Rachel’s Story, part 3: BP Roller Coaster

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 IMG_20180625_101321910would 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.IMG_20180619_140537869

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.

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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.

The Arrival (Rachel’s Story, part 2)

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At 9:30 PM, Rachel, resigned to what was about to happen, agreed to the c-section. As soon as she said, “OK”, the room exploded with activity. The lights came on and people rushed all over the place. Aaron panicked and began calling everyone he knew. While Rachel watched the craziness around her, she could sense God’s presence. She knew He was there with them which kept her calm. She looked down at her body and told it, “Body, you had one job,” signed the consent papers put before her, and called her mom.

The anesthesiologist, the only calm person in the room, sat down on her bed and explained what to expect while a nurse tossed scrubs at Aaron. “Put these on,” she told him as she ran off.

Then the doctor returned to tell Rachel what would happen, and what could go wrong, “But it won’t” she added.

As Rachel was prepped for surgery, she watched Aaron on the phone with his mom and thought, “This is surreal.” When Aaron finished his call, he was told to wait in recovery room. They would get him when Rachel had been given a spinal and was all set up in the OR.

Aaron, still in panic mode, made his way to the recovery room and was joined by the respiratory specialist. “Everything’s going to be OK,” the specialist said. He continued speaking reassuring words until Aaron was able to calm down. Well, maybe not calm but at least not panicking.

At 10 PM, Rachel, feeling loopy on the magnesium they were giving her for her blood pressure, was wheeled into the OR and watched as people scurried around preparing for her surgery. Aaron joined her just before her doctor arrived after scrubbing in. She walked up to Rachel, holding her hands up, and said, “Remember when your baseline protein level was 125 early in your pregnancy? Well, four hours ago it was 900, and now it’s 4500.” From earlier talks with the doctor, Rachel knew protein in her urine meant her placenta was breaking down.

Rachel said, “So I’m exploding.”

“Yes, you are,” her doctor said. When everyone else in the room introduced themselves, Rachel acknowledged each one, but then said solemnly, “I promise to forget all of your names.”

“What music do you want?” they asked her.

“I don’t care,” she said. So they put on their shower play list and began singing along.

Aaron was brought in and they started the c-section. She was worried that she would feel the knife slicing her open, but she didn’t. However, she did feel a lot of jerking and yanking and pushing down on her diaphragm which made breathing difficult. She also noticed her hand turning purple as the blood pressure cuff kept going off every minute.

As she struggled to breath, she heard Aaron’s commentary while he snapped picture after picture.

“I see her!”

“This is so cool!”

“I’m looking at your insides!”

“Wow!”

And then, at 10:58 PM Rachel heard a baby cry. Aryn Jade had arrived!

While Aaron helped bathe newly born Aryn, Rachel noticed the music that had been playing in the background. “Is that the Backstreet Boys?” she asked.  “Yes, it is,” someone answered. “Cool,” she said.

Aaron held Aryn next to Rachel while the anesthesiologist took a family picture of the three of them. Aryn was breathing well and didn’t need intensive care so a nurse took Aryn to Nursery Two, a higher care nursery for premies than the regular newborn nursery, but not as intensive as NICU.

Still laying on a table in the OR, Rachel asked her anesthesiologist, “Why does my chest hurt when I breathe? Am I having a heart attack?”   “No, you’re fine. It hurts because they were pressing down on your diaphragm to leverage your baby out.”

Then she focused Aaron, who was still taking pictures and giving a running commentary as the doctor finished working on her.  “That’s gross!” he said as the placenta came out.

“Take that, placenta!” Rachel said, and heard the doctors crack up.

Jerking as they sewed her back up, she commented “I smell something burning.”

“They’re cauterizing you,” the anesthesiologist answered.

“I smell me burning. That’s so cool,” she said.

Everyone was still singing along to the music, and later remarked that this was the most fun delivery they had had in a long time. Finally, the anesthesiologist held a bottle of morphine in front of Rachel’s eyes. “I’m going to give you this now.”

“OK,” was all Rachel said and quickly began to feel the effects. They turned her and flipped her as they moved her from the table to a bed and she lost all sense of direction. And then the drug really kicked in and she lost touch with everything.  That is, until she got to her recovery room where she threw up all over herself.

