Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why adoption is in our hearts

People often ask me why we decided to adopt. That is a complex question with a simple answer. The answer is, it was in our hearts. The complex part is that there are so many things that contributed to making it right. The fact that I have many adopted relatives from all over the world. The fact that we are older and this is my second marriage. The fac tthat we are incredibly blessed and felt led by God to share those blessings in a way that made a difference. And then there is the story of Levi.

Chris and I met 7.5 years ago. I was a single mom with 2 little girls, he was an afirmed bachelor. We met in Nov and were married by Feb. I would say he swept me off my feet, but it was more of a mutual riptide. We discussed kids, and decided that fall to see if the Lord would grant us one biological child. If we didn't suceed we would adopt, and if we wanted more we would adopt. We got pregnant immediately (shock!) and for the first 6-7 months the pregnancy was easy and enjoyable.

Then one day I began to feel 'odd'. I can't explain the feeling, it wasn't pain or anything. I just felt off. One night as I lay down in bed, my chest began to hurt and my heart started beating in an un-natural rythmn. I couldn't catch my breath, even lying down. We called the doctor (spoke to an on-call Dr) and they said if it bothered me too much to head to the ER, otherwise come into the office in the morning. I didn't want to disturb the girls so I decided to just try and get some sleep.

The next morning I was at the office when it opened. My doctor was at a different site that day, but the PA took me in and hooked me up to an EKG. Then the whispering began. You know something is up when they begin to come in and out of the room, adjusting things over and over again and whispering, all the time giving you that stressed-but-it's-going-to-be-OK smile. I NEEDED to know what was going on, so I snuck to the door and cracked it open and listened as the PA talked on the phone to my doctor. She was using words like 'Tacky', PVCs and arrythmia. So, if I didn't have a medical background I would think it had something to do with the way I was dressed, some plastic piping and a dance step. But, what I heard was 'racing heart beat', 'abnormal hearbeats' and 'abnormal heart rythmn'.

They brought in another EKG machine, one that would transmit the reading to a cardiologist. Again they hooked me up and I waited to see. The end result was that although they thought they probably should admit me, the baby was doing great and the cardiologist thought he should see me in person right away. Over the next few days I had echo-cardiograms, x-rays, blood tests, multiple sonograms and a 24-hour EKG (called a Holter monitor). The baby continued to do well and my heart issue wasn't life-threatening so I just took it easy as they collected as much data as they could.

Chris went with me to get the results at the cardiologist's office. That is where we learned that the Holter monitor showed I had 15,000 PVC's in a 24 hour period. That amounts to every 3rd beat of my heart malfunctioning. My heart was still pumping enough blood with the other beats to function well-enough, but they would watch me closely and as soon as the baby was delivered do more invasive testing to figure out why my heart was doing this.

So began the last trimenster of my pregnancy. Over the next few weeks I had weekly appointments with my OB, weekly non-stress tests, weekly ultrasounds on the baby, and was supposed to be taking it easy. OK, can someone tell me how to take it easy with 2 kids, a full-time job, no ability to take extra time off since it would come out of my maternity leave and I still had too far left to go, and a boss who really didn't care WHY I needed to slow down? Anyone???

Chris took me to an appointment about 6 weeks from my due date and the ultrasound showed that I had almost no amniotic fluid around the baby. I went straight into the hospital. Honestly, the 4 days I spent there were fantastic. I slept, I ate, I read and I watched TV. I was not responsible for anyone or anything. After 4 days my fluid levels had risen so they allowed me to go home on strict bed rest. My boss was NOT happy, and to that I say 'Too frickin bad'. I continued on weekly monitoring, etc.

I made it 3 more weeks. One morning Chris drove me to my appointment and when they hooked me up to the fetal monitor it was clear the baby was in trouble. His heart rate soared to over 200 and then dropped below 90. The doctor said 'Let's go' and we were escorted right over to the operating area. I made a couple of phone calls, they got me prepped, and it was time for the show.

I begged them to let me watch the c-section, but they were not budging. They did agree to allow me to not have my arms tied down if I promised not to get out of control. I begged Chris to stand up and watch everything and give me a blow by blow of what was happening. They injected the spinal block, laid me back, placed the drapes and then things happened very quickly. Chris was telling me what was happening but it is so fuzzy in my mind. I remember that they struggled to get the baby out. They couldn't reach his head and as they pulled and pushed my body rocked back and forth on the table. They widened the incision. Then suddenly Chris yells 'Here comes the salad tongs'. Only later did I realize that they had resorted to using forceps to finally get his head out as his stats were dropping. I got one brief glimpse of Levi over the curtain and then they whisked him off to the corner. I finally heard a small weak cry and they said they were taking him away. I told Chris to stay with him, please. Do not leave our baby! They bustled out with the isolet and then the room got horribly quiet.

Levi ended up in the NICU with breathing problems and I didn't get to see him for about 8 hours. The whole time Chris ran back and forth bringing me news and pictures, but trying to spend as much time with Levi as possible. Poor guy, he was really torn and I could tell it hurt him every time he left my side.

Two days later Levi was breathing well on his own and had recovered from his traumatic birth. He has thrived ever since. As for me, I still have the heart condition although it is much less noticeable now that I am not pregnant and putting the added stress on my heart. I had them tie my tubes during the c-section, knowing that another pregnancy was not in the cards for me.

Long before we made the decision of when/where/how to adopt, Ahren and PBJ were in our hearts. We have been led to them thru an incredible story. We have been tested in more ways than anyone can imagine, and yet they have not left our hearts. In fact, our convictions have gotten stronger with each hurdle we have passed. There are days I regret some of the decisions we have made, wondering what it would have been like if we had been one of the fortunate ones with easy adoptions. But then again, if anything in our story was different, then it wouldn't be Ahren and PBJ.


JuJu - said...

Beautiful story!!!!

Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

You are amazing - all of you!

angieshaffer said...

Thank you for posting that. I love reading people's life stories. And your stories are always entertaining.

dana said...

That was hard to re-live because I love you so much. This path has always been the right way for you and you will make a difference! Have I told you lately how incredible you are?

Angel said...

Wow... what a story. Thanks for sharing that. Angel