A Life Lost, A Life Gained...in a Nutshell

Posted by  | Sunday, August 22, 2010  at 10:34 PM  
As I sit here and begin my story, the story some of you may already know, I do so with somewhat of a heavy heart, for I am about to relive a very painful, and very recent, trauma.

Exactly one month ago yesterday, my life was forever changed. For, you see, I went to the hospital for a routine DNC. However, in my mind, there’s nothing routine about losing a baby, a baby I wanted with all of my heart. I had plans for this child; I had hopes and dreams, as with my three living children.

I’ve heard the acronym DNC for years, but I never knew what it was until God took my baby home and I had to know what to expect. It’s much the same procedure as used in abortions, which revolted me. It’s called a dilation and cutterage. If your mind doesn’t follow, just look it up.

To backtrack just a bit, I went in for my monthly July check-up at my obgyn. I was supposed to be 15 weeks along, passed the scary first trimester. I had had 3 normal pregnancies in 3 years so there was no reason to think this check up would be any different. My children: Gideon (3), Scarlett (2), and Alexandria (1) had no complications before or during birth. The going joke was that I was like my fertile mother (there are 6 of us), made to have children. I couldn’t understand, though, why God would give me 3 children in such quick succession. It now makes sense.
* I will give you the barest of details about that doctor visit and the events thereafter. (You can look at my blog www.funkycoldmedinas.blogspot.com for more of my immediate reactions. Just scroll to July 2010.)

I had taken Scarlett with me to the doctor, for a little mommy/daughter time, and I was planning to get my hair cut and dyed afterward. I had no idea that, when neither the doctor nor the nurse could find my baby’s heartbeat with the listening device, I should be worried… because it had happened before.

The doctor took me to a room with a sonogram machine, and as soon as he found the baby and brought him/her up on screen, I knew, for he was curled into the tightest of little fetal balls, his back to me. No amount of thumping on my stomach or squishing around produced movement. And, as soon as I heard the words, “Uh oh, we might have a problem,” my heart stopped beating and the hot tears began to slip out.

What follows is a blurry heart-wrenching time, for I had to call my husband, Jeff, and since we only have one car, he had to make quick arrangements to come to me, since I was in no shape to drive. We were sent to a radiologist office with more sophisticated equipment, and though the technician wasn’t allowed to tell us what she saw, we knew our baby was no longer living because she asked me what instructions I was given. I was crushed. My very marrow cried out to hold this precious child just once. Just once I wanted to feel him in my arms and tell him I loved him. Just once I wanted to say hello, sweet baby. Just once I wanted to rock him. Just once I wanted to kiss his face. Just once I wanted to wiggle his fingers and marvel at his toes. Just once I wanted to be able to say a final goodbye.

It was not to be. God had already claimed him for His own.

I’m crying as I’m typing because it still hurts. My throat is lumpy and my eyes are burning. I miss my child I will never know on this side of heaven.

After Jeff had lengthy talk with my obgyn, where they had angled every possible other way to miscarry safely (even asking about a c-section), we agonizingly decided the DNC was the best option. The baby, from calculated measurements, had been gone somewhere between 1 and 3 weeks, and had already begun to decompose. I was determined to have my baby as intact as possible, and I thought that if I miscarried on my own, the chances of that happening, were low. Our doctor assured us that he would be able to put our baby (though informing us he probably wouldn’t be intact) in a jar for us to take home and bury. I was determined to bury him. This was a Monday.

The DNC was scheduled for Wednesday, early afternoon.

Tuesday passed by in another blur of sorrow and pain, but Wednesday is indelibly stamped upon my brain. While I was prepped for surgery, my obgyn came over and said had encountered some red tape. The hospital’s policy was that anything over 20 weeks was, required by law, to be buried. Anything less than 20 weeks was deemed hazardous waste and disposed of in a laboratory. I was incensed that my precious child would be deemed hazardous waste. The doctor again assured us that we would take our baby home. He got the right people on the ball, and a little while later, a hospital chaplain arrived with a consent form for us to sign, releasing the hospital of liability once the remains were in our hands. I gladly signed the paper and was then wheeled back to the surgical room.

I remember the anesthesiologist putting the mask over my face and then I was out.
I only know what happened after that from family. The doctors may have told me, but I was on such heavy medication, I have little to no memories even when I “sort of” woke up on Thursday.

My first clear memory after that was opening my eyes and seeing Jeff, my parents, and 4 of my 5 brothers standing around my bed. I tried to talk, but I didn’t realize I was hooked up to seemingly every available line and tube in the room. I couldn’t talk because I had a tube in my throat. I think it was breathing for me, but I’m not sure. All I know is that I couldn’t communicate.

