This one is near and dear to my heart, as I have two adopted kids. My ex and I were also unable to have another child and suffered a devastating loss when our daughter died at 32 weeks of gestation. There are few things out there more devastating and heartbreaking than having to give birth to a child you know is dead. Having suffered regular miscarriages as well, I am well familiar with what the author of this article – an Army buddy of mine – is feeling. The heartbreak is no less real, and as I tried to get past my own feelings at the time, I also noted with some degree of bitterness that while we were having trouble keeping a baby, my brother and his wife – drug addicts whose children we had to adopt due to neglect brought on by the situation – had started talking about having yet another kid! They didn’t seem to have any trouble conceiving and keeping a baby! (At the time I told my dad that if they even tried to have another kid after giving both of theirs up for adoption due to their inability and unwillingness to give up their drug use, I’d go over there and yank her uterus out through her ass.) Meanwhile, those of us fighting to have children had to face sometimes insurmountable adoption or in vitro costs, as well as multiple heartbreaks every time the child we wanted so badly died.
So here’s Carmen’s story. Please read and share.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I was absolutely elated, but being the realist that I am (o.k., negative person) I prepared myself for signs of a miscarriage. I’m not sure why exactly, apart from the fact that I conceived my first child in the midst of an tumultuous first marriage to a high school sweetheart and let’s face it, things that seem perfect have a tendency to get ruined.
I met my husband about seven years ago and after spending a year long-distance dating, we got married. We didn’t meet online, but instead met playing softball and reconnected a year after my divorce and a year into my husband’s active duty Army contract in Germany. When he returned home, we decided to take it slow, focusing on his career, college, and building our ideal home. After a few months of trying, I noticed my boobs were extremely sore while I was away on a routine business trip. This particular symptom was the tell-tale sign of my first pregnancy, so I decided to take a test. When it came up positive, we were beside ourselves.
My husband was everything my first partner wasn’t. He was there, and not out of guilt. He anxiously waited for cravings to jump into the car at a moment’s notice and appease them. He fetched me Tums when my heartburn was acting up; lectured me about my caffeine intake and told me to take it easy at spin class. We wanted to wait to share the good news with our now six-year-old, but I noticed that Brad (the husband) would lash out at Gabriel (the son), whenever he would lay on my stomach or ask me to jump on the trampoline. Looking back now, he really just wanted Gabriel to see me the way that he did, not the rough and tumble mom and Soldier I once was, but the fragile, baby factory I had become.
I should probably mention at this point, I am in the Army too, and have been about a decade longer than my husband. I had to be especially cautious to get my appointments taken care of because as a member of the National Guard, our Annual Training was coming up, as was my Officer Candidate Course I knew full well I could not participate in as an expectant mother. So I scheduled the earliest appointment I could, but in the meantime we shopped for baby toys and clothes, things I had long since parted with. We cleared out the guest room, chose a spot for the crib, registered at a baby store and set out to tell our closest friends and family. We even had announcement photos taken during our trip to Disney World. In fact, every photo I took I had my hand on my belly so I could one day tell my child that she went to Disney World before she was born. Yes, she was a girl. I had always planned to name my daughter Emily Jane after my late grandmother but one night I had a dream about our baby. I held her in my arms and I told someone standing next to me that her name was Ayden. I looked it up the following morning and found out that it meant “fire.”
Two days after our return from Disney, I was measuring about six weeks based on the date of my last period. I walked into my Daytona-based OBGYN full of hope and excited to see baby Ayden. As I said before, I was prepared for cramps, bleeding, some sign that this pregnancy was not meant to be, but none presented itself, and nothing prepared me for what was about to follow. The sonogram technician could not locate a heartbeat. “No big deal,” I told myself. I was three weeks pregnant with Gabriel when I peed on a stick the first time, so maybe I just wasn’t as far along than I thought. The doctor came in to speak with me however, and informed me that I had a 50/50 shot of having an abnormal pregnancy, one in which I would eventually miscarry or the baby would fail to form. It appeared that I had a fertilized egg and a sack but nothing else. Even thought I had all the symptoms of being pregnant I would not stay that way.
