Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Oh! The Gall of It

Life is just so damn interesting, isn't it? We can get assurances from one another. We can plan. We can imagine and hope, but we just never really know what we're going to get- good and bad.

Back at the beginning of my life with Bran, when he was just a twinkle in MY eye (thank you very much), I knew I would need help. I knew I would need rest. I knew that I only would get by on a little help from my friends (and Riberas). I figured POTS might be a problem after delivery, but I was hoping it would stay away. Thankfully, I have not been symptomatic, and I'm now hoping it will not return. Ever. I planned, somewhat, for my potential neediness through the Summer. Things just never go how we plan, though. Death in the family took all my helpers away during the hardest days of my pregnancy. So much for all the long weekends at Grandma's that I had imagined. Thankfully, just when I thought I had reached the very, very end of my rope, God made a perfectly-timed delivery of Bran. The next two weeks passed mostly in bliss, and I had all the help I needed.

Then, I went to the emergency room with a two-and-a-half week old infant. Shortly after dinner one night, I was lying in my daughter's bed with her having a chat when I began to have intense pain in my upper abdomen and chest. This same thing had happened a few days prior, but it started to go away before I really started to freak out. This time, though, it was much worse and continued to worsen instead of fade. As a woman who has delivered four babies with no meds and a chronic pain syndrome, I am familiar with pain and know that I tolerate it well. This pain terrified me, and I started having POTS symptoms too - tachycardia, shortness of breath, tingling, sweating, and upset stomach. Of course, all these symptoms together could mean heart attack. Brendan got the big kids to bed, called a neighbor over, and got me and our crying, hungry infant into the car. I was afraid I would die.

Saying "chest pain" at the ER is a great way to be quickly given a bed. I don't want to describe the whole visit, all the diagnostic results, and the most embarrassing moment of my life, so I'll just cut to the chase: after tons of blood-work for the next two weeks, a CT scan, and multiple follow-up visits- it all came down to gallstones. Apparently, gallstones are one of the many, many things that baby-having increases your risk for that you don't know about until it happens to you. It took me 3 or 4 weeks to really figure out how to prevent the gallbladder attacks. I still get them, but I haven't had a very bad or long one for a couple of weeks now. I'm having surgery very soon to have my gallbladder removed.

See what I mean? You just can't plan for this stuff. My POTS hasn't been a problem at all, but I've been side-swiped by this gallbladder stuff and planning for a surgery within the first two months of my baby's life. Of course, this all got bad just as my relatives are returning to work for the school year. Other family stuff has kept us occupied as well. On one hand, we are doing really great when you compare the status of things now to the days of full-blown POTS, and Bran continues to be an easy, sweet baby. But, as my therapist pointed out, I'm not really getting to behave like a woman who just had a baby and needs help and time to rest. I feel like a Jekyll-Hyde mommy. Somedays, I'm so overjoyed with the absence of POTS that everything is roses. Then on the other days...

The other thing I never imagined is that it would be September 15th, and my children are still not in school. "I just need to make it to September 9th," I would often think. "Then, I'll be able to have quiet time to rest and recover from all this craziness and get some rest before my surgery." I now have zero confidence that any of that will happen. BUT, I do have confidence that God will keep surprising me. Just as I cannot have predicted that I'd have a life-changing gallbladder problem for the first weeks of my new child's life or that I'd still have 4 children home most of the time, I cannot have predicted that my POTS would be so absent. I cannot have predicted that Bran would be born just when I knew I couldn't take it anymore. So, I wait with open hands. I try not to worry about general anesthesia being around the corner. I try to trust that my laparoscopic, day surgery will not be a big deal and that I'll recover quickly and well. I try to trust that Bran will do great on bottles. I trust that my extra days with my boys home will continue to bless me (and challenge me).

Life is not boring.