Jonah sidles up close to me. His face is pink, and so angelic. His eyes sparkle with little flecks of gold and sky blue, and there is a comical spray of chocolate freckles across his nose and cheek from a stolen "hi-bar" (granola bar) that he somehow managed to sneak. I smile at him and he tells me he loves me, and all feels well with the world.
After we were released from "the procedure that never happened" Friday, Guy took me upstairs in a wheelchair to visit my sweet nurses and tell them the good news. They were overjoyed. They hugged me and smiled and hugged me again. Nurses nearby who didn't even know what was going on had smiles on their faces. We hugged goodbye and said we would see each other in a few months when I gave birth.
We spent the rest of that day glowing with smiles and sharing the good news. Hours of phone calls and emails occupied our day, and that night that Guy helped me into bed and we gratefully fell asleep in each other's arms.
The next morning before my eyes were even open, a crushing feeling settled on my heart. I was disoriented and confused, and couldn't understand what we had been through the day before. My heart was racing, my blood sugars soaring. I spent the day mostly immobilized on the couch. Threads of doubt wove their way into my thoughts. Could there have been a mistake? Could they have been looking at the wrong vein? Of course not, I reasoned, there is only one vein that large in my leg. What if they had scanned the artery rather than the vein? No, the contrast dye would have headed down, not up, if they had been in an artery. The same doctor that diagnosed me gave me the scan. There was no mistake: my vein was proclaimed clear. I felt like an Israelite lagging behind at the side of the Red Sea, already questioning if I had really come across it. Am I a doubting Thomas even after having seen the evidence for myself?
As evening drew to a close, my thoughts began to clear. I realized that the Prednisone had been playing with my mind throughout most of the day, as well as my heart rate and blood sugar. I settled into a peaceful place somewhere in my heart, and calmed down. Not much later I began to realize that my leg was beginning to swell and hurt. They had warned me that a clot could return, that we weren't out of the woods entirely. I began to panic. If you doubt in the miracle, does it go away?
It dawned on me then, that I had been sitting motionless for hours and that the weight of the baby was pressing on my vein, causing it to be even more restricted than it already is. I went to bed and stayed there all day yesterday. As the swelling went down, I began to understand what a very long process this is going to be. I will need to be careful how I even sit so that I don't make things worse or cause a new blood clot. Today I woke up feeling even better, knowing that I have the support of my family and the comfort of loving friends. We can do this.
Today the high risk OB called...
Without skipping a beat he unfurled a laundry list of all of the things that could possibly go wrong with this pregnancy over the next three months. At any point in time the placenta could detach from the uterus, necessitating an emergency delivery to save our baby's life. "10% chance, very high," he said. I may have inherited this disorder from my mother who had a history of blood clots. My aunt had blood clots in pregnancy too, lending more evidence supporting his genetic theory. Because I am on blood thinners they won't be able to test me to see if I am lacking that clotting factor genetically until after the baby is born. If it is genetic, my body may be trying to create blood clots that will cling to the back of the placenta and inhibit the baby's growth. I will need to receive ultrasounds every four weeks to check to see if the baby is growing, checking its kidneys and liver and heart to make sure that they are still developing. If baby is not growing right, it will be safer outside of my body than in, and I will have to have a very early delivery. The goal is to make it to 35 weeks, the doctor said. My goal is still to make it to 40 weeks, I thought. The doctor is still very concerned about a pulmonary embolism and reviewed with me all the symptoms. We realized I have had symptoms of small fragments of blood clots entering my lungs over the past week. If the symptoms persist for more than 10 minutes next time he wants me to go to the hospital.
Like a cherry on top, the doctor ended the phone call with one last word of caution; if I get a uterine infection during labor, a "balloon of bacteria" could enter my bloodstream as the placenta detaches and infect the blood clot in my pelvis, putting me at risk for a massive blood infection. You know, just in case I didn't have enough on my mind.
A few minutes after hanging up the phone with the OB, Mary, a sweet nurse I have only met over the phone, called me. I started to cry when I heard her voice and told her everything that I had just learned. She had called to tell me that the midwife was not comfortable seeing me as a patient because of all of my risks. We talked for over an hour. By the end of it I was in better spirits and Mary was excited to help me. She would talk to the midwife about following my care. I need someone who sees me as a pregnant woman, not a woman ready to give birth to a blood clot, I told her. I am being followed by every other doctor on the planet for my leg, for the blood clot, and for the high risk nature of this pregnancy. But I need someone who will still tend to my mama heart. I need someone who will still listen to the little details that are important to a woman who is getting ready to welcome a baby into the world. Mary said she would do whatever she could to help me find that safe place in all this chaos.
There is literally nothing I can do.
I can't eat better, I can't exercise, and I can't take more vitamins.
This is completely in God's hands.
At some point in time over the past two weeks, a nurse said to me,
"God hasn't gotten you this far to leave you alone now".
I cling to those words every day.