Monday, April 7, 2014

Placenta Previa Fears and Scary Evil Spirits

          It was difficult waving goodbye to Chris and going home to bask solo in my euphoric, but Parker kept me entertained in the car, and I tinkered and fidgeted around the house until Chris arrived home that night to continue our celebration.
            As the days ticked off the calendar, though, my robust jubilation waned as the nausea ventured into the debilitating zone, accompanying migraines began their relentless onslaught, and the aroma of food and suspect odors drove me to the nearest bathroom.
            I religiously wore the Sea Bands Dr. Landry prescribed to ward off morning sickness, especially while driving, sucked viciously on stomach-soothing peppermints, and tried very available method to control the stomach seesaws. Most of my home remedies provided inconsequential relief, and I lay bunched in the fetal position on the couch most days. When Chris arrived home in the evenings, I left Parker in his hands and retreated to my darkened bedroom—one wet washcloth tossed over my aura-stricken eyes, another cold cloth wedged behind my head and neck.
            My history translated into knowing I could count on this extending full-throttle into the fourth month. This pregnancy would not be any different.
            My heart rate increased as my veins flattened from dehydration and my body weight plummeted significantly below pre-pregnancy level. Determined to avoid IV therapy, I struggled with twenty-four-hour-a-day lack of nourishment, and promised to call Dr. Landry if I decided to surrender to home treatment. Managing to keep just enough Ginger Ale, caffeine-free Coke, peppermint and anti-nausea medication in my stomach, I battled on, until the nausea retreated around the eighteen-week mark. Then all restraint was off. I was determined to enjoy the remainder of the pregnancy by indulging in my favorite fat-laden foods.
            I gorged like a king at a caricatured medieval feast, and then, at the next visit to his office, Dr. Landry pronounced that I was regaining my weight too quickly. But he smiled sympathetically, nodded his head and gave me permission to enjoy myself for a couple more weeks. Then he’d expect me to put the brakes on my palate. Until then, bagels, lox, cream cheese and capers were standard breakfast fare—much to Chris’s delight—and tasty, high-calorie snacks were in abundant supply—much to Parker’s delight. NO chocolate allowed, however, since I knew the potentially uterine-irritating caffeine it contained was off-limits for high-risk pregnant women, which I already considered myself to be. Not being a coffee-drinker, that caffeine source wasn’t a problem.
            Yet, as I emerged from the nausea torrent, other obstacles confronted us.
            Fist, we survived a scare at three months when, in the middle of the night, I suddenly began cramping and bleeding. I propped up my feet, called Dr. Landry’s paging service, and tried to talk myself into calmness. The bleeding stopped, although I continued to keep my legs elevated, “just in case.” Thereafter, bathroom trips became obsessions as I became plagued with an annoying, compulsive need to check and re-check myself for bleeding.
            There was the standard blood test between the sixteenth and eighteenth week, which would indicate the neural tube defect and genetic abnormalities risks. Dr. Landry assured me that he’d consider an amniocentesis a strictly volunteer test, since Chris and I remained adamant about not having an abortion, even if genetic defects were diagnosed. The fact that the risk of having a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) increased with an amniocentesis was enough to make me refuse it. No way was I going to subject my irritable uterus to being punctured by a three-inch needle, no matter how fine a gauge it would be.                       
            What worried me more was the ominous sixteen-week ultrasound to ascertain the placenta’s location. Would my baby and I be out of the woods on this one, or would I be setting up camp in an apartment, blocks from Dr. Landry’s office and the delivery hospital?
            The evening before the test, surrounded by country sky darkness, I paced slowly down our long driveway and settled myself on the monolithic boulder at the end of our property entrance to gaze at the velvet black heavens. My prayers were desperate and halting. I thought it bordered on ridiculous to ask—no, beseech—God to plant the placenta in a good location the night before going into the doctor’s to look for it.
            But I asked anyway. Several times I added simple requests for protection, strength and help.
            Mostly I prayed for faith. To endure whatever tomorrow’s results would be.
            Then my thoughts retreated to an event that occurred soon after receiving the happy pregnancy diagnosis at Dr. Landry’s. I’d wanted to forget it, banish it from my memory banks. But now the memory returned.
            I’d been sleeping soundly, contentedly one night when my eyelids abruptly snapped open to find myself dripping in a panicky sweat. Horrifying words, like accusations, shouted relentlessly into my head. I had thrown off the covers and bolted from bed, heaving great gasps of air.  It wasn’t my voice I heard, though, but someone else’s—vile and hate-filled—attacking my psyche.
            You’re going to die! You’re really pregnant, and you’re going to have another previa, and you’re going to bleed to death…and there is absolutely nothing you can do now about your decision! You’re going to hemorrhage to death during this pregnancy, and Parker is going to grow up thinking he wasn’t good enough, that you weren’t satisfied with him! How could he forgive you after you’re gone? What have you done? You’ve been such an arrogant fool!
            I clamped my hands over my ears and rattled my head to dislodge the incriminating words. Pacing the floor in my darkened bedroom, and swiping at the perspiration streaming down my face and neck, I managed to talk myself down and subdue my shallow, racing breath.
            It was then that I sensed it. Felt it. Chris and I weren’t alone in the bedroom.
            I spun around and my eyes were drawn to a ceiling corner in my room, where a hideous, frightful atmosphere of evil seemed to be perched, gleefully watching me unravel in the darkness. Egging me on to deeper mental destruction. Something, or someone, was watching me. Someone I could only perceive and not see. Someone who could clearly see me and was enjoying the show.          
            My fists clenched and unclenched rhythmically. “No,” I breathed back into the darkness through gritted teeth. “I’m not going to die. Parker’s not going to be left without a mother. I am not going to lose this battle!”
            As I uttered my last word, the imposing thickness vanished, like a flicked-on light switch abruptly banishes darkness from a room. An atmosphere of peace replaced it like a heavy, protective shroud.
            I carefully climbed back into bed and turned over to lay my hand on Chris’s chest, which undulated in measured swells.
            He hadn’t heard a thing.
            Within minutes, I had returned to a restful sleep.

            Now I was perched on a boulder, remembering that night and understanding it for what it was: a vicious encounter with my enemy—the spiritual forces of darkness. Only Satan could thrive on orchestrating such an assault rendering such severe emotional pain. The kind of pain and turmoil that physically sickens you, makes you feel as if you’ve lost all control. Where you resemble a wild, hunted animal, fleeing from something that threatens to devour you slowly and completely—without mercy.
            That night I thought I’d acted without God’s permission and run headlong into a decision upon which He had not put His blessing. I’d felt terror, anguish and remorse and—for several seconds—believed I would pay a high price for my self-indulgence.
            But that night was over. Whatever the future held, I needed to face it squarely, with unwavering faith. So there I sat, perched on a large piece of granite, searching the firmament for holy strength and hope…and a conquering peace in the midst of my personal storm. We had weathered so much during the first trimester of this pregnancy. Surely we could endure another obstacle.
            Tomorrow would bring the anticipated diagnosis, and tomorrow is what I’d have to wait for—and stop worrying about.
            Tomorrow would provide the answer.
            Though I could detect His loving, protective presence, that night, I knew God would make us wait long past tomorrow for our ultimate answer.
            My lesson in trust was nowhere near being over…


NEXT WEEK: The results…

Until next week,

Thanks for joining me!