She recommended labs to measure my HCG levels. At the point I was at, they should be doubling. I had them checked the week prior and they were 850. I went to check out choking back sobs and snapped at the secretary trying to schedule me for my next ultrasound when she said “Is this a surprise? Aren’t you excited?” Honestly, don’t these people read charts before popping off at the mouth?! I managed to hold everything in until I reached the car and called my husband, the super excited, amazing father-to-be to tell him everything was not right with the world. In short, I lost it. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t speak. I just sobbed uncontrollably into the phone, but even in the face of all that negativity, he held out hope that everything would be fine.
When I finally made it to the lab location, I handed the nurses my chart with tears in my eyes. The bitch looked right at me and said “everything happens for a reason.” I wanted to scream. I wanted to shout: “what reason?!” Did I commit some unspeakable sin? Did I cut someone off in traffic earlier that day? Was I going to win a million dollars then next morning but could only collect if I had no baby? What the hell were they saying that to me for?
We waited and prayed for a week, even after the levels came back slightly less than double. We reached out to our church friends who had been praying for us to conceive. We were heartbroken but continued on like we were still going to have a healthy, beautiful baby. Against the orders of my nurse sister-in-law, I poured over internet questions about this issue. The only names I could find for this situation was “blighted ovum,” “silent miscarriage” and “missed abortion.” In almost every situation, the doctor could not find a heartbeat but a few weeks later the pregnant woman returned, undeterred, until finally a heartbeat was found. Other than a few questions in Google, nothing was written on the subject.
My husband and I decided to get a second opinion. It obviously wasn’t the doctor’s fault for having to deal with such a frightening issue, but I felt she could’ve done more research or told me more lightly that my baby was dead and our lives were never going to be the same. On Monday, April 17, we went to visit a highly recommended doctor in Jacksonville. The moment I saw the image on the screen, I knew our worst fears had been realized: there was no baby. The sack was empty, and even smaller than before.
He was very kind, took the time to go over every detail of my six-week pregnancy to conclude that there was in fact nothing he could do. I had had a missed abortion. I had in fact conceived, but my baby could never form – would never form. I would continue to feel and essentially be pregnant until I wasn’t. He determined the best course of action was to perform a D&C, in which they essentially dilate me and remove the sack and tissues in my uterus that are not in fact a fetus.
I left the hospital and drove for an hour in the wrong direction. I blared Metallica and when I got home, drank a bottle of wine. I didn’t want to see anyone. My husband, the gracious and magnificent man that he is, poured me each glass and cried alongside me. My friends and family wanted to come over and help, and I warned them that I was not my chipper self. They would not find me buried in the Bible, sobbing softly, but instead back to my southern roots, tipsy and angry. It didn’t make sense. I did everything right. I had no symptoms. Why was my baby dead?
On Wednesday we checked into the hospital and waited patiently for the surgery. I cried a bit when I had to put on my hospital gown; when I examined my pregnant little belly pooch for the last time, knowing that Brad would no longer place his hand on it hopeful, but out of sadness. All in all, I held it together pretty well until the head nurse came by. He started by saying this was all a legal requirement, but would need to know if the hospital should dispose of the remains of if we had contacted a funeral home. I lost it again. I thought it was tissue. I thought it was a failed pregnancy, not a baby I was having removed from my body – that I did not sign up for.
Eventually we went through with the D&C anyway. It seemed like the best course of action to move past what happened and begin healing. We prayed for Ayden. There will never be another her. We loved her and will never forget her. As I reflect back on these events, I just wish there was more to read. More to prepare myself for what happened. I even found out my mother had the same circumstances between my brother and I, minus the mandatory funeral home talk. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that in every circumstance there is an opportunity to help and minister to someone else in pain. My hope is that someone else reads this and knows that they are not alone. Evidently this is yet another scientific mystery that knows no cause. There is nothing you or I could do to make it any easier or to prevent it from happening, but we can share the pain.
