Monday, September 30, 2013

The September Gift

My dearest people, apologies for my long hiatus between Dec 2012 and August my inability to respond to comments on my blog or leave comments on my fellow bloggers' blogs. Please bear with me.
In one of my previous posts, by faith I posted about a "September Gift" (all those posts were scheduled). Please read below (long post alert!!!) the story behind the September Gift. I hope someone is encouraged by this post.
I had 2 consecutive pregnancy losses between August and October 2012. In November, I had to travel for training in the US. My husband then insisted that I should do a follow up test to ensure the evacuation procedure (for the 2ndpregnancy loss) was done properly, and to check if there was something wrong causing the recurrent pregnancy loss. Reluctantly I obeyed. I did a couple of tests and to my greatest shock, the Dr pronounced me to be diabetic and immediately put me on medication. She said that the high sugar level was the cause of the pregnancy losses, and I should tell my doctors in Nigeria not to let me get pregnant again until the sugar level was under control.
When I got back, it was not an issue of pregnancy anymore. It was sugar level matter. I was in the hospital once a week for all sorts of tests and follow up. I did some research and found out that someone who is diabetic and gets pregnant is considered high risk. The person will be taking injections throughout the pregnancy, etc. I discussed all of these with my husband. He then said we should pray about it. After one of his personal quiet times, he told me when I go back for the tests, there will be no trace of high blood sugar level.
When I went for my next appointment, the blood test results came out. The sugar level was on the lowest side that the doctors (Physician and OB/Gyn) became confused. They said they had to stop me from taking the medication, because I was on a low dose yet it had the effect of reducing my sugar level too low. However, they could not stop me abruptly. They said I should take half the medication and come back one month later for checkup.
In January, I missed my period. I did a pregnancy test and it came out negative. I then became worried that possibly the medication for sugar level given to me in Nigeria had done something to my menstrual cycle. It was very early in the year (festive season) so I could not reach any of the doctors who knew my history to complain. I was eager to see my period so that I could probably start ovulation induction, since my blood sugar was considered normal. When I did not see the period and unable to reach my doctors, I just went to see any doctor in Lagos at the clinic where they were monitoring my blood sugar level. They did a blood test and found out I was pregnant. Then I became scared because I had no pregnancy symptom. For the last 2 pregnancies, when I lost them, I had no pregnancy symptoms as well. I began to panic. The doctor I saw did not know my history so he did not know why I was worried. He just told me to take folic acid and come back in 2 weeks. One week later, my obgyn was back so I went to see him. After I complained that I had no pregnancy symptoms, and I was scared that history will repeat itself, he put me on a weekly hormonal injection. On the 2nd week of the injection, I started bleeding.
I rushed back to the clinic and they did a scan. To my dismay, the sac was empty. At 6 weeks, one would expect to see a yolk sac and a fetal pole, but this one was empty. I saw it with my eyes. At the same time, the owner of the clinic walked in because he wanted to use the scan room. He looked at the scan and said, "this is an impending miscarriage. The sac has collapsed and we have blood all over. If by next week you have not finished bleeding, come back for an evacuation!" In my file they wrote "Anembryonic something something..."
I wept. I was devastated. I could not eat after that news. I stopped taking all medications including the folic acid. My husband then said we will go ahead with the evacuation, and then go for a vacation. He made all the arrangements for the vacation.
Because I had done a procedure in October, I was not keen on another one. So I decided to go to the Dr to ask for an alternative i.e. if they had a medication I could take to end the pregnancy since it was very early. When I went to the clinic, he said he would like to do a scan to know if the medicine would work or if we must do a procedure, because it depended on the amount of “tissue”that could be left behind by using medication. Lo and behold, there was a baby with a very strong heartbeat in the scan. I could not believe my eyes and ears. The Dr was in shock. He said this can only be God. That I should say thank God.
Well, my family and I went on the vacation a few weeks later, travelling around US, when I should have been resting. When I expressed some fears, my husband said, "It is not about what I do or do not do. It is God that is watching over the child".
By my week 10, I woke up one morning and I was soaked in water. I knew I did not urinate on myself. I do not sweat normally, so it could not have been sweat in that cold weather. Then my mind went to amniotic sac had ruptured. That was the same day I was to travel from Baltimore to Atlanta. I called my sister and asked for advice. Due to weather conditions, she said I should wait till I arrive at Atlanta before seeing a doctor. That though this is an emergency situation, doctors will not be keen on preserving the life of the child since it was quite early, and so it will end up in a procedure. So I should bear and get to Atlanta that night and go to a clinic.
