In my youthful innocence, I did not know that babies died. I had never dealt with or been impacted by the death of a child. My father had died when I was a little girl, so death was exclusively experienced by adults. Babies were simply born, period.
I got married with the same thought, not intentionally, but at 25 I was not thinking about such things. I was enjoying my career, my fiance´ and the adventure that awaited ahead. My husband and I got married on April 11th and on October 15th of that same year, we found out we were pregnant. I did not sleep for weeks due to excitement, worry, and joy. My emotions were indeed a rollercoaster ride, a whirlwind, or maybe it was the hormones.
Weeks later we visited the doctor and heard the heartbeat of the tiny human that was growing inside of me. I recall feeling like a miracle was taking place in my body. I would wash my belly gently, sit a certain way, not bend or pick up things, my great-great grandmother would have very been proud of how seriously I took every wives tale.
Even though I was excited, I was also a walking zombie. My body ached with every move. I hurt all over. I just assumed this was what pregnancy felt like. I shared my concerns with my doctor, all tests came back negative, so the reasoning behind my pain was “some women just have terrible pregnancies.” So I tried to make the best of my “terrible pregnancy.”
On February 5, my family and I walked downtown Indy taking in all of the excitement that Super Bowl XLVI brought to our city. After a few hours of music, games, and photos with cardboard cutouts, it was time to go enjoy the game in my own space.
I slumped onto the chest outside of my kitchen, leaned against the wall, and suddenly the most excruciating pain I have ever felt went through my abdomen. It came just as quickly as it went away.
Monday, I called my doctor, and she asked about my activity the day before, what did I eat, was there any bleeding with the pain, when did I feel the pain, is there any pain now?
“I walked downtown Indy just like millions of other people. I ate buffalo cheese dip, chicken wings, meatballs, chips, salsa, spicy food with more spice and hot sauce. No, I was not bleeding, and no I did not currently feel the knife in my abs. No, no, no.”
“If the pain persists, please call us back.”
“Yes ma’am, thank you.”
After an evening walk with my husband hoping to aide in the digestion of Sunday’s feast, the pain was worse. It was happening every 11-15 minutes during the night. I actually timed it, why, it just felt like I should. I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand, I definitely could not sleep.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the nurse squeezed me in between the doctor’s 3:45 and 4:15. I got in the car with my sandwich in hand and drove the 20 minutes in so much pain.
More waiting, answering questions and then waiting to hear the rhythm of that little miracle, but there was silence.
I asked, “What’s wrong?”
At 19.5 weeks, our little girl came into this world. We clung to the basket that held our baby, wept, and for the first time, I realized that death took babies too. In my youthful innocence, it did not ever cross my mind, that babies can and do indeed die.
A part of me disappeared that day. I couldn’t find the person who was excited about pregnancy and birth and life. I saw pain, hospitals, medication, fear, sickness. Life wasn’t entirely dark for me, not because I saw the light at the end, but because I knew deep down that the light just had to be there, somewhere.
With time, effort, love, community and intentionality I was able to see miracles again, but now with a greater appreciation and gratitude.
Years later, I now have three angels in heaven and two little angels here next to me. All five were miracles. All five transformed my world. I have the courage to not only share my story but to also live life with a degree of youthful innocence. One that understands reality, but still looks for the miracles in each day.