Waiting on a Miracle
November 2014. We found out we were expecting our first baby. Everything seemed normal. I was having normal pregnancy-type feelings of nausea and tiredness. Our 12 week scan went well. Everything seemed fine. Then suddenly on February 8th everything changed.
We lunched at a friends’ house and after eating I visited the bathroom thinking I needed to pee. Nothing came. I tried again a while later and still nothing. I started to get uncomfortable. I thought that maybe this was normal in pregnancy. How wrong I was.
Later that same evening I knew something wasn’t right. I rang the maternity ward and was told to go to A&E. We decided not to that night as I’d managed to pee a little. But the symptoms continued and I was in a lot of pain the next morning so we went straight to A&E. I was given 3 glasses of water and managed to give a very small sample. I couldn’t even sit down properly because I needed to pee so badly. Why was nothing coming?
After a few hours I was sent on my way and told I was suffering from a UTI. My symptoms continued and worsened. My stomach grew bigger and bigger as each day passed. I got to a stage where I couldn’t go to the bathroom at all. We were visiting the doctor’s surgery every other day now, never seeing the same doctor and the maternity ward still insisting that it wasn’t pregnancy related. I was continually sent away with laxatives or with something to treat a UTI. I remember asking if my baby was okay. The response was always the same – oh yes, this has nothing to do with baby.
Valentines Day was spent in A&E and again I was sent away with another misdiagnosis – drink plenty of fluids. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I felt sick and uncomfortable. I was getting a bath 4/5 times through the night to try and ease the pain. My husband Dave had a lot of work on at the time and wasn’t able to take off. My mother-in-law looked after me in the morning and my own mum each afternoon. It was getting ridiculous. We were doing everything that the doctors told us to do but I wasn’t getting any better.
I was now 7 days in. I was in agony. I cried out to God asking why no-one was helping us, asking why I was in so much pain. I couldn’t cope any longer. I couldn’t lie down so I either sat on the sofa and watched TV or walked around during the night. After yet another visit to the doctor I was sent away with more laxatives. Finally, after 9 days of suffering, I lay on our living room floor and begged God to end it all. I couldn’t go on. I just gave up. I couldn’t fight the pain any longer. I wanted God to just take me.
Poor Dave. I think he realised in those moments just how bad things had become. He rushed me to ‘out of hours’ and we prayed desperately that God would intervene. He did. Immediately we were introduced to a doctor who reacted straight away to the size of my stomach. I was only 17 weeks pregnant and my tummy was the size of someone who was 33 weeks or more. He knew something was wrong and took no time in sending us to the Royal Maternity Ward. On arrival everyone acted quickly, they could see how much pain I was in. A scan of my stomach showed my bladder … so full that they couldn’t see my baby. A catheter was put in and within 10 minutes they drained 4 litres of urine. Our bladder holds roughly between 500-800mls of urine. Mine was 5 times the size it should be – the equivalent of two 2l cartons of milk!
The scanner was kept on my tummy as my bladder was drained. Instantly the pain began to ease. Dave and I stayed glued to the screen, desperate to see our baby. You could literally see my stomach deflate as it was emptied. And there he was … our baby boy. His little legs were kicking and the tears began to flow. We wept in thankfulness to God, grateful that he heard our cries. We waited for a consultant to come and see us, breathing sighs of relief that our baby was okay. We weren’t thinking ahead. We weren’t prepared for what was still to come.
The consultant talked about how he’d never seen a bladder so full and explained how it would more than likely be damaged and probably need re-trained. We took it all in, feeling optimistic that yes my bladder was damaged, but hopefully it could be fixed. After speaking with another consultant the following day, my positivity soon disappeared. She spoke of a tilted uterus, bladder retention and long-term use of a catheter. I heard very little of what she was saying except the grim realisation that my bladder was severely damaged and might not function again. I had to get the midwife to tell me all over again what the consultant had said. I was in shock and felt utter disbelief. But just last night we were told my bladder could be fixed…
I spent a few nights in hospital and waited to see the same consultant on Friday. After our consultation it was decided that I’d keep the catheter in for one week to see how things would go. Again the consultant clarified that the muscle in my bladder had been severely stretched and damaged … only time would tell. We left the appointment with me in bits. I couldn’t take it in properly. I couldn’t believe how things had unfolded. As I waited to see the midwife that afternoon I questioned myself … could God heal me? Did I believe that He could? I’d seen Him do it before.