It was not easy. I felt that if I had known, I should not have travelled. I was far away from medical attention and I felt disappointed that God allowed me to see a baby with heartbeat, only to take the baby at week 10. My hubby prayed but I was in panic mode. Finally I settled down and prayed. I asked God for only one word. He gave me more than a word. He said, “With Me nothing is impossible. Even if the amniotic sac has ruptured, which has not happened, I can fix it. So my daughter, do not worry”. From then on, I became the one consoling my sister and my husband that everything will be alright.
I got to the clinic in Atlanta around 6pm. After all the checks, they could not find a trace of leaking liquid. The scan showed a healthy baby enjoying and not having a care in the world. I was discharged but told to treat for yeast infection.
By week 14, when all worries and fears about losing the baby should have been gone, I started bleeding. I went for a scan and my doctor said he suspects a degenerating fibroid, which he showed me. He scheduled me for a detailed scan with the radiologist. When I went for that scan two days later, not only had the bleeding stopped, the radiologist could not find any trace of a fibroid. As I look back now, it is possible that God had worked another miracle there.
The pregnancy itself afterwards was very smooth. I was so energetic and I looked forward to the birth of my baby.
My baby’s due date was 7th of September, 2013. 3 nights before that, I was woken from sleep by a contraction. This was the same experience I had with my first baby whom I had a few hours after I was woken up by contractions. I remained awake to monitor the intervals of contractions. It was 30 minutes apart. So I rested and expected that by morning, the intervals would have reduced and I would be much closer to active labor. To my disappointment, by the time I woke up in the morning, there were no contractions. The same thing happened the next night. I had to read online and some people mentioned “painful Braxton-hicks” while some others called it “pre-labor”and that the longer the pre-labor, the shorter the active labor. On Friday night (6th of September), the same thing happened. This time, I could not even go back to sleep. Yet the intervals of contractions were 20-30 minutes apart. On the 7th morning, I told my sister I would like to go to the clinic – she actually saw me going through one of the contractions. So she accepted to drop me at the clinic.
As we started our journey, the contractions stopped. I told my sister to please turn back, that it was “false labor” and I did not want her to get to the hospital (45 mins drive away) only to be told that I should go home. She refused and said not all labors are the same. That she will prefer to have me see a doctor. I reluctantly listened to her.
When we got to the clinic, I was checked. The doctor said I was only 2cm dilated, I was not contracting, and my cervix was not ready for birth. However, they said they will monitor me, and also run some tests to see if I had some infections that were causing painful Braxton-hick contractions.
I was on the hospital bed with the monitoring devices (contractions and fetal heart rate) feeling very bored. My sister had left. I was lamenting that I should not have wasted hers and my time that morning. I had just sent her a text that I will talk to the doctors to let me go home soon, and I will come home to prepare lunch, when suddenly a group of medical staff rushed into the room where I was. One of them explained to me that I am being rushed to the theatre for an emergency cesarean section, because my baby’s heartbeat had dropped very low. There was no time for further discussion, I saw myself being wheeled to a theatre. I was prepared for the operation. However when they monitored my baby’s heartbeat, it had normalized, so they said they were going to induce me to have the baby via vaginal birth. I was then wheeled back to my ward.
I was induced and was being monitored. However, I was not dilating as they expected yet baby's heartbeat was fluctuating. The epidural they gave me began to wear off. I then called on the anesthesiologist to come and look into it. When she turned me to my right side for a refill, my baby’s heartbeat dropped so much that I was rushed back to the theatre. They told me they could not wait for the effect of the epidural to set in and so I had to go on full anesthesia.
I woke up, I saw a baby in my arms, who I breastfed for about 2 minutes. I recall sending out message to my husband and sister telling them I had had the baby, and I think I went back to sleep. I woke up again and I was in a recovery room. I asked for my baby but no one could tell me where my baby was. I became scared. It was almost 7 pm. My sister came to check on me. She wanted to see the baby too. The nurses said they could not bring the baby to the recovery room. I kept praying that everything was okay with my baby.
I finally saw my baby by 10pm. She was born around 1:40pm. She weighed 2.6kg. She was the smallest baby I had ever seen. But when I held her in my arms, looking down at her nose so exactly like her father’s, I could only thank God for yet another full term journey He had taken me on. It was a journey of revealing another part of Himself to me. He that promised is faithful.
Today, when I hold her in my arms, I remember that she was called “an impending miscarriage, an anembryonic sac, degenerating fibroid…” but God had the final say. She is Nwachi Grace, and I love her so.
Remain blessed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Revisiting The Evergreen Tree

