Today is one month since I had surgery. Time sure flies. :)
Since I last wrote, I have had a couple of doctor's appointments, and I started my third trimester this past week! I had another ultrasound on baby girl this week to see how she's been doing after everything that happened. Praise be to God that she looks perfectly healthy. And apparently she is one long-legged girl. :) My doctor had said that about Kate as well, and those who have seen her in person know that she is, as she is practically off the growth charts. One tall little three year old! Looks like her little sister might take after her.
In thinking back on the events of this past month, I'd like to recall God's goodness:
(Warning: this is really long. You don't have to read it of course, but it's good to remember these things, to have these "stones" to remember. So I remember for myself and share if you want to know.)
~ For the safety and protection of our baby girl throughout everything. I only had one moment when it all started that I was worried about her, but the Lord immediately calmed my heart and kept it that way the entire time, even when I was having all of those contractions. Still had peace.
~ For the intense pain that led to the discovery of masses on my liver. Some lab results have come back negative that lead them to think that they are benign, although we don't know with certainty at this point. But either way, we would have never known about them because they are not causing any symptoms or problems in my body that would have led to their discovery at this point.
~ For the timing of this happening just two days AFTER the biggest basketball tournament of the year. God could have allowed it to happen sooner and disrupt that weekend, but he chose to wait and allow us to enjoy another tournament together as a family and celebrate the gifted boys varsity basketball coach that Kevin is.
~ For the timing of this also happening during my second trimester. Surgery carries risks of course at any time for anyone, but risks are higher for miscarriage during the first trimester and for preterm labor in the third trimester. This all happened during 23-24 weeks in my second trimester.
~ For our mission who reached out immediately in wanting to support us in any way they could and for later putting us in touch with American doctors who could help explain and answer questions.
~ For Christian doctors in the US who have helped since day one. For Dr. Parsons who helped immediately and put me in touch with Dr. Sawyer when he didn't know things. Thank you, Dr. Sawyer, for explaining things to me that I don't understand, answering questions that no one here will, sending Scripture and prayers to encourage my soul, and offering your services and advice time and time again.
~ For my parents being able to drop everything and come for two weeks. Not only that, but the fact that they got here for the two most important weeks after surgery and between two nasty winter storms in Chicago was nothing but a miracle of God. And this all got scheduled two days before we even knew that I would have surgery. They took care of everything when they were here...cooking, cleaning, laundry, kids, grocery shopping, and driving me around to appointments and whatnot since I wasn't allowed to drive. Literally everything. My mom even changed my bandages. :)
~ For a surgery that happened on a Saturday, which is the exact opposite of what I thought I would have wanted! Telki Hospital kind of operates Monday to Friday. Of course they are there on the weekends with patients, etc., but the weekends are dead and most of the staff don't speak much English then. Nothing really happens there on the weekend. So having surgery on a weekend was not what I was expecting (nor what I was told would happen), but the Lord provided a surgeon and team of doctors whom I trusted right from the start on a Saturday of all days. I had talked with other surgeons and anesthesiologists during the week, none of whom I liked or felt comfortable with. But here on a Saturday I was blessed with one of the best surgeons in the country, my own OB coming in, and a team of other people who were incredibly kind and loving, many of whom I could understand. And I will never forget the surgeon's last words to me, "Then may I be an instrument in his hands today." I think of that almost daily when I wake up as it is applicable to daily living.
~ For so many English speakers in the medical field, not just at Telki but at radiology at St. István and in the ambulance. And not just broken and hard to understand English but English that was clear! For those men in the ambulance who kept us laughing and willingly translated things for us and stayed with us during the whole process at the other hospital. For the young doctor in radiology who was slow and deliberate in his speech so that I understood, and who, quite honestly, was the most encouraging in regards to my liver.
~ For a team of nurses who took care of me around the clock that first 24 hours (well, all the time but especially then) when I couldn't do anything. For them humoring me when I asked them to open the window because I was so hot and knew I would vomit at any moment if I didn't cool down. (Here they think that a draft will make you sick.) For them monitoring my contractions and the baby's heartbeat every 20 minutes, even though it meant absolutely no sleep. Then again, I was in so much pain not sure sleep would have happened anyway. :) For my favorite nurse Gabi and the two older motherly nurses who had great kindness and compassion towards me. And for that one "no nonsense get it done" nurse who never apologized for all of the times she had to draw blood and stick me with one thing or another but did it quickly and effectively without leaving tons of bruises, unlike the other three on that third day in the hospital which left me looking pretty bad.
