Monday, 29 July 2019

From the NICU to home

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It took me three entire nights once I got home from the hospital to finally stop feeling like I couldn't breathe.

I'd lay in bed with these two tiny beings beside me in their little bassinets and I felt like I couldn't catch my breath. My heart would race throughout the night and I remember feeling like I needed to get control of myself before starting to gasp for air. It was something I had never experienced before, but looking back on those first few days out of the hospital I know now that it was from those days and nights in the NICU and on the Paediatrics floor that I'll now never forget. I've since learned that there is something called NICU PTSD--I'm not sure if that's what I experienced, but I can tell you it was difficult, emotional, draining, stressful and hard. Really hard.  

The series of events that unfolded during those days in the hospital all compounded one on top of the other, until my body and my mind began to not be able to take any more. The fears, the stress, the anxiety, the surgery, the recovery, the sleepless nights, the noises, the experiences and the longing to take my babies and run from this place that told me that they weren't okay--it was all just too much for one mama to take. 

It's all a bit of a blurry dream at this point--the moment that they snuggled those sweet babies up to my neck right after they were born, then just moments later they told me they were taking them away--and they were gone. My breathing started to deepen and my heart started beating a second beat the moment I watched them being taken out of the room. Because no mother should have to watch her babies being taken away just moments after breathing them in for the first time.

I remember lying there on that operating bed, feeling the room begin to quickly empty as masked nurses and doctors shut the door behind them, trailing after our babies. It got quiet as the OB carefully stitched me up and as nurses fussed over my paralysed legs and body, wiping my stomach down and covering me up again. 

They wheeled me into the recovery room as they watched carefully as the feeling in my body began to come back again and I was well enough to sit in a wheelchair. 

I was dying to see our babies. Hours passed. I had no idea if they were okay. 

I remember just willing my body to move the way that I wanted it to, convincing the nurse that I was beyond capable at this point of getting into a wheelchair and being wheeled down the hall to see them.

It felt like an eternity before I heard those blessed words "Do you want to go see your babies now?".

And that's when the true heart palpitations really began. 

No one warns you about what you are about to see. No one prepares you. 

So as I was wheeled in through those NICU doors, and turned the corner towards two incubators side by side in a darkened area of the NICU, I wasn't ready for what I was about to see. 

      

Our two tiny babies, completely enveloped in cords, machines, tubes down their throats, tubes down their noses, breathing machines attached to their heads and cords everywhere.

I could barely breathe.


You can't touch them, we were told. One is doing alright, but the other one is not.

My heart dropped right then and there.

What does that even mean?? Is he going to die? Is he going to be okay?

I stared at both of them, just willing them to feel me, to know that their mama was right there with them...through the plastic and cords and tubes and alarms going off--I wasn't going anywhere.



So Terry and I waited patiently at their bedsides, following doctors orders as we just peered in through the plastic at them--until finally the day came when they let us touch them.

Stretching our hands carefully through the holes on the sides of the incubators, we laid our hands on our babies for the first time--and hoped they knew it was us. 



I remember that moment so vividly now--placing my hands on each of them and rubbing their tiny backs, telling them that we loved them. That Kleenex box on top of the incubator was placed there for me moments after tears began rolling down my cheeks as I told their NICU nurse how helpless and terrible I felt not being able to hold them, nurse them and care for them the way I have all of our other babies. The weight of guilt hit me hard and grief poured down my cheeks as Terry hugged me and that sweet nurse talked me down.

The NICU is a hard place to be in.



I stayed there and lived in the NICU with our babies the entire time that they were there. Struggling with the pull between being at home caring for our other four kids and knowing that I needed to stay to care for our babies. I wanted them to know that their mom was there, I didn't want to miss a moment of those first few days of their life.

So our family came to us--our sweet kids meeting their new brother and sister for the first time, trying to grasp what the NICU meant and why their mom had to be away and why their dad kept going back and forth from the hospital to home. Our parents and family kept us afloat during those hard days--bringing our kids to us, tucking them in at night, bringing food to the hospital and distracting 4yr olds who cried every time it was time to say goodbye to me again. 

It was hard.    























But through the tears and stress there were also moments of bliss--like the time that they finally let us hold our babies for the first time. Their tiny bodies skin-to-skin on us, cords everywhere, breathing machine loudly reminding us that they were still so so fragile. But it really was the best moment ever.




