"I'm fine," I mumbled through swollen lips. "I just hit my chin on the wall."
"Uhm...honey, you're not. Your bottom lip is no longer attached to your jaw."
I reached up and touched my tender lip, but it didn't seem like a big deal. "What happened?" I asked.
Well, it turns out I hadn't just bumped my face against the wall. A mistake I commonly make. Sometimes I go around corners too sharply, or I bend over to pick something up and smack my face into a counter top or piece of furniture. Unfortunately, this time was much worse.
After my son Zackery was born, I had a number of issues. I'd been on bed rest for 12 weeks in Utah Valley Regional Medical Center with blood pressure of 220/113. My labor with Zack took three days because he was face up, my hips didn't spread, and I had to be induced at 34 weeks to save whatever kidney function I had left. Zack was in the Newborn I.C.U. for two weeks because he wasn't breathing when he was born, he only weighed five pounds, and he didn't have a suck reflex so he couldn't eat.
About a month after he was born, he'd developed a suck reflex like no other and he was breast feeding every hour and a half...'round the clock.
Like all brand new moms, I was exhausted. I never slept with his meal times, my body had gone from 150 pounds after his birth to 100 pounds three weeks later. Because of my kidney problems all of the fluid they pumped into me during labor couldn't process out. I'm an inch or so over five feet and my normal weight is around 110 pounds, so this drastic loss of 50 pounds of fluid sent my blood pressure crashing.
The other problem was, I'm a diabetic. All of the sugar I had in my blood stream went directly to my milk to feed the baby.
On this particular day, I finished feeding Zack and handed him over to Erik so I could lay down and try to sleep before he wanted to eat again. I made it about half way down the hallway before my blood pressure along with my blood sugar bottomed out and I lost consciousness. As my balance faltered, I turned to tell Erik something was wrong. Before I got a word out I hit face first into the wall, sliding down to the floor and tearing my lower lip away from my jaw.
If you've been keeping up with this blog, then you know, I have lots of weird things happen to me. If I panic and run to the hospital every time I fall down...Well let's just say I'd never leave.This day, I let Erik take me to the E.R., though. I recieved three layers of stitches to reattach my jaw to my bottom lip. I needed to stay on a liquid diet until the stitches dissolved a few weeks later and I had to gargle with mouth wash after anything, including my toothbrush or my baby's fingers went into my mouth.
I tried to convince myself this was a minor incident in comparison to what I'd been through with the pregnancy and birth. The more follow up I had to get, the more I understood...It was actually a major turning point for us. My nephrologist (kidney specialist) discovered I only had another year before my kidney's would fail. My blood pressure was fluctuating between highs and lows and taxing my heart, and I could no longer breast feed my baby. It was detrimental for both of us. Zack wasn't getting enough to eat and I was being drained of all my resources.
I'm not sure why this experience is what it took for me to understand, but I do remember the diagnosis sinking in. I had a brand new baby. If I could figure out how to take care of him being blind, and I didn't starve him to death with my breast milk, and I didn't drown him while trying to give him a bath, or lose him in the mall because I couldn't see him, or a million other things, I was dying. I'd had a thousand doctors warn me a million times that I wasn't long for this world, but it was the torn lip that made it all too terrifying.
In the middle of the night a few days later, i was up feeding zack his formula and crying over my failure as a mother when I felt someone sit beside me on the couch. I thought Erik had come to help with the baby, but this presence whispered to me in a different voice. "Don't worry so much," the man said. "I'm watching, I've been watching all of Erik's life."
As I wiped my tears away and felt the quiet message sink into my mind, I recognized the voice. It was Erik's father. Only it wasn't. I knew even as I thought it, it was his Grandfather. His Grandfather he'd never met. The Grandfather who died when Erik's dad was 12 years old.It was a powerful lesson for me to learn. Perhaps my lack of eyesight meant I didn't look for the man seated beside me. Without my sight I couldn't have seen him anyway. Perhaps that's why I didn't need any thing to confirm to me that he was with us. In that moment and ever since, I've known that those who watch over us, protect us, and look out for our well being are not just here on earth.It took my broken heart and an overwhelming fear for my son for me to understand. I wasn't alone. My children weren't alone. My life was not drifting through the darkness.
The most important thing I learned is: When life is too big for we mere mortals to shoulder it, its Okay. We don't have to. "...for they that are with us are greater than they that are with them." 2 kings6:16