I have debated on if I was ever going to write this, but I really hope that it helps someone. I feel that God would not have me be silent about this story. I look back sometimes and wonder if it was even real.
Sometimes we go through trials that change us forever. They leave long lasting scars. One of the most difficult and trying times of my life was a couple of years ago. It wasn’t just one event, but several months of events that were extremely trying.
During my last pregnancy, I suffered from severe morning sickness as I have done with all of my pregnancies. However, even with medication, the nausea and vomiting made it difficult for me to function. There were times I struggled just to get out of bed to move to the couch.
At the same time, my oldest daughter, Hayley, began having a lot of pain while walking. As we headed into summer of that year, she became increasingly more disabled from the pain. The pain was in her lower back and knees. I took her to the doctor and they could not find a reason other than some kids with skeletal dysplasias experience chronic pain, and recommended physical therapy which made her pain worse. Our “family walks” through the neighborhood became impossible. She was unable to walk around the grocery store with me without being in pain. If I brought her, I would have to lift her into the cart which meant I could not fit very many items in it since she was 9 years old at the time. We were starting to believe that Hayley would not be able to walk normally again.
The strain of the physical ailments Hayley and I were facing was taking a toll on our family. My daughter Natalie was becoming increasingly anxious. She had a very difficult time processing that my illness was only temporary and that we may not find a solution to her sister’s mobility issues. Natalie’s anxiety had reached such a peak, that I sought out counseling for her.
My world was crumbling. It seemed like every aspect of our lives was being affected. I was under so much stress that I passed out in a local Walgreen’s and hit my face one morning from fatigue and dehydration. However, my trials were not over. They were about to get worse.
In September, one evening Hayley was unable to bare weight on one leg at all. Her other leg was able to hold some of her weight, but she was in a lot of pain. The pain was so bad that she could not even stand without assistance. My husband lifted her off the couch, and placed her in the van. I took her to the emergency room and again, they could not find anything. The next day, we went to orthopedics as we had done before, and we finally got answers. Hayley needed hip surgery. Due to the severity of it, the doctor prescribed us a wheelchair and instructed us to not allow her to put any weight on her legs. Her surgery was scheduled the next morning.
Rods were put in both of Hayley’s hips. Even though she was in pain and could not get out of her hospital bed, she would rub my large, pregnant belly and tell me she hoped I was feeling OK. I think Hayley copes with pain by caring for others. God has given her this rare quality. I would hold her close and tell her I was fine and that I love her so much and she is such a brave girl.
I knew Hayley didn’t like me having to take care of her like an infant. She was embarrassed. I did the best I could to make her feel comfortable. I felt so helpless and alone at times. Being pregnant and having to lift my 9 year old child was not easy. I worked hard to keep her clean, to carry her to the bathroom, and keep her entertained and comfortable. When she was released from the hospital, my husband and I strolled her through the store in her wheelchair to buy her some new clothes and toys. We hoped it would cheer her up. She left crying after another child had stared at her and had pointed her out to people. She didn’t like her wheelchair and was very embarrassed about it. She missed her independence. At home, I continued to lift her, care for her, and comfort her as she cried or got frustrated over her wheelchair. It was so difficult to see my little girl go through this. It was emotionally and physically exhausting for all of us.
Hayley moved from the wheelchair to the walker quickly and was eager to get rid of it as well. She still had pain, but had gained her independence back in just a couple months.
Then the baby came.
I was 37 weeks pregnant. My water broke one morning as my husband was getting ready for work. We raced to get all of the children dressed and in the van. We knew the baby would be coming fast because I had always had very fast labors. My last baby had been born in under an hour. We decided to drop our kids off with my parents who lived closer than my husband’s parent to save time. As soon as we got back on the highway from dropping them off, our van broke down.
I got out and squatted down on the side of the road. I was worried my baby would be born there, but the cold, November air felt good as I was contracting. My husband came over and hugged me until my dad got there to pick us up. We decided to not drive all the way to the city where I was to deliver. Instead, we went to a hospital much closer even though I would not have my normal doctor who had delivered all five of my other children.
It was this decision that possibly saved my life. If we had gone all the way to the other hospital I may have had the baby in the car because of all of the morning traffic. It was after I had Jesse, my big 8 lb 4 oz boy, that I hemorrhaged. His delivery went very smoothly, but I did not feel right afterward. I kept telling the nurse that I didn’t feel right and that something was wrong. She reassured me that it was just from my epidural and that I would be fine. I knew that I had never felt like this before. I watched my husband and mother-in-law as they took my baby off my chest to the other side of the room to diaper him and weigh him. Everything started to slowly fade as I watched everyone crowd around the tiny baby bed.
The joyful chatter was interrupted when my husband and the nurse went over to the faucet because they kept hearing an annoying drip sound. At that moment, my mother-in-law called for them to look at me because I had gone completely white. The drip was the blood from my bed. I was quickly surrounded by a team of medical professionals and eventually my bleeding was stopped. I shook for hours, and thought that I was going to die. My husband stood over me with the baby so I could see him. He kept talking to me and tried reassuring me, but I just wanted my mother who was still on her way (It is amazing what a mother’s voice and touch can do).
This was one of the greatest trials of my life. I spent months being ill, seeing my daughter suffer in pain, comforting another child who mentally was unwell from the stress, and then came close to losing my life. It effected nearly every aspect of my life. I had to change the way our family functioned in everything from chores, homeschooling, and daily routines. Money was tight, and I was worried about bills, our only vehicle needing to be fixed, and Christmas coming up in just a few short weeks. I was depressed to say the least.
Now, let me tell you what God did for us. When I was released from the hospital, God’s people rallied to support us. We came home to an entire Thanksgiving dinner and groceries delivered to our house from my dad’s church. The gifts started pouring in unexpectedly and as a result we got to fix our vehicle, make our house payment, and fix our furnace (which went out shortly after this). On top of it all, two people filled our Christmas tree with beautifully wrapped gifts for all of our children. At our family’s lowest of lows, God came through and took care of every single one of our needs. I will be forever grateful for the people God put in our lives, and for the miracles He works at just the right time.
I write all of this because I know there is someone going through a trial right now who needs to hear this. You may go through months or even years of trials, but know that God has not abandoned you. He knows your needs and can meet them in such an unexpected and amazing way.
Those scars and bruises left on you from the struggles in this life can be used to glorify God and to help others. Sometimes it is important to share those scars with others, to lift up your sleeve and say, “Hey, look at this scar. Let me tell you how God healed this one.” You never know what hope you may have to offer to someone who is hurting.
Last, healing takes time. You may walk with a limp for a while from things you have gone through. You may not be ready to share those scars with others. That is a normal part of healing. Do not be too hard on yourself. Trust the Lord and hug up to Him. He will get you through. One day, you will be able to glory in your infirmities as Paul describes. “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” II Corinthians 12:9.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20,21.