Another thought is we fight for women’s rights – reproductive rights especially. There should be healthcare for women. There should be accessible birth control for all. But I can’t help but wonder, are those of us fighting to conceive being represented as well? Adoption costs are still astronomical as are the costs of invitro. It just seems if we are supporting women from all walks of life, our voices should be heard as well and our issues addressed just as swiftly.
News today is that Jeffrey Sandusky – son of Penn State perv Jerry Sandusky, who is hopefully getting violated by a lot of large, angry men in prison for sexually abusing 10 children – has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting two minors.
Pennsylvania State Police detained Sandusky on six felony counts: statutory sexual assault; involuntary deviate sexual intercourse; photographing, videographing, depicting on computer or filming sexual acts; and unlawful contact with a minor; sexual abuse of children; corruption of minors.
According to police, Jeffrey Sandusky attempted to obtain explicit material from a minor under the age of 18 — referred to as victim No. 1 — via text messages in March 2016. The minor’s mother was dating Sandusky at the time and had been for six years. Sandusky lived with the woman and her children for five of those years.
The look on my face as I sit here and read this is one of sheer disgust so profound, that my face actually hurts.
I have to say, though, is it possible that the younger Sandusky is the product of his twisted, repugnant father’s abuse? I mean, I’m not trying to make excuses for this slimebag. I’m just curious if it’s possible that Sandusky became the twisted kiddie diddler he is because he was living with an abuser himself. I can’t imagine that the elder Sandusky didn’t take advantage of having his own little victim living inside his house, and if he did, what are the chances that he created a sexual predator?
I watch too much Special Victims Unit.
But that said, I did stumble upon some research that addresses child sexual abuse.
Among 747 males the risk of being a perpetrator was positively correlated with reported sexual abuse victim experiences. The overall rate of having been a victim was 35% for perpetrators and 11% for non-perpetrators. Of the 96 females, 43% had been victims but only one was a perpetrator. A high percentage of male subjects abused in childhood by a female relative became perpetrators. Having been a victim was a strong predictor of becoming a perpetrator, as was an index of parental loss in childhood.
So while roughly a third of the men who were sexually abused as children became abusers themselves, it doesn’t end there. Family environment, neglect, and a lack of supervision increased a boy’s chances of becoming a predator, according to a subsequent UK study.
“The message here is that sexual victimization alone is not sufficient to suggest a boy is likely to grow up to become a sex offender,” study author and psychiatrist Arnon Bentovim tells WebMD. “But our study does show that abused boys who grow up in families where they are exposed to a great deal of violence or neglect are at particular risk.”
As I said, I’m not making excuses. I do remember the younger Sandusky being daddy’s ardent defender a few years ago, and I have to wonder whether he has some kind of Stockholm syndrome going on. I don’t know what kind of faulty wiring makes one think it’s OK to take sexual advantage of a child. I do know I wouldn’t be surprised if that bastard used his own kid as a sex toy, and in potentially doing so, he at the very least helped create the monster who today was charged with having sex with minors.
Damn these people! I feel unclean just having read and written about this.
I intentionally try not to know the latest fads, not to follow pop culture, and not to pay attention to street slang.
Daniel had to explain to me what “bae” was, and I felt dumber just having understood that particular term.
I always insisted that my kids use proper grammar – even in text messages. Yes, I was that mom. And even now I crack up when Danny corrects others’ grammar! Yeah, I taught him well.
So when this latest “How bow dah!” slang thing came out, I really just ignored it. I didn’t understand it. It was like a foreign language. I had no time to decipher it. I suppose I could have asked one of the kids, but they’re busy being a full time Marine and being a Soldier and student. I figured it would just go away.
