I've been debating whether I should post about this on the blog. Tonight I asked Mere, and she said yes. It was important I ask her, because it's about her.
Remember the wreck we got in a month ago? Well, that set in motion a chain of events that have changed our world in a million ways. First off, we went to Abby, Mere's midwife the following week and Mere was thought to be Preeclamptic (preeclampsia info here). The only cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. You remember me asking for prayers on the blog a couple weeks ago that Mere hold on and let that baby cook a little more. Like a champ, she did just that. When Cece was 37 weeks, our midwife gave us the okay to induce due to Mere's really high blood pressure, and severe headaches that wouldn't go away. We went in last Friday, expecting to have the baby on Saturday (and hopefully go home on Sunday!). That didn't happen.
Mere's body, since she was a few weeks early, wasn't ready to have a baby. She underwent some procedures and took medications that made her body ripe for delivery, but it was going too slowly because of some counter-acting medications (for blood pressure stabilization, and seizure minimizing). During the nights in the hospital, I noticed some weird breathing patterns Mere was having, and the nurses told the doctor who ordered a chest scan. It turns out that Mere had an enlarged heart (which they didn't seem too concerned with, as many pregnant women can get this), and fluid in and around her lungs, which is what they were looking for. Bad news. Also during the night, Mere's headaches reached a high point so they ordered a CT scan of her brain to check for tumors or hemorrhaging, both of which they did not find (praise Jesus!).
Sunday morning came around, and the on-call doctor (not Abby), and told Meredith she was only dilated to a 2 and that it would likely be 8+ more hours. Feeling tortured by the headaches, the poor breathing, and the painful procedures she was undergoing to get her body ready, Mere was at a breaking point and decided to have a C-section. The surgery seemed to go well (I was in there for it, and took pictures, as was Abby... holding Mere's hand the whole time). Early Sunday morning, Cecelia Ruth Benfield was born. After they cleaned her up a bit, I cut the cord and her mom gave her her first kiss. Miraculously, Meredith's headaches went away (praise Jesus!).
Cece's first kiss...
But her blood pressure problems did not.
Dancing around from high to super high, Mere's blood pressure became a primary concern for the staff at Freeman Hospital. Hourly testing, no salt diet, and in increase in her pre-delivery bp medication were set in motion to stabilize her vitals. Those methods did not work. Sunday went, Monday came and went, Tuesday came and went, Wednesday came and went... still high blood pressure, still breathing problems. The doctors ordered more tests: Echocardiogram to check to make sure her heart was functioning properly. Her heart was at 60 percent, and 50 percent was the line that indicated potential heart failure. It seemed her heart was good, just a little big (anybody who knows Mere sees the irony here). Doctor said it looked good. Mere's mom, who came in every day to let me leave the room for an hour or two, mentioned to the doctor that maybe we should get a cardiologist in on the conversation. The doctor's response: "her echo was good." Hmmm...
The doctor then prescribed another bp medication to be used in addition to her increased dose of bp meds. She said the downside is that it could cause headaches, which it did. Mere really wanted to go home, but the doctor said she could not leave until her bp was under control.
The next morning (Thursday morning), Mere was feeling much better. The doctor made her morning round, and hinted that if her blood pressure was good in the afternoon, we'd get to leave. Yay! The celebration was short lived. Apparently Mere got a GI (gastro-intestinal, aka stomach) bug. Much like food poisoning, with diarrhea and vominting, Mere was miserable--remember, she just had a stomach incision a few days ago... vomiting uses all those muscles, so Mere was in unbelievable pain. To compound this situation, not only did we not get to go home, Mere couldn't feed Cece. She pumped milk and I fed the baby through a syringe, using my finger to act like a nipple. It worked fine, and I enjoyed the bonding with my daughter, but Mere was really upset. She told me she felt like a bad mother, and all she wanted to do was hold Cece and feed her.
Side Note: On Thursday, something really touching took place that had Meredith and I bawling in our hospital room: Meg, our friend and Art Feeds founder, started a hashtag campaign for Mere, #igformere and many of our friends and family posted encourage quotes and/or pictures for Mere to read. It was the nicest thing to see her spirits raised by this generosity. (as of this writing, there have been 78 posts with this hashtag!)
Friday morning, a different doctor was making the rounds. He read Mere's chart, and noticed her bp had dropped, and gave us the okay to go home ("since your bp is down, you can ride out the stomach bug wherever you want"). We were excited. We were finally going to get to be at home with our new baby girl.
I loaded up the car (it looked like we were moving out of an apartment after being there all week), and loaded up my girls, and we were off. Only, it wasn't to the homecoming we were hoping for. By the time we made it home (Mere had slept the entire ride), Mere was miserable. The medications she was on made her very dizzy and vomitous, and she was feeling really bad. She made the decision to leave Cece here with me on our first night home, and her mother took her to Washington Regional. When she checked in there, Mere's blood pressure was 200/120. Not a typo.
200/120. That's stroke and seizure high. The rushed her in, did more tests (same as they did in Joplin), and determined she needed to stay there. Mere was at wits end and was super upset that she couldn't be here with Cece and told the doctor. He said what the other doctor (in Joplin) should have said: You can go home and have a few days with your daughter, but no future. Or, you can stay here so we can make you better so you can have a lifetime with her. Meredith's mom told me today that she didn't think Meredith was going to make it through the night. And Meredith told me today that she saw her mom cry (for only the 3rd time in her life).
When I went to see Mere today (Cece had to stay home this time), we had an amazing time together. She was "with-it" and looked and acted like the Meredith I know, admire, and adore. She was silly and funny and looked beautiful. When I showed her pictures and videos I shot of Cece for her, she started crying. I had watched her in pain and crying all week, and it nearly broke me. Seeing her in this much pain is the hardest thing I've endured (and I've had a pretty rough life). I show you this picture because I want you to see the realness of what she is going through, and to show you the absolute toughest and bravest woman I know:
So, that's where we are now. This story doesn't have an ending yet. I'm hoping for one of those happily ever after kind of endings, where she and I (and Ellie) raise this beautiful little girl together as a family.
Please pray for Meredith. Specifically, pray that the Lord heals her. Pray that her spirit remains strong and unbroken. Pray that she finds peace in knowing she is doing the right thing for our family by staying in the hospital until she is well, even if it means being away from her week-old-baby girl
Pray for me to have the strength it takes to handle these situations in a Godly way, to be the father I should be, and the husband Meredith deserves.
Talk to you soon,
P.S. Here are a few happy pics I took of Cece this week:
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