Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Story of Dec 2

I sat down on Thursday to write down the story of Dec 2, 2010 to the best of my ability. It was really hard for me to write but I so appreciate all the prayers and support we have recieved and I believe that each of you deserves to hear the story. Many of you have heard bits and I am sure you want the gaps filled in. Be warned, this is long and is not an easy story to read.

On Thursday, Dec 2, Abby woke up and had severe swelling in her face. We had been awake for about 20 minutes, going through our regular routine and she said, “Aaron, look at my face.” It honestly looked like she had been stung by a bee. We had a doctor’s appointment planned for the next day but Abby decided to call and have it changed to Thursday. The appointment was set for 1:30 pm. I went to work like normal and so did Abby. (Abby is Resident Director for Asbury and thus works in the building we live in.) I was planning on having lunch with my friend Joey that day but Abby called me at 10 am to tell me that she had thrown up and I decided to go home for lunch so I could take care of her little and then drive her to the doctor.

I got home at 12:30 and found Abby in the bed napping. I work her up, told her I was home and she asked me to wake her up when I finished eating lunch. I ate lunch, finished and went to wake Abby up. She acknowledged that it was time to get up and get ready for the doctor and I went back into the living room to get my dishes. Within seconds I heard the loudest snoring I have ever heard. Our living room is two rooms over from our bedroom and our TV was on, but I could still hear it clearly. I went back to the bedroom, somewhat amused that Abby had fallen back asleep and was snoring. I got to the bedroom and started calling Abby’s name. She didn’t wake up. I saw a pool of saliva and blood on her pillow. I started shaking her and calling her name louder. She didn’t wake up. I started shaking her very hard and screaming. No response. She was having a seizure (though I didn’t know that at the time. I thought people shook a lot during seizures and Abby wasn’t doing that.) I grabbed my phone and called 911. A lady answered, I told her what was happening, she told me an ambulance was on its way and that she would stay on the phone with me until the ambulance arrived. Her main concern was Abby’s breathing, telling me that if she stopped breathing I would have to do CPR. For the next 11 minutes I waited for the ambulance. Abby’s seizure stopped about three minutes after I found her. Mainly I knew that because she stopped snoring and was somewhat responsive to me. She would look at me when I called her name but did not know who I was. This terrified me. Mainly what I did for those 11 minutes was keep her awake. She wanted to close her eyes and I kept calling her name and telling her to keep her eyes open. Thank God that she listened. I also spent a part of those 11 minutes running back and forth from our bedroom to our front door, trying to see where the ambulance was and asking a student in our building to grab friends and go outside to direct the ambulance.

Finally, the ambulance arrived. The EMTs were completely clam, which helped calm me. They took her blood pressure, did the flashlight/eye thing, etc. When they started asking her questions she responsed, which was great. None of her answers were right, which scared me.

EMT: Do you know where you are?

Abby: Central Baptist (Wrong).

EMT: Do you what today is.

Abby: No.

EMT: Do you know what year it is?

Abby: No.

EMT: Have you eaten anything

Abby: I don’t remember.

EMT: Have you felt the baby move today?

Abby: I don’t know.

EMT: When is the baby most active

Abby: Girls. Girls. No, Boys. (This is the one that really scared me and almost pushed me over the edge.)

While the EMTs were there I texted our friend Paul Niswander, who is also an RD at Asbury. Here are our texts:

Aaron: Taking Abby to hospital. Might have had a seizure. Riding in an ambulance. Pray.

Paul: Praying hard. What hospital? Should Lisa, Brad, Casey, me, Joe come?

Aaron: Central Baptist. You will need to come later to pick us up

Paul: K

Aaron: I need you to come here right now. I am at Kresge.

Paul: On my way.

This all happened in about a minute. While texting I was talking to the EMTs and realized the situation was serious and I wanted someone with me. The EMTs took Abby to the ambulance and told me I had to ride up front, so I got in the passenger seat. Paul was there about the time we got outside and I gave him my keys and asked him to follow us. We rode to the hospital with the lights and horn blaring. The EMT tried to reassure me that all was fine and that they were only running the lights because she was pregnant, that she had high blood pressure and that is why she had a seizure but that it was under control.

