September 24, 1996...a day that will be etched on my brain and in my heart for as long as I exist. As I walked into the doctor's office, I knew it was over. I knew that "the inevitable" (as the doctors called it) had occurred. My first pregnancy was finished. My first child was gone.
The previous day, September 23, as I taught my 5th graders, I was all too aware that my baby was not moving as much as usual. That evening, my sweet husband knelt beside the bed. He held my hand tightly (he is the best at holding hands tightly, and when he does I couldn't feel safer). He placed his other hand on my stomach. We talked to our daughter. We told her how much we wished she could stay, how much we loved her, and how she had changed our lives. We wanted her to know that although this world would never know her, we would never forget knowing her.
We sat in silence. There are times in life when words are useless, they can be wastes of the very breath it takes to form them.
Then, there are times in life when words are most powerful. I told Jared I could not remember the last time our baby kicked. How? How could God expect me to live the rest of my life not knowing the last moment of my child's far too brief existence? I was not sure I could do it. We prayed. My husband's head rested on my stomach. In the prayer, we pled our case. Please, just let us remember her last kick.
And oh how she kicked! Her daddy's head bounced right off of my big belly. I can still remember the look on his face. It was beautiful. I wanted to stop time. Never has a prayer of ours been answered so quickly, never before and never since. But then, never have we needed anything so desperately.
That night, I did not sleep. I think I was actually motionless, just hoping for one more, just one more kick. But, I knew better. And I could feel "the inevitable" lurking in the dark, sneaking in, most definitely uninvited.
September 24, 1996...I needed to teach my 5th graders. They had no idea what was happening. I was 8 months pregnant and all they knew is that I was getting really fat. I needed Jared to go to his classes. I needed some sense of normalcy; otherwise, I was sure I would stop breathing...that is how badly my heart hurt.
So, we went about our day. I was in the Computer Lab with my students. I called my doctor. Yep, we had a hotline straight to him....be thankful when you call your doctor but can't speak to him immediately, it means no one is dying. He told me: "Well, it sounds as though the inevitable has happened. You need to come in right now." I called my husband. He would be there as soon as possible, but he was 45 minutes away.
I walked into the doctor's office. From the looks on the faces of the nurses, they could feel "the inevitable" lurking also. I walked in for what would be the last of countless ultrasounds...seriously, I had so many we stopped counting.
The time had come, my baby had no heartbeat. I felt as though the weight of the world was literally crushing my chest. I could not remember how to get in touch with my husband. I could not remember where I had parked my car. All I could remember is that I had a dear friend who lived across the street from the doctor's office. Strange isn't it, the things we remember when we are in shock?
To this day, I can't remember who called my friend. Was it me? Was it a nurse? What I can remember is that she walked me out the back hallway of the doctor's office. She took me to her house. She promised me that it wasn't my fault. I sat in her living room as Jared rushed to reach me.
September 25, 1996...my husband & I held our daughter.
My fear has always been that people would forget my daughter. No one was given a chance to know her. There were no opportunities to make memories with her. I have often wondered what my friend remembers of that day. I often wonder if people even remember the syndrome that took my daughter's life.
Today, with one simple email, my friend let me know that she has not forgotten:
Have you seen this video? I saw it and thought of you..
The video shares the story of Eliot, a baby born with Trisomy 18. Victoria had Trisomy 18. I delivered Victoria 12 years ago. No one was blogging. Most of the time, the only videos people made, were ones to show their own families. I am thankful families now have more opportunities to share their stories, to help others.
The video about Eliot helps me. Why? Well, for one thing because his precious, slightly misplaced little ears remind me of my baby's. His tiny hands and mouth remind me of her. Eliot's balloons remind me of those we released for Victoria. And, because even though you may not have had the chance to know my daughter, you can know Eliot.
And to my friend...I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.