I tried mouthing to Jeff, but of course, with that tube, he couldn’t understand me. So, I began to write on his hand. And then he got me paper and a pen. With shaky writing, I asked if the boys were here for my funeral (all but one live out-of-state). I remember my dad adamantly saying, “NO.”

That was Thursday and I don’t really remember too much after that, except that I must have understood that something terrible happened while I was undergoing that routine procedure. I somewhat remember writing to Jeff to “tell the doctor I forgive him, and give him a big hug.” He did just that.

Friday morning brought my brother, Elliott, an orthopedic surgeon, to my room. He’d taken his boards in the early morning and within 5 minutes of finishing, hopped in a taxi to the airport to come see me. It was with his slow and deliberate explanation of what happened that I fully comprehended the gravity of my new situation, and realized my life was forever changed, I would never be the same, and this would affect every aspect of my remaining life.

I wasn't angry at God; it never occurred to me to be. I was too thankful to be alive. I wasn't angry with the doctor; I could only imagine his suffering because of his lapse. I wasn't angry at anyone. I was just confused and uncertain.

My understanding of what happened is this: Somehow, during the very end of the DNC, my obgyn cut through my uterus and cut the blood supply to my small intestine, resulting in the loss of about half the blood in my entire body and about 90% of my small intestine. When I was stabilized, a different obgyn sewed up the small hole in my uterus, and then a general surgeon was brought in and I was cut open to examine the damage, and left open overnight as, I suppose, a plan of action was decided upon. That surgeon is my hero. He saved my life. On Thursday, he re-attached the remaining 6 or so inches of my small intestine to my large intestine.

I was in ICU for 5 days and made enough progress to be moved to a private room. During my two weeks and 1 day stay, I amazed my doctors with my progress. By this time, my story was out on the Christian wire…everyone knew, and everyone was praying. Those prayers kept me going and got me through. It was very hard to be away from my children, and when they’d come, they were scared of me and all my tubes. Even the baby wouldn’t come to me. I think I cried more over that than even the loss of my bowel.

I was started on TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition), meaning that I was completely reliant upon the TPN as my nutritional life support. I was on this 24 hours a day, at first, and when I was finally stable, moved down to 14-hours a day. I was allowed nothing but a few measly ice chips. I wasn’t even allowed to drink a sip of water.
* Again, I won’t go into much detail about my resulting hospital stay. You can read about that on my blog.

I was single-minded in my resolve to get home to my babies and I looked at their precious preschool picture every chance I could. I had 2 stated obstacles to overcome. I had to be able to walk and I had to poop. I couldn’t do anything about the pooping because that was going to happen on its own, but I could try to walk. I walked for the first time the first day I was moved to a private room. I continued to walk laps around the hallways, finally gaining enough strength and energy to go to the prayer garden, visit my sister-in-law’s sister who was in another tower having a baby, writing and updating my Facebook and blog, and be up on my feet and OUT of that hospital bed for most of the day. I did have to rest, though. Walking, talking, visiting with company, and finally, eating broth, was taxing. The poop (leftover from before my first surgical procedure) turned into diarrhea multiple times a day, and hasn’t stopped. That was my biggest struggle then… and still remains so.

I met my goals and was finally released to go home to my husband and my children. I am still hooked up to the TPN for 14 hours a day, and though I try to eat (I miss food SOOO badly that I’m even dreaming of it), nothing has been staying in. I am constantly running to the toilet because of the diarrhea.

We are now awaiting a small bowel transplant. If you would like to read more about how this has affected me spiritually and emotionally, you’re welcome to read back through my blog, or my brother’s: www.funkycoldmedinas.blogspot.com or www.onepinkduck.blogspot.com or find me on Facebook at "Praying for Audrea Vann Medina."

The merit of who you are as a Christian comes out during times of crisis, like no other. I pray my spiritual life has not been found lacking while my physical body was suffering. My faith in Jesus Christ is the only thing that’s gotten me through this past horrible month. I share my story with you, asking you to join me in prayer, and challenging you to look at your own life in light of what a serious crisis would do to your faith. I have so much more I could share, so much I could say, but I’ve taken up valuable blogging time and space, and so I thank you for sharing the first part of my journey with me. I look forward to updating you with the happy news that a transplant is imminent. I long for that day.

For His Glory,
Audrea Vann Medina
Guest Author

1 comment:

MMS said...

My heart aches for you . . . I really have no words . . . The only thing that comes to mind right now is Romans 8:28 and really the entire chapter 8--I love how God is able to take the heartache and trials of life and use them for His glory. Praying with you . . .
Mary

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