Before you began reading today, please scroll down and pause my play list. Then come back and press play to start the youtube video. The video is just images and doesn't apply to my blog but the song fits perfectly!
As we were practicing this song last night in choir rehearsal it made me look back on my life and how God has blessed me. My life hasn't always been easy. Especially the first 8 years of my life. I really do not remember much about my early childhood. Not because it was my "early" childhood but because I blocked out so many memories. I had things happen to me as a child that no one should ever endure. The few memories that I have that are good, I cherish dearly but the other memories...well, let's just say that life's challenges can be tough. In 1991 my life took a turn. My mom married a wonderful man in March and in September I learned about Jesus. I had heard about him all of my life. I knew that my mom trusted Him, that my Nanny asked for Him to heal her sick body. I knew what prayer was and what heaven and hell are but I didn't know what it meant to have a relationship with our Lord. So, that year, I asked Jesus into my heart. It wasn't a moment of drastic change. As I grew older I refrained from getting into trouble. I was a good child with minor mishaps of course. I met what would be my future husband when I was 15 at the Forest Park Chick-fil-A Dwarf House. Joe and I began dating when I was 17. He asked me to marry him on Christmas day of 1999. On November 18, 2000 we became Mr. and Mrs. Early of 2001 I began experiencing some pretty serious stomach pains. I went to doctor visit after doctor visit. They gave me pain meds after pain meds. I hate taking medicine so...I didn't take the meds they gave me. Plus, the one time I did, it made me loopy! Finally I saw a doctor that looked me in the eyes and said she was very sorry but that I would never be able to have children. Not too much of an explanation. So I did what any woman would do and got a second opinion. That doctor too said the same words. So, I cried! Joe and I had been married less than 2 years at this point and two doctors said we would never have children. All I could think was the worst. They knew what they were talking about. They went to school for years. This is their speciality. So, we did what any other couple would do and got a THIRD opinion :) This time, the doctor said he thought it would be difficult but not impossible. So, after 4 months of tests and fertility drugs our hope was dwindling. Our doctor referred us to a fertility specialist. So, we went. I went back on fertility pills and we even did a procedure called intrauterine insemination. After about a month it was time to take the dreaded pregnancy test. I had two (and you know I planned on taking them both!). The first test came out a very faint positive. The next day, I took the second test and it came out negative. With mixed emotions I called the doctor. After more tests, I got a call. There was good news and potentially not so good news. I was, without a doubt, pregnant. However, whatever it is in my blood revealed that I was pregnant either, an egg that was fertilized with twice which would result in loss of the baby OR I was pregnant with multiples. I asked "like twins" and they said "more like a minimum of triplets, which in your case you might need to reconsider things." We made it to our first ultrasound. To our surprise it was twins! Phew! My expected due date was January 22, 2004. Now, Joe and I weren't active in our prayer life. We went to church on Sunday mornings and that was pretty much it. The rest of our life revolved more around us. We weren't bad people and we didn't do bad things, we just put our priorities first rather that God. I went through my pregnancy like any woman would...morning sickness, bloating, swelling, etc. I developed gestational diabetes which is more common in a multiples pregnancy. I had that under control. Then, on December 17, 2003 after a day of light shopping I noticed that my right leg was much more swollen than my left and my right foot was blue, cold and numb. I called my doctor right away and he told me to head to the hospital. When I got to the hospital they admitted me because of my blood pressure and they weren't yet certain what was going on with my foot. The next morning it was discovered that I had a blood clot in my upper thigh. It was 99% blocked and it was the kind of clot that can easily travel to your heart and lungs and instantly kill you. They put me on strict bed rest. Not even a visit to the porcelain bowl. They started me on a blood thinner called heparin. My blood pressure stayed pretty high and they said I was showing signs of toxemia. Joe stayed with me for as he could. Then on December 22, the night he decides to go home, my mother in law was staying with me until I feel asleep. The nurses were allowing me to have pain meds because I was having constant contractions and had been since they admitted me. I was going to play a trick on my MIL and tell her that my water broke when I got what felt like this huge gas bubble. I kept thinking to myself, if she doesn't hurry and leave I'm gonna get really embarrassed (come on now, you know how pregnant women are with flatulence!) Then all of a sudden I felt this odd pain that went away quickly but then a sensation like I had just wet myself. Sure enough, my water broke on it's on. They immediately stopped the heparin and wheeled me up to Labor and Delivery. Joe of course came rushing back. They gave me a shot of stadol to minimize the pain until I could have an epidural. I finally asked for the epidural and the anesthesiologist came in, flipped his papers and said I could not have an epidural. My blood platelets and hemoglobin count were dangerously low and there was a real possibility of bleeding to death. My blood pressure kept creeping higher and higher. I finally made it to 10 centimeters and was ready to push. They took me back to the operating room just in case they had to perform an emergency c-section. Here I am, pregnant for my first time, with twins, weighing OVER 240 pounds, no pain