Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4 (Yes, I did this one recently. It’s still applicable. Maybe I’ll just leave it up for a while here.)
It has been a long while since I last posted, but not because life is boring. The last week I’ve gotten a taste of what some women deal with throughout pregnancy, and I am so deeply grateful that I’ve had an incredibly easy pregnancy all the way to 8.5 months.
For me, pregnancy’s mostly been about slowly doing a bit less than usual, but no dramatic changes in functionality. Yes, I’m more tired; I can’t ride my bike like I used to; standing up requires infrastructure and planning; I have had a variety of annoying physical symptoms that I won’t go into, but nothing that slammed on the brakes. Well, last weekend, we went from that happy land of mild discomfort and curtailing of activity to serious, significant misery.
On Sunday afternoon, the back pain started. I’ve had sort of achy back, of course, but I’m used to that — it’s the commonest complaint among all adults, practically de rigueur for pregnant women, and living with fairly severe scoliosis it’s just part of life. So when I say “back pain,” I don’t mean “My back aches consistently,” or even “It hurts and I notice it pretty often, but I can live with it.” I mean incapacitating, please-kill-me-now, vomiting-from-agony kind of pain. At first, short bits of stabbing pain that I could pause and breathe through, but later that transitioned to continuous moderate pain (don’t mistake this for easily bearable; I mean a 6 or 7 on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being dying of ebola) punctuated with intervals of absolute agony. I have never felt anything so unbearable in my life — and it just kept going indefinitely. Nothing I did seemed to have any impact on it. Ian took off work and did everything he possibly could to help, and in fact was heroic in his consistency, faithfulness, and willingness to do whatever I needed. Finally, on Monday night last week Ian took me to the ER, which shows our level of desperation. They gave me narcotics (Ian had to tell me to do it; see below), but no real solutions.
After talking with the ER doctor, my OB, and my PT, we still have a couple theories but don’t have any satisfactory explanation. The symptoms initially made the ER doctor think kidney stone, but subsequent tests imply that’s not it (the definitive test is high-intensity X-ray to the kidney, not an option with The Boy right there), so the ER doctor went with a “your kidney’s probably getting squished by the baby that’s taking up 90% of your torso” theory. My OB, however, dismissed that explanation, and preferred my PT’s take: That the weight and position of the baby, plus the extreme ligament stretching going on, is putting huge strain on my back and probably compressing some very small, very sensitive spinal joints right at the transition zone.
The ER doctor prescribed Vicodin, and my OB encouraged me to take that option. But to me, the idea of taking narcotics for the two weeks leading up to labor and then doing a natural birth… it seemed ridiculous. Plus, I hate being doped up. This is a deep, visceral, and not totally rational response that normally isn’t an issue. Now we are, in fact, finding out exactly how much I hate being doped up based on the amount of misery I’m willing to go through to avoid taking narcotics.
A week later, the pain continues, but I’ve figured out some palliative techniques: Tylenol, instead of heavier guns, which at least takes the edge off; taking long, hot baths; sitting or laying in specific positions suggested by my PT. Hot baths help the most, but unfortunately you can’t sleep in a bath, and in fact you can’t do much of anything else, either. Also, our tub is very small and it’s not easy to get into comfortable positions in it. Fortunately, Mom is letting me come over daily to use their voluminous soaking tub.
The upshot is that, in addition to having to curtail or entirely back out of a number of commitments, I haven’t actually slept the night through since last Saturday, and poor Ian’s sleep remains fragmented and disturbed, too. Much as we’d like to go into labor well-rested and ready, that may just not happen. Instead, we’ll just endure and trust that this, too, will end. Team Ferguson has overcome a lot of obstacles in the past, and this is one more that keeps bringing us closer together. The baby’s happy as a clam (a very squished clam), and I have faith that once he’s born, we’ll look back on this and know it was worth it. I also trust that there is a loving God, and as a result the baby will come early or on time.