Many times I have tried to write this story, and every time I’ve abandoned the effort. It is so difficult to go back to this dark place in my history. However, I’ve intended to share it, eventually, so that it might help someone else traveling that lonely, dark road of the “HG pregnancy.”
HG, or Hyperemesis Gravidarum, is described by the American Pregnancy Association as “a condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance. Mild cases are treated with dietary changes, rest and antacids. More severe cases often require a stay in the hospital so that the mother can receive fluid and nutrition through an intravenous line (IV).” In my case, I experienced the extreme forms of this condition during both of my pregnancies.
At this very moment, Prince William’s bride, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is hospitalized in England, suffering from this condition. (Link to a story on the Today Show on NBC this morning about the Duchess: http://video.today.msnbc.msn.com/today/50068137#50068137 ). When I read an article announcing this last night (http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2012/12/03/15648748-hyperemesis-gravidarum-you-just-feel-like-youre-dying?lite), which happened to be my first son’s 10th birthday, I couldn’t help but cry for her. Even though I know that she will undoubtedly receive the best possible care throughout her pregnancy, all the memories of those feelings of tremendous worry, loneliness, and, at times, despair I felt during my pregnancies came rushing back. I immediately stopped reading to pray for her, for the health of the new baby, and for Kate’s physical, emotional, and mental condition – because believe me, it is all at stake here.
HG was very rare and mostly unheard of during my first go-round with the condition. In fact, I diagnosed myself after doing much research on the internet between vomiting episodes while lying in bed. Thankfully, I had an obstetrician who had heard of it, and agreed that this was what I had, much to my relief. I’ll explain what I mean by that in a bit.
But first, I want to explain how much I had wanted a baby, and had prayed for this. James and I had been married for thirteen years at this point. I was 33 years old, and had spent all of those years focused on my career and “getting ahead.” However, that year the Lord began changing me in so many ways, the most drastic being that He gave me a desire to start a family. In fact, the desire was so strong that James and I decided that I would quit working and focus on this, and on making our home life more family-focused.
You see, over all those years of working so hard, somewhere along the way James and I had become more like “roommates” than a couple. We were two ships sailing off to sea during the day, returning to port late in the evening, sometimes not even exchanging a word before calling it a night. In fact, we had entertained the idea of divorce for a brief moment, when we came to the realization that we were not committed as a couple. We had stopped going to church, and not only were we not committed as a couple, but we were also not committed to the Lord. This was a very dark time in our lives, and I look back over it now with such regret.
Thankfully, a friend at the time invited us to attend his church one Sunday. It was a non-denominational, contemporary service, very different from the traditional protestant church we had been attending before we gave up going months before. Something about it spoke to our spirits, waking us up, so to speak. We went back the next Sunday, and the next, and before we knew it we were involved in a small home group of extremely loving and devoted Christian families, many with small children.
To say we were convicted by these incredible families is to put it very lightly. The best way to explain it is to say that they had something that we wanted. It wasn’t just their closeness, or their obvious devotion to one another, it was also, or mostly, their closeness and devotion to the Lord that we were missing in our own lives and now desiring so strongly. Their witness to us was so strong, and it became obvious the Lord had led us to them. Before we knew it, James and I were falling in love again – both with God and with each other.
The Lord worked in our lives in so many ways during those next couple of years. To say we did a 180 degree turnaround in our lives would be a severe understatement! And it was at this time that the desire to start a family began to grow strong for both of us. However, we knew that we needed to make even more changes in our lifestyle in order to make this work. “Two ships passing in the night” would not make a strong port in which to raise children. We decided that I would quit working outside the home for a while, and that we would focus on creating a new and different home life, one that would be completely focused on growing a family whose focus was to love and serve God.
It was only a few short weeks after quitting my job that I attended a conference with some friends in Nashville. I drove down and back by myself, though, because I wanted to get home a day early to attend an event at church with my husband the next morning. The hours alone in the car gave me so much time to think and pray. I had not been feeling very well during the entire trip, and was especially emotional – which I attributed to being in the throes of that monthly hormonal thing.
While driving over the mountain entering Knoxville from the west side, a dark blue Jeep passed me. I happened to glance over and I noticed there was a lady driving with a young man, maybe 13 or 14 years old, in the passenger seat. Within those few split seconds I saw them talking and laughing, and all the sudden I began sobbing uncontrollably! It is so difficult to explain because nothing like this had ever happened to me before, but it was almost as if I’d seen a vision of my future! At that moment the desire to have a child became overpowering to me. I cried for miles and miles, and realized that I was crying out to God, “Please answer my prayer for a family! I want to have a child, Lord!”
I was feeling so full of regret for waiting so many years, selfishly pursuing my own dreams which had turned out to be so empty, so hollow. Was I too old? Had I waited too long? Had the window of opportunity opened and shut somewhere along the way when I was too busy, too full of myself to even notice?
As I drove into the city of Knoxville, I saw a huge black billboard through my tears. Back then, someone had begun a campaign of a series of billboards around the country that were supposed to be words from God. These said things such as “You know that ‘Love thy neighbor thing’? I meant that. – God”, and, “Don’t make me come down there. – God.” Well, this particular one said, “We need to talk. – God”. I don’t think he could have made it any clearer.
So, at that exact moment, I took an exit, pulled into a parking lot, pulled out my Bible and began reading and praying. I can’t remember what I read, and I can’t remember what I prayed. But I do remember an unbelievable calmness settling over me. My tears dried, and I drove home the rest of the way in complete peace, knowing that God was sovereign, and that His plan was in place for me, for my family.