The past three weeks have been eventful to say the least. As we enter the 36th week of Kristina’s pregnancy, we are doing so from the comfort of our very own hospital room! About two weeks ago, Kristina was officially diagnosed with preeclampsia. For those of you who have read my previous posts, you know that about a month ago, Kristina was placed on bedrest because of elevated blood pressure. At the time, she did not have significantly elevated protein in her urine, and so her condition was considered gestational hypertension rather than preeclampsia. However, for the past few weeks, we have been going into the doctor twice a week. Each appointment, the doctor has been watching Kristina’s blood pressure, checking for elevated protein levels, and monitoring Greyson. At one of these regular appointments, the doctor noticed that Kristina’s protein level had increased and ordered additional tests to confirm.
When the results from that test came back, Kristina’s protein levels had risen enough that the doctor officially diagnosed her with preeclampsia. Because Kristina’s case was still considered mild, the doctor stressed that this change in designation did not change the plan, which was for Kristina to deliver Greyson at about 38 weeks, on October 8th. However, she also noted that preeclampsia can change drastically very quickly and that careful monitoring was necessary in case Kristina’s preeclampsia became severe. The doctor gave us a list of symptoms to watch out for and told us to call if Kristina began experiencing any of those symptoms. This past Sunday, Kristina began having one of those symptoms: right side pain. This pain can be a couple of different things: 1) pain in the ribs from the baby stretching; or 2) pain associated with liver damage caused by high blood pressure. Because there is no way to know which kind of pain Kristina was having without blood work, she was sent to the hospital for testing.
When we arrived, the nursing staff took Kristina’s blood for labs, and started a 24-hour urine collection to test for elevated levels of protein. The blood work quickly came back normal, which was a good sign, but we spent the next 24 hours in the hospital so that we could wait for the results on the protein test. The middle 8 hours of that day were some of the longest of my life, but not, probably, for the reason you think.
Oddly, Kristina and I have both felt a tremendous amount of peace throughout this process. This is the first time in my life that I have ever really experienced the kind of peace described in Philippians 4:7, which says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We have truly known this peace over the past month.
As many of you know, Kristina’s first pregnancy ended in miscarriage in October of last year. That devastation and pain permeated the beginning of this pregnancy causing anxiety as we waited to hear that this pregnancy was going well. In a lot of ways, we felt we finally turned that corner when we hit the 20-week milestone and were able to see our son on an ultrasound. Yet, the idea of losing a second baby is always in the back of my mind. So when Kristina was first put on bedrest, I expected to be filled with anxiety once again. But I wasn’t. And as time went on, the focus turned to Kristina’s health. Preeclampsia can be dangerous for the baby, but it is usually more dangerous for the mom. Yet, still Kristina and I felt comfortable with our doctor, the plan, and her health.
Even the practical challenges of bedrest somehow seemed easier than they should have. At each turn, I expected us to struggle through these challenges battling anxiety, frustration, and maybe even guilt. Instead, we have felt inexplicable peace and calm. In the past, I have found myself feeling peace in difficult circumstances related to safety or health. But where this peace has been particularly incredible has been with regard to dealing with responding to our inability to plan. For two type A people, like Kristina and I, not being able to plan is almost more difficult than facing potential health challenges. And I think a lot of times, we tend to think of this type of struggle as outside of peace of God. We generally think of peace as affecting our feelings, not our minds. But Paul says the peace of God will guard not just our hearts, or our feelings, but our minds as well.
That peace that passes understanding has been so obvious in our lives over the past month and it was present on Sunday when we were admitted into the hospital. Yet even with that peace, I struggled through that Sunday evening. I am currently in an accelerated online MBA program through UNT. I am taking two classes this semester which were supposed to end right around our original due date, October 20. Instead, I have been completely preoccupied with Kristina’s pregnancy while in the most work-intensive class I’ve had to take in this program. On Sunday, I had to write a case report for that class, about 6 hours of work, and take my first exam my other class. This was mostly due to my own poor planning, but I felt stretched so thin. Ultimately, I bombed the test, but will have an opportunity to replace that grade, and I got a 100 on the case report. But in the moment I felt like there was no way I could accomplish everything that was asked of me.
After the results came back on Monday, Kristina was discharged. Her protein levels had increased, but still not to a severe level. So we spent the next few days at home, but on Thursday, Kristina had the most severe headache she’s had during this pregnancy, and consistently even higher blood pressures, both symptoms for which we were told to call the doctor. But with our appointment scheduled for Friday morning, we waited it out. When we went in to the doctor yesterday morning, Kristina’s blood pressure was a little high again, and her protein had increased further. Those symptoms, coupled with the symptoms from Thursday, prompted the doctor to send us to the hospital again, this time for the remainder of the pregnancy.
Once again, when we arrived, the nursing staff took blood for labs and started a 24-hour urine collection to check protein levels. Kristina’s blood work came back looking great and we will know the results of the protein test tomorrow morning. But at this point, Greyson is far enough along that the main concern is now for Kristina’s health. Kristina is getting two steroid shots to help mature Greyson’s lungs, in case he needs a little help, and the plan is to induce labor on October 1st, unless Kristina’s condition changes such that she needs to deliver sooner.
Being in the hospital is comforting in some ways. We know that Kristina and Greyson are both getting great care, but we also have no idea when we are going to be meeting our son and living out of a hospital for up to 8 days is not easy. But we have the most incredible family and friends in our lives who have surrounded us with support and even in this most chaotic situation, we are feeling cared for, loved, and safe. That is what it means to feel the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.