Sometimes, we can go through situations we have been through before, and even when we know how faithful God was in the past, we still have fear, doubts, etc, deep in our hearts. That means we need to constantly be reminded of who God is, and His word should take priority over every situation we face.

As I type this post, I recall a time when I was filled with anxiety and fear, and the experience I had with the "Evergreen Tree". I searched out a post that helped to remind me of who God is and what He can do. He exceeded my expectations then. I hope that as you read this, you will get some comfort or encouragement if you are in a situation of anxiety, doubt or unanswered questions.

Each time I took a walk, that tree caught my eye. Since my mind was filled with so many thoughts, I could not place why the tree appealed to me. One day, I had to stop and take a hard look at the tree. It was then I realized why it always stood out. In the midst of dry, deserted, leafless and barren-looking trees, it stood tall, fresh and evergreen.

It was one of those periods when my mind was clouded with anxiety and unanswered questions. I had some sleepless nights worrying and running scenarios in my head. But that day as I looked at the tree, how it looked, and the way it stood out, I found myself getting back on track. I do not want to belittle God by likening Him to anything, but when I thought about what the tree meant in the midst of the other trees, I could not help but be reminded of the consistency of God.
He is the God that does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever [Hebrews 13:8]. We live in a world where things are ever changing but He still remains the same in every facet. He said it, “I am the LORD, and I do not change” [Malachi 3:6], and this word is true.
He never says a word and changes His mind. All His promises have been tried and proved true. When He speaks today a word or a promise, He does not change His mind. ”God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. He has never spoken and failed to act. He has never promised and not carried it through [Num. 23:19].
He remains the same [Psalm 102:27]. The God that was spoken of before now is still the same God today. God does not need to prove to us that He is God. He is the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world [Jeremiah 32:27]. If we come to Him in prayer and He does not answer the way we want, He does not stop being God. In fact, it only means He has better plans for us.
Seasons will come and go but He will always be there. There will be periods of joy and laughter. There will be periods of trials and disappointments. But in all of these He is still the God who gives good and perfect gives and does not change like shifting shadows [James 1:17].
Even when all else fails, He will never fail. Most times, we go to Him as the last resort instead of the first. Yet He receives us, and attends to us. He hears our prayers, He sees our tears, and like a loving Father, He is always willing to restore us what seemed to be lost or taken from us [Joel 2:25].
There are times when we may not be able to feel His presence, but He will never leave us or forsake. He Himself said “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” [Hebrews 13:5] It is not only when we feel blessed that He is with us. At those times when we feel alone, or deserted, He is so close, watching over us, putting a protective hedge around us that we will go on to see the goodness ahead of us.
God is self-sufficient. He knows how to fulfill His promises in our lives. When He does it, it is in a way that no man can take the glory. It may not be the way and time we plan, but He sure knows how to make things beautiful in its own time.
No matter what else changes around us, God in all His greatness and might and majesty will never change.
Having been reassured of the love and consistency of God, I finally cast my cares upon Him and started having a good night’s rest.
No matter where you are, may you be reminded that God is the never-changing God.
Remain blessed.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