As the days turned into night and the sounds of alarms going off, machines beeping, nurses and doctors showing up in large groups every day to discuss our babies in front of us--the days began to blur into each other. But slowly but surely I began to watch as the nurses began stripping away one cord at a time, one tube at a time, one breathing machine at a time--until our babies began to look like they weren't as sick anymore. 

"Their breathing is under control now, so we're now just going to have to wait until they're strong enough to breastfeed so we can remove their feeding tube", the nurses told me. "It will be weeks before they're able to feed properly since they're preemies. They likely won't go home until their due date--August 17th". 

"August?!" I remember saying to her. "I just want to get them home. I don't want them in here for weeks on end". 

And she looked at me like I had no idea what I was talking about. 

Because I didn't. 

So she left, that sweet nurse. And I got to work. 

Determined to get these babies feeding, I sat with both of them for hours on end--singing to them as I encouraged them to feed, teaching them how to do it, helping them with every gulp, telling them that they could do it and reminding them that this was our ticket out of here--they just needed to eat. 

I'll never forget the look on the nurses face when she came back the next day and saw me nursing Blake. The little boy who wasn't even breathing without help just a few days before, the little boy who I was told to not even bother trying to nurse yet since he simply wouldn't be capable of it. 

She looked over my shoulder as he gulped away, latched perfectly, eyes closed enjoying the one thing that I knew I could do for him amidst all of the guilt of everything that I couldn't while in the NICU. 

"Well, I guess you just proved me wrong young lady!" she said with a laugh. And I smiled quietly, and continued to show her how I had gotten Hailey to also now feed just as well. 

We were moved down to the Pediatrics floor a couple of days later, knowing this would likely be our last night in the hospital. The NICU was bursting with sick babies at this point, and we were told our babies were doing so well that they could be transferred down while still being in the safety of nurses on the floor where sick children stay. 

I thought it was a dream come true. I thought it was our ticket out of there. I thought it would be wonderful. So I remember taking this picture of the nurses wheeling our babies out of the place that reminded us how ill they really were--into a place where it would likely tell me that they were on their way home.
  

Little did I know that that one night on the PEDS floor would leave me gasping for air for the next three nights.

They set us up in a room directly beside a very sick little 2yr old girl. I glanced through the large glass door of her room as I walked by with our babies and noticed this tiny little child. With only patches of hair left on her sweet bald head, her face bloated from the cancer medication and her mother trying to sooth her into taking a nap in the over-sized metal hospital crib, my heart completely sank.

She was trailing an IV pole around beside her and there were a few toy blocks left on the bed that her mother slept in beside her.

I couldn't stop thinking about her.

The day quickly turned to night and the lights went out as I settled in beside our babies, nursing them to sleep.

Then it all began.

It was 9pm and I could see nurses in the hallway suiting up--covering their entire bodies in yellow gowns, placing clear plastic shields over their faces and tying up masks over their nose and mouths.

They looked intimidating and scary to an adult, let alone a child.

"No, no!" I heard her little 2yr old whimper when they opened her door. She knew they were coming for her. I could feel her anxiety and fear. She had experienced this likely many times before.

I froze, not knowing what to do.

Then it continued. She cried, that poor little girl. She cried, and screamed and with few words that a 2yr old even knows, all I heard was "Ouchie, ouchie, ouchie! Mama! Mama!".

And tears rolled down my cheeks along with her.

It didn't last long, as whatever procedure the nurses were doing they did it quickly. But it left me aching for this poor tiny child.

I laid back down, wiping my own tears away and I tried to go back to sleep--hoping the little girl was tucked into bed now too.

It was 11:00pm when I was woken up by the sounds of unbelievably loud alarms ringing out, and nurses yelling "Are you okay? Are you okay?" as they ran down the hall and swung open the door next to mine. I heard her tiny cries again. Her monitors were blaring, screaming for someone to help her. I didn't know why.

I felt paralyzed with anxiety. I didn't know what was happening. Her cries got louder, her screams began to fill up the entire floor and those gut-wrenching pleas for the nurses to "Stop! Stop! Ouchie, ouchie! No! Mama! Mama! " just about killed me.

I balled my eyes out, in my dark little room, praying for it all to stop for her.

I held my babies tightly, as my own tears dripped down onto their sleepy bodies and I just kept praying for her pain to end.

