The road of life is full of twists and turns, smooth highways, scenic back-roads, one-lane construction zones, and giant pot-holes. Sometimes we see the twists and turns coming before we get there. Sometimes we fall face-first into a pot-hole we swear wasn’t there 2 seconds earlier.
A month ago I gave birth to my very sweet, undeniably gorgeous baby girl. This curve in the road was one we saw coming far before we got there. We were prepared and ready. Recovering from delivery, dealing with near-sleepless nights, diapers, swaddling, exhaustion, getting our other three offspring acclimated to a newborn in the house…we knew it was coming, and we were ready for it. Not to mention, we’d been on this stretch of road three other times. We’re veterans. We could navigate it with our eyes closed.
About two weeks after Little Miss Took was born, I ended up in the ER with ridiculously bad pain in my upper abdomen. The scariest part was I could barely breathe. At one point, while we were waiting for the paramedics to show up at our house, I was saying my goodbyes to the Hubster. It was that bad. There’s only one other time in my life that I’ve been that scared – and that involved a BNSF train engine tangoing with the car I was riding in.
I’ll save that life-can-turn-on-a-dime story for another day.
After blood tests, ultrasounds, and CT scans, it was decided that my gall bladder was harboring stones and that it had to come out. Not pleasant, but doable. I’d be in and out of the hospital in the same day, and breastfeeding Took would only be put on hold for the duration of the surgery and recovery from anesthesia. I was scared, but I could handle it.
We had to wait a few days for the surgery, which gave us plenty of time to make arrangements for the older kids. It also gave me plenty of time to worry. My pain tapered off to almost nothing, which I used as a tool to try and convince the Hubster that I didn’t need surgery after all. Or that we should at least put it off until Miss Took was older. He wasn’t buying it. I pouted.
Surgery day came. It went well. The gall bladder came out, I woke up, we went home. Pain meds were consumed, and I was on the mend. A week went by, and I woke up feeling fabulous.
Wow, I thought. I feel great. My gall bladder must have really needed to come out. I tweeted about how great I felt, bragged about how I was back and ready to conquer the world. I played outside with my 3 year old (we made some ridiculously awesome chalk art). I made a kick-ass lunch for the kids (something I hadn’t felt good enough to do in weeks). We went on a walk around the neighborhood (something I hadn’t had the energy to do in months). We came home, SweetZ laid down for a nap, the boys got busy with school, and I nestled in to nurse Took.
Blam. The pain came back, out of absolutely nowhere. I called the Hubster, panicking, trying to choke out something coherent with what tiny breaths I could muster. Thankfully he understood immediately that it was happening again and came straight home.
Now we were back in the ER for the second time in ten days trying to figure out what was causing this pain – again. It couldn’t be my gall bladder – I didn’t have one of those anymore.
After more tests, more ultrasounds, more x-rays, and some kind of pain meds that made me feel miraculously gooo-oood, we were informed that I had pancreatitis. Not uncommon after gall bladder surgery, but I’d have to be put in the hospital.
Not just the hospital, but intensive care.
Where I’d be unable to eat or drink until my lipase numbers were back to normal (normal is anywhere from 0 to 160. Mine were at 60,000).
Blarg, blarg, blarg.
Which meant that nursing Took would be out of the question.
Blarg to the fourth degree.
Oh, and I was going to be in Medical Intensive Care – the place where really, really bad communicable diseases were being treated. Not a great place for a newborn and her fragile immune system to hang out. So we needed to let someone keep her while I was recovering.
B L A R G.
It was this last one that nearly did me in. Giving up my newborn for someone else to take care of – no matter how good of hands she was in – reduced me to tears and snot. I didn’t want to do it. I wanted so badly to be selfish and keep her with me…she’s such a comfort to me, and I wanted her there, in my arms, while I tried to get over this ridiculous fluke of a disease.
In the end, she ended up staying with my sister. And it was just as well. Turns out, my body was exhausted from having malfunctioning organs, and I slept almost non-stop.
I woke up one afternoon to my doctor standing at the foot of my bed. I’d been sleeping soundly and dreaming vividly, and when he gently touched my ankle he scared the ca-ca out of me. A string of involuntary expletives came rushing out of my mouth. He smiled, kind-of. I’d nicknamed my doctor Stoic the Vast (if you haven’t seen How To Train Your Dragon, you should) because the dude shows the emotion of a brick wall. The smile was so fleeting, I wasn’t sure it’d actually happened. I could have hallucinated it. I’m telling you, the pain meds they had me on were incredible.
Anyway, it was Wednesday afternoon. He was there to tell me they’d most likely send me home the next day – my lipase numbers were down to 68. From 60,000. He’d never seen anyone recover from pancreatitis that quickly. I told him I’m an overachiever.
He smiled again. Kind-of.
Now I’m home, feeling great. Just a little sore from my surgery, and a little tired from the whole debacle. Both Took and I survived being away from each other. My other three sweeties are getting back into the swing of things. We’re gonna pull out the slip-n-slide later (for them, not me. Even if I hadn’t just had surgery, I know better than to try belly flopping onto that thing. Some things are just not meant for adults). Life, it seems, is finally going to return to the new normal we’d prepared for with the arrival of Miss Took.
But here’s the thing: nothing’s guaranteed. We live our lives, make our plans, dream about our futures, settle into routines that we think will go on indefinitely. But really, when life decides to change direction, to turn on that proverbial dime, there’s very little we can do about it except hold on tight to the things that are solid, foundational, in our lives. Our faith. Our family. Our friends.
I owe a big, huge thanks to all of you who were there for me and my fam during these past few weeks. Thanks for watching and loving on my kids, who were every bit as scared as T and I were. Thanks for bringing us meals. Thanks for keeping us company in the hospital. Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement. We have felt cradled and loved by a vast network of kind hearts, and it’s made these bumps in the road less jarring than they ought to have been.
Lots of love,