With her new baby doing well in the Level Two nursery, Rachel should have been able to relax and concentrate on recovery from her c-section. However, her blood pressure just would not be controlled. Time after time, nurses would come in to check it. Rachel would feel relieved and hopeful when it was lower, but then get frustrated when it climbed back up. No one ever knew from reading to reading what it would be. Rachel grew to dread the readings, which only made it worse.
“It’ll come down,” the nurses would tell her. “Just give it time.”
After several days, Rachel wasn’t surprised to find her blood pressure medication was being changed yet again. Because she was attempting to breast feed, she couldn’t be on her pre-pregnancy medication which had worked well for her. And the doctors and nurses here at the hospital hadn’t found the right medication at the right dosage to bring about the same results. Her blood pressure continued to range from really low to dangerously high, with most being on the high side.
“Don’t worry,” they all told her. “We’ll get this worked out.” But how could she not worry? She knew the risks associated with high blood pressure. She began to practice zoning out each time they placed the cuff on her. She focused on nothing, breathing deep and slow, until the machine beeped. Then she’d look over at it, at first hopeful, but later with pessimism as her own attempt to help lower it failed.
She tried to keep her thoughts on other things. She didn’t like watching TV but she had her cell phone and lap top and lots of friends on-line. Her husband and parents stayed with her as long as they could. Her mom even slept in the room with her, providing someone to talk to and a distraction when needed. She tried pumping every three hours although her milk had not come in yet which gave her something else she could focus on. That one or two clear drops the machine managed to get from her were taken directly to the nurses each time by whoever was in the room because Rachel limited the number of times she got out of bed. She worried that moving around would raise her blood pressure even more, so she kept herself as still as she could.
“You need to walk,” her mom would tell her. “Walking might help lower your blood pressure.”
“You need to walk,” her dad would tell her. “Walking can’t hurt you and it might even help you.”
“You might want to walk,” her nurses told her. “If you’re up to it, you could walk a lap around the nurses work station. It will help you.”
But Rachel was never up to it. She wanted her blood pressure to come down first. She didn’t want a heart attack. However, she did give in eventually and started walking very short distances before asking for the wheelchair.
A couple more days went by. Nurses continued taking frequent blood pressure readings, Rachel continued to practice zoning out each time, her doctor sought the help of another doctor who had more experience with resistant high blood pressure, and many people were praying for her. The maternity ward just happened to be pretty empty so the nurses were able to spend a lot of time giving her personal care – reassuring and encouraging her throughout those long days and nights.
Yet nothing seemed to be working. As the numbers neared 200, her thoughts began to drift towards what might happen if they couldn’t get it down. She could have a stroke. She could die. And the words to a popular song that kept coming back to her didn’t help. “Help me want the Healer.more than the healing..”
Finally, in the middle of the fifth night, she could no longer hold it in and she began to cry. “I know God has a plan. But what if His plan is for me to die?”
“Don’t worry about that,” her mom tried to comfort her. “God will take care of you.”
“It’s not me I’m worried about,” she cried harder. “It’s Aaron and the baby. What will it do to them?” She went into the bathroom and closed the door.
Her mom, at a loss for words, decided to turn on some worship music. Maybe filling the room with the presence of God through the music would help. She pulled up one of her favorite Christian radio stations on her lap top and set the volume to provide soft background music. Then she prayed. She knew the struggle her daughter was going through. Did her daughter’s deep faith and trust in God with everyday concerns extend towards trusting Him with her life, even if that meant leaving her husband and baby alone? Did she truly believe the words she said and sang so often?
Rachel emerged from the bathroom and got back into her bed. “I just had a thing with God and told Him my life was in His hands,” she told her mom. They talked a few more minutes, then got quiet as they focused on the music. Eventually both fell asleep.
The next day, the hospital specialist came to see her. She was put on a high dose of a second medication later that day, which began to have positive results. By the following day, her blood pressure was at an acceptable level and was no longer roller coasting up and down. She was not checked as often, and was soon taken off all monitors. And then came the best news of all – she was being discharged from the hospital!
While waiting for the discharge papers, Rachel and her mom talked about that night when Rachel broke.
“I think you passed that test,” her mom said.
“That was intense,” Rachel answered.
“I went through an intense test last week when I didn’t get to be here for the baby’s birth, but I’ve got to say, your test went to a much deeper level.”
“I hope I never get tested again,”
“I wish I could assure you that this was the final test, but I’m afraid there will be others.”
They both sighed, knowing it was true. As their faith continued to deepen and grow, there would be more tests, each time revealing their hearts and strengthening their relationship with God. But it was worth it. God was worth it.
By lunchtime, Rachel had signed the discharge papers and she was free. At the beginning of her pregnancy, her doctor had asked her what her goal was. “To walk out of the hospital” she had said. That afternoon, as she walked through the exit door, her goal was met.
But now she had a second goal. She might be free, but her baby was still in baby jail. Time to break her baby out!
To be continued one more time.