It was almost midnight by the time that her cries settled, the nurses had left and the lights went out again. I wanted the night to end. I willed daylight to come.

Then just when I thought it was all over, the clock read 1:00am, and the fire alarm in the hospital went off. Huge loud ringing sounds echoed through all of our rooms, and "Code Red!" could be heard over the loud speaker.

Patients started to open their doors, escaping into the hallway just as I was about to do the same--but just as I started to jump out of bed I heard nurses yelling loudly at people to "Get back into your rooms, this is a real fire alarm!".

Everything about that statement felt wrong.

We flee fire.

We run for our lives.

So getting back into our rooms, shutting the doors and waiting as the alarms ran out around us felt unbelievably wrong.

My heart was pounding as I grabbed my two tiny babies and started to work out scenarios in my mind as to how I was going to escape with both of them if the fire got too close. Panic was all that I felt at that moment. My heart, already racing from the cries of the little girl next door all night long, could barely take any more.

I don't even know what time it was when a nurse came into my room to check on us. The fire had been controlled, wherever it was in the hospital, and I had closed my eyes for only a few minutes, hoping to will the night to be over sooner.

So when I watched the sun creep into my room the next morning, I was thankful for a new day.



I packed our bags that next morning, being told that we were allowed to now take our babies home.
I called Terry early that morning to tell him the good news and he said he'd be over to get us in a few minutes.

Our little Chloe had just turned 2yrs old the day before, and I had bought her an adorable baby doll complete with a bottle, soother and clothing to dress her in. I told Terry to bring it to the hospital. I knew if I could do nothing else for the little girl beside me, I could give her a brand new doll to ease a bit of the stress. I knew this little girl needed it more than my own. 

I asked the nurses to please give it to her once we left the hospital--to just let her mom know that it was from someone who was thinking of them both. But as I followed Terry out of the room, breathing a sigh of relief that we were on our way home, the little girls door opened and a quiet sweet woman stopped me, tears in her eyes, and said "Thank you so much".

One mom to another.

"Take care" I said to her, as I caught a glimpse of that sweet little girl hugging her new doll on her bed.



I walked away and took a deep breath as I left the hospital that day...not knowing that my breath would never come back for the next 3 nights. Because feeling the pain of others is something that haunts you, even once your own pain has gone away.



So we're hugging these babes tight today...







because they're finally home. Safe and sound.



Erica xo

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Our twins birth story

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I've been trying to put the pieces back together as I sit here with my fingers on the keys. The blurry, exhausting, amazing pieces of the puzzle of events that have happened over this past week. The days, nights, feelings and moments that make up the birth story of our twins. Because our babies are here, and it's hard to know how to even put it into words.


My chest is heavy as my fingers hit the keys at just the thought of trying to start--because these past few days have been filled with every emotion that you can ever imagine and I don't want to forget a minute of it, so I'll just start typing.

.............................................................

There were some signs of what was to come a few days before I went into labour. Painful cramping, nausea and just the feeling that something wasn't quite right led me to check my hospital bag, get the last minute things done at home and call on my family to warn them that something might be happening.

Then by Monday afternoon it all began.

Slight cramps led to stronger cramps, which led to me jumping in the car with my mom as my sister called Terry at work and told him to meet me at the hospital. Thoughts of my previous fast deliveries, where nurses were running me down the hallway, calling for OB's to get there in time and barely making it to a hospital bed all flooded through me as my mom sped down the road. Both babies were breech, so horrible thoughts of feet coming out first and not getting there in time overwhelmed me.

I told the nurses my previous birth stories when we got there. That these slight cramps would quickly turn aggressive and all of a sudden the babies would be born--quickly. No one ever really believes me though.

"You're only 2 centimeters dilated" one of the nurses said to me as she explained that they might just send me home and I could come back later if things progressed.

You can send me home, I thought in my head, but there's not a chance that I'm leaving this hospital and having breech twins on my living room floor. So I just kept smiling and told them that this is what always happens--by the time I got to 3 centimeters dilated last time, I had one more contraction and the baby's head was coming out in the hallway. So I'd rather stay put, thank you very much.

Anxiety started creeping through my body as I realized time was passing, my contractions were getting stronger and closer together and there was still no mention of getting me prepped for a c-section. "We don't want to have to deliver 34 week old babies if we don't have to", they kept telling me. "We need them to stay put if they can".