But it didn’t. It was everywhere. It was even in my Bitmoji menu (it’s a comic strip you that you design and use, that supposedly looks like you, instead of the usual emojis available on your phone)!
Literally this thing was everydamnwhere, and for some reason people were either angry, incensed, or just down right outraged about it. So of course, it piqued my curiosity, because otherwise normal adults were using this phrase, and not in a flattering or positive way.
So on went my Google machine, and I pulled up this.
Back in September 2016, 13-year-old Danielle Peskowitz Bregoli and her mother appeared on Dr. Phil to discuss the teen’s “out-of-control” behavior. If you’re a regular viewer of The Dr. Phil Show, the two women’s segment was nothing out of the ordinary. One teen with attitude and a mouth to match + one anxious mother = some solid television (it always does). “I Want To Give Up My Car-Stealing, Knife-Wielding, Twerking 13-Year-Old Daughter Who Tried To Frame Me For A Crime,” proclaims the The Dr. Phil Show website entry about them. Are you hooked? I am.
[No, I’m not. Because I’m not a chip chomping culture fad whore. I have a job I work 10-12 hours per day, and no time for daytime trash TV.]
The segment likely would have faded into daytime-television obscurity had it not been for one perfect moment. “All these hos laughin’ like there’s something funny,” Bregoli says, gesturing to the audience. “Did you say,” Dr. Phil responds, judiciously pausing and moving his hands as though attempting to sort through Bregoli’s meaning, “the hos are laughing?” The audience begins to applaud. At which point Bregoli unleashes the line that would soon make her an internet star: “Cash me outside, howbow dah?”
So this trash bit whore, who commits petty crimes, dresses like a savage, and talks like she’s got a mouth full of shit becomes an internet sensation, instead of getting her ass beat and being sent to juice for a spell, right?
What’s the message here? The message is: if you’re outrageous enough, disrespectful enough, and ballsy enough to be exactly that on national television, you will be a star. With impunity.
You don’t have to study and get good grades. You don’t have to respect others. You don’t have to work and achieve. You just have to be a pernicious little shit in public, and you will be rewarded.
Of course, the sudden popularity of the meme has also thrust the teen who started it all back into the spotlight. Earlier this week, a story claimed that Peskowitz Bregoli had committed suicide after she was bullied by classmates for her appearance on the show. The story was later debunked by Snopes, which notes it ran on fake news site “NBC-News.net” which, unsurprisingly, isn’t related to the real NBC. Peskowitz Bregoli is alive and well and keeping her fans updated via Facebook, where just yesterday she streamed a live video consisting largely of her counting dollar bills to the camera for nearly an hour. It has since been viewed over 45,000 times. “CASH ME LIVE!” Well … how bow dah.
Know what? “How bow dah” smells like bad fucking parenting to me.
It smells like instead of applying some discipline and teaching this mouthy little harlot some values, mommy dearest decided to appeal to the public in the worst possible way – on national television.
It smells like parenting FAIL.
Mommy decided to garner some attention and maybe some sympathy from the stupid by parading her rude, repulsive jackass of a kid in front of an audience of millions. She didn’t really want help. If she did, she would have taken this pathetic little hood rat either to a good shrink, or to a juvenile facility, instead of a talk show hosted by someone who could have dedicated his life to helping people, given his education and background, but chose instead to exploit trash and make millions doing it.
Instead of parenting, she decided to give the little rat exactly what she wanted – attention and notoriety.
And the stupid public ate it up, falling right into that trap.
I get the feeling the brat learned that behavior from mommy dearest, in which case, mommy dearest deserves a good, swift kick in the ass for wasting society’s time with her classless, ornery spawn.
Like mother, like daughter.
The only cure for that stupid is to stop giving it time!
Stop making memes, videos, and gifs glorifying classless, loutish assclowns.
Stop making them famous!
They’re not funny. They’re embarrassing.