If she had been able to think about it, she might have marveled at how quickly life can change. She had had no idea when she awoke that morning that it would be the last morning she would wake up pregnant. She had no idea as she got ready for work that her body would go into crisis later that day. She just knew God was in control of her life. It was this deep foundation of faith that carried her calmly through the unexpected events of the day. And it was the amazing God she trusted that had arranged every detail perfectly -from the time she “just happened” to be having her regular checkup in an office that “just happened” to be across from the hospital when she went into crisis – to her doctor “just happening” to be on the one on call.

Yet, as well as this day had turned out – a beautiful, healthy little girl and a Big Mac in the freezer – she had little idea that her faith in God would soon be tested like never before.

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To be continued.

Just Happened To Be (Rachel’s Story, part 1)

Rachel just happened to be at her doctor’s office for her regular check up when the crisis began.

“Your blood pressure is quite high. We’ll wait a little while and take it again,” the nurse told her.

But the second one was just as high. So instead of letting her go home, she had to stay to have some lab work done and for her unborn baby girl to be given a stress test, which she passed with no problem.  Bored and hungry, but not really worried about her blood pressure because it had been high before, Rachel was left in the examination room to wait for the results of the lab work.

Finally the doctor came in to talk to her.

“So we’re still hoping to delay this birth but we need to get your blood pressure down so we’re going to hook you up to an IV in a labor and delivery room at the hospital to monitor you.” The hospital just happened to be across the parking lot from the doctor’s office.

The doctor motioned to a nearby wheelchair. “Sit down.”

“Now?”

“Now.”

“What about my car?”

“It’ll be fine in the parking lot”

Tired of the games her blood pressure continued to play, she sighed and sat down. For IMG_20180623_220720815 (2)years her blood pressure had caused her problems, but now, with the pregnancy, it was getting increasingly hard to control. Her doctor, who just happened to be the one on call that afternoon, pushed her across the parking lot and into the ER entrance.  She was taken to the third floor maternity ward and, once settled in her room, texted her husband.

“Don’t panic. They want to monitor me again.”

“Ugh,” Aaron texted back. “OK, fine. Are you OK?”

“Yeah, no hurry. Just bring me some food when you come.”

Two hours later, after receiving more medication in her IV, her blood pressure lowered a little but was still dangerously high.  Her room was darkened to reduce stimulation and she was given a steroid shot to mature her baby’s lungs just in case their efforts to reduce her blood pressure didn’t work. Rachel lay in her bed, not allowed to do anything, and wondered why the drugs weren’t working. She spent a little time praying, knowing God was there with her, then zoned out to pass the time in between the vitals checks the nurses performed every thirty minutes.

She hadn’t eaten since early that morning and it was now well into evening and she was starving. She asked a nurse and was given permission to eat the food Aaron would be bringing with him after he got off work and took care of their pets. He arrived a couple IMG_20180623_220742262 (2)hours later with a Big Mac and fries. “Are you sure you can have this?”  Rachel nodded and managed to get four fries in her mouth before the nurse came rushing in the room.

“Stop! Don’t eat that!” she told Rachel. “I misread your chart. You can’t have any food!”

Rachel stared longingly at the Big Mac and fries, and then looked at Aaron. “Don’t throw these away. Put them in the freezer. I’ll eat them when I get home.” She saw the look on Aaron’s face, and added, “This is my version of a wedding cake. I don’t anticipate it tasting good. It’s the principle of the thing.”

“OK,” Aaron said, knowing she would do what she would do and there was no sense trying to dissuade her.

Not long after that her doctor came into the room with her lab results. “Soooo,” she began. “You aren’t responding to the medication in your IV which is bad. We’re going to have to start a magnesium IV drip. And we’re probably going to have to have this baby tonight. Vaginal delivery is better, but the magnesium is a smooth muscle relaxer and you can’t really have contractions when your muscles are being relaxed. So I’m thinking we’re going to do a c-section tonight.”

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Rachel looked at Aaron with resigned exasperation while Aaron stared back with the beginning of panic in his eyes. Tonight? They had known their daughter would be delivered early, but six weeks early? Really?

to be continuted

 

A Warning to Cat Owners

A Startling Discovery… Cats Can Read and Write!

