I am now a month into my second trimester and I am counting down the days until I am done. Sad but oh so true. All that garbage (or research.....whatever) about women only being sick the first trimester is so not true for the lucky few with HG. As I learn more about HG so much makes sense to me, it makes me feel not (as) crazy. Although it is sort of funny (or makes me cry...depends on my day) that I cannot join the on-line support groups because our Internet is too slow. It is a serious condition and women feel really terrible and all that feeling crappy can lead to emotional issues; yeah, no joke!!As if I needed any extra emotions pulsing through me. At least 10% of women with this have what one doctor called "therapeutic abortions" even for a planned pregnancy! Now, while that it is not a choice we would make or even think about it at least makes me feel better knowing I am not a complete wuss. I would take labor 4 times over in a row before this whole puking, weakness, sensitivity to light, motion, feeling like I got run over by a dala dala thing, etc again. I force feed myself most days and still wear sunglasses a lot of the time even indoors (I choose to say I am bringing a new style to Swahili culture) because my eyes are so sensitive to light. I am still feeling nauseous everyday, all day but things are better. And for that we are so grateful. After a really trying month before my mom and sister's arrival we finally decided to stay here. It was a hard decision but the way everything worked out was amazing. It was God. I want to record it all so I can always remember His goodness in our doubt and difficulty.
After the last time back on the mainland to see the doctor we found out that I was still losing about 2 1/2 pounds per week (about 1 kilo for our British readers:) and obviously this was a huge concern now that I was in the second trimester and things "should" have been getting better. We decided then that after seeking counsel from many friends, family, team members, etc we would give it one more week and pray everyday earnestly seeking a solution and then make a decision. The doctor said if I could stop losing he would be comfortable with me staying here and coming over for check-ups as needed but if not that I needed to seek attention in Nairobi or back home in America. He actually said I was too sick to go to the hospital in Dar (as an aside that is never a good sign about your local hospital:).
So we prayed everyday that something would change. We started making tentative arrangements and thinking about what it would really mean to go home. So many emotions involved in that as well since we had mentally prepared to be here for at least another year before setting foot on American soil. We wanted to make the best decision for our family and of course did not want my or the baby's health to suffer but we also sensed that if this was a trial we did not want to run home at the first sign of difficulty. Either way we wanted to know guidance, to sense peace, and to move forward.
We asked God to clearly show us and specifically asked Him to stop my weight loss if we were supposed to stay. This was really what I needed to feel emotionally ok to remain here. I just got more and more discouraged when the scale kept going down so I asked and begged and pleaded that I would get the reassurance of not losing anymore weight so I could feel peace about staying. And if not we knew we should go home.
Sometimes, not always, but sometimes when He knows you really need a clear answer God provides one. All the stress was mounting in trying to decide what to do. We (ok, my husband, would anyone seriously believe I would do this?) made a spreadsheet chart of all the pro's and con's of our 3 options. We prayed, our family and friends and team prayed. And we waited.
After 1 week I stopped losing weight and was able to keep down liquids and some food. We borrowed a scale from our team leader and it was like "magically" the number would never go below the lowest it was that last day we were at the doctor's office in Dar even on days I kept down hardly anything. It even went up a pound and a half (but later I lost one of that). But it still never went below that lowest number and still hasn't. He answered our prayer in a real way we can see every morning when I get on the scale. It is so ironic that I spent so many years on Weight Watchers; counting points, working out everyday and always getting on the scale each week at weigh in (taking off my earrings and making sure I peed right before) hoping the number would go down. For the first time in my life I am hoping it goes up. So all in all I lost 14 pounds and as long as I can stop losing anymore I am ok for now. The doctor and another midwife said not to put too much pressure on myself to gain right away. So I am giving my body time but trying everyday to drink, eat, not throw up as much, and move around more. I am still taking the meds for chemo patients (we have it in IV form if needed and in pill form) but after taking them at the full dosage I started experiencing terrible headaches and some other nasty side effects (I will spare you). Plus, they never really did much for the nausea. Although when on them I do tend to throw up less frequently. So, it is a toss up? Puke a little less but wicked headaches and other nasty problems or more yaking with no headaches.....I am still taking them at a lower dose and hoping to avoid the side effects. Eating is still tough. Nothing ever sounds good to me but most of the time if something is put in front of me I can try it. I drink a lot of soup and eat a lot of bread. But the main difference is now I am able to keep more liquids down, even if it is toxic waste; coke. At least it is calories. The doctor even said if I wanted beer he would be happy for me to drink it. Now, I hate beer even when not blowing chunks daily (although my poor hubby could use one...or a case) but the point being he said eat whatever you want. I am over feeling guilt about the nutrition (or lack there of) I am giving this baby. I also have good days scattered in with bad days (not many days of not eating in a row) so that is a huge relief. Also, about half of women with HG feel some relief at about 20-21 weeks so I am hopeful. God knows I am coping, trying my best, and we are all surviving knowing He is faithful to answer. And the last scan showed a big baby (even moved up the due date a week) growing and bouncing around enjoying a lil' party in my womb amidst the constant surround sound of my vomiting. Yep, mtoto mchanga seems to be doing just fine. A true miracle. So we stay put and rely on Him, try to stick together as a family, continue to lean on friends here, and wait.
God has also blessed us in making the decision to stay in friends from home sending packages, notes, emails, and even generous donations to help pay for the extra cost in having to go to the mainland so often or so we can go out to eat (poor Jason and Anni can stop eating bread and rice everyday). Asante!! Thank you so much! This is an amazing blessing that we know only comes from Him. Some friends from the neighborhood continue to visit and one girlfriend came by to tell me she was so surprised I was staying. I told her about my answered prayer and she said she was so happy I decided to stay. That made my day and reminded me that when we are weak, then we are strong. A good reminder for a girl who likes to always appear strong. This verse has brought me so much peace over the last few weeks...
"Three times (or in my case 9,867) I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 corin 8-10