If that were my kid, she’d get a kick in the teeth and some military school therapy. She’d be doing push-ups on my kitchen floor until she had no more energy to be a rude shit clown. And if she decided to commit a crime, she’d be sitting in the back of a police car on her way to a juvenile facility.
Don’t like that, little girl? Too fucking bad.
How bow dah!
I was abused when I was a kid in the Soviet Union. I have written about it in the past. Gangs of kids would team up to beat on me, or worse ignore me, leaving me out of playground games, forcing me to watch wistfully from a swing while they built forts and played together.
When Danny was born, I promised myself I would raise him to be a kind individual. I taught him to take care of animals. He was gentle and beautiful. He loved everyone. We would discuss various situations, ostracized kids, making friends, etc. He was pretty lonely when he first started high school, and it broke my heart when he told me on one of his first days, “maybe tomorrow someone will talk to the short, redheaded kid” with such complete innocence and earnestness!
And I was so proud when I read the following on his Twitter feed a couple of years ago!
Kids can be pretty horrible. They’re feral. They travel in packs, because they feel more powerful that way. When you think about it, they don’t have a whole lot control. Adults tell them what to do – many times without giving them reasons they can understand. So they compensate by exerting what control they can over others.
Kids are like sharks. They can smell weakness, and they exploit it, because it gives them the sense of power they lack in their lives. And unless taught otherwise, they’re mean, awful bastards.
Sometimes the awfulness is extreme.
A little boy, who has trouble communicating and hearing, was set in fire by another kid.
Set. On. Fire.
More than 20 percent of Kayden’s body was burned, from his ears to his belly button.
[The victim’s aunt Kelly] Mack said the 10-year-old was playing in a field with two other children when one boy doused him with gasoline and another set him on fire off Wallace Street in Kerrville on Sunday afternoon. The floor of a shed also burned.
When I read this, I felt physically ill.
What kind of parents raise such a monster? A sociopath who sets another child – a child with special needs – a child who is different and weaker – on fire!
A monster who tries to destroy someone different to assert its power and control!
I realize bad seeds do happen. I realize that despite parents’ best efforts, sometimes badly wired beasts appear.
But I would submit that’s rare. Most of the time parents just don’t raise their kids. They toss them into the system and think that schools, teachers, nannies, whatever will take care of them. They abdicate their parental responsibility, because they have lives, or they have careers, or they feel the kids have enough guidance in school.
Look, I know in this economy many times both parents have to work. I was a single parent for several years after my divorce. I worked two jobs. I get it.
But never – NOT ONCE – did I not insist on dinner together, on conversations with my kids, on teachable moments! Not once did I not supplement what they learned in school with different views or alternate information!
Yeah, it was hard. I averaged maybe 4-5 hours of sleep in those days. I worked my second job on the weekends. But I knew that involvement in my kids’ lives meant they would grow to be decent human beings, and there was no way I would abdicate that responsibility! I owed them that much.
What kind of neglect… what kind of complete lack of involvement and discipline… what kind of lack of awareness of the child who is growing up in your own home could cause them to set another human being on fire merely for being different, or perceived weaker? What kind of environment allows this “Lord of the Flies” miscreant to flourish?
A couple of seasons ago, “The Walking Dead” aired an episode in which one of the characters had to kill a young girl who had killed her own sister and was about to murder a baby – not because she was evil, but because she didn’t understand death and what it meant.
Some people went apeshit, claiming that the show had gone too far in its disturbing brutality – that killing a child in what essentially was capital punishment was too much.
But you know what? I wrote then, as I do now, that sometimes neutralizing the threat is necessary – regardless of what kind of package that threat comes in. That’s reality, boys and girls. Sometimes those threats come in cute little packages – PACKAGES THAT SET OTHER CHILDREN ON FIRE!
Sometimes these bad seeds need to be taken out of society, because it’s too risky to allow them to live among us.
Go ahead, and be upset at my advocating the killing of a child. Mommy and daddy should have thought about perhaps ingraining in their spawn a respect for life, a kindness toward others, a sympathy for others’ pain, and an acknowledgment that abusing and harming those who are different and who are weaker than they are is the height of evil. They should have taught that little troglodyte human decency.
