We all have our stories – good, bad, comical, heart-breaking…I am choosing to share mine and turn my “mess” into a message and to have hope in the life that God has planned for me!
Recently, an old coworker of mine contacted me and said “You look like you’re the perfect mother/wife.” Flattered, I of course thanked him, but assured him that I am far from perfect. He proceeded to tell me how happy I look in my pictures on Facebook. This was on a day where I had just posted a great picture of Avery and I that my mom took of us in the backyard and some inspiring words as a status type. I had received wonderful, God-given news that day – but I will get to that later in my story. This comment from my past co-worker, got me thinking about how we perceive people through social media and if our perceptions are accurate. Sometimes it’s easy to see someone’s daily or weekly posts and think “Man, they’ve got it all. Two beautiful children, a great husband, a perfectly decorated home and a job they seem to love.” But is their life really what they post on Facebook or Instagram? Do we share our true selves, or do we share only what we want people to think we are? I know there is a fine line of unwritten social media rules between sharing your “life” vs. TMI! But I guess my point so far is, how real is the person you see through their posts and pictures? Because of that question, and because I experienced first hand the skewed view someone can have of you through Facebook posts (as I said I am far from the perfect mother and wife), I felt led to be real.
Now I’m not posting this as a status for all of my Facebook friends to see in their news feed as an in your face TMI type of thing, but as a link in a status. So hopefully if you’re reading this now, you care about me enough to want to know my story, the real me. Some of you, close to me in this time of my life, do know my story – either because I’ve shared it with you or because you lived through it with me.
So here it goes…
My husband and I met at my cousin Brittany and my husband’s best friend Scott’s wedding. It was basically love at first site. We fell head over heels for each other and were engaged just 9 short months later. I like to think our love story and my husband’s proposal could be turned into a Nicholas Sparks novel or movie! We got married on a beautiful June afternoon and had the most amazing photographer that took hundreds of breathtaking photos at my grandparents’ horse farm in the quaint town of New Wilmington, PA. Shortly after tying the knot (4 very short weeks later), we learned I was pregnant!!
I instantly began dreaming, and actually caught myself praying, for a little girl! After a smooth and ill-free pregnancy, our perfectly healthy baby girl was born on her due date, March 30th. Praise The Lord! Avery Melrose, the first female Robertson born in 76 years, was beautiful and turned our family of 2 into the perfect, little family of 3! She was everything I had hoped and prayed for. And as I held that little miracle in my arms, I had no idea that our world was about to be rocked just one short week later.
Upon returning home from the hospital, I was experiencing normal “I just had a baby” pains. However, by day 4 of being home, I remember being so sore, that I told Brittany, who was over to take Avery’s birth announcement pictures, that even my hair hurt. That night my abdomen was really starting to hurt…and by the next morning, I could hardly stand up. I knew something was seriously wrong. By this time, my parents had gone home (to New Castle, PA) and this was supposed to be my first day at home by myself with Avery. My husband saw the terrible shape I was in that morning and called my mother-in-law. She later took me to the hospital. I was admitted immediately and held overnight for observation, thinking I had some type of bladder or uterine infection. In the middle of the night, doctors rushed into my room, waking me up and rushing me to the ICU. I was so sick I had become septic and I was not breathing well.
This was all such a blur. I remember calling my husband. He groggily answered the phone and I told him I was being moved to the ICU. I texted my mom and told her and my dad to come now, I was bad and headed to the ICU. I didn’t have time to be this sick, I had a week old baby at home that I was just starting to bond with.
My first 3 days in the hospital were spent in the ICU Critical Care Unit. As I said, I was septic and had also developed pneumonia. I was on a bi-pap mask to help with my breathing. This was crazy. I was such a healthy woman! I could count on one hand how many times I have been sick enough to go to the doctor. How could something like this happen to a healthy 26 year old? After tons of needle pricks, antibiotics and blood tests, my condition began to improve and I became more stable. Things were looking up! I was moved to a “step-down” ICU room for what I thought was recovery and then headed home!
This, unfortunately, was not the case. On day 6 of being in the hospital, my underlying condition surfaced through a CT scan of my abdomen that was ordered because of it’s continual increasing distention. The Group A strep bacteria, the strep throat virus, was attacking my uterus. WHAT!? Strep throat? I thought you get that in your throat!!? It is such a vicious and toxic virus that attacks your weakest point… My weakest point after just delivering a baby, was obviously my uterus. This amazing, God-designed organ that just carried and nourished a beautifully, healthy little girl for 9 months was literally being eaten by the Group A strep bacteria. I was rushed off for an emergency surgery, but given enough time to hug and kiss my husband for a few minutes before it was time to get prepped.