~ For the Lord's protection over me and our baby. Evil doctor has now advised me poorly three separate times (once when I was in the hospital when Kate was born, the other two times this past visit), and the Lord has protected us from his poor decisions each and every time. I had received medical advice from the American doctors against the liver biopsy he said I needed to have, and when I went in to my doctor to have my staples removed, he also said that I shouldn't have a liver biopsy. Then I got the report from the hospital where I had the MRI done that said that they did not recommend a biopsy but just monitor my liver for changes until after delivering at least and that they thought it was benign.
~ For two kids who had to deal with life being turned upside down for a couple weeks and being shipped off to one place or another or having one person after another come watch them. And they handled it with grace, even though I know they were tired and confused. And they never got mad when Kevin had said he'd be home to put them to bed but wasn't able to a couple times because life just didn't work like that. For the great love they already have for their little sister, even though they don't know her yet and she has already complicated their lives. :) And they have named her "Balloon Pop." Of course that name is not sticking around, but that's what they lovingly call her.
~ For the body of Christ. Where to begin?! For people taking Kevin's classes so that he could either be with me or the kids most of the time. For our dear friends who stepped up to take care of our kids when Kevin was with me. That meant a lot of last minute calls and never a complaint. It also meant later nights for them than anticipated as life doesn't always happen "on time." For friends who dropped off food so many times I can't even count. Friends also went and got groceries or even dropped off food for the other friends watching the kids. Friends offered rides to the airport to get my parents, offered rides to the hospital, offered to visit, called or texted me all the time to see how I was or what they could do. For friends who sent me emails or messages on Facebook, so many that I just couldn't keep up. Scripture and prayers were overflowing from our dear family in Christ. Near and far. Spread over at least 5 continents. I will never be able to fully explain just how incredibly humbled I am to be the recipient of so much love and prayers. It sustained me during those really dark hours when I couldn't think beyond breathing. The body of Christ's intercession was nothing but a miracle that encouraged me. Really, there are no words to describe it. And I know so many still continue to pray, and again, I am so grateful and humbled.
~ For prayer and God's Word. I know tons of other people were praying for us during this time, but the Lord had put several prayer requests and verses on my heart for myself over the last 6 or 7 months before all of this happened though that seemed to sustain me. One big prayer was that my mind would be filled with God's truth and that I wouldn't listen to Satan's lies. An older friend had also encouraged me while on bedrest back in November when we didn't know if our baby was alive or not with just the first part of Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is TRUE...think about such things." And my life verses have always been Proverbs 3:5-6, but the one phrase in that passage that the Lord has had me meditate on this past year or so is "Lean not on your own understanding." I strive to take my thoughts captive to Christ, to focus only on what I know to be truth from God, and to rest in him and not on my own understanding. Some days are easier than others.
~ For opportunities to share God's goodness and our hope in him to many who aren't believers. I prayed a lot for the Holy Spirit to intercede and help them understand. I was at a loss for words especially on how to share with Zsolt and Gabi. They had "positive thoughts" for us and really think that the liver is nothing. But no matter what, our hope is in Christ and not dependent on anything else. It was hard to explain to them how we felt God working and were overwhelmed with peace and not worry. How does one explain this to others who have no hope in a Savior like us? Oh, my heart is burdened for the lost, but I am thankful for the opportunities we have had to share anyway.
~ For Kevin. In our almost ten years of marriage, I have learned that respecting him and falling under him as head of our household is not so difficult when he loves the Lord with all his heart and loves me like he does. In the midst of dark moments, he still didn't freak out or discourage me in any way. And he still managed to make me laugh. He worked tirelessly to be the husband and father that loves his family all while trying to be the teacher and coach that he is as well. He stayed overnight in the hospital with me twice and never complained how much I had messed things up or how much any of this was costing. He was always loving.
~ For our Heavenly Father. I have said it time and time again, but he graciously allowed me to experience his peace that transcends all understanding. I don't know how to describe it either, but those who have experienced it know what I mean. I don't know how I would have made it through those 9 days in the hospital had I not had his peace. I would have been my normal freaked out, stressed out, worried about everything person. (Although I did have one bad day like that after I came home!) Of course I had plenty of friends and family members doing that for me. :) But his peace was so overwhelming, and his Word continued to nourish me and point me back to him. And grateful for the wisdom he bestowed. Oh, so grateful for all that he has done and all that he continues to do.
Thus ends my list at this moment and on this day. I am sure there are many others that I will remember as time goes on as well. But it is good to remember these things. Thanks for letting me share. :)