That Was Love

I woke up to the familiar pain in my abdomen, giving it a perfunctory moment of my limited time.  I started getting ready with the tiny hope that I wouldn’t be giving the thought of my breakfast to the pregnancy gods that morning.  Alas, it was not to be.  After two or three vomiting sessions, I finally succumbed to the inevitable: A hurried pony tail, a Pop Tart for the road, and a skirt that wouldn’t bother my stomach.

The day went as usual.  Classes, homework, and the omnipresent nausea interrupting all coherent thoughts.

At 4, Ben and I were ready to go home.  We walked hand in hand discussing the day.   When we were halfway home, the abdominal pain became unbearable.  Clutching my stomach, I gasped and told Ben I had to sit down.   He worriedly looked at me.  He told me to stay put while he ran home to fetch the car.  It only took him a few minutes, but time seemed to freeze as the pain threatened to consume my whole body.

Immediately upon our return home, I went to bed.  I tried everything: deep breathing, hypnosis relaxation, and prayer but the pain remained.  Finally, around 11, Ben came in to the room to find me in the fetal position sobbing uncontrollably..

He rushed me to the hospital.

Over the next 15 hours, the doctors administered myriad tests on my aching body.   After an MRI, they finally found the culprit: appendicitis.  Within 20 minutes, I was being prepped for surgery.

The whirlwind of activity did not stop my dutiful husband from holding my hand.  He offered comforting words and many prayers.  If it weren’t for him, I would have been paralyzed by fear.

During the few moments before surgery, the doctors had to ask me the usual questions: What should we do if you go into labor? Would you like us to do everything to save the baby?

This question brought fear and tears.  I told them that if that did happen, they were to do everything for my little Emily.

I spent a couple of days in the hospital recovering.  An appendectomy while 6 months pregnant is not the easiest thing to recover from.  Still, I was grateful that my little baby was safely ensconced inside my womb.

Eventually the pain subsided and the memory of the event faded.  The scar, though, will never fully disappear.

When I think about what I have sacrificed for my little Emily, I think about my appendectomy.  I not only gave my body for her, I gave my appendix (even if an appendix is virtually useless).

I have never looked at myself as being courageous during this whole experience.  Yet, courage was evident–it took courage go to the ER, it took courage to tell the doctors to save my baby if she decided to come early, and it took courage to go home.

I have learned many lessons from that day, but one of the most important is that no sacrifice goes unanswered.  And this little girl was worth the indescribable pain.

This post is in connection with Momalom’s Five for Ten event.  Click over to see all other entries for “courage.”


Filed under Reflections

96 responses to “That Was Love

  1. I have known a few people with either appendix or gallbladder problems during pregnancy. Ouch!

    • Pregnancy is crazy–it brings out problems that might otherwise have remained hidden. An appendectomy during pregnancy is not uncommon and I have met a few women who have had to go through the same thing. Ouch is right. : )

  2. Oh, wow! I had my appendix out when I was 8. And that was bad enough!

  3. Wow, what a scary thing to go through while you’re pregnant! As moms (or moms-to-be) we often find courage that we never knew we had. When I show little acts of courage for my kids it still surprises me. But it also comes naturally.
    I wrote about my daughter for the topic of Courage too!

    • Hi Shannon, thank you for stopping by!

      I agree, courage while parenting does come naturally. (At least for normal parents.)

  4. Talk about adding stress to an emotional time anyway. I’m glad everything worked out okay.

    • The part I didn’t mention was falling apart when my aunt came to visit me in the hospital. I guess it stressed me out more than I cared to admit to.

  5. They are always worth it.

  6. Wow! What an incredible story… I can’t imagine going through that any time, let alone at 6 mo pregnant.

    • The impact of everything didn’t really hit until after the surgery was over. I think that was for the best! (A tender mercy from the Lord if you ask me.)

  7. Truly courageous indeed! All of it. And yes, that scar is a reminder of all we give and do for our kids… we wouldn’t think twice about it but it all takes courage.

    So glad to see you back on line Amber!

    • As it did for Becca, the idea of your scar stood out to me: “Eventually the pain subsided and the memory of the event faded. The scar, though, will never fully disappear.”

      I imagine that the scar is not just a physical one, but an emotional one too, one filled with relief and questions about “What if?” Thank goodness that you and Ben recognized the severity of the situation, that the doctors were able to help you, and that Emily was not harmed during the surgery.

      Courage indeed!

