Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How to save a life.

“We are all molded and remolded by those who have loved us, and though that love may pass, we remain, nonetheless, their work… No love, no friendship can ever cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark upon it forever.”- Francois Mauriac

In 1998, I gave birth to my two beautiful children.

A difficult pregnancy culminated into a difficult birth, and I became the mother of preemie twins, living in the NICU. They were extremely early, extremely underweight, and clinging to life. To make things a million times better, my first husband, their biological father, walked out on me when I was approximately ten weeks pregnant. It was, by far, the most scary, painful, difficult time of my life, to date.

Time went on, life moved forward. The children became well, and managed to leave the hospital. I became well with my life and managed to move, get a job, and buy a house. I managed to very neatly put that part of my life in that secret place in my head where I just couldn’t go. I told myself that everything was okay now, and there was no reason to deal with it any longer.

In truth? I had never dealt with it at all.

In 2002, I joined an online message board called The Knot because I was happily planning a wedding with Jason. Over time, I met a group of women who became my close friends. One of the women and I became especially close. Eventually, a group of about twenty of us formed our own MSN board.

When my friend, Angie, announced her pregnancy, I was thrilled for her. A lot of the reason I was thrilled for her, was because she was left pregnant at the age of 19 and never got to have the experience that all women want…the cooing daddy holding your purse and looking at the ultrasound with you, the decorating the babies room, the laying in bed at night and thinking about the baby together, planning the future. Angie has a great husband, Jeff, who loves her son Kyle as though he was his own flesh and blood.

I wanted her to have the whole “pregnancy” experience, though. I wanted that and I wanted that for her. I remember telling her that I had a strong feeling her baby was little girl. I remember the name games on the board: Seth or Casey. I started referring to her baby as Casey. Casey was due on August 10th, 2005.

In early June, I went to work as usual and then to my chemistry class after work. I was a little bit early for class, so I went into the computer lab so I could check my email and log into my MSN board and see what everyone was up to that day.

I saw a post, on that board, and my heart stopped beating for a moment.

Casey June. Born. June 3rd, 2005.

(Typing this? Now? Today? Almost 2 years later? I still have chills all over my arms.)

Before I could open the post, I was sobbing. The floodgates burst open and I felt every single emotion that I had never allowed myself to feel. I began to say to myself, out loud, “I can’t believe this. I can’t BELIEVE THIS!” Some of my classmates crowded around me to make sure I was okay.

And then? I saw her.

And my heart stopped again.

Immediately, I was overwhelmed with a sense of absolute love for that child. I have never met her, I have never met her mother (although she and I share a bond of two women who have been friends forever). But I loved Casey. I immediately loved Casey and I immediately began to pray to God that Casey would live and Casey would grow and that Casey would be okay.

I went to my class and sat in a fog…a daze. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think about Chemistry. All I could think about was my friend, and her baby, hundreds of miles away from me. All I wanted to do was grab Angie and hug her and hold her and tell her that everything would be okay.

And it hit me, a little while later, as to why.

No one ever told me, it will be okay.
No one ever told me, you are not alone.
No one ever told me, it’s not your fault.

There aren’t books for this crap, you know? No one tells you, hey, when you come into the hospital and you have your baby and then you get to leave and your baby doesn’t? It sucks. No one tells you that. No one tells you how it feels to go in pregnant and have to leave with no baby. There aren’t books and magazine with pictures of scrawny, sickly babies on the covers.

I was the first person in my family to have twins. I was the first person in my family to have premature babies (both of my sisters produced big, strapping children). No one knew how to act and no one knew what to say. So many people wanted to find a reason for what happened. They wanted to explain it away or tell me what I should have done that would have made everything better. That didn’t help. I didn’t want that for Angie. I wanted to help her, to be there for her, to be her shoulder.

But as it turns out, as it often does, she helped me far, far more than I ever helped her.

This woman? She’s a rock. She is an absolute rock. She had her head on straight. She attacked this challenge like I have seen her attack every single challenge she’s been faced with: immediately, without fear, and with all the love her huge heart can hold. She was amazing.

I’m sure she had moments that she wept. I’m sure she had moments when she questioned God. I’m sure she had moments when she thought, “I can’t do this anymore.”

But she put on her game face, she woman’ed up, and she faced this enormous challenge like it was a blessing.