I agreed, but I also knew otherwise. These babies were coming whether the doctors and nurses wanted them to or not.

It all gets a bit blurry at this point, but I remember starting to get sick and people rushing a k-basin to my chin as a violent contraction ripped through my body--and all of a sudden I was being wheeled down the hallway into a room where the OB was ready for me. He still wasn't convinced as he checked me and realized I was only 3 centimeters dilated at that point--until he watched as one aggressive contraction took hold of me, then another one right on top of it, and another one right on top again--and all of a sudden things moved quickly.

"Let's get her into the operating room!" I heard someone call out and I felt the locks on my bed being clicked open and I felt myself being rushed down the hallway. My eyes were closed as contractions tore through me, one on top of the other. No time to breathe. No time to think. No one spoke to me as a million hands grabbed every part of my body, quickly prepping me for surgery. I felt needles in my back as two nurses held my shoulders down, cool liquid being rubbed all over my stomach, my legs were being positioned, my arms placed on the arm rests beside me, masked people stood over me as the room quickly filled up with more people than I could even count. I lost sight of my body as they pulled the blue sheet up over my face. It felt like a dream. I could feel the panicked energy in the room and the speed at which they were prepping me.

Then I heard a concerned masked voice behind me "Do you not have a partner here with you?".

"Yes, my husband is waiting to be called in here", I said, not realizing that they had already started cutting into me and had forgotten about him.

I still remember the look in Terry's eyes as he entered the room. That moment when you walk into a room where your wife is lying on a table having surgery performed on her right there in front of you--already cut open, already in the midst of it. I don't think he was prepared.

"Just start taking pictures" I remember telling him. "I want to see them being born".

He looked at me like he might throw up.

"You can do it--you have to", I said.

I didn't want to miss it. I would have torn that blue sheet right down if I could have.

So that brave soul--he did it. He stood up and took all of the pictures that I could have ever asked for. The bloody, the gory, the amazing and the miraculous birth of our twins--all documented. Thank you Terry.

*trigger warning--bloody but beautiful pictures to come. Feet first and all.





 

I heard a tiny cry, then another one right after that--they were here.



One minute apart.



I remember cranking my neck back so hard that it hurt, trying to get a glimpse of even one of them as both teams of nurses and doctors whisked the babies over to the warming beds and started working on them. I felt like I was outside of my body, watching this happen to someone else.







Then suddenly it happened.

Two warm, tiny bodies were placed on my chest and I could hardly catch my breath.



I had maybe 2 minutes with them before they were taken away to the NICU, but those 2 minutes were all wrapped up into a lifetime of waiting, hoping, praying, wishing for this miracle of twins. I couldn't believe it was actually happening.



An absolute dream come true. Unbelievable.

So as I lay here with these tiny babies snuggled up next to me, I'm reminded that this isn't the end of their story--the birth was only the beginning of the roller coaster ride that we went on throughout our stay at the hospital. My heart is already racing with anxiety just thinking about trying to put down into words the days and nights that followed. So I'll stop here and just pace myself--remembering just that precious moment with those two warm bodies placed on me, because that is the memory that I want to hold onto the most.

Erica xo





























      

  


Friday, 8 March 2019

Twin gender reveal--we finally found out!

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I went in for a quick ultrasound today to check on the twins and came out with the most wonderful news ever. It was news that I thought we'd have to wait a few more weeks for. News that we have all been desperate to know. News that we have been dreaming of, regularly guessing and trying to be patient about. 

Today was the day that we found out if the kids would be getting brothers or sisters, or one of each.

So I baked up the quickest cupcakes ever when I got home and carefully filled each cupcake with the appropriate colour icing (blue/pink) in order to share the secret news that I alone had kept for a few hours as I waited for everyone to get home. This moment that I had today lying on the ultrasound table was supposed to be Terry's and mine for another more intensive ultrasound coming up that he was going to come to. But this quick check-in ultrasound revealed to me the secret that I ultimately had to save for everyone for this moment tonight.     

So with Baby A cupcakes in hand, everyone took a bite and PINK icing was inside. Baby A is a GIRL!! 

And then, moments later after I handed out the Baby B cupcakes, everyone took a bite and BLUE icing met them, because another BOY is definitely needed to level out the estrogen in this family!! 



We are thrilled beyond belief. So happy. So excited.

And although we would have been thrilled no matter what (two healthy babies please, is all that I have prayed for), we are so excited for these two to join our family. 



