Monday, November 13, 2023

Pain and Loss

Some people say when you lose someone you love, your mind either block it out or you relive that moment year after year. In my case, I relive the two consecutive days every year. At first, I was unable to function during those two days. Now I cry and remember. Mentally, I know there was nothing I could do to change the past, but my grief still doesn't get any better. I have gotten better at hiding it.

October 10, 1995

I was an eighteen-year-old girl fresh out of high school, pregnant with twins. Baby A was the strong twin, and Baby B was the weaker baby. My Doctor had put me into a high-risk category due to my age and being pregnant with two babies. I lived with my daughter's father and his mother, as my parents did not want the embarrassment of having an unwed mother in their home. To everyone else, they acted like they couldn't wait to be Grandparents, but to me, I was a curse to them.

The day was like any other day. I had to stay on partial bed rest due to how my body had reacted to the pregnancy. At 3 p.m. that afternoon, I had a bright spot as I had a sonogram scheduled to check on my little ones. When I arrived, the receptionist told me that my appointment would be late due to a rush in the ER from emergency cases. My daughter's father said he would not stay and left, instructing me to page him when the appointment was over. Okay, I didn't mind being alone. I worked on a blanket I was making. The receptionist in the area came over with a hospital cup of water, telling me I needed to have plenty of fluid for the sonogram. I had already drank a lot of water but thanked her and sipped as I sewed.

After another hour of waiting, the receptionist called me up front for the sonogram. When I walked in, the sonogram tech asked if I was alone, and I said I was. The tech was so sweet and kind and set me up on the table, then started with the screen facing both of us and continued with the sonogram. The tech pointed out Baby B and said look, she is sucking her thumb. I laughed as she said that. Then she got to Baby A and said, "Oh, Baby A is hiding today. She told me to relax as everything would take a while. I lay there and closed my eyes as these sonograms always take close to an hour. I heard the tech get up and call someone on the phone. I asked if everything was okay, and she gave a forced laugh. She said, "Oh no worries, Baby A is being a stinker and will not let me get a clear picture of her or him."

I remember chuckling and saying, Yeah, I get that I hate being in the spotlight as well. The nurse patted my shoulder, and I closed my eyes. Her supervisor had me turn on my side a bit so they could try to get a better view of Ashley. They said they couldn't get a clear picture, then did more stuff with Baby B, my daughter A. I didn't know what they had discovered that Ashley's cord tied, and she was gone. 

After the sonogram, my tech said my Doctor would call me to discuss the results in the morning. What I didn't know was that my Doctor was in the building. However, he was performing a c-section when told what was happening. My Doctor stated his office would have me come in, and they would personally break the news to me in the morning since A was stable. I paged my ex, and he came and got me, and we went home for the night.

October 11, 1995

The following morning, the phone rang at 8 a.m., and my Doctor's office was calling me in to discuss my sonogram results. I was filled with dread and asked when they wanted me there. The nurse said to get to the office right away. My ex drove me to the Doctor's office, and when we got there, they led me to the Doctor's private office. We sat in the chairs, and he joined us a few minutes later. He started with baby B, who was stable, and all her measurements showed she was tiny but healthy. I stopped him and said, "What about baby A?"

He was quiet, and under his breath, he said this is the part of being a Doctor he hated. He came around to sit on the corner of his desk and said, "I am sorry. During the sonogram yesterday, the technician discovered baby A had passed."

I remember a loud ringing that started in my ears, and my vision got fuzzy around the edges. I remember saying, "I am going to be sick."

My Doctor placed a bucket in my lap as I got sick. The nurse who had joined him in the room pulled my hair back and rubbed my shoulder. My ex sat there and did not say a word. Once I had finished, I asked, "What did I do to cause this?"

The Doctor told me, "You did not do anything. Her cord had knotted and tightened. You could not have prevented this."

I remember putting my hand on my belly. I asked, "What about Baby B? Is she going to pass as well?"

My Doctor said, "Not if I have anything to say about it. You are going from here to the hospital. They have a room in maternity set up for you, and we will give you injections to increase baby B's lung growth. But you need to know, Baby B will be born premature, which means she will have to go to All Children's Hospital in St Petersburg."

I nodded, and the nurse handed me a bottle of water. She said, "The hospital is waiting for your arrival. Dad will have to get your things from your house for you."

When I got to the hospital, the staff in maternity handled me like I was a ticking time bomb. I felt like I was in a dream. After my ex dropped me off at the hospital, my ex did the one smart thing and went to my Grandmother's house and told her. I must have been at the hospital an hour when my Grandma came into the room and just held me. She held my hands while they gave me shots to help my daughter and then stroked my hair when they gave me a sedative to go to sleep. I stayed at the hospital for three days on monitors, my Doctor checking on me two to three times a day. On Friday, October 13th, I was sent home from the hospital. I had joked with the nurse I would see you later on, and she said, "Bed rest and nothing else."

When I got to my ex's Mom's house, she had me lay on the couch, and I woke up later that evening, ate a little, and went to bed until the following morning. My ex informed me that after everything that happened, he needed to unwind, and he was going out with the boys. What I didn't know was that he was hooking up with a friend, and they went clubbing till the day my daughter was born. While he was out, I had made a hospital bag with everything I needed just in case labor became a reality much sooner than we expected. 

The following morning, at 545 a.m. I had to go to the bathroom so badly. I walked to the bathroom, and when I went to open the door, my water broke. I remember I went to my ex's mom's room, knocked on the door, and told her my water had broken. She was up fast, and she opened her door and said did you say a water pipe broke? I said, " No, my water broke." She ran in, and I heard her smack my ex awake, saying she needed to go to the hospital now the baby was coming. I had made it to the phone and called my Doctor's answering service, and the service said they were alerting my Doctor, but to get to the hospital as he was already there due to an emergency earlier."

I asked my ex's mom to call my Grandma as we left. She headed to the phone to do so, and when we got to the hospital, my Doctor was waiting with a nurse and a wheelchair. They bought me in and prepped me for an emergency c-section. My Autumn survived, but we had to deal with the death of her sister, Ashley. 

The day Autumn Rose was born was the first official day of Autumn in our county. Ashley, was taken to the morgue after she was delivered, and I never got to say goodbye due to complications during delivery. I had to be put to sleep when we went into delivery with the girls, but later, my Doctor said that Ashley was keeping Autumn in place, and they had tangled together during delivery. If I had not given birth when I did, I could have lost Autumn as well. 

When I was in the hospital, the staff asked me about funeral arrangements. I panicked and said, "I do not know because I never thought about it." 

That's when one of the nurses told me the owner of one of the local funeral homes, who works with a graveyard, had sponsored a funeral and plot for my daughter. The funeral home took care of everything from the coffin to the grave. When the head came to see me the next day, he handed me a paper with Ashley's footprints. My ex took the picture, which had been in a frame from me when we broke up.

Not a day goes by that I do not think about Ashley and the what-ifs. Not a day goes by that I don't thank whatever higher power there is for my oldest daughter, Autumn. Because I was close to losing her as well, I love my children more than anything in this world, and even though there were times I was a shit mom and made a lot of mistakes, they mean everything to me, and I would do anything in my power to fix everything that has happened between us. 

Ladies and gentlemen, your grief never goes away from the loss you had in your life. We have to find a way to adapt and move forward. Remember to talk to those who would listen and get help if needed. Much love and blessings to you all.

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