20 Years In Memorial

God is amazing!!!
I cannot believe it has been 20 years since Daddy was taken from us in a very brutal and gory way.
Then, when it happened, I thought our lives were over. Looking back I now understand what it means to truly rely on God daily for provision, for sustenance, for direction, in fact, for everything.
Then, I understood what it was like to cry and feel your heart broken in pieces, literarily. I never believed that someday we could move on without the heaviness associated with the pains of losing a loved one.
To be honest, I still cry sometimes when I think about him. I cried during my MSc graduation because I would have loved him to be there. I cried during my wedding because I would have loved him to be physically present. Last year I remember crying while driving as I thought about how he was separated from us. Sometimes I get sober when I am having a great time with my husband, and I realize that my mother is all alone without the company of a lover and best friend.
This post is just to say "Thank You Lord!" In these 20 years You have proven, times without number, that You are the Father of the Fatherless and the Husband to the widow. You know how to turn mourning into dancing. Your promises of never leaving us nor forsaking us remain tested and true. Thank You.
Finally, I thank You for the "September Gift".  You that promised is faithful.

You can read about how he was separated from us here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Morning With The Glassware

That early morning, the master opened the shelf that contained all the drinkware and tableware. The mugs, water glasses and tea cups, which stood at the forefront, were ready to be selected for daily duty. But the master reached deep into the shelf and picked up the wine glasses, champagne flutes and Styrofoam cups.
“Finally we get a break today,” a mug murmured. The other mugs, water glasses and tea cups nodded in agreement.
The master took a special clothe and wiped the wine glasses and champagne flutes. He took these glassware to a special corner of the kitchen and lifted them up against the light to check if they had sparkle.
“Wow!” a water glass murmured. “He has never treated us like this!”
“I feel used,” a tea cup said. “Every morning, he uses me but it seems like today is a special occasion and he has no use of me…of us!”
“We are the most used,” one of the water glasses said. “Whether it is morning, afternoon or night, whether it is for him or for guests, he always uses us. Yet without giving us this special treatment and attention.”
“Let’s take it that we are not that special,” said the mug. “And for the records, I don’t feel useful anymore, though a few moments ago I was looking forward to a break!”
Just then, the madam walked into the room.
“Thanks for preparing the glasses for our dinner tonight,” she said. “Let me prepare you a fantastic breakfast.”
“Yes please,” the master replied in delight. “One more thing, I did not wash the water glasses, please can you do so? I like how delicately you handle them. Also when serving my breakfast, please could you put juice in my favorite mug and tea in my special tea cup?”
“Certainly, my love,” the madam replied, “breakfast is incomplete without them!”
So while the master continued cleaning the wine and champagne glasses, the madam went on to prepare and use the other glassware for their appropriate functions.
“Well I feel special afterall,” the mug said, “I did not know I was his favorite!”
“I did not know he cared for us that much,” the water glass said, “he wanted us to be taken care of delicately.”
“And I am definitely ready to be used this morning, knowing that indeed I am special,” the tea cup said.
So is it with how God uses us. He uses us differently for different purposes. Someone can be part of the choir, ministering twice a week. Someone else can minister once a month and impact as much, if not greater number of people. Someone can be a cleaner, cleaning the church’s toilet everyday while someone else can be a visiting preacher that pulls multitudes. Not one of these has irrelevant roles. In the sight of God, none is more special than the other. Each person He has created has a unique purpose, and He loves everyone with an everlasting love.
Today as you consider yourself, realize that God created you specially and with a unique purpose. Some in your area of calling will appear greater, and some will appear like they are not up to par with you. It is God who has distributed the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit for different purposes. Do not think lowly of the things you do, especially as it pertains to the kingdom of God. Some of the things you do are indispensable, and there are many out there who cannot do it as well as you do.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters [Colossians 3:23]. God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them [Hebrews 6:10].
In the eyes of God, He measures your success by how well you do what He wants of you, not by any yardstick designed by man.
And He loves you just the way you are, like you are the only person on earth.
Remain blessed.

All scripture are taken from the New International Version (NIV) translation unless otherwise stated.