Pregnancy and Kidney Stones

“Well, Mrs. Lloyd, if you are going to refuse to have an abortion, you might as well go back to class. There’s nothing we can do. The bleeding indicates you will eventually miscarry the fetus.” I ran out of the university health clinic with tears streaming down my face. My husband met me in the hall and held me for several long minutes. The year was 1985. I was only 20 years old and he, 22. We were both still in college. We had been married for less than six months, and already, we were facing the possible death of our first baby.

Our story actually began in 1984. I was a new Christian; Mike had been a Christian since the age of eight. We were attending the same college, he  with the hopes of being drafted by a professional baseball team. When we met, we were both very independent, strong-willed people. But, even early in our relationship, we sought to make Christ the center of our lives.

Mike and I got engaged and made plans for our wedding day. Part of those preparations was deciding which kind of birth control we should use. On the first visit to my hometown OB/GYN, I was told I probably would have a very difficult time getting pregnant, because since age 13, I only had my menstrual cycle about once a year. The doctor never determined the cause of my missed periods, but recommended fertility pills in order to bring on my cycle, a necessity for getting started on the birth control medicine.

Even as a new Christian, I did not feel comfortable taking medication and tampering with my body’s chemistry. Late that night I prayed to Jesus to intervene and let me get my cycle naturally. It had been over a year, but miraculously, the next day, I started my period. My first major prayer of faith had been answered and I threw away the fertility pills.

With only a few months left before marriage, I began taking the birth control pills. I did not like the idea, but I had been so conditioned into thinking that pregnancy was something to avoid, that I saw no alternative. Our wedding day arrived and not long afterwards, Mike’s grandfather began telling us he wanted a grandson. “How dare he?” I thought. “We just got married. I’m not ready for children yet.”

The next thing I knew, I began spotting. I thought I might be pregnant, so I immediately stopped taking the Pill. I had heard that if you take birth control while you are pregnant, it could cause deformities in the baby. A pregnancy test proved negative, but I decided not to take any more of the drug. I did not like the way it made me feel and besides, hadn’t the doctor told me I probably wouldn’t get pregnant anyway?

The very next month, I conceived. I was in shock. The OB/GYN said it was probably because my body released multiple eggs when I first got off the Pill, and I most likely would never get pregnant again. Shortly after conceiving, I began to bleed heavily. My first visit to the university health clinic was when the doctor told me I should either terminate the pregnancy or face an inevitable miscarriage. No other advice. No compassion. Abortion or miscarriage.

Thankfully, even though we didn’t have health insurance at the time, my husband took me to a doctor in his hometown. He was an older gentleman, obviously pro-life, who told me to take off school for two weeks and rest in bed. He wasn’t sure if I had lost a twin or if I had an elevated chorion, but he believed I could deliver my baby full term if I was careful. Soon, the bleeding stopped.

Then at about 27 week’s gestation, I experienced a gnawing pain in my left flank. The burning, stabbing spasms came and went in waves. My nurse read my chart and feared the worst. She hooked me up to a monitor and asked me if I was in labor. How should I know? I’d never had a baby before. Eventually the spasms stopped and I was released. The rest of my pregnancy went smoothly and several months later, the Lord gave us a healthy baby boy, whom we named Michael.

After delivering Michael, I figured there was no need to try to prevent another pregnancy, as the doctor said the first one was a freak accident. Eleven months passed and, as usual, I did not experience any menstrual periods. I did, however, begin to experience morning sickness. Amazingly, without even having a monthly cycle, I was pregnant again with our second child.

Within the hour of arriving home from the hospital with our new little bundle, I was once again writhing in excruciating back pain, the same stabbing spasms I had experienced with Michael. I could not even walk down the stairs, so Mike carried me to the car and we rushed back to the hospital. This time, the cause was determined. I had a large kidney stone in my left ureter which blocked my kidney from draining. Surgery ensued and a slow recovery, but eventually I healed from both the kidney stone attack and usual postpartum pains.

It was about this time the Lord began to change my views about the whole idea of birth control. A lady gave me a book by Mary Pride called The Way Home which opened up the Scriptures to me.  I remember vividly the day in 1988 when I became convicted to surrender our ideas about “family planning” and allow God to give us children in His perfect time. I was also convinced that we should home educate the children the Lord would give us in order to nurture and train them in His ways.