Confiscated Letters from Our Rescue Cats

A collaboration, by Linda Schnepel and  BibleBloggerGirl 

 

The following are a collection of letters that we were shocked to recently discover . Seems our cats have more in common than just being rescue cats . They can read and write! I shudder to think how many times Cassi sat on my lap as I wrote in my journal, probably reading every word. But I have to credit her with one thing… she can keep a secret! It was just by accident that I stumbled onto these letters. I’m posting them here as a warning to all cat owners. Be careful what you write, whether by hand on by keyboard – your cat just might be reading it!

 

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Dear Miss Potter,                                                                I just read BibleBloggerGirl’s post about you and was moved to write to you concerning her attitude. She sure didn’t seem to appreciate your gifts very much, did she? And after all that work to spit them up at just the right times! I hope you thought of a way to change that!                                                                                                                   With much sympathy,                                               Cassi

 

 

Dear Cassi,
So nice to hear from you! I read about you in Linda’s post. Thank you for reading my girl’s posts. I know she appreciates it. I do try with my gifts for her, and she seems to be warming up to them! Do you ever give your Linda gifts that she doesn’t enjoy? Write soon! I think I’ll go find someone to feed me.
With purrs and rubs,
Miss Potter

 

Dear Miss Potter,                                                                                                                                             No, because I never give gifts. I AM a gift so why should I give them? They already have me!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Indignantly,                                                                                                                                             Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
I didn’t think of it like that! I’m a gift too, and at least they appreciate me, if not my gifts! Who are the people you own?
Curiously,
Miss P.

 

Dear Miss Potter,                                                                                                                                               I own mostly a little girl who thinks I’m her best friend. But there’s also a smaller boy I try to stay away from, and two grown people. They’re a lot to manage but I get it done. Who do you own?                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Proudly,                                                                                                                                                     Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
I mostly own that girl I was telling you about, the one who didn’t like my presents. I sit on her lap and sleep on her bed and follow her around. Never outside, though! I don’t go out there anymore. Do you?
The other people I own are a little boy I don’t like, an older boy that I tolerate, a woman who loves me devotedly, and a man who really doesn’t like me. I think if it weren’t for the girl, the man might start a mutiny against me. They are hard to handle sometimes, but I always put them in their place if they start acting out.
Lovingly,
Miss P.

 

Dear Miss. Potter,                                                                                                                                               Outside? Not since I was a kitten. At first my people wouldn’t let me in the house. They said it was for my safety, but I don’t know. I think I could have taken on that dog. In any case, they made a bed for me in the garage and left the garage door open a little so I could get in and out. As if that was as good enough. I wanted IN and I wasn’t afraid to show it! You would think climbing their screens and staring at them through the windows would clue them in!  I even chased the neighborhood dogs to show I could handle that puny one in the house. Eventually they let me in. And I never left. No way was I going to give them the chance to change their minds. I wanted to be with my girl as much as she wanted to be with  me.                                                                                                           So, your people can be hard to handle, too. Go figure.  People! Keeping them in their place sure is an ongoing struggle sometimes. Let me know if that man tries to start anything. I’ll come over and show him a thing or two.                                                                                                                                                           All my support,                                                                                                                                        Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
Yes, I agree completely – humans are so clueless sometimes! And they can’t seem to make up their minds. When I first moved in, they kept me in the mudroom where all the shoes and coats are put – how undignified. They wouldn’t let me in the house at all! Then, they got these dogs (I don’t know why, as they should have been perfectly content with me) and brought me inside. After that, they wouldn’t let me out! Eventually, I saw that being inside made it much easier to keep the humans in order, so I remained there.
Do your humans ever leave you alone? Mine do that sometimes. They will put my food, water, bed, and litter box all in my girl’s room and shut the door… Then they don’t return for days! I have no laps to sit on, no one to talk to, no one to sleep on, and no one to pet me. I get lonely and sad, and when they do come back I am even happy to see the annoying little one.
Bye for now,
Miss P.