She posted pictures of this child, this tiny little infant, smaller than a loaf of bread. I forced myself to look at this child’s pictures. I had some hospital pictures of my twins which I promptly put into a photo storage box and never looked at again. But I looked at Casey. And I discovered something amazing.

She was beautiful.
She was not scary.
I was not afraid of her.

I took the pictures of my twins out of the photo storage box. I looked at them. I got a big frame, you know, like the ones that hold about 20 pictures? I put some of them in the frame. I put other pictures in too, pictures that showed them healthy and happy and strong. I hung it on my wall in a place I knew I would look at it every single day.

I look at it every single day.

Without Angie, and her bravery, and her courage, I would have never looked at those pictures again.

Other friends had babies, and I would go to the hospital, and actually hold their babies. They were little, but they were not fragile or scary. It was okay. I hadn’t been able to do that before.

Because of Angie, and her bravery, I could.

Because of Angie and Casey, I forced myself to talk to a therapist about what I was feeling and how I had never dealt with it, and how scary it was. It was like something shifted within me and everything from ten years of drama and stress and pain exploded inside of my guts. But it was necessary. I needed it. I wasn’t really living my life, I was just going through the motions.

One day, I looked at my husband and I decided, “I want to have a baby with this man.” When I met him, I could never imagine having a child with him, or anyone. It wasn’t him, it was the having a child part. In my mind, having a child equaled being left alone. I couldn’t risk being left alone. But now it was okay.

I found out in time that I’m suffering from secondary infertility, a devastating blow.

And who was right by my side, helping me get through it, listening to me vent, being my rock?

You guessed it.

These days, Casey is a beautiful, vibrant, happy almost two-year-old. Angie tells me she kisses my picture and says, “Pretty.” On my fridge are pictures of her, from when she was a tiny little infant, and those from now. I kiss my fingers and touch her pictures too.

Someday I will meet them, and it will be like meeting an old friend.

And I will thank them, both of them, for saving my life.


nailgirl24 said...

Wow!! That broughts big giant tears!!

dawnabon said...

I love everyone involved in this post in any way (with the exception of your ex-husband). I wish I had known you then, when you were so lonely.

SJ said...

Don't you know it's hard to eat lunch with tears streaming down your face! My goodness.

What a special friendship and bond you two have. I hope you get to meet them soon.

Brown Eyed Girl said...


I had no idea you felt this way until now.

I can't begin to tell you what an inspiration you were during that time for me and for you to post this about me helping YOU...

Speechless (which happens so infrequently that I'm not sure how to handle it) but I've now read this 5 times and I can't believe someone feels this way about me. Especially someone as wonderfully strong and feminine as you are.

We do have something pretty special don't we?

I love you with all my heart like a sister, a friend, a treasure. A treasure I was lucky enough to find ONCE in this lifetime.

XOXO Angie

HeatherAnn Fragglehead said...

That was wonderful. Angie is wonderful. And you're pretty wonderful, too, you know.

And that most recent picture of Casey had my jaw dropping. I can't believe how she's turning into a little girl... not so much a baby anymore.

Kimberly said...

I've been reading your blog for two days now, and I already feel like you're this incredible woman I would love to get to know better.

And I find myself thinking we should start up some kind of fund so that you can meet Angie all the sooner.

Debbie said...

A beautiful story of friendship and strength. Thank-you for sharing.

frannie said...

you are amazing.... I have no other words. you are simply amazing in the most sincere form of the word. I am ever in awe of you.

my4kids said...

You made me cry. I wish I had a friend like you when I had my preemie! I understand how you felt, some of it, I didn't like talking about it for a long time and have to force myself to do it now. His pictures were put away for a long time but now are out but not up yet, to hard I think. I have a hard enough time looking back to my post from 11/14/06 where I put some pictures from then up. I was in a different hospital from him for awhile and family didn't know what to say, I think. One of the hardest things for me was hearing them talk about touching him or that my hubby was the first to hold him. I was glad people were there when I wasn't but it hurt to much to hear it since it wasn't me.

Okay I need to stop now and save that for a post of my own someday.
But I would have loved a friend who understood.

Anonymous said...

Your beautiful words brought tears to my eyes. I have no other words. You both are awesome ladies and it'd be an honor to meet both of you someday.

julie said...

No one ever told me, it will be okay.
No one ever told me, you are not alone.
No one ever told me, it’s not your fault.

Nobody ever told me, either... and that was the hardest part. You just may have inspired me to write about it. I never have.