      • Yes! The “what if” still brings apprehension! We really had to fight to help the doctors recognize that it wasn’t just pregnancy pains. I was actually sent home for a couple of hours and told to return if the pain didn’t decrease. Not the best idea.

  8. Wow!!! That really was love. Lucky girl to have such a loving mom.

  9. That is really scary, Amber. Surgery while pregnant! I’m glad it all turned out well!

    • I wasn’t nearly as scared about it than as I am now, how about that? I guess the reality of what could have happened is more visible to me now than at that moment.

  10. Cathy

    What a terrible reality to have faced – I agree – very courageous!

    Glad everything worked out as well.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Cathy. I think that once the doctors figured out what it was I had a rush of adrenaline. It wasn’t until after the surgery was over that I realized how dangerous the situation really was. I think that really was a blessing.

  11. Amazing! That definitely took courage. I’m so glad everyone came out happy and healthy 🙂

    • Me too! : ) And thank you. I am so happy to have “met” you, Alisha. It has been a privilege getting to know you.

  12. Nicki

    Amber – appendectomies are horrible. My son had an emergency one while at college. Thankfully, his twin sister was near by.

    What we do for our children.

    • We would do anything for them, wouldn’t we Nicki? I bet your son was equally as happy that his twin sister was near him. (Siblings add a whole new dimension to events.)

  13. Eva

    Beautiful, undeniable courage. In the moment, of course you knew you’d do anything to protect your unborn daughter. This gut reaction, the response without even thinking, is amazing.

    • It really was a “gut reaction.” In my mind, there was no alternative. My pregnancy was far from easy and it felt like throwing in the towel if I had said “no” to the doctors. I am even more grateful that that situation did not have to be acted out.

  14. Oh wow! How scary! You go strong momma!!

    And I thought it was rough with my oldest having her bum push on my gull bladder my whole last trimester. Guess I shouldn’t be complaining about that!

    • Ha! Is that as bad as having the baby up in your ribs the last trimester? Because, if it is, you definitely have a right to complain. : )

  15. Eek! How scary to go through this! I mean, she was certainly worth it–just look at her–but very unnerving for her mama.

    Brave, indeed.

    • “Unnerving” describes the whole experience very well. For the remainder of the pregnancy, I had constant phantom pains that I was sure meant instant C-section. Thankfully, she arrived a week prior to her due date and the birth went smoothly. Truth be told, it was rather anticlimactic.

  16. Such a brave, beautiful story. I can’t imagine having to make choices like that – ever. Such a brave momma to such a beautiful little girl!

    • You know, Jane, I imagine that in that situation you would have made the right decision. Whatever “right” meant for you.

      This experience taught me more about a mother’s instinct than any experience I had had previously.

  17. So scary to have things go haywire while pregnant! Lucky Emily to have a mama who takes such good care of her. 🙂

    • I think the worst time for things to go haywire is while pregnant. It usually results in a spectacular breakdown. This case was no different.

  18. It is truly amazing what we will sacrifice for our children. Thank you for a wonderful post! I am so glad I found your blog through Momalom!

    • Awww! Thank you, Andrea! I am glad to have found your blog as well!

      Having children is really all about the sacrifices, isn’t it?

  19. I always think that we become a parent to that baby the moment that child is a thought in our minds be it when we find out about the pregnancy or while we are planning the pregnancy. We are all the more careful of ourselves for that child. And I agree, EACH child is worth the pain that we have or might suffer for them 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment, Shawna. I like this imagery that you draw–we become parents even before the birth. Perhaps when we conceive we conceive more than a little baby, we conceive maternal instincts.

  20. Like so many of the others, I just have to say: Wow!

    It also just makes me glad that you and your whole family came through okay. My son’s very good friend just got out of hospital after having out his appendix this weekend, but as a fifteen-year-old boy he didn’t have the pregnancy thing going on—and it was still no walk in the park.

    I’m with you on your first instinct on sacrifice. Just because we don’t exactly know what the appendix does doesn’t mean that it doesn’t do anything.

    In writing terms the appendix means extra stuff at the end, so as a writer maybe this is part of why you seem able to say what’s needed and skip the extra stuff that isn’t needed.

    • This is quite a compliment–“In writing terms the appendix means extra stuff at the end, so as a writer maybe this is part of why you seem able to say what’s needed and skip the extra stuff that isn’t needed.” While I wouldn’t go that far (not because I’m being bashful but because I know how much I need to learn about writing), I appreciate this kind thought.

      An appendectomy is tough no matter what age and what circumstances. I say that boy deserves a week off of school. : )

  21. That is really unbelievable! I can’t believe you went through this.

    You must have been so scared. But brave. “I told them that if that did happen, they were to do everything for my little Emily.”

