My daughter and my son-in-law had no reason in the world to think pregnancy would be difficult for Kathleen. Neither of their families had a long history of difficult pregnancies. When she thought she was pregnant she went in for a test and was told it might be positive, but the results weren’t really clear. So they did a sonogram, at which point they told her she had a “blighted ovum”. She called me in tears. Her heart (God’s whisper) told her this was not a “blighted ovum,” and that it was a child. The nursing team tried to convince her to have a D&C. She refused, and ended up scheduling another appointment.
The next visit they told her that they found a yoke sack but no fetal pole. Again, they pushed for a D&C. Again she said no. She and I were both convinced she was just not as far along as they thought she was. The third visit they still couldn’t see a fetal pole. Again, she refused a D&C.
About this time she began throwing up, but calling it morning sickness would be a tremendous understatement of fact. There was no relief. She and my wonderful son-in-law would call her (now former) OB/GYN’s office and the nurses would tell her that she was experiencing a psychosymatic pregnancy and that she was about to “miscarry” the “empty sack.” They never saw her, never encouraged my son-in-law to bring her into the doctor.
My son-in-law had to attend a business trip in San Antonio, and often takes Kat with him, but this time it was not just wanting to be with her that caused her to join him. She was so sick now that they were afraid to leave her home alone, but the nurses kept refusing to set up appointments for her, convinced she was not pregnant.
She was in San Antonio when she collapsed. Travis got back from his conference meeting to find her blacked out in their hotel room, with blood around her, but the blood was near her mouth. At the emergency room in San Antonio the doctors confirmed that she was indeed pregnant – 8 weeks along in fact. They also told her that her ketone levels were extremely high. They told Travis that it was a good thing he got home when he did or Kathleen might have died. She was dehydrated, she was starving to death from being unable to keep any food down, and she was suffering from a rare life threatening pregnancy related illness called “hyperemesis gravidarum” or HG.
The minute they got home they began trying to find another doctor. They were told, by most, that they didn’t want to take on a pregnancy that was already determined to be high risk. Some said they didn’t want to take business from other doctors. My son-in-law’s mother was able to find an amazing doctor who was not only willing to take on the case, but seemed eager to make sure my daughter and my grandson survived.
This wonderful doctor, who I believe was sent by God, helped develop a diet for her, gave her medications that would help her keep fluid and food down, and monitored her carefully. That didn’t end the throwing up, but it ended most of the “life-threatening” part of it.
At 19 weeks Kat and Travis went in to find out the gender of their baby, and what was meant to be a wonderful, happy doctor visit offered them more bad news. The baby was SGA, or small for his gestational age. They warned Kat and Travis that the baby was at higher risk for asphyxia, hypoglycemia, polycthemia and neurological issues. Once more they were robbed of the opportunity to “enjoy” being perspective parents.
A specialist was called in and series of multiple doctor visits per week began. A trip to the OB/GYN, a trip to the specialist, measuring the baby’s growth. My son-in-law and I took turns carrying her to the appointments, his parents helped out with more than I can possibly describe here. Cooking, cleaning, packing and moving them to a new place when money issues rose up.
By week 25 they changed the diagnosis from SGA to intrauterine growth restriction or IUGR . Since poor nutrition and kidney disease are often considered factors in this issue, and since she doesn’t do the other things that sometimes lead to this (drink, do drugs, smoke), I have no doubt that the HG caused this. She was warned this could lead to complications at birth. We were told they might need to take the baby a little early to avoid it going through the stress of natural birth, and that there would probably be weeks in a neo-natal intensive care unit.
By now they’d gone from a plan of both of them working until the baby was born, with normal pregnancy expenses, to one working and massive medical bills that looked to become even more massive. God, however, was with them all of the way. My coworkers knew what was going on, and tried to be as supportive as possible. One day I walked into work and found an envelope with 177 dollars in it, addressed to me, but with no clue who gave it to me. (To this day they haven’t admitted it). I swung by Kat’s house to tell her of my blessing and found her in tears. She had gotten a bill she couldn’t possibly afford to pay, and they wanted money by the next day. I asked her the amount. It was exactly 174 dollars. I handed her the $177 and said, “God meant this for you. $174 for that bill, and $3 to remind us all He is with you.”
A little later, as I was trying to find the angel to say thank you, I asked a coworker who was less informed about the issues with Kat’s health if he knew who left the money, and he said no, but a few hours later showed up in my office wanting to know why people felt I needed help for medical bills. I explained what was going on. He returned and asked me what the hospital needed before delivery. I told him it was too much for anyone to consider helping with, but he insisted on knowing the amount. Later he showed up with a check for $6,000, telling me to tell the kids they didn’t have to worry about paying it back. They used that to make the down payments, and when the insurance paid off, returning things they had “over paid”, they paid him back.
At last, on March 2, 2009, they scheduled a c-section. There were still questions of whether the baby’s lungs were strong enough, but it looked like it had to be done.
A perfect, beautiful baby boy was born that day. He spent no time in NICU. He was small. Very small, but healthy.
And so was my daughter.
Kathleen and Josiah at the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas in 2012.