Talk about coincidence, though: my biggest supporter during my pregnancy was a wonderful woman named Angela whom I met on an online single moms' board. She was in an eerily similar situation to mine, but was due five months before I was, so she knew what I was going through. We still chat, but your post reminded me of how much she means to me. I need to do a better job of keeping in touch.

stepmomof2 said...

Absolutely amazing post. It's so awesome how someone you have never met can change your world. I know it was hard for you to have all of those emotions brought to the surface again, but I'm glad that you were able to heal and become the beautiful person you are today. Thank you so much for sharing.

Gerbil said...

Anything I could possible say would be painfully inadequate. Just... wow.

Kelly M said...

WOW...absolutely amazing! I got chills reading this! Awesomely written! What special people both you and Angie are...amazing to share such a bond but yet never have met before! You both have my utmost respect for all you have been through and the fact that you have both come through it all happier and stronger!

Alpha Dude 1.5 said...

Oh my.....just....oh.
Chick, that is the most beautiful thing I have ever read.

Thank you so much for sharing that.
You're the coolest.

That Angie chick is pretty cool too.

Jocelyn said...

Lord, but you've made me cry. I was doing okay until the "secondary infertility"..."and guess who's been by my side..." part.

Your writing and sharing is a gift to all of us. I'm so glad Casey helped you make some important connections within yourself.


Amira said...

Thank you so much for leaving your comment on my post (www.memoirsofasinglemom.blogspot.com). You gave me some encouragement. I needed to just let go that day and say how I felt. Even if it was hurtling into empty cyberspace with no one reading. But someone was. And she cared enough to tell me I wasn't alone.


I love the post you put up today. I hope I deal with all my crap now and don't hold too much inside.

Love your blog. The link is up on mine now.

Amy W said...

Crying at 8:00 am in the morning is good therapy. Well written. I hope you guys get to meet SOON.

CPA Mom said...

What a beautiful tribute to your friend. Your friendship sounds so like my friendship with Jane that this makes me weep. Weep tears of gratitude that such two wonderful ladies like you and Angie have been able to meet and connect. Truly a higher power than us is at work. Truly I love you both and thank you for sharing this post.

I've been toying with an idea that I need your AND Angie's permission for, related to this. I'll email you privately.

M said...

You know I love you and Angie on large quantities of toasted bread products with your choice of toppings. This story was just lovely. xoxo

Wendy said...

Such a nice story and tribute to Angie and Casey! So sweet!

rookiemom said...

*sob sob*

That was beautiful! We should all be so lucky to have a friend like that.

Stephanette said...

I have a VERY short hero list. I think your fast becoming part of it - just because you are you.

Shanilie said...

What a heart gripping post. Praise God for Angie. It is great when people are brought into our lives that can help encourage and lift us up. I know we just started corresponding but this post really helped me to get to know you better. Sharing the happy things in life are easiest, but the difficult things are sometimes more difficult. I am glad that you were able to talk to someone.

The exciting part of pregnancy is that you never know when it could happen! Children are a joy. I watch a baby story on TLC and I'm sobbing....every time!

Beautiful pictures.

Julie said...

Just awesome. What a lovely tribute to your friend. We should all be so lucky to have a friend who loves us that much and one like you.

Emma in Canada said...

How do I keep missing your posts? i swear I was on yesterday. Anyway, you two are so lucky to have each other!

Rachel said...

WOW! What a really touching story Chick! I loved it and I'm so glad that you found someone to help you get to where you are now. Friends are wonderful things.

Tiffany said...

Oh my gosh...this brought HUGE tears to my eyes. You are right, they don't tell you and teach how to deal with the miscarriage, premature births or even the death of an infant. Looking at that beautiful little child so small, makes me sad and happy at the same time, because she is beautiful. God is good.

velocibadgergirl said...

Obviously I know this whole story inside and out already, but I read it again.


I am slightly pissed off at the Universe that you and Angie haven't met yet. I think you should meet halfway, and both come to my hometown ;)

Catwoman said...

Incredible. That brought me to tears. Reading the story on Angie's site was amazing and then now reading your tribute to her? Too much!

An online friendship... A completely new concept to me, I must say, but I'm envious of what the two of you have for sure.

If it's ok, I'm adding you both to my blog roll. I want to know how this story ends when you two finally meet!

Amanda said...

What amazing growth, and what an awesome friendship. I'm sorry for your struggle. I definately understand...