But they failed, and now society has to deal with the monster they created.
Neutralize the sociopath. Get rid of it so it can never harm another child again! It wouldn’t be murder. Protecting society against murderous sociopaths such as this is our duty.
I’m going to share something with you, my dear readers, that I don’t normally share. Obviously, those close to me know, but generally, I haven’t spoken about this publicly. The reason I’m doing so today is because many times, when you experience an indescribable tragedy, you feel alone. So alone!
Logically you know you aren’t the only one. Your rational mind tells you there are others, but your heart isolates you inside this cocoon of tragedy, agony, and loss. So you internalize and try to forget…
… Until you run across something so heartwrenching, so unreal through which one of your friends has suffered, that your own pain pales in comparison.
It happened yesterday, when my friend Chris posted something that made my breath catch. He graciously wrote this post that explores his unspeakable agony for me to publish, because I asked him to. Maybe I’m posting this as catharsis. Maybe it’s catharsis for both me and him.
In 2002, my daughter Jordan Nickole died at 32 weeks of gestation. It was a difficult pregnancy. We did amniocentesis because the OB found a large cyst or bubble that covered the entire back of her neck in an ultrasound, which denotes Turner Syndrome and can cause a panoply of medical and developmental problems, including short height, failure to start puberty, infertility, heart defects, certain learning disabilities and social adjustment problems. It means that the X chromosome is either completely or partially missing.
I was told I had the option of aborting if the test came back abnormal. We thought long and hard about it, but decided not to. The amnio came back negative, and as relieved as we were (I remember getting the call at work and getting dizzy and falling down on the floor weak with relief), the doctor watched me and Jordan closely from then on.
At 32 weeks, she couldn’t find a heartbeat. She tried several times, stayed late until after 1900 hrs., and finally sent me to the hospital.
Long story short, I was forced to give birth to a stillborn. I refused all night. I told them I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t do it. But in the end I had to.
For years, I pushed Jordan’s death to the back of my mind. And then Chris wrote this. Maybe it sounds monstrous, but I feel a little less alone.
I hope Chris does too.
This is a hard post to write. I’m not even sure of the reasons for writing it. I’ve had 14 years to process. Maybe I want to help someone else with my struggle. Maybe I want to just get it out. Maybe I just want someone to relate. I don’t know.
Interpret as you will. I’m not sure I care.
Usually when a person starts talking about regret, it’s in reference to some boneheaded mistake they’ve made in their lifetime, or the trip to Disney World they didn’t take.
For me, it was about looking for a piece of machinery.
Jessica Elise was born January 17th, 1994. Most people who take the time, either remember it as the California Earthquake or Ice-Storm#1 (There would be another icestorm in a few weeks that made this one look like a piker) Babs Streisand’s house got damaged. I remember that one acutely because I sincerely dislike Babs. Love her singing voice… don’t like her.
We knew things weren’t going to be “normal” with this one. Our son, bless his soul, had been a rough delivery and Jessica had been rough pregnancy. We’d seen doctors, and more doctors, and genetic experts and more tests and all we got were more questions.
We got answers that afternoon. The best answer is that we had a beautiful baby girl. Jessica Elise (“I will see the promise of God” loosely translated. I actually didn’t know that when we picked the name, but it actually makes a little sense now.) The not so good answer was that she was going to be a challenge, medically.
Jess was going to be a both a blessing and challenge. Micropthalmia meant she was never going to be able to see without some sort of “eyeball transplant” or Star Trek level technology. Esophageal Atresia meant surgery to connect stomach and esophagus so she could at least keep from drowning in her own saliva. So… challenges.