I was shocked at how hard it was for the ambulance driver. For over a mile we followed a semi truck that would not get over. Later we were continually honking at a car to get over and it was obliviously. The driver handled it all calmly. On the ride I prayed simple, desperate prayers: “Jesus, please let Abby be okay. Please let the baby be okay. Please Jesus.” Over and over. I also sent a few texts while riding. One to my mom and one to Abby’s mom letting them know what had happened. My mom immediately called but I didn’t answer. I was too emotional. I didn’t want to talk. When we arrived at the hospital and the EMTs rolled Abby out on the stretcher, she was fine. She knew who I was again and could answer questions. Frustratingly, the people at the hospital were not expecting us. They looked confused to see us though the EMT called our situation in. We were directed to an elevator that opened on both sides. We started to get in but on the other side was a nurse with an old man. He was clearly fine and Abby clearly was not but the damn nurse decided to try and share the elevator with us rather than let us get in alone. This took time. Precious time. So we finally get to the 2nd floor and I am directed to the business office to sign Abby in and give them our insurance card. (Side note: Paul did an amazing job following us and arrived only a minute or two after we did. By the time I got to the business office Paul was there.) I do the quick paper work and then go find Abby.

I am in a hospital room with Abby and one nurse. It seems that everything will be fine. I am sitting in a chair, trying to recover. Suddenly there is a commotion and the nurse is struggling to keep Abby on the bed. Abby is having another seizure. I leap up and ask if I can help. The nurse says yes but does not tell me what to do. The nurse has Abby on the bed but starts yelling for me to hit the code button. I do not know what a code button is or where it is. The nurse yells for magnesium. An EMT is in the room but doesn’t help the nurse. She stands still, almost frozen, crying. The nurse gets Abby on the bed and runs and hits a button on the wall and screams for magnesium. I sit back down in the chair. I grab my hair with my hands and feel totally helpless. The ambulance driver asks me to come outside with him. I look back at Abby as I leave and she is gray. I see Paul. I walk straight to him, grab him and break down for the first time all day. I wail. No words. Just sobs.

My mind races.

Is Abby going to die? Abby can’t die. I can’t live without her. Where will I live? I live in a girl’s dorm. Will the baby be okay? What if they both die? What is they ask me to choose which one lives and which one dies. Abby can’t die. I don’t want Abby to die.

Paul takes me to another room where, surprisingly, Abby’s old boss (and still current friend) Lisa Harper is waiting. I sit down. I think, “I need to call Abby’s mom. I need to call my mom. There is no way I can talk to either of them. I will just wail. I will ask Paul to call them.” Without me saying a word Paul asks, “Is there anyone you want me to call?” I say yes, dial my mom’s number, she answers, I get out one word, “Mom” and then hand the phone to Paul. (Later, my mom told me that when I called and only got out that single word, it broke her heart. She could feel all my pain in that one word.) Paul explains the situation to mom and then asks if he should call Abby’s mom. I say yes but don’t know the number, that someone needed to go back into the room Abby was in and get her purse. The chaplain (who showed up at some point) did this for us. Paul calls Abby’s mom.

I decide I am stable enough to go back to the room Abby is in. There are about 15 people in the room. The guy is charge is a doctor named O’Brian. He explains to me what has happened, that Abby has eclampsia, something about the placenta not attaching right and creating toxins and high blood pressure resulting in seizures and that the only way to stop this is to deliver. Abby’s OBGYN is there with the “Oh sh*t I really screwed up this time” look on her face. I think, “If Abby dies, I am coming at you with all my anger and pain lady.” I am standing next to Abby. She is unconscious. The OBGYN tells me they need to prep for an emergency c-section and that Abby has to have an epidural. I don’t want her talking to me about this so close to Abby. I am afraid she will hear what we are saying and it will upset her. I am right. The word “epidural” brings Abby conscious. The doctor tells Abby they have to do an emergency c-section. She weeps as she says, “Its too early.” This kills me. It is hard enough watching her go through this physical pain. The emotional pain she starts to feel is like a knife in my heart. I look at her and tell her everything will be okay. She just sobs. At some point she becomes unconscious again. I go out of the room to tell Paul and Lisa what is about to happen. Now Joe Bruner, Abby’s current boss, and Abby’s co-worker Paul Stephens are in the room. Lisa asks if we can pray. Paul wisely asks the chaplain to pray, knowing full well no one in the room will make it through a prayer. I go back to the room Abby is in. They take her away to prep her for the c-section. I am alone. I text Paul, asking him to come sit with me. He comes. We sit.