Couldn't be happier.



If you want to see the (slightly blurry)--ugghh....videos of the moments everyone found out, click on the video links below. First one is for Baby A, second one for Baby B.




Enjoy the start to March break everyone, and rest well. 

Erica xo


Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Some big beautiful news after the bad

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I feel like I need to start out by telling everyone to take a minute and take a deep breath...

because...

we just found out we're having TWINS!!


Those beautiful sacs..baby A and baby B showed up on my ultrasound on Monday and I just about jumped off of the table with excitement.

I was so nervous walking into that dark ultrasound room early Monday morning. I prayed that they wouldn't tell me that my baby didn't survive the accident. I prayed that they wouldn't tell me that I had to go home and tell my family that another baby was now in Heaven. My palms were sweaty and I tried to control my breathing as I felt that cold jelly roll over my stomach. I arched my sore neck as far as I could to try to see the computer screen as the technician kept a solemn face and continued to click, click, click the keys in front of her. She didn't say a word. She didn't even blink as I continued to try to decipher the little grainy grey images flashing across the screen. My neck hurt, my body was hot, I couldn't catch my breath. I was waiting for the moment when she turned to me and said "I need to go get the doctor"--the worst words that any mother could ever hear while looking at an ultrasound. I had heard those words before, and left bawling.  

Then, just when I knew I couldn't take the silence any longer, she spoke. She spoke the most beautiful words I have ever heard. 

"Everything looks great. No evidence of any injury or impact from the accident. AND...although it's still early, I do see two sacs. You're going to have twins". 

My heart stopped in that moment. Literally stopped. Then the tears immediately drained out of my eyes down my cheeks. 

"This has honestly been my dream my whole life" I told her as I wiped the tears away. "I've always wanted twins. I can't believe you're telling me this right now. I can't even breath I'm so happy".

She smiled at me and chuckled..."I'm so glad that you're so happy about this news", she said. "To be honest, I've never had a mom of 4 be this excited about having twins".  

"No, you have no idea---I'm elated" I told her.  

I couldn't stop crying.

In that moment, I thought about the little Dream Board that I have hung up in my closet at home. A place where I cut out pictures of the dreams that Terry and I have together and goals for our future. A place for visualizing our future together and creating a space for big ideas that barely seem attainable. Right at the top centre has always been a picture of twins snuggled together. 

Our reality truly feels completely unreal right now.



The doors closed behind me as I left the ultrasound building exhausted with excitement and shock. 

I couldn't wait to tell my family. 

Mya had said to me before I left for my ultrasound "Mommy, I really hope we get twins". She loves babies. She loves family. I just kissed her head and told her that we're just going to hope for a healthy pregnancy--knowing full well that the reality of becoming pregnant with twins again was slim to none. 

So when the kids walked in the door and rushed to see the ultrasound picture, the news of twins was greeted with squeals, big hugs, jumping up and down and then Carter grabbed the ultrasound picture and tore out the front door and ran across the front lawn to my sisters house. He couldn't wait to tell his cousins. We then went to pick Sophia up from daycare and when we told her that there were two babies in my belly she immediately screamed and jumped up and down and clapped her hands in excitement. 

Terry was at the hospital with the surgeon while I had the ultrasound since he broke his shoulder the other week (just to add some more excitement to our lives at this point). So I carefully avoided the details when he called just moments after I got home from getting the news. "Baby looks great", I said, "I'll tell you all about it when you get home", and I quickly got off the phone with him before he started asking more questions. I knew I wanted to tell him in person.

So when he walked in the door from work that day, he had four little people tackle him with the news. Flashing the ultrasound picture around in the air, they all jumped around with excitement. He laughed, then looked at me "Are you serious??" he said between kids jumping all around him. I nodded and smiled, then he just laughed and we all laughed and hugged each other.  

So life is moving. Life is changing. My neck and shoulder are beginning to heal, I'm starting to feel better and my hand has already healed completely. Weekly physio and massage therapy is now my reality, but there is so much to look forward to now. So much to be grateful for. So much excitement and hope for the future. Such love for these two babies who are only just beginning to grow into this life of ours. 

