Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Tale of Two Surgeries

"Do not pray for an easy life,
pray for the strength to endure a difficult one."
--Bruce Lee

Originally, this blog post was supposed to be about the time I had an emergency appendectomy while 11-weeks pregnant.  Before the surgery, I asked the surgeon if he'd ever performed an appendectomy on someone who was pregnant and had a kidney transplant.  He said no.  He said there was a 50/50 chance the growing baby would survive.  Then I squeezed my mom's hand and was taken to the operating room.  

I'll never forget waking up to the sound of a nurse yelling about how she couldn't find the fetal heartbeat post-procedure.  A few minutes later, after a sonogram had been done, I felt a wave of fear and anxiety ripple over me.  While lying incapacitated on the bed, I grabbed the recovery room nurse's hand and looked at her, hoping she would see the panic in my eyes and just know. She assured me that the baby was OK and that I was OK and squeezed my hand tight.  I couldn't see her, but I just knew her face was comforting.  

I spent the following week after the surgery in the hospital while they tried to lower my blood pressure and restore my kidney function to it's previous levels. I was released just in time to make my very first appointment with a High Risk OB at 12 weeks pregnant.  My OBs happen to be the best in the region and we joked a little about my life story (FSGS, kidney failure, transplant, pregnant, appendectomy...all before 30) while promising "no more drama" for the rest of the pregnancy.  

I announced the news to some of my friends that day.  


That was in August.  It is now September and, to all our surprise, I'm coming off another stint in the hospital. Another surgery. Another organ removed.  This time I'm down one ovary due to a condition called ovarian torsion.  It's pretty rare. 

An hour of abdominal pain like no other led me to the hospital and in less than eight hours I was having yet another emergency surgery, while pregnant.

The baby is, again, OK.

The only thing is, I'm not sure if I'm OK.  This recovery time has been slower and I'm still in pain.  That probably has something to do with me being close to five months pregnant now, instead of less than three.  

I know my real cuts aren't healed yet. The bandages haven't even fallen off. But I'm also still waiting for everything else to heal too.  I'm waiting for myself to not feel so hurt and betrayed.  I'm waiting for the day when before bed, I'm not turning to my husband and telling him all the ways I feel scared and worried and sad.  I'm waiting for the nightmares to stop and the visions of me on the operating table to go away.  I'm waiting for the day when I don't cringe when someone asks me what happened, because it all still feels too raw and unreal and unfair. I'm waiting for this to become an inspiring story someday.

But I'm quite a ways from that now.  

I'm not so quick to call this a "bad pregnancy," even though two emergency surgeries, one in each trimester so far, would definitely qualify this as one.  I can't help but think about what a blessing it is to be pregnant, and it's not something to take for granted.  So I guess if this is what it takes for me to experience being a mother, then it's a trade-off I'll have to make.  

I'm not ready to label this pregnancy bad, but it is definitely not an easy pregnancy.  Creating life is important and beautiful, but for me, it's also very hard.  This is probably one of the hardest things I've done.