Saturday, January 23, 2010

Facing Fear

I have been working on a 'project' for a re-set for original engagement ring..well, even since our jeweler accidentally broke my wrap during a repair. I wanted something that would symbolize what we have faced in our marriage. The ups and downs, surprises, our daughter's illness, etc.

I ended up choosing a 'halo' setting to represent the angel God has blessed our life with. A sapphire and diamond eternity band to accompany it. Sapphire = Breanna's birthstone. Eternity = God. There are surprise diamonds on each side of the basket to represent the surprises life throws our way, that oh so often leave me filled with anxiety and fear. But this ring also serves as a reminder that I am not alone in facing those fears and anxiety. Chris is here by my side, and so is God.

When we first found out Breanna had 3 markers for down syndrome, I did alot of research about it and prayed daily that God would give me the wisdom, patience, and courage to be the best mother I could be. When we met with the high-risk OB/GYN, at 5 months, she told us she had good and bad news. Breanna would not (from what the test showed) have D.S., but she did have what she believed to be a heart deformation. I could not help but feel sick, and wonder what did I do wrong. Was it because I was so sick? Was it because I contracted MRSA a month earlier, and they had to give me some medications that were not safe for pregnancy so that I would not die? At the time, I they informed me of the risk to the pregnancy but I could not risk not making it when I had two other small children at home. My mind was spinning. And my heart was broken.

They set us up an appointment with a cardiologist at Ohio Valley Heart in Evansville for a fetal echocardiogram. We spent over an hour with the technician while she took a scan of every valve, chamber, etc that she possibly could. And to our surprise, the cardiologist told us everything looked fine. Fast forward two months, I go into premature labor at 31 weeks. Spend several days of unsuccessfully stopping my contractions, but I am not dilating and baby B's heart rate was holding steady. They want me to stay another night for observation during which she quits moving. Heart rate is still fine, but alot of my levels are not. They do an biophysical profile and she fails. They need to prepare me to deliver, but my blood levels are so low it is not possible to deliver. I spend the next 12 hrs receiving numerous blood transfusions, and steroid shots to try to help her lung development. Around 9 am on September 30th, the doctors come in a try to prepare us for having a premature baby. NOTHING can prepare a mother for having her child whisked away as soon as they are delivered. Not hearing them cry, not seeing them until they are intubated, and have numerous IV's. Evan rushed to be with me, because she's my best friend, and a nurse, and she knew she had to be there just in case this took a turn for the worst. This pregnancy had taken a toll on my body, my mind, and my spirit, and she knew I was at a point of not being able to handle much more.

Things started looking up! Breanna was doing so exceptionally well, the extubated her and Chris and I were supposed to come back to the hospital that evening to get to hold her. We got the call as we were leaving to head to the hospital that there was a problem, and that she would need to be lifelined to Riley's to have surgery. FEAR!!!!!!! We get to the NICU, and as we are standing there she codes. I can not put into words the emotions I felt standing there not knowing if they would get her back, watching them cock her head back and re-intubate her. (You know those medical shows where the loved ones are outside of the operating room, looking in? well, we were there. 5 feet away while all this was going on). I felt fear like I have never experienced in my life.

As you all know, Breanna had what even her surgeon described as an 'extraordinary' recovery. Nothing short of God working through him, and taking over during her healing. But as we face the new challenges (the stenosis and valve leakage), I am constantly plagued with fear and anxiety again. I know He and He alone has the power to heal her. And even though, the past few times we have went to the doctor things show no signs of progression, I still feel an overwhelming anxiety before each and every appointment. In the back of my mind is the reality that this could be the time we find out it's time for surgery. Is there going to be a donor available? Is her body going to tolerate the new pieces of her heart, or will it reject it?

I think if it were not for my ability to turn to Him, knowing she is in His hands, it is very possible that I might loose my mind. I'm faced with a situation in which I feel helpless. And for those of you like me who like to be in control, this is a horrible feeling. Turning to Him, and living to enjoy my family is what gets me through.

I read a devotional about facing fear...which talks about the five truths to consider when you're tempted to feel hopeless and trapped by fear.

1. Life is full of negative things that might happen.

2. As long as I choose a path of personal growth, I will face fearful situations. The day nothing happens that makes us feel a little bit afraid, we'd better watch out! We may have quit breathing! New opportunities and challenges bring numerous, fearful situations that we must deal with.

3.Acknowledging my anxieties is a positive first step. Seek help from experts in an area of concern. Or discuss your fears with your spouse or good friend.

4. An attitude of optimism will make today more enjoyable. Seek out humorous thoughts and anecdotes.

5Choosing a faith-filled decision is much less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from feeling helpless. Moving out in faith may seem frightening, risky, impossible, senseless, stretching, gut-wrenching, and unnatural. But it's worth it!!!