And although this wouldn't have been the way that we would have planned to tell the world--our pregnancy secret would still be our secret if this accident hadn't happened. The strangers on the street, the paramedics, my family, then my school all had to find out under the most unfortunate circumstances and way earlier than we would have ever planned. But here we are regardless, now thrilled and excited and also terrified and worried at the reality of losing twin babies like before

But for now we'll just take this time and enjoy it. Because our reality right now is all of a sudden looking a lot brighter. 

Erica xo      





Tuesday, 11 December 2018

An SUV hit me head-on...and this is what I know for sure

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I still can't shake it. My breath is heavy even as I begin to type. This space of mine--this blog space that I have left empty for months now feels like a safe retreat. A space where I can release the fear, the anxiety, the what-if's...the trauma from Friday.



I can feel my chest tightening and tears are burning my eyes as I type, trying to process the reality of life right now. Being forced to feel the feelings with every hit of the keys that I have been trying to push down and manage in the midst of day to day life now.

It was chilly, with a cold wind hitting my face as I left school on Friday. I was on my way to pick up my babies from daycare--Chloe and Sophia, who were waiting for me, and my other two were going to be home soon from school. I drove quietly in an empty van full of car seats.

I wasn't even two minutes from my school when I pulled up to that intersection, as I do each and every day on my way home. The normalcy and routine of that moment waiting at the light brought about a sense of security that always comes from knowing what will happen next. But Friday was all of a sudden drastically different.

All of a sudden my normal, secure moment turned from routine to chaos, in only seconds.

I remember the sounds, the smells, the fear that I felt as if it happened only moments ago. The feeling of my body being thrown, my head banging the back of the headrest, burning on my hand, a huge gunshot sound, smoke, the sound of crushing metal...a huge hit, then spinning, spinning, spinning...wondering if it would stop and how. Then the second huge crash, head on into another car. Cracked windshield, burning, smoke in my lungs, panic, silence.

I remember the absolute terror of feeling like my van was about to start on fire and I needed to get out and away as fast as possible. The smell of smoke and chemicals surrounded me from the airbags going off and I reached for the door handle, body shaking, trying to get out.

I remember the feeling of the cold air down my back and my hand burning. I looked down to find blood on my hand and my neck and back were throbbing. I looked down to find liquid pouring from my van all over the road. The sloshing sounds that my boots made in the gas and oil as I tried to escape from what I thought was going to be a van exploding right in front of me. The world stopped in that moment. No one moved. Cars around me were frozen in time. The moment was shaken as I heard people start screaming--"Call 911!" "I can't get through!" "911 is busy! Just keep calling!" People started running towards me--women holding phones, screaming, panicked.



I walked straight towards the white car that was in front of my van, front bumper crushed, as two women emerged from their car.

"Are you okay?!" I screamed at them. My heart was pounding, the world was spinning, I didn't know where I was, I didn't know which direction to move. Absolute panic had come over me, with a sense of complete shock protecting my body.

The women came towards me "We're fine. Are you okay?!" they screamed back at me.

"I don't know", I remember saying. I remember feeling like I couldn't breathe. My body was shivering, but full of heat. I didn't know how to get out of the middle of where I was--cars surrounded me and as I tried to gain some composure to figure out where the sidewalk was I felt an arm grab me and lead me away.

"It's going to be okay", she said to me in a panicked, but controlled voice. "He ran the red light and hit you hard, head-on".

I looked over to see a silver SUV, the front completely crushed and a young man kneeling down talking to an elderly man sitting in the front seat.

My heart stopped.

Was he okay? Was he dying? I saw him struggling to breathe. I rushed over to him.
"Are you okay?" I gently said as I watched the younger man looking at his stomach.
The older gentleman didn't answer. The young man said "I think he'll be okay--he's in shock and needs an ambulance. I'm an ER doctor--I was in that car over there when I saw the accident happen. I think he'll be just fine".

I remember saying out loud "God, please protect him. Please please just protect him" and the lady who had my arm pulled me off of the road onto the sidewalk.

She put her arms around me as I shook, and then all of a sudden people were everywhere. I just remember women and men were hugging me, asking me if I needed blankets, asking me where it hurt and telling me the exact sequence of events that they saw.



The woman holding my arm started quickly explaining what she saw. "I saw it was your right of way and then all of a sudden I watched terrified as the SUV gunned it and accelerated right through the red light". Her eyes were huge and filling up with tears as she held me. She continued to tell me "I started screaming NO! NO! NO! as I sat in my car watching what I knew would be a terrible accident. I couldn't stop it. I'm so sorry.". I squeezed her, this stranger. Hugging her to ease her pain and mine.

