Ugh. This one hurts to write. It actually throws me into a vortex of emotions, and makes me relive the most painful time in my life all over again. But in writing about it from time to time, I feel a sense of healing.
“it’s gonna happen again soon”
A dear friend of mine sent me an article ‘Six Things I Wish People Knew About Grieving The Loss Of A Child’ earlier this year. Though I am still in the process of healing and dealing, I had never seen words written so true.
Last year June, I was expecting to deliver two beautiful twin girls. This being my fourth and fifth delivery, I knew it would happen fast. I had some complications with my pregnancy (separated pelvis, certain markers on tests showed one might have down syndrome – which was later concluded as being negative, and gestational diabetes). At 33 weeks, I went into labor early. Twin A was breech and I was prepared to do a natural delivery as is (considering they were much smaller than my other children) with the possibility of doing a C-Section should complications arise. I was game. Let’s do this!
I had an app I that used to log all my contractions (which never turned off, and is still actively clocking away at 7278 hours, 13 minutes and 50 seconds to date. I refuse to press STOP). The last time it was logged, was at 3:33pm June 14th, as Charlotte Lily made her way into the world. Not only did she make her way, she pretty much slid out. I heard her cry, they put her on me briefly and then got her onto her bed in time for me to push for Twin B. 16 minutes later, her twin Lily Charlotte was born. What happened next was surreal. Like you’re watching a movie in fast forward, but all the details are poignant and clear. Both babies were on their warming beds and one doctor says to us that they need to move Charlotte to NICU to get her breathing on track. I looked at my husband and told him to follow them. He came back and a few minutes later, the alerts go off in the hospital “code pink”, and I will never forget the sounds of multiple people running down the hall into the NICU. I said to my husband again, ‘please go make sure that isn’t for her’. And it was.
Soon after, I was asked to go see her in the NICU. I was prepped on how she might look as they continued to work on her. Her body was so pale, and while she laid there and the doctors worked away trying their hardest to get her breathing, I came towards her to kiss the top of her head in hopes that maybe her mamas kiss would help heal her. While I was still so confused as to what was happening, seeing my baby girl laying there practically lifeless will be burned in my memory forever.
While I slid away so the doctors could do their job, I looked over to see that Lily had been placed in an incubator close by her sister. I opened the little latch to touch her body as she peacefully wiggled around completely unaware of this ever changing life event.
My husband and the doctor spoke, and all I remember was my husband saying ‘too much time has passed without any progression. If you have to call it, do it.’ We knew this would be the hardest decision of our lives, but our sweet baby had gone too long without responding, and even if she would’ve found a way to pull through, the repercussions of brain damage were high.
They wrapped her up and asked if I wanted to hold her. This instinctual need to unwrap my baby as fast as I could and have her naked body wrapped in mine was all I wanted. I sat there, with my angel, rocking in a chair, stroking her face and trying to take in every hair, pore, feature of her darling face that I humanly could, listening to whatever air was in her, leave her body. I was never going to have this moment with her again.
What’s incredible to me are the flashbacks I have still. I remember every single detail about that day; the look on peoples faces, the sounds in the hospital, the smells, the clocks in the room, and worst of all, the look on my husbands face. Complete sadness. I knew at that moment, I had to put on my wife face and comfort him.
Grieving isn’t something we (as a society) speak much about, unless it happens. We are not prepared to deal with losing a loved one. Or are we? I’m a strong believer that life hands us situations we have the ability and tools to handle. Of course, naturally it doesn’t feel that way in the moment. But think about it. I’ve been logical (almost too much so) my entire life. I rationalize things, compartmentalize them, and put them into their respective ‘box’ and carry on. Dealing with quite a few tragic and sudden deaths in my life, I’ve gone through the grieving process the best way I knew how, at whatever age. And luckily for me, I had the support and guidance from amazing counsellors, friends, family and google (yes, google), to open my mind in coping. Maybe those experiences were to prep me for the ultimate loss. And with that loss, I have been able to help others in similar situations, because now I can relate to other mothers who have lost their children.
It’s been less than a year since ‘that day’ happened. It has made my husbands and my relationship stronger, closer to our children (all 5 of them), and only recently did I acknowledge an interesting pattern.
Once a month, I get overwhelmed. Not because of my period – trust me! Of course I think about Charlotte every minute of every day, every time I look at Lily, but approximately once a month I start to think about ‘that day’ more often. I’m drawn to looking at pictures, reading past posts and comments – almost as a way of helping me relive the moment again so that I may never forget. I keep those emotions raw, so in a weird way I remain present while reliving my past. I cry. A lot. And then I’m good again. I feel like a pot of boiling water (emotionally bubbling, but keeps at an even temperature 98% of the time) when eventually that water needs to spill over. And with that, I can tell when those emotions become stronger and stronger, which has allowed me to communicate to my husband that “it’s gonna happen again soon”. Almost as a fair warning for my over sensitivity.
I don’t expect people to have the right words to say as we all deal with death differently. I knew before my daughter passed that I dealt with death very matter of factly. Because of our situation, I have learned of others that have gone through the same thing, and just like that – we are bonded. I have grown closer in my relationships with people because of their outreach and support. Even though I couldn’t muster the energy to say I needed help – they just knew and took matters into their own hands. Because of that, I will be forever grateful and feel an immense amount of love for them.
I think throughout this process, whether you are living it or watching someone go through it, you have to remember this IS a process and there’s no right or wrong way to deal with it. But I highly suggest talking and confiding in someone about your thoughts, your conclusions, your questions, anything that helps you find peace.
In our house, we speak openly about Charlotte. Mainly as a way of her keeping her memory fresh and vibrant. But also because her twin sister is the glue for our whole family. Our life may have changed forever – but it has definitely made us appreciate how fragile and precious our moments together are.