How I Coped When Tragedy Struck 10 Days Postpartum
I was on Cloud 9. Nine days prior, I had the birth of my dreams. A fast, hard labor at home. Fifty-five minutes start to finish and I delivered our beautiful baby girl at home. It truly was a dream. We were all so enamored with this beautiful baby girl; the first girl in 35 years in my husband's family. Her two big brothers, her daddy and I just loved her so much. We were adjusting to becoming a family of five and having two babies under a year old. Our oldest just adored his sweet tiny baby sister and he had never been happier in his entire life it seemed. When, out of nowhere, our life took a crazy, indescribably scary turn for the worst.
My husband woke up on the morning of Monday, November 21st telling me he was throwing up blood. I didn't exactly believe him until he dropped completely unconscious right in front of me. He was insistent about not going in an ambulance, so we sped off to the hospital, ten day old baby in tow, leaving behind two big brothers who never really had been away from us.
We were taken right back in the emergency room with no wait whatsoever. As soon as we got in there, my sweet husband starting sweating profusely and turned a shade of pale I had never seen on a person before. Staff member after staff member of our small town hospital came running in and out of the room trying to save his life. My head was spinning at this point with the realization that something was very, very wrong.
A gastroenterologist came in and determined that my better half definitely had blood somewhere in his digestive tract and he decided the best approach was to do an endoscopy to find the source of the bleeding. This was around 12:30 in the afternoon and the doctors told me the process would take approximately a half hour. I said goodbye to my husband completely unknowing of the what would take place in the next few hours. A million kisses later and he was taken back to the operating room and our 7 pound little bundle and I were taken to the waiting room.
We sat there and waited and waited. The half hour the doctors told me it would take passed. And then another half hour after that. And then another one. And another one. I was so scared and I just knew something was wrong. I sat there and just cried. I didn’t know who to talk to or what to do, so we just sat there, waiting.
Finally, the receptionist at the front desk in the waiting room came over and offered to help me. I told her what was going on and how I was supposed to have heard an update over an hour prior. She was determined to help me so she went to see if she could find the doctor or a nurse or basically ANYONE to help me.
I get brought into a private family room (being the medical drama show addict that I am, I knew bad news was coming) where I was told to wait for the doctor. I sat there in a sheer panic. I could feel myself breaking out in a sweat and it took all I had to try to breathe. I have never been that scared in my whole life.
The doctor comes in and the room begins to spin. I don’t really hear what he is saying except that something happened during my husband’s surgery and he died on the operating table. They were able to revive him, but he was in a medically induced coma on a breathing machine on the ICU.
Still loaded with unanswered questions, the baby and I were brought up the to Intensive Care Unit waiting room where again, we sat and waited. Another half hour passed before we were brought in to see him. My heart raced on the walk to his room and then it completely sank when I saw him. Tubes coming from every direction. A breathing tube down his throat. His lifeless body just laid there.
I couldn’t process what I was looking at. I just didn’t understand what had happened to my husband that I was laughing and joking with just a few hours prior. I was not prepared for any of it. I had absolutely no clue what would happen in all of this and I truly believe I was in shock.
It is all kind of a blur in my mind. I finally learned that he had a very significant tear in his esophagus which caused the bleeding. He had lost so much blood that the surgery shocked him and he had died in the operating room and the doctors believed him moving or doing anything at all would severely injure that already terrible injury.
All I could do was sob and pray for God to heal him. I wondered what I would do if I was to become a widow at 25 years old with three babies under three years old. I begged God to put me in his place.
The Week Went On
Monday turned in to Tuesday and I could do nothing except hold this tiny, brand new baby and nurse her while I cried over her father. I spent every second praying for him. I didn’t want to sleep afraid I’d miss his last breath and he would die while I was asleep.
The hours turned in to days and Tuesday came and went. He began developing a high fever and pneumonia and things really weren’t looking good. We had a couple pastors come from a couple different churches to pray healing over him.
His fever didn’t break, and eventually it got so high that his body had to be covered in ice. The doctors and nurses talked about transferring him to a bigger hospital where he had access to a wider range of care, but I begged them to keep him at our little town hospital for as long as they felt even remotely comfortable. We had a private room there. They were AMAZING about letting me keep our brand new baby with me. I didn’t want to leave and have to make the impossible decision of being with him or our not even two week old daughter.
Wednesday rolled around and not much had changed. He was still in the coma, not breathing on his own and he still had a fever. I was quickly losing hope that God was going to bring my husband back to me. I worried about how I would tell our oldest son his daddy was gone. I worried about our boys not having either of us on Thanksgiving.
A Thanksgiving Miracle
Thanksgiving comes and God truly showed himself in that hospital room that day. My husband’s fever completely broke and the doctor’s made the decision to decrease his sedation. Well, in the evening that night, a miracle happened. He woke up and they took the breathing tubes out. He was breathing on his own and he kept the fever down.
After that, The Lord worked miracles. He healed so quickly over the next two days that we went home that Saturday. We were ready to be out of the hospital. We were ready to get home to our boys. We were ready to get home and enjoy our newborn little girl.
Can I tell you what I wasn’t ready for? I wasn’t ready for the adjustment we went through. We went from having a toddler and an infant to having a toddler, two infants and a sick husband who was a full time responsibility within two weeks. I wasn’t ready for the anxiety that would come from this. I wasn’t ready for the sleepless nights that were to follow. I would lay awake staring at the ceiling just to make sure he was breathing. Then in the rare moments I actually fell asleep, I would have nightmares of my husband laying in a pool of his own blood or of his unconscious body surrounded by tubes and breathing machines.
The Healing Process
It has been half a year since this all happened and we are so thankful The Lord wasn’t done with him. We are adjusting to our new normal. He is doing great and looks so healthy. Our marriage and children are thriving.
So, why did I write this? That’s a good question. Getting it all out there was therapeutic for me but there’s a method to my madness here. I wrote this because I totally, fully believe The Lord is using this horrible situation to use me a comfort for others going through something similar.
This was the hardest time of my life, bar none. There’s a lot of good on this side of this tragedy and I really want to use it to encourage some of you.
When times get hard, fall on God. Find a Christian song or Bible verse that pertains to your situation and cling to it. I distinctly remember the song Cornerstone by Hillsong United playing over and over in my head that week. I know Jesus got me through that, no questions.
I wanted to write this to tell you all it’s okay to not be okay. If you need to talk to someone, please, TALK TO SOMEONE. Anyone. Don’t bottle your feelings and emotions in. Find someone who will listen and don’t give up until you do.
I cannot thank the staff at the hospital enough for the care they not only gave my husband, but our daughter and I as well. This was nothing shy of a miracle and a true act of God. Count your blessings. Tell the people you love that you love them. Pray. Pray. Pray. Prayer works. Reach out to anyone you can if you need help coping. Don’t deal with anything alone that you can’t feel you can.