Eventually I am taken down to the room Abby is having the c-section in. I am not allowed in due to the amount of people but sit outside the room. They leave the door open so I can see in. The chaplain sits with me. I wait. At 3:51 I hear my baby boy let out two small cries. This is music to my ears because I know that for baby’s born premature, their lungs are the biggest concern. I am let in to take pictures. I talk to Abby. I tell her he has her nose. They wheel Eli so Abby can see him and then take him to NICU. I follow him out. A nurse who has been with me since we arrived (she is the emergency nurse or something, but was not needed and was assigned to follow me around and make sure I am okay) takes my phone into the NICU to take pictures. She comes out to tell us that he is 1 lbs and 15 oz and there is a chance he may go to UK due to his small size. It was about an hour before I could see Abby or Eli. I stood in a hallway with Paul and Lisa just waiting. At some point I went to the waiting room to thank all the people who came. I don’t really remember the next part in order, but I know I got to see Eli, I know that Mark Troyer, the VP of Student Development at Asbury, and Katie Blair were waiting outside the NICU for me at some point and I know that Abby was moved to a new room. At this point Abby’s family was close (they were driving down from Indiana) and Paul finally left the hospital after being my HERO for about 6 hours. Some very sweet girls brought some clothes and toiletries for us from our apartment. I slept at the hospital in a chair that folds into a small bed, spending all night watching and checking on Abby to make sure she was okay.

So, this is the story of Dec 2 as good as I can remember it. Some additional notes:

*The anesthesiologist came to check on Abby Thursday night and asked to look at her chest, saying she had to do chest compressions on her and wanted to she if she was bruised. I do not know why she had to do this. There are conflicting reports from doctors as to whether or not she flat-lined.

*The t-shirt Abby was wearing was cut off of her as was her bra.

*The doctor explained that when someone codes (which is what the code button is for), it means they are dying but that Abby never really coded because there was not point when the baby was not getting all the of the nutrients/air/blood he needed. I don’t know if this is true.

*When I was deciding whether or not to propose to Abby, I fasted and prayed over the decision. A big part of that story is that I felt like God said to me, “I saved you for each other. I saved you from other relationships so that you could be together.” On December 2 God saved Abby for me again.

*December 2 is Abby’s brother’s birthday.

*December 2, 2001 is the day I gave my life to Christ.

Lastly, I want to point out one miracle that happened. Dozens happened, but this one sticks out the most to me: I was home at 12:50 when Abby’s first seizure started. I was not supposed to be home. I was supposed to be at lunch with Joey. If Abby had not thrown up, I would not have come home for lunch. If I had not come home for lunch, Abby would have had her seizure with no one there to find her. She most likely would have died, taking Eli with her. Praise God I was home, and I mean that literally. Praise God. It was a miracle that I was home and I believe He orchestrated it all the way.


  1. Thank you for your courage to share this story. Such a beautiful picture of God's love for you, your family and all of us. I will continue to pray for you all. This story is amazing and the details should be highlighted as you have. Peace and joy onto you, Abby and Eli.

    "And we know that God causes everything to work togethert for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28

  2. Wow - this is intense. You don't know me Aaron, but I love your wife. She is a precious soul, and I'm so glad God was watching over her and Eli that day. We continue to pray for you and your little family!

  3. Wow, thanks for sharing this Aaron. I'm so glad everyone is ok!

  4. Thank God that Abby and Eli and you are all okay now. Thank you for sharing your story. God is truly amazing, to have set you in the right place at the right time. Praying for your little family. Love to you all.