    She is so cute. I love your words. Brave words.

    • I think I was more scared after the surgery. They had pumped me full of drugs prior and, while I felt a sprinkling of fear, my mind couldn’t hold onto that emotion for too long.

      Thank you for your kind words. So happy to have found you via Momalom.

  22. Amber, what a beautiful post about a terrifying experience. Your courage, admirable; and I love these lines: “I have learned many lessons from that day, but one of the most important is that no sacrifice goes unanswered. And this little girl was worth the indescribable pain.”


    • Thank you! I really do believe that. I don’t think the answer comes immediately, but I know we will see the fruits of our sacrifices somewhere in the future.

  23. Oh, sistergirl. I can’t imagine having to make that choice, especially in the heat of pain and worry and fear. You are a pillar of strength — and little Emily is so lucky that God entrusted her to you.

    • I am feeling pretty lucky that God sent me little Emily. She sure has taught me more about being a mother than I ever expected.

  24. Amber, during my second pregnancy, very early on, actually only at about 2 months, I went through a very similar experience. I had that tell- tale pain, it was excruciating. At first they thought it was an ectopic pregnancy, and when it wasn’t the doctors were sure it was appendicitis. I went through more diagnositics in a 48 hour period than I ever would have thought safe for such a little baby to survive. But survive he did, just like Emily. It turned out it wasn’t appendicitis, but I remember the fear of the thought of impending surgery, it was like no other I had felt.

    In the end they didn’t figure out what was wrong with me until much later. I had many, many more tests and ultimately wouldn’t be diagnosed until after the birth of my son, when we discovered I had Crohn’s disease. It was a scary ride. So as I read your post, I was nodding. Yes, I know this.

    • Christine, what a scary experience. I have known a few women with Crohn’s disease and didn’t realize it caused such an awful reaction to pregnancy. (Although I am sure the symptoms vary based on the individual.)

      I know exactly what you mean by the diagnostics. After an ultrasound, a CT scan, and an MRI they finally figured out what the pain was. It was ridiculous, really.

  25. Wow, what a time for appendicitis! They took courage for both you and your husband to go through. And yes, Emily is absolutely precious!

    • I kind of thought it was rather inconvenient. You’d think my appendix could have at least waited until after I had the baby.

  26. Liz

    Wow. I can’t imagine being faced with such a tough decision and the fear and pain it caused. Your courage is amazing.

  27. Lucky little Emily, to have a mother that put her first even before she was born. I imagine that your conversation with the doctor that day is one of those crystalline moments in your life. When everything comes into focus. THIS matters most. To have to name what THIS is. And in your case, it was your sweet Emily. Putting someone else first – loving someone so deeply – always takes courage, even when there isn’t a major medical emergency in the mix.

    Great post. And thanks for visiting ETD today! xo

    • Lauren, it really was “one of those crystalline moments in [my] life.” I can’t tell you what the guy looked like but I can distinctly recall how the conversation went, how I felt, and what the doctor said.

  28. Wow, how terrifying! Yes, courage. You did what you had to do amidst the fear. Never easy, but yes, with such beautiful results 🙂

  29. Amber – wow, what an experience. Thanks for sharing it with us, and bless you and your beautiful girl!

  30. What a scary experience, and what a brave person you are.

  31. I like the idea that no sacrifice goes unanswered. My first thought is that the answers may often be hard to see–perhaps not quite so obvious as a beautiful baby girl bouncing in the bath–but when we seek them out we are even stronger, braver and proud of ourselves for giving up.

    • I have thought a lot about this comment, Sarah. You are right (at least I believe so). The answers aren’t usually as immediate or visible as mine was. In fact, many answers we may not see until years down the road. But, the sacrifice is still worth it.

  32. Oh Amber – what a story! That is courage, and yet I cannot imagine anything less from you.

    I lost my gall bladder to my second son (I haven’t missed it). 🙂 And I certainly never regretted it.

    How wonderful of Ben to give you such strength. He, too, is an individual of great courage.

    • Yeah, can’t say I miss my appendix either. Ben was my rock during the whole experience. He really guided me when I was terrified.

  33. Wow. Amazing story. I had my appendix out at 21. It burst, and was a 2 week ordeal in the hospital, followed by 2 months of IV antibiotics. But I was not pregnant, so you have one up on me! However, as a 21-year-old young woman, I had some convincing to do in the ER that I WASN’T pregnant, and they should be considering other causes of the pain. Even with that — they asked me what I wanted done if, say, they opened me up and found an ectopic pregnancy.