medicine anymore (and like anything can take away the pain of contractions!) I was so scared. On December 23, 2003 I gave birth to Ethan at 8:10AM and he weighed 4lbs. 10oz. and was 16" long. I gave birth to Bryce at 9:20AM and he weighed 5lbs. 13oz. and was 18" long. Both babies were taken to the NICU. Ethan for his weight and Bryce because he came out not breathing and because they were more than 4 weeks early. They got me together and took me to my room to recover. They started me back on the blood thinner. My blood pressure still would not go down. On December 24th I wanted to see my little boys. The nurse came in, helped me out of bed as Joe gathered my I.V pole full of bags and bags of medicines and fluids. As soon as I got in the wheelchair I felt a strange feeling. Something wasn't right. I told the nurse I didn't feel right so she took my blood pressure. My blood pressure had been staying around 200/100 but at this point it was 60/40. The next thing I remember is them throwing me back in the bed and taking my blood pressure over and over again. I knew that I was getting worse and we were getting word that our boys were not doing to great either. I didn't get to see my babies that day except in a picture that the hospital took for Joe to have and some that my father in law took. They posted them up on the wall for me to look at. By this time, Joe had to go back to work. He was still an assistant manager at Truett's Grill and they had just gotten a new operator. As supportive as he was and as understanding of our situation there was no way we could take him or Chick-fil-A for granted. Each night Joe left the hospital I would cry. I knew something was wrong and I was so afraid of never seeing him again. I was afraid I would never get the chance to hold my sweet babies. I was able to hold Ethan for a second but I wasn't able to hold Bryce. I thought about them never knowing me. I thought about Joe raising two boys on his own with the love and support from his family. Well... I got a visit from my doctor and he informed me to tell every doctor, dentist, surgeon, etc. that I am allergic to heparin, DEATHLY allergic to heparin. They took me off of that blood thinner and started me on another. On Christmas morning of 2003 I was feeling a tiny bit better. I was actually able to get up, take a shower and put on make up! We celebrated Christmas that morning in the anti-partum part of the DeKalb Medical hospital. Presents and all! But the best present that day was when they wheeled me and my IV pole full of medicines in to see the greatest Christmas gift ever. That morning, Joe and I both got to hold our little boys for the first time. The next day, my nurse came in and said that my platelets and hemoglobin were still dangerously low and they highly recommended a blood transfusion. I received 2 pints of blood. My blood pressure was almost back to normal and I was gaining strength. So were my boys. They were moved from the NICU to the special care nursery. I was released to go home on December 30 but my boys did not get to go with me. Thankfully, both of my boys got to come home on January 3, 2004. As we came home and settled in with our new little family we learned of about God's hands at work. It begins with my doctor. He was the doctor that was "on-call" the night my water broke but was scheduled for surgery the next morning at 8. But the patient called and CANCELLED her surgery that day!!! For those that have had children, you understand how comfortable you are with your own doctor. Especially since mine has his own private practice. Not too long before being admitted, I went to the hospital for a "false alarm" but found out that instead of being contractions, one of the boys turned from the breach position to head down. When they wheeled me into the operating room to deliver my boys, I had family members praying to God that never pray and I'm not even sure if they're believers. I believe that my doctor is Muslim and even he said that God was in that operating room that morning. My nurse that I had when my water broke ended her shift at 7 that morning and came to the OR room to be with me and help me just because. As I was pushing, I constantly thought of Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me!" The day I left the hospital I was informed that because of my blood clot I would have to be on the new blood thinner for the next 6 months and then a smaller dosage for the rest of my life. I was also told that I would have damage done to my veins and quite possibly have a light pain where the clot was. I was referred to a hematologist. I went every week and at my three month mark, she sent me for a full ultrasound, focusing primarily on my right leg. The ultrasound tech had this confused look upon his face. He looked at me and asked me my name again and asked why I was having this procedure done. I told him about the clot. He went and got another ultrasound tech. She had the same confused look. A few minutes passed and I received a call from the hematologist...they were unable to find any evidence of a past clot nor any evidence of any clot. My blood was normal. So, because of my age and the possibility that it was caused from my pregnancy, the hematologist took me off of my blood thinner. When the boys were 4 months old we had them dedicated at our church. We also rededicated our lives. We joined the church, joined a Sunday school class and chose to put God first and not ourselves. I feel like God gave me a second chance at life. He gives me second chances everyday but this was at life. I want to live it for Him. We decided last year to try for another child. We wanted it to be God's will. We didn't want to go through all the fertility that we did with the boys. We prayed and asked for His guidance. This past Christmas we were able to tell our parents that we were expecting our third child. Of course, Maggie Grace was born on August 17 and named after Joe's Grandmother. She too was dedicated to the Lord. My pregnancy with her was a breeze. It's amazing how wonderful life can truly be when you live it for the Lord. God's been good to me!