"It all happened in slow motion", she continued. "I watched as your body was thrown around and you kept spinning and spinning.." then she stopped. I could tell she was going through her own trauma just re-living it in that moment herself. "I'm going to stay to tell the police what I saw".

The sirens were loud and the lights were bright as firetrucks, ambulances and police cars pulled up to the scene. More people came up and hugged me, telling me they were going to stay to tell the police what they saw. I was just worried about the man. Paramedics started putting the elderly man onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. My heart sank for him.

My fingers were frozen as I tried to get a grip of my phone to call Terry and my parents and sister. I could barely type in the numbers my hands were shaking so violently.

"Terry--I was in a horrible car accident. It's really awful" I heard myself say. I remember hearing him say "I'll leave work right now, I'll be right there". And I repeated those same horrible words that no parent ever wants to hear to my dad as he picked up the phone.

"Dad.."...I could barely get the words out.

"I'll be right there honey" is all I remember.

I remember the paramedics assessing me. Asking me a million questions. But all I kept saying was "I just found out last night that I'm pregnant"...and sobbing. Was my baby okay? That's all that I was worried about.

Tears flooded my face as this lovely paramedic tried to reassure me. Then just as quickly as I called him, my dad was beside me hugging me, holding me as the sirens and flashing lights surrounded us.

I cried tears of relief, comfort and fear all rolled into one as I sunk into him. He couldn't get through the rows and rows of stopped traffic, so my mom had dropped him off at the side of the road and he had run up the street to me.

"Sir, I just need to ask her a few more questions", the paramedic interrupted, "especially due to the pregnancy now".

I looked at my dad. She looked at him. I looked at her.

"Surprise, dad", I said, with a bit of a laugh. "We just found out last night".

He hugged me and the paramedic's eyes filled with tears " Oh now you're all just going to make me cry too..I'm sorry I didn't know that he didn't know". I didn't care. All I cared about was whether my baby survived.

I looked up to see Terry running through the flashing lights towards me. He looked pale, panicked and wide-eyed. He grabbed me and hugged me as I tried to reassure him.

The events of the evening became a bit of a blur after that. I remember a kind tow-truck driver helping me into his truck so that I could have a warm space to fill out all of my paper work. His kindness was something that I'll never forget.

I remember people coming up to me, strangers hugging me, telling me that they were going to stand in the cold with me for as long as it took so that they could tell the police their version of the SUV running the red light. They held my hands, these strangers, as I told them I was pregnant and so worried. They told me to trust God, they told me that everything would be okay. They told me that I would be okay. They wrapped me in their hope and warmth and kindness and I know that that is something that I will never forget. The kind paramedic who first got to me, her sweet, calm voice that left me feeling like I would be okay, like our baby would be okay. I'll never forget it. The way that those strangers held me, telling me that they couldn't believe I survived such a huge crash, will be forever in my memory as I try to process how I actually survived (how we all survived) such a tragic incident. 

I look at these pictures now--of my van staring at the white car. I was originally facing the opposite direction when I was hit. And that gray SUV at the bottom of the picture. I hope that poor man is okay. 



I think of him constantly. How is he doing? I hope he doesn't feel the obligation to live with this the rest of his life. He was 85yrs old. Maybe he panicked and hit the gas instead of the brake. Maybe he had a medical issue which left him slamming on the gas. We'll never know. But I do know that I plan to write him a letter to let him know that all will be well. I would never want him to feel the burden of such an accident. We'll all be okay eventually. The nights won't always be full of panic, anxiety and flashbacks, as they are right now. I won't always cry at the drop of a hat when I start thinking of it. My hand, neck and back will heal. We'll get a new van. New car seats. We'll keep monitoring baby to make sure that he/she is growing as intended and I'll pray that this pregnancy wasn't affected by this cold Friday afternoon.

The waiting is the torture. But we'll get there and trust that everything will work out exactly as it's supposed to. So as my days begin to fill up with ultrasounds, blood work, massage therapy, physio appointments, phone calls from insurance companies and visits to car dealerships, I'll just remind myself to breathe. And I'll believe what others have said--that the two baby angels that we have in Heaven were there with me on that fateful day, looking down on their mom--because walking away from an accident like this was nothing short of a miracle.

Erica xo


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