23 April 2015

Alexandra of Rome

Today we celebrated St Alexandra of Rome, empress, wife, mother, and patron saint of our Alex.

Alexandra was the wife of the notoriously anti-Christian emperor Diocletian. She had converted to Christianity in secret, along with her daughter Valeria. Stories of her martyrdom differ; some say that she publicly acknowledged Christ by bowing before St George on his way to his martyrdom at Nicomedia, and her death was consequently ordered by Diocletian. According to other sources, Alexandra was merely exiled with Valeria, but the emperor Licinius had both women beheaded when they arrived at their place of exile. Versions of both stories relate that Alexandra asked permission to sit down for a moment while walking to her place of execution, and while seated, died peacefully before she could be killed.

St Alexandra, her story and the concern she must have felt for her daughter Valeria, have been on my mind recently as I've been watching her feast approach on the calendar. I wasn't worried at all during my pregnancy with Alex; Little Bear's pregnancy had gone smoothly, and I didn't have any reason to think anything would be different the second time around until I was blindsided with the news that she'd died. This pregnancy, with Kit, I've been trying not to worry, but it's been harder these past few weeks as we come up on the anniversary of Alex' miscarriage.

And then last night, Matt and I spent five hours in the women's center at the hospital. 

At not quite 32 weeks pregnant, a sudden midafternoon onslaught of sharp cramping, low back pain, nausea and shakes had me scared; I couldn't tell if I was having contractions or not, but I couldn't sense contractions with Little Bear until I was so far along that we almost didn't make it to the hospital in time, so my midwife told me to call Matt home from work and go straight to the hospital to be checked.

It turned out that I was contracting lightly but consistently, with contractions every 2-3 minutes, but I hadn't yet begun dilating. The nurses quickly had me hooked up to four monitors, an iv of fluids going into the back of my hand, a terbutaline injection (a smooth muscle relaxant) in my shoulder. The contractions began responding to the terbutaline right away, and since the nurses said it'd take about an hour and a half to finish the iv fluids, I sat up to read and Matt headed out to find us some supper.

Not 20 minutes after he left, I began feeling light headed, and suddenly there were three nurses in the room. My blood pressure, normally low, had dropped to 93/36. They got me laying back down on my side under a warm blanket, drinking more water in addition to the iv drip, and slowly my blood pressure began climbing erratically back up where it belonged. They kept us for an extra hour and a half to give me a second bag of fluids, but the contractions didn't come back and my blood pressure stabilized, so a little before 10:30 we were discharged.

We'd dropped Little Bear with my parents on our way to the hospital, so he got to have a trial run of going to bed at Grandma's house. It couldn't have gone much better; he apparently went right to sleep without fussing, and slept through Matt picking him up, carrying him out to the car, and bringing him in to his own bed. He didn't wake up until 7 this morning!

I took today very slowly, and haven't had any pain. Maybe I needed to be scared into not trying to do too much... it doesn't feel like I accomplish much during the days as it is, but it seems I need to spend even less time on my feet.

Saint Alexandra of Rome, pray for us!
Saint Gerard, pray for us!
Saint Alex Shiffler, pray for your little sister, that she stays put for at least six more weeks!