We sent a prayer request to our church family. I thought if God is to work a miracle, I need people to ask Him for one. So as we waited for our next appointment … people prayed. We prayed and prayed and prayed, begging God to heal me. The catheter had now been in for a full week and on the day of our appointment we sat in the waiting room, hands clasped tightly together in nervous anticipation. As we waited, we received a text from my mum … it read Psalm 50 v 5, “Call on me in times of trouble, I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.” Looking back I can see how we clung to this promise and how God delivered this promise to us. The sister of the ward came to greet us in the waiting room. She was a lovely lady and tenderly took care of Dave and I, bringing us tea and toast and checking in on me. The catheter was removed and I had been instructed that when I felt the need to pee I was to inform them. They would go through a process of scanning my bladder both before and after I went. I tried with all my might to go and I just couldn’t. Nothing was happening.
I sat on the toilet for a long time. I cried and cried out to God, pleading with Him … nothing. When I eventually came out of the toilet the nurse said, “Well?” Shaking my head, I broke down. My bladder was scanned. There was 1 litre of urine in it, but I couldn’t feel a thing. The remainder of the day was spent crying and learning. I learnt to self catheterise. My only other option was to wear a bag. This wasn’t the option for me. Only by God’s grace I found both strength and willingness to learn how to self catheterise. And I did learn, after just two attempts. I asked the doctor if there was a chance that my bladder would work again. She said that there was always that possibility, but warned that after all my bladder had gone through, it could be a long time before it would work … if indeed, it ever would.
So that was my foreseeable future. We had asked God for a miracle. He didn’t give it to us. The questions raced round my head. Did I not believe enough? Did I not pray enough? Why me? Why us? We spent most of that night researching self-catheterising. I had seen videos of girls my age doing it and I desperately tried to draw some sort of comfort from them. Yet my heart was breaking for the life I felt I’d lost. The following day I could hardly get out of bed. What was the point? I felt so let down by all the doctors I’d visited and sought for help. I didn’t feel like we deserved this. I was so angry, so overwhelmed. I turned from blaming the doctors to questioning God. Why did he make me like this? As I lay in bed, full of hurt and anger, I heard the whisper of God, “be patient my Daughter.” And as I drifted to sleep I accepted what had happened and whatever uncertain future we faced. We could do this. We would do this.
I was now 19 weeks pregnant and we had an appointment scheduled to check on baby. I was now going to have a planned birth and caesarean section. Baby would be born at 36 weeks as my tummy would restrict me from catheterising. At our appointment the doctor asked if I’d tried to pee on my own again. I told her “no” – what a strange question for her to ask, I thought. Sure she had told me only a few days before that my bladder wouldn’t function. That same afternoon I was home and settling back into doing some work, Dave was still off and tidying in the kitchen. Suddenly I felt the urge to go. I sat on the toilet … and I peed! I started screaming and yelling for Dave to come. He rushed to the bathroom, smashing a mug on the journey, wondering what on earth was wrong. Through giant sobs I shouted over and over again, “I can pee! I can pee!” And so I could. I did a pee. Myself!
There the two of us sat, (me still on the toilet) crying, hugging and thanking God. Self-sufficiently going to the toilet is a gift, and until that gift was taken away from me I’d taken it completely for granted. In those moments I was never so thankful to be able to pee. Had God just healed me? I didn’t know what to think. We didn’t know what to do.
Later that evening after another 3 successful trips to the toilet we rang the doctor. After being so moved by my experience, she had given us her personal mobile number and told us to ring, day or night. When I told her what had happened she could hardly believe what she was hearing. And after a few more check ups and consultations I was given the all clear! There was no medical explanation. God had worked a miracle on my bladder. He healed me.
Psalm 33 v 20
“We wait in hope for the Lord, he is our help and our shield.”
We had to, have to and continue to put our hope in God. What happened to me was an extremely rare medical case; one that was so unheard of that I was misdiagnosed by every medical professional I encountered. But God knew. He knew the suffering I’d endure. He knew I couldn’t take more than those 9 agonising days. And through it all, he had a purpose. My marriage was strengthened, my faith too. God showed us that nothing is impossible with Him. God is sovereign over all our problems.
“You’ll never know God is all you need until God is all you have.”
On Wednesday 5th August 2015 at 11.20am I met that little baby who had blocked my bladder all those months before. I thanked God that he was perfect. We embraced our son with grateful hearts for a God who can do immeasurably more than we could ever begin to imagine.