For eight and a half years, my wife, my son, our extended family and friends and I, and the people we came to know because of Jess faced the challenge of raising and helping that little girl live. That little girl who one OB/GYN told us would be a “monster,” and we ought to consider aborting her. The little girl who we were assured would never laugh, never talk, never walk, never love us back, and so we ought to allow “nature” to run its course and let her choke on her own spit and snot…which “might not be a bad thing.”
Sixty plus surgeries. Countless days and hours spent in hospital rooms and hallways. Hours hoping and praying for another breath on her own. Watching a pediatric nephrologist jumping for joy because she peed on her own because that meant her kidneys hadn’t failed.
Challenges and blessings.
Eight and a half years. How in the world do you try and recount all the amazing things you learn taking care of a baby like that? How do you recount all of the times when medical science was either flat out wrong in its predictions or flummoxed by a little girl with a snaggletoothed grin? (She lost two of her teeth during a surgery when the OR tech accidentally knocked them out during intubation.) How do you talk about the tears that roll down your face when your daughter, grabs your hand and desperately, frantically wants you to tell her that she’s “pretty girl” (using tactile sign) because her face was massively bruised from having eye socket expanders placed that day, and she had apparently heard her parents talking about how bad she looked (remember she wasn’t even going to be able to know we loved her)?
Having that little girl was the biggest challenge and one of the three greatest blessings I’ve ever known. My son and my wife are the other two.
Eight and a half years. That level of care will take it out of you. Even with help, it will drain you and exhaust you, mind, body and spirit. It drained all of us. We were happy to do it, glad to do it. You don’t do any less for someone you love, but there comes a time where there is nothing left to give.
There also comes a time where the body just will not work anymore. For most of us, that doesn’t happen until we reach a good ole age. But not for Jessica. For months, she had been having problems digesting food, getting weaker, getting sick easier. Looking back it’s easy to see the problems, but inside the storm it’s harder to make out, you just brace and wait for the next blast.
We’d all had it. We’d taken so many hits. We were tired. And when you’ve gotten that tired, you rely on, depend on, some sort of routine to maintain your sanity in an insane situation. That routine, almost a complacency, is dangerous. They say the most dangerous place to drive is right near your home. The reason is that you relax from the routine… you’ve driven this stretch so many times, you could do it in your sleep… right? Up until the deer jumps out from nowhere.
I was out of work but starting school for my degree. I was homeschooling Christopher and taking him with me on school days (we lived right down the street from the Christian College I was attending, and a classmate’s wife was more than happy to kind of ride herd on him with her own kids until I got out of class). Christine was working on the other side of Baltimore and thus had the only real working vehicle capable of hauling all of us. She hadn’t wanted to go, things weren’t “right,” but I made her go, so that she’d have some sort of “normal.”
The weekend had been abysmal. Jess was getting sick and was miserable. We almost couldn’t console her; we’d go into her room, quiet her down, put on her favorite music album and make sure everything was OK; then back out into the living room. Then an hour later do it again. And again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
She had gotten skeletally thin, like a prisoner of war or a famine victim. There was no muscle tone anymore. The peritoneal feeding went through her, literally. It was almost undigested.
She was breathing heavyly that day. She was probably getting an infection, I thought, as I changed her and her bedding that morning. I’ll keep an eye on her and maybe start getting things ready for a trip to the hospital.
By afternoon, I’d already contacted Christine and let her know that we were definitely gonna be doing an all-nighter at the hospital. “But don’t worry,” I said. “Don’t kill yourself getting home.”
“What are her SATs doing?” my wife asked.
“Not sure; I’ll dig the Pulse Oximeter out and run a check. (For those who don’t know, it’s that thing in the hospital you wear on your finger or two with the red light. It measures the amount of oxygen in the blood.) At least that way, we’ll have number to throw at the ER docs.”
Christopher was watching Buffy on TV as I started looking for Jess’s Pulse Ox. I had made sure the O2 cannula was in her nose earlier and had been running O2 during the day to see if her breathing would calm down. No dice.
