The short answer: Yes. The long answer….well, here goes. The day itself was poetic, January 11, 2011 or 1-11-11 when my life completely changed. The reset button was hit, and I had to start all over again. I went to the local hospital emergency department in Frederick, MD having an asthma attack. I was short of breath, and my fast acting inhaler was not providing long enough relief. Don’t envision a woman panicking after her last breath because that’s far from the scene. I was very calm because I couldn’t breathe well enough to panic. Anyhow, I was expecting to get the usual nebulizer treatment and prescriptions for antibiotics, prednisone, and other steroid filled inhalers which became my usual winter cocktail of medications. I was employed with Montgomery County, MD Police Communications. In other words, I’d been a 9-1-1 operator and radio dispatcher for ten years. I was due to report to work that night for the midnight shift; however, I was told some devastating news before twelve noon that changed my life forever. The attending physician decided to bypass the protocol of a chest x-ray and skip right to a chest cat scan (chest CT) because he didn’t like what he heard when listening to my breathing. He suspected a blood clot. I’ve been through this particular incidence several times in the past in the emergency room. First a chest x-ray, if suspicious, then a nuclear medicine study called a VQ scan to measure the probability of a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lung), and if that’s positive, a chest CT to find the probable clot. Only one time had I gotten as far as a chest CT, and it was negative. I became concerned that the doctor wanted to get right to the CT, but I told myself, the doctor (and my boyfriend in attendance with me at bedside) that it would come out negative too because I go through respiratory distress every winter. The doctor also said that I have to take a pregnancy test before undergoing the x-ray studies due to radiation exposure. I expected to have to take the test as well. I told my boyfriend we didn’t have anything to worry about because we always used protection, and how many times have I been through this whole thing? At least five in the previous years because I always ended up hospitalized with bronchial pneumonia. So when the doctor came back with positive pregnancy results, my first thought: “oh shit.” He told me my condition became seriously life threatening to me and the fetus. But, he highly recommended that I continue with the radiation studies to see if there was indeed a blood clot. They provided a lead apron for me to wear to protect the fetus. The blood clot was confirmed: upper left lobe of the lung. Pulmonary embolism (PE). I still wasn’t in shock so much about the PE as I was about the baby. I’m a smoker, so I get what I deserve knowing full well the consequences. I was thirty-four years old and already had two daughters ages eighteen and fourteen. My oldest daughter had graduated high school in June 2010 and moved to Phoenix, Arizona with my mother. My youngest was a freshman in high school. I was almost finished rearing my children, and now I am pregnant with another when I thought I was being cautious. The hospital didn’t know where to admit me. First, I was admitted to the intensive care unit, but was there for less than twenty-four hours before transfer to a cardiac unit because I was on a portable heart monitor. Within two days, I was transferred to the maternity unit because of the pregnancy, where I remained for another week being treated with blood thinners, antibiotics, and whatever else they could safely give me. I had met more doctors in those few days than I did years ago when my younger brother died of Burkitt’s lymphoma at the age of thirteen. I am telling the truth when I say at least five doctors recommended that I abort the baby because a PE is dangerous enough by itself, but the early pregnancy makes the conditions much more complicated. I told my boyfriend and my mother what the doctors were recommending. They agreed. It’s not worth my life when I already have two children that need me. It wasn’t meant for this baby to live. After discharge and a brief resting period at home, I returned to work on the midnight shift of 9-1-1. I followed up with my own ob-gyn that I had for almost twenty years. She delivered my daughters and I continued to see her for my womanly health. She complimented me on being a very responsible woman and making very responsible decisions over the years she’d known me. I was sixteen and twenty years old when I had my daughters. Our lives weren’t easy, but they had turned out well in spite of odds against us. Anyhow, my ob-gyn assured me that if I decided to keep the pregnancy, she and her medical partner would do all that was necessary to keep me and the baby alive. She felt bad because for years I had asked her to perform a tubal ligation which she never approved because of my youth. Now I was in a life-threatening pregnancy situation that she felt could’ve been prevented had she performed the procedure that I requested so many times in the past. I hadn’t made my decision until the next time I had to be hospitalized again at a hospital in Rockville, MD. During the next hospitalization, my heart had weakened along with the rest of my body. The blood thinners were making me feel like limp wet noodles. In the meantime, I found out I was nine weeks pregnant, early enough to terminate with minimal emotional and physical damage. While asleep, I heard a voice say to me to keep the baby. He is a boy and I will survive the pregnancy. I made the final decision to keep the baby. I told my boyfriend, my mother, and my daughters. I told them it’s an act of faith, and the voice that told me to do so I believed to be the Holy Spirit. They were skeptical, but didn’t put up any fight.
The high risk pregnancy goes on with multiple hospitalizations for pneumonia, preeclampsia, more blood clots, and every God awful thing that can happen to a pregnant woman. In the sixth month, the baby’s sex is confirmed. He’s a boy. But, he only has two vessels in his umbilical cord. Three are considered normal and healthy. Less than that is a sign of cerebral palsy or Down syndrome. Again, we were recommended to abort him which we refused. I refused because of the commitment I made from the very beginning. My boyfriend refused because I told him at nine weeks gestation that the Holy Spirit told me this baby is a boy, and it’s been medically confirmed. He wants his son. Therefore, we kept going in the pregnancy until thirty-seven weeks when my son decided to foil our pregnancy surgery plans, and come on out early. Because I was still on blood thinners, I could not receive an epidural. I had to deliver him in general surgery by cesarean. My boyfriend wasn’t permitted to go in, so he waited in my room, on the phone with my mother and closest friends, crying tears. The labor was extremely painful. I was more than ready to be knocked out by anesthesia when the time came. I said a prayer of repentance and even thanked God for giving me an anesthesiologist with such a handsome face to look at if he would indeed be the last face I’d seen in my life. I remember counting backwards from one hundred. Ninety-seven is the last number I remember. Next, I hear someone calling my name repeatedly. The first thing I ask about is my baby boy. I don’t remember what the response was. I’d fallen asleep again into semi-consciousness. I was taken to my room where my youngest daughter was sitting, drinking something, with a big grin on her face. I missed out on a lot of her accomplishments during my pregnancy. She became a high school track star, a county champion in the 400m dash as a freshman. She traveled up and down the east coast with the local track team, winning medals and ribbons. I didn’t miss all, but I did miss most of it. She wasn’t happy about my decision to risk my life to have her little brother, but when she saw him, she instantly fell in love and felt he was worth it. “He’s so cute!” is what she exclaimed to me after I was settled in.
So yes, Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit does keep His promises. I am not a psychic. There is no way I would’ve known at nine weeks pregnant with a blood clot in my lung that I would be able to survive and have the baby boy the voice told me. I take a look at my son whenever I am feeling doubtful of just what it is Jesus is doing in my life. The Holy Spirit made me more promises, some of which have been kept, others still coming into fruition. I survived the pregnancy in spite of the medical opinions of several well educated doctors. I survived a pregnancy that not even WebMD was able to give me any information about. There were plenty of stories about women who survived PE’s during postpartum, but not a single one article of a PE during antepartum. As I’ve said, the Holy Spirit has made other promises which I will continue to blog about. How you read and receive it as divine intervention or merely mortal outcome is up to you. For me, it’s the promise and miracles of the Holy Spirit never ceasing.