    • Your appendix burst?!? The worst part is you having to convince them that you weren’t pregnant. I thought I was hackled enough because I *was*pregnant. Still, what a horrifying experience! (Glad that YOU are okay!)

      That is something that still haunts me. If I hadn’t gone into the ER, my appendix would have burst and neither Emily or I would be here today.

    • Hi Amber!

      Yep. Mine burst. NO fun. You are lucky you got it all figured out in time. I’m sure that would have been dire consequences considering your pregnancy.

      Considering my age at the time — I felt like I was being “accused” of being pregnant. And I was a *very* shy 21-year-old who was *quite* sure there was no possible way I could be pregnant. They proceeded to give me my *very first* vaginal exam before giving me any pain meds because they wanted to be sure where the pain was! I’m so glad memories of pain fade quickly.

      Glad to find you in the blogging world!


      ________________________________ From: Amber Turner To: Sent: Thu, May 13, 2010 12:35:15 AM Subject: Re: [Making the Moments Count] Comment: “That Was Love”

      Your appendix burst?!? The worst part is you having to convince them that you weren’t pregnant. I thought I was hackled enough because I was pregnant. Still, what a horrifying experience! (Glad that YOU are okay!)

      That is something that still haunts me. If I hadn’t gone into the ER, my appendix would have burst and neither Emily or I would be here today.

  34. I can’t imagine having surgery like that while pregnant. I would have been so scared. My son gave me a kidney stone while he was in utero – few too many kidney shots. It made itself known when he was 6 weeks old. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t sit still long enough to nurse him until it passed while I was in the ER. What a night.

    So worth it.

    • Ugh. Many of my friends have experienced kidney stones while pregnant. I have heard how unbelievably painful it is. What a night you had indeed!

  35. unabridgedgirl

    Wow! That is so scary! I am glad that things worked out, and she is just a cutie-cutie!

  36. That must have been so scary. I’m glad everything turned out OK.

  37. I was getting nervous reading your post, hoping the end was happy. I am glad it was. I had a friend, last year, who had her appendix removed. She fainted in the post office, ignoring her increasing abdominal pain. Everything turned out fine for her. I know it took courage for you to take the steps to go to the hospital and I am so relieved that the outcome was happy.

    I am over from Momalom. Glad I read this post.

    • Appendix issues are tricky. They can be confused with constipation (TMI?) or other things so it is easy to ignore the pain until it is too late. I am glad that your friend was okay!

      The thing I was most scared about was going to the hospital and having nothing be wrong. I guess that I am afraid of being called a hypochondriac. A small act of bravery but an act nonetheless.

  38. I forgot I had to have my gallbladder removed two weeks after I had Isabel until I read this. Our bodies are crazy-amazing, aren’t they?

    I can’t imagine how frightened you must have been. I’m glad Ben was there with you!

  39. Wow, that’s scary.
    My SIL had her appendix and an ovary taken out while she was pregnant.

  40. To me, this story epitomizes courage because whenever we put ourselves in another’s hands — like a surgeon– we are acting very bravely, very courageously.
    And then when we simultaneously put our child’s life in his or her hands, too? Well, that’s extremely courageous.

    • Thank you! (And thanks for coming over!)

      Yes, putting your life into another’s hands is bravery. Trust is bravery.

  41. oh goodness! How scary! Glad things worked out ok.

  42. i can see that you have been innundated with lots of love here, so let me add to the pile. wow. what a journey. and so much courage! thanks for sharing. 🙂

  43. Oh my. Cannot believe you went through that! But look at that sweet face of your sweet girl. So so worth it, right?

  44. I’d say that I understand, but I am pleased to say that I have never been pregnant. Just not interested in being the first pregnant man.

    Anyhoo, I think that it is a cool story that I am sure is more enjoyable to tell now than it was then. Kids are wonderful.

    From a father’s perspective I can say that I get it.

    • Hey now, you *wouldn’t* be the first! (Although that guy was a woman or she became a man or something like that.)

      You can get it not only from a father’s perspective, but from the perspective of a husband/partner. Really, Ben made the whole experience something much easier to endure (“easier being relative of course).

  45. What a story! I’m glad to see you’re back!

  46. Amber … what a beautiful story of courage on everybodies parts.

    Thanks for sharing … thanks for seeking me out … just Thanks!

    – Doug

  47. Courage indeed! I felt pretty brave having to have surgery after my babies came, but while she was inside? Wow.