Also, no Pulse OX. We had recently moved and were living out of boxes, but I could have sworn we’d used that Pulse OX since we moved in. I looked everywhere for that thing. I tore closets apart. I tore boxes apart. I re-tore boxes apart.
I looked in on Jess. She was breathing more labored now. She was nearly thrashing, she was in so much pain, from exactly what I don’t know, but it was breaking my heart to watch.
I had to take a break. I sat down and watched TV with Christopher for a little bit, trying to rack my brain where the machine was. I called her nurse that cared for her on weekends. Nope. Didn’t know. Hadn’t needed to use it.
I went back around the house, now frantically trying to find a piece of equipment that did not want to be found.
Christine called and had left work. Traffic around Baltimore being what it was, it was going to be an hour or more before she got home. I had to find that machine before she got home. I had to get the baby ready to go.
I went in and started stripping her down to give her a cleanup and new change of clothes. There was something really wrong. She was gasping for breath, even with O2. I had to find that damn machine.
I don’t know exactly how many minutes later it was. It couldn’t have been very long. Ten? Fifteen? I gave up on looking for the bloody thing and was just going to get her packed up.
The first thing I noticed is that she’d messed her bed. Well, that was “normal” for the day. I think I’d changed her bed at least four or five times. I also noticed that she was quiet. I went over to the crib and realized that she also wasn’t breathing. She was a very odd pale shade of… when they say blue, it’s not. It’s a weird pale.
Some people get hysterical when crap really goes wrong. I get very calm. It’s weird in its own way, I suppose. You can tell just how far it’s dropped in the pot, by how calm I am. I get bent out of shape by some of the most mundane things, but…
I told Christopher to call 911 and tell them to send an ambulance. I started doing CPR and begging her to cry or move or do something.
The EMTs didn’t take long to get there. I told them what the situation was, and they set to work. The police arrived at the same time… of course they did. I’ve been around enough LEOs and EMTs over the years to know the drill.
I calmly told them the event of the last however long it was and the name of Jessica’s doctor at Johns Hopkins where she was a patient.
I knew I was going to jail. The house was a wreck. I mean seriously a wreck. The baby’s room was a mess. She was nearly naked, covered in crap, pill bottles, medical supplies, boxes, clothes, everything was strewn everywhere during my search for the O2 monitor.
I was calm. Too calm. I was going to jail.
Didn’t really care.
No punishment could ever come close to what I was feeling. What I AM feeling even today.
My little girl died, and I wasn’t there.
I’ve said that before, and people invariably explain it away. But the bottom line is I WASN’T THERE. I will go to my grave and I will not ever feel good about that.
We spent eight and a half years preparing for the day she left us. Knowing it as a fact of life every day for eight and half years. And when the time came, was she surrounded by people who love her? Was her daddy there holding her hand and giving her to the angels. NO. She died alone in puddle of crap fighting for her next breath. How do you tell yourself that’s OK?
Intellectually, even in my faith I know that it worked out as it needed to. I want to believe, I DO believe that in her final moments God was with her. But it really doesn’t make a difference. Even if God WAS there, I wasn’t, and that’s what I regret. I probably always will.
You can say what you want. At this point I really don’t care.
I don’t know. I don’t know why I’m writing this, intending for someone to read. Some will probably say I’m looking for attention… maybe I am. Maybe I need someone to tell me one more time that it’s OK. Maybe I’ll believe it this time. Maybe I just want someone else to know that if they’ve gone through this, they’re not alone. A new set of friends lost their baby to miscarriage yesterday. I can’t say I know how they feel, but I know grief and regret, and the endless what-if’s.
I don’t know. Take from this what you will. Do with it what you will. I don’t give pat answers anymore. All I have is a hope. That I’ll see her again someday.
I miss my girl.
One more year, Jess. Miss you, pretty girl. Hopefully, I’ll be there sooner or later.
P.S. I found the Pulse Ox the day after the funeral when we returned to the house. It was sitting right on top of a box that I had torn apart several times looking for it.