During surgery, family members flooded into the hospital to be there and comfort one another. Prayers were being sent up from all over the country and world for me. The doctors emptied over a liter of infected fluid from my abdomen. They also discovered that my uterus was covered in abscesses. There was no way to save it, as it was already dying. After becoming a first-time mother, at the age of 26, I received a hysterectomy. The surgery went well and I remember waking up in recovery with Dr. Smelcer. He showed me a picture of my uterus. While the memory is blurry, I can still see my organ covered in yellow abscesses lying on a white table.
I was wheeled back up to my hospital room where my family members were waiting to see me. Surprisingly, I was pretty coherent and even laughed a bit with them. The worst was over, I could begin to recover from surgery and get out of this hospital to return home to my husband and newborn daughter. The next 7 days were spent lying in my hospital bed, doing breathing exercises to strengthen my lungs, walking the halls of the step-down ICU to regain strength in my legs, and drinking tons and tons of fluid! I had so many visitors over the course of my 11 days in the hospital and I can never thank them enough for the love and support they gave to me and my family during this time.
Finally, on Tuesday, April 17th, I returned home and was reunited with Avery, now almost 3 weeks old. While I had about 3-4 more weeks of recovery at home, including a home-nurse for daily IV treatments through my PICC line for my first 10 days home, I was feeling thankful to be alive (as I was truly close to death twice during my hospital stay). Just being inside my house, with my husband and daughter, eating home-cooked food and SHOWERING were the right steps toward getting back to “normal”.
Now, over a year later, I really never have gotten back to normal. I have a new normal. One that is much stronger in my faith and one where I’m walking much closer to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Although, my surgery resulted in a hysterectomy, the doctors were able to save my ovaries. Last November, my husband and I had a consultation with Dr. Maseellal at Reproductive Gynecology, Inc., where she shared with us our options for another biological child someday. This July, after much prayer, I began IVF injections and completed the process with an egg retrieval. Because of God’s will and Dr. Maseellal (& staff), my husband and I have another chance at a biological child through a surrogate. (This was the God-given good news that I was posting about on Facebook that intrigued my former co-worker!)
The power of prayer truly saved my life – in more ways than one. It truly saved my physical, earthly life and also, more importantly, my eternal life. Through all of this, I have “woken up”. I have grown up a Christian and accepted Christ as my personal savior at a young age, but was I truly walking with Christ in my daily life? Although my life is not turning out how I pictured it to be, God has a bigger and better plan for me and my little family.
Henri Nouwen (Turn My Mourning into Dancing) wrote, “Hope is willing to leave unanswered questions unanswered and unknown futures unknown. Hope makes you see God’s guiding hand not only in the gentle and pleasant moments but also in the shadows of disappointment and darkness.”
That is so powerful! My questions will remain unanswered and my future will remain unknown, but I find comfort in knowing that God is in control and to Him, my future is His memory. And although this part of my life was definitely a shadow of disappointment, as my husband and I planned to have 2-3 kids, I still have hope! In Jesus Calling (8/12), I read:
“Come to me when you are weak and weary. Rest snugly in My everlasting arms. I do not despise your weakness, My child. Actually, it draws Me closer to you, because weakness stirs up My compassion – My yearning to help. Accept yourself in your weariness, knowing that I understand how difficult your journey has been.
Do not compare yourself with others, who seem to skip along their life-paths with ease. Their journeys have been different from yours, and I have gifted them with abundant energy. I have gifted you with fragility, providing opportunities for your spirit to blossom in My Presence. Accept this gift as a sacred treasure: delicate, yet glowing with brilliant Light. Rather than struggling to disguise or deny your weakness, allow Me to bless you richly through it.”
I now know that God chose me for this journey. God has blessed me and my family in so many ways and He will bless me richly through this, as well! He will not give you something He knows you cannot handle. So rather than struggling to disguise this weakness, I have chosen to share it! I am turning this mess into my message! Do you know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? If not, I would love to share and talk with you more! If you do, then please simply keep my family in your prayers as we begin our next journey in our God-given lives – finding a surrogate to carry our baby!
Thank you for reading and please feel free to share my story with whomever you wish!
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10
**As an update, if you did not follow our journey with our gestational surrogate, our attempts at another biological child were unsuccessful. You can read more about our journey’s outcome here. We continue to trust in God’s plan for our lives and will follow Him wherever He leads us and our family.**