 

Dear Miss Potter,                                                                                                                                                I know it can feel bad to be left alone… even for just a few hours. Days must feel like an eternity!  Hey, this is might be stretching it a bit. All right, quite a bit. But I was just wondering if that’s how humans feel when they think God has left them. WE know better – God is always here. But THEY aren’t so wise. Actually, they can be quite dumb sometimes. Acting all lonely and sad just because they can’t see Him every moment of every day. Sometimes they act so spoiled. But I can’t really fault them too much. After all, I kind of like having my girl around 24/7 myself.  I just know that when she does leave for hours, she will be back. And that belief gives me so much peace that I fall asleep for a good part of the day. But when she’s gone longer than I anticipate and  I find myself starting to feel bad, I make myself jump up and find ways to keep busy. I especially enjoy batting those dazzling dust specks that sparkle in the sunlight – I never can resist anything that sparkles – and knocking everything off the shelves is quite fun too. I like to watch things fall and listen to what sound they make as they hit the floor. Some of those things sure get broken up, though.                                                                                                               That reminds me…  I was pretty broken up when my people found me.  I wonder who pushed me off a shelf. Hmmm… I’ve gotta go sleep on this for awhile.  Write when you get a chance. I always enjoy hearing from you.                                                                                                                                                         Sleepily,                                                                                                                                                      Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
So nice to hear from you! You are so right about the whole humans missing God thing. When they don’t hear his voice or anything right then, they tend to get depressed or even panicky thinking God isn’t there anymore. But they will hear his voice again, they just have to trust that. Just like we trust that our humans love us and will come back.
Ooh, battling dust sounds like fun! I’ve never tried that before. One game I like is chasing crumbs across the floor. Have you played that one? It’s really a good time. Oh Cassi, you made me tired just reading that… I think I’ll go find my girl’s lap and curl up for a bit. Write soon! Always a pleasure reading your letters 😺
Sleepily also,
Miss P.

 

Dear Miss Potter,                                                                                                                                             Yes, I have chased crumbs, and ribbons and spiders and laser lights. I especially love those laser lights! My humans laugh at me for chasing what they call silly things. They love to watch me but they don’t get it. It’s not about the things. It’s about the chase. Just like with God. It’s not about all the books and studies and sermons – those are all fun and all – but it’s about  hearts chasing after God. And I bet He’s not laughing about how silly it looks. He’s laughing because He enjoys watching the chase.                                                                  You know in my last letter that I wondered who pushed me off the shelf? I think I got it figured out. It was … no, probably not. Got to sleep on it a bit longer.                                                                                                                                   Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
Ribbons are fun too! You are absolutely right about the chase – that’s what’s fun 😺
The humans do look silly, knowing what God tells them to do and not always doing it, don’t they? Although, sometimes my humans do know what’s better for me than I do, and I won’t listen to them.
What were you going to say about the one who pushed you off the shelf? I’m curious.
Miss Potter

 

Dear Miss. P,                                                                                    I hesitate to say this because it seems so far-fetched, but I believe it was God who pushed me off that shelf. That seems like such a mean thing to do, and God is not mean. So it’s hard to think He would do such a thing. But then, if I had stayed on that shelf (the place I was born, with my mom and siblings), I would never have been found by my people, and I couldn’t have been my girl’s best friend when she needed me most. So really, it was a good thing I got pushed off the shelf. Even though I did break a little, it was only temporary and probably made my people love me all the more. It reminds me all over again how we only see what’s in front of our noses, while God sees the bigger picture.                                                                                                                                

IMG_20180326_011903589On a different note, have you noticed anything… weird about your girl lately? It seems like my girl is looking at my strangely, like she knows something about me. And she’s starting to minimize her computer screen whenever I jump up on her keyboard. Almost like she doesn’t want me to see what she’s been writing. Hey, do you think it’s possible she has found the letters you’ve written me? That would be horrible! We’re not supposed to let ever them find out we can read and write! Maybe we’d better stop writing to each other!                                                                           With Some Anxiety,                                                              Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
I think you could be right about God doing that for you. Sometimes his plans don’t show themselves right away, but there definitely was a reason for your family finding you.
You know, you are right! My girl has been doing similar things with me. Maybe we should stop writing to each other, at least for a little while, so they will stop suspecting anything.
With much love (and a little sadness that I won’t hear from you for some time),
Miss Potter

 

 

There you have it – proof cats are way more capable than we could ever imagine!  Anyone else have a similar experience with their cat? What unlikely things have you caught your cats doing? We would love to read them in the comments. And we promise not to let our cats look!

And in case you’re curious, here are links to our posts about our cats.

Just Like… The Kitten in the Woods

Can I Get a Cat?

Miss Potter’s Gifts