Monday, October 17, 2011

The Teddy Bear

My dad brought the stuffed animal to me on my third day in the hospital. My dad is like that. He knows what will comfort you even when it seem like nothing will. He approaches in a thoughtful manner. Careful to gauge your demeanor before he asks any questions. At that particular moment, I was laying in a hospital bed with IV's hooked up to me. Wires were leading to my chest that told the heart monitor what my heart rate was. The covers laid over my midsection, which was beginning to reveal my six month pregnant belly. My eyes were red and puffy from all the crying that I had been doing. Daddy didn't say a whole lot. He just handed me the teddy bear then took the chair next to the bed.

"Any news today?" he asked me. 

I shook my head no. Fearful of more tears flowing, I kept my eyes on the TV as I continued to flip channels. Recognizing my need to stay quiet, my dad flipped open the newspaper and began to read. We stayed that way, him studying the paper and me focusing intently on the screen, until more people arrived to ask the same questions that I didn't have any answers to.

Three days prior, I was at work. Sitting at my desk, I always kept one hand on my belly and the other on my keyboard. I was diligent in doing my "kick counts". These were little movements the baby made as it twisted and turned inside me. The doctor told me to keep a log of how many kicks per hour I felt. Every flutter, punch, kick, and somersault my child did, I recorded it in a notebook. Hoever, that day at work I had nothing to record. Nothing was going on inside my still small belly.

My baby wasn't moving.

A visit to the hospital confirmed what I already knew. Something was wrong. My little baby's heart rate was so fast, that the machine could not keep time with her. Unable to count the beats, the numbers on the machine flashed before my eyes. I was admitted. More tests were done. And it was finally determined that the baby's heart beat was so fast that it was unable to pump blood properly. Fluid was backing up into her stomach, around her heart, and in her brain.

"Your baby is going into heart failure," the doctor informed me. He spoke softly as I tried to fight back the tears that were spilling out. "If we don't move quickly, we will have to deliver. It's way too early."

I agreed with their course of treatment. Heart medication was given to me to slow her heart rhythm. But, it also affected mine. The second day of the hospital stay doctors were called to my room. My chest hurt. It was beating at such irregular intervals that I began to panic. I was moved to the ICU and stayed there for four more days.

The day my dad brought me the teddy bear, I had prayed harder than I'd ever prayed before. People from the lab entered my room at around 4 that morning. They were greeted with a tearfully praying woman. Not knowing what to say, they quietly took the vials of blood that were needed, and exited out of the room quickly.

I tried to shed my tears in the morning, before anyone came to visit. I had to be strong for my boyfriend, who was beside himself with worry. My mom would call and cry as she asked if I was going to lose the baby that people never thought I would ever have.  Day in and day out, the doctors would come and tell me what the heart monitor already showed me. The heart was still beating too rapidly to be effective. Time was running out. More medications were given. More prayers were said.

And through out it all, I clutched my teddy bear and hoped that I would be able to hold on to my precious baby until it was time for a safe delivery.

It took eight days for the medication to finally work. On the ninth day, I was released. Armed with enough prescriptions to rival any old person, I went home to pray away any panic I was feeling. The second trimester gave way to the third. I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief when I saw that my duet date was fast approaching.....

........and leaving......

At 41 weeks, my doctor decided to induce. Carrying the overnight bag that I had packed way back before my first stint in the hospital and my trusted teddy bear, I gleefully checked in. Twenty-three hours later, my induction turned into an emergency c-section.

I won't go into details about that. But, let me just say, a c-section minus anaesthesia is not something I would recommend.

My beautiful Red Head was born on July 3. She weighed in at 9 lbs 10 oz. She was 23 inches long. A cardiologist from Chapel Hill was on hand for her delivery. But, he was never needed. There was nothing wrong with my precious baby.

God answered my prayers.

Now, seven years later, I sleep with the teddy bear that my dad brought me that day. I hold on to it every night. It still lends comfort when needed. Sporadically, my youngest will sneak into my room to steal it out from beneath my resting arms. He knows the power it holds.

Every so often, Shelby will ask me why at my age I sleep with a stuffed animal. I am always happy to tell her the story. I use it as an example of God's power within us. Of how, through prayer and faith, we can make it even when the doctors tell us we may not.

I love my teddy bear. It is, by far, the most precious gift ever handed to me. I just wish my son would keep his paws off of it.

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