Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Last Heartbeat - How the loss of my daughter led to self-discovery.
The previous fall, I was on hospitalized bed-rest in the midst of a rare high risk twin pregnancy. My little identical troublemakers, Lauren Marie and Noelle Elizabeth, were Mono-amniotic Mono-chorionic, which in common language means they shared both an amniotic sac and a placenta. Due to the complications and rarity of the pregnancy, the possibility of losing one if not both my daughters was always looming. In early October, I was 28 weeks along and everyone was starting to feel cautiously hopeful the twins would survive. However, the morning of October 9, during my routine monitoring, two very young looking nurses were attempting to find Lauren’s heartbeat which was odd, because Noelle was always the one darting about and squirming with every poke, making capturing her heartbeat for the designated 30 minutes a near impossibility. The nurses were prodding and manipulating my giant belly, when I heard it - a slow, rhythmic blump thump. "That’s her." I said softly, knowing that her heartbeat was too slow. "No." One of the girls stated, "That’s you." I said nothing, but instinctively I knew otherwise. Then the heartbeat stopped, abruptly. I knew Lauren was gone. She died right in the sanctity of my own womb.
That moment pierced my soul, shooting through me like a bullet. I was split in two, torn completely open, everything in me naked and exposed. It was as if I were inside out, where all that had once been protected and hidden was now out in the open where it didn’t belong. It was a deep, profound pain, so pronounced and articulate I felt confused by it. Historically, I was a pro at being able to select and communicate the appropriate response to most situations. In this instance, save for my own rapid heartbeat, I was paralyzed and most completely unable to select a response to losing my baby. I was, for the first time truly heartbroken. I didn’t know it then, but as I was being swiftly wheeled to the perinatal center, all my previous "heartbreaks," the lost loves, financial ruin, educational and professional failure, were being shaken off, the way dead fruit falls out of a tree during a storm. I stared up at the rapidly passing fluorescent lights and subconsciously every significant happening in my life was being filtered through my grief.