Friday, June 22, 2012

I after E

When I got to the hospital that morning, my daughter Ella’s resting heart rate was around 140.

Dear God, please help her.  Please heal her.  Please.

As the day went on, her heart rate increased until it stayed around 180.  Her temperature rose as well until it was well over 103*F (39.4*C).

Please, Jesus, help her.  Oh God, help her.  Oh my Jesus, help her.

I held my baby in my arms, swaying and praying, hoping and begging that she’d get a miracle.  I held her for hours.  My friends got me lunch, but I never ate it.  I couldn’t.  Doctors offered me a chair to sit in with her, but I stood and swayed because that’s what she liked.  And I prayed.  Dear God, how I prayed.

Mary, pray for her.  All the angels and saints, pray for her.

The medicines she was on were no longer doing enough for her heart.  Her heart was beating so fast that it had no time to relax.  I had texted my husband to get to the hospital ASAP because I just couldn’t do it alone anymore.

Oh my Jesus, I trust in You.  Help me to trust you.  Please Jesus, help her.

The only option left was to try to sedate and intubate her to take some of the work off her heart, to give it a chance to relax, to give her a chance. 

Oh God, please.  Please.  PLEASE.  Oh Jesus.

My husband and the boys were finally there.  The boys waited in our friend’s hospital room while my husband and I waited in the hall and watched our daughter’s numbers on the monitor. 

We watched when her heart rate climbed from 180 to 190 and again to 200.

We watched when her heart rate topped off at 212.

And we watched when it plummeted to 76 and then 54.

Oh God oh God oh God oh God.

A doctor came over to tell us that they were trying to resuscitate our baby.  To mention the possibility of ECMO.  To then inform us that the surgeon said that because chest compressions had been done, ECMO was no longer a possibility.

Please, Lord, please.  Please.  I’m begging you.  PLEASE.

I had already asked that the priest be called.  He was there with us when the doctor told us that they couldn’t feel pulses in her extremities, that stopping compressions would mean……

Oh God oh God oh God oh God oh Jesus oh Jesus oh Jesus

On Thursday, December 22, 2011, at 820pm, surrounded by my husband and the boys, I held our sweet Ella in my arms as her poor, broken heart beat for the very last time. 


To say that her death has profoundly changed me would be a ridiculous understatement.  I am not the person I was before my baby died.  I am not the same wife, mother, daughter, sister, or friend that I was before because when she died, a part of me died, too.

I wish you could have known me then, the me with the whole and unbroken heart.  I was so much quicker with the humor, the smiles, the opinions and comments, the snark.  I was more willing to be out there in the world - less the anti-social introvert and more likely than not the person who’d offer a smile and a “hi!”  I wouldn’t say I was a social butterfly, but I liked being with friends.  I liked being out and about.  I loved sharing stories about my crazy boys and the whacko stuff they did to make me smile, to make me nuts, or BOTH.  And I loved sharing those stories on Facebook because I knew my family and friends would get as much a kick out of them as I did.

If you knew me before, then you knew how much I loved talking politics and religion.  I talked politics with friends and read politics at home on the computer.  I read Catholic blogs and newspapers, and I shared posts and articles on FB and via email.  I cared enough about the topics to want to talk about them and frankly to tell others how wrongheaded their opinions were, especially about politics!

Before, I would think of funny things to post or say and would be antsy to share them.  I wouldn’t just think of them and keep them to myself.  I had fun making people laugh, though I never really liked being the center of attention.  Even during the very hard and very long stay at the hospital with my daughter, I would try to laugh, try to make people laugh, try to keep my snark sharp and at the ready.  I would act goofy with friends and with nurses and with nurses who became friends.  I would keep the humor up and running because the serious was so painfully freaking serious.


Every now and again, I do miss the old me.  I miss her because when she was here, she was fun.  She was such a HUGE pain in the ass - just ask my husband! - but she meant well and was quick to laugh.  I miss her because she didn’t think so much about thinking.  She didn’t second guess opening her mouth to say something so much, and she didn’t withdraw rather than engage.  But most of all, I miss her because when she was here, it meant that the most awesome baby on the planet was still here. 

I decided to start writing a blog because of how I changed after my daughter’s death.  My brain, or at least the way it works, sort of changed.  I swear to pete, I think in paragraph format now.  I picture the words and the typed font.  I write the paragraphs in my head, and I edit as I go.  There are so many words up in my noggin just jumbling around and needing a place to go.  I’ve been living with internal prompts to write for the last four or five months.  I’m thinking that either I start writing now or I deal with the annoying, nagging prompts forever! 

Whether or not anyone ever reads this is less a concern than actually getting the damn words out of my head.  Releasing them finally so that they release me.  This just may turn out to be the single most depressing and fleeting blog ever written, but if it frees me, then so be it.  It will have served its purpose, though I do hope it ends up being more than that.  I hope at least some of what I have to say is relevant to a reader or two out there.  I hope the writing isn’t merely to keep me sane and functioning, although that would be a big freaking bonus.

I’m not the same person I was before my baby girl died.  Though I’ll never be the same now that she’s gone, in an even bigger sense, I’ll never be the same because she was here.  I am better for being her mommy. 

This is me since she’s been gone. 

This is the I that I’ve become after my sweet Ella left. 

This is I after E.

St. Ella, pray for us!


Amy said...

Oh Bridget,
My heart breaks for you still. To endure this loss is more than anyone should have to bear. Keep writing, maybe you will find the best parts of the old you and some even better new ones.
Much love,

Ann Marie said...

Writing has been a therapeutic part of my own grief journey, and I pray it is for you as well.
I know full well that the old you is gone, that getting to the New Normal takes a great deal of time, effort, patience, and self-forgiveness.
Be gentle on yourself.
Know you're so often in my prayers and always in my heart.
St. Ella, pray for us.,
St. Gianna, pray for us!

Marcy K. said...

Oh Bridget, My heart weeps still, and prayers still come your way. I wish I could give you a big long hug and make the pain go away. I'm hoping your blog really helps your healing and I think it will. May the Lord heal you all!

Andria Graham said...

You amazed me before there was an Ella... blew me away completely while Ella graced us with her presence and leave me in tears and without words now... and I like every one of those Bridgets. You inspire me to be a better person just through being you! You gave me the courage to take on home schooling when I doubted I could and now I can't even consider another choice that would be better. I hope writing helps... I know I kept a journal after my father died and it helped me a lot... thank you for inviting us on the journey! We still grieve with you and still pray daily for you all!

Anonymous said...

Bridget -- How lucky I am that I have not experienced your grief. Tony and I miscarried a child, a child we never expected to have in the first why would I have thought I could keep her (in my mind that wee 11-week-old is a girl)...but we never got to hold her, to love her, to do the wonderful things you did for Ella. My grief is but a smidgen of yours, and I remain in awe that you are still standing, let alone moving forward, laughing when you can, and making others laugh along with you. You embody grace the way it makes sense to me: scraped, bruised, bandaged, and getting back up to try again.

A. for Anonymous because I'm too lazy to make a profile, and for Aliesha