn't at first :) Thank you for writing what you felt God wanted you to write :)

  5. I read through tears, too, Jennifer! Thank you so much, Cindy, for being so transparent about your and Hudson's journey. The Paynes and the Metzs were praying here in Ohio and continue to do so!