 I knew my husband, however, and I knew it would take a small miracle for him to accept these “radical” ideas. Amazingly, when he came home from work that day in 1988, and I shared with him all I had been learning from the Scriptures, Mike replied simply and confidently, “Yes, I agree.” (I didn’t know that he, too, had been reading Mary Pride’s book!)  

I wish I could say that we never doubted and all was smooth sailing from that point on. There were many difficult trials ahead. In less than a year’s time, I was pregnant with our third child. With a few month’s left in the pregnancy, I developed another kidney stone that lodged in my right ureter. My kidney swelled like a balloon. The pain was unbelievable.

At the hospital, I could not even speak, only vomit and moan. I remember turning from side to side in the bed all night long pleading with God for mercy. The doctor could not remove the stone due to the pregnancy. Instead, he inserted a stent extending from my kidney to my bladder around the stone to allow partial drainage.

I lay on the couch in constant pain for the remaining months of that pregnancy with a one and a two year old running around the house. The verse that kept coming to mind was Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Those days were real faith stretchers.

I struggled with tremendous fear about all kinds of things during this time of weakness. Most involved the idea of giving up complete control of my life and my children’s lives to God.  I was still a young Christian and was very concerned about being socially accepted. I was painfully aware that living a truly dedicated, Christ-centered life meant losing popularity with the world.

The Lord kept reminding me of the verse, “Be ye not conformed to the image of this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” (Romans 12:2). Slowly, the Lord changed the desires of my heart and I realized that the world’s riches paled in comparison to the spiritual and eternal rewards that God had in store for our family if only we would serve Him faithfully.

As the years have passed, the Lord has continued to bless us with a new baby about every year and a half. Although He has been gracious to give me “easy deliveries”, I have experienced at least one kidney stone attack before, during or after every pregnancy. With two of the babies, I passed over 30 stones and during my tenth pregnancy, I had a severe blockage from a stone and had to have another stent placed in my ureter.

Over 21 years, I have undergone multiple lithotripsies, ureteroscopies, cystocopies and stent placements to treat kidney stones. I have had four different urologists, an endocrinologist and a nephrologist consider my case. I have also tried natural remedies, herbs, kidney cleansing, diet changes, massage therapies, chiropractics, reflexology, anointing, fasting and much fervent prayer. All in all, I have passed over 100 stones with much pain and suffering.

Although I have had multiple tests done to determine the cause of my kidney stones over the years, all results have been inconclusive until recently. This summer, after the birth of our twelfth baby, I underwent six high-risk surgeries to remove five ureteral stones. Several were impacted in the tissue and were causing kidney blockage, dilation and damage.

During this ordeal, my urologist ordered a new set of tests from a different lab. Finally, an abnormality in my body chemistry was detected. I have a citrate deficiency and a high pH level in my urine. I am now taking a mineral supplement called Urocit-K which has proven to get my citrate levels back in check. We are praying this treatment will prevent further problems.

Whether I am cured from kidney stone trouble is yet to be seen. Nonetheless, I have come to accept my kidney stones as simply “thorns in the flesh” which the Lord uses to keep me dependent on His strength, not my own. I know in my heart that the painful testing periods over the last two decades have developed my faith and perseverance.

God tells us in James 1:3-6, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

I have also learned that whether it is a physical, mental, spiritual, financial, or marital problem that our family faces, the Lord is faithful to solve it if we humble ourselves, pray, search the Scriptures and submit our wills to Him.

Whenever I am at “my wits end,” I know that it is only because I am trying to control a situation in my own strength and not relying on God’s wisdom and power. The words of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths,” give us comfort when Satan’s hurls his attacks. We praise the Lord for His mercy and grace and give Him all the glory for the work He is accomplishing in us.

SUE LLOYD
Moore, South Carolina, USA
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God has blessed Mike and Sue with 12 children--Michael, Jr.(20), Mary Beth (19), Mandy (18), Isaac (16), Abby (14), Matt (12), Becky (11), Timmy (8), Sarah (7), Sam (4), Anne (3) and Chloe (1).

 

 

 

 

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