Jenn - posted on 10/16/2008 ( 4 moms have responded )
Sharing a bit of my life
Madison Grace Stocks
June 4th 1999 - October 8th 2000
In 1998 I met the man of my dreams, well so I thought. We were in college and clicked immediately, and I couldn't have been happier. We did everything together, as young couples do, and even talked about marriage. I felt like I was making leaps and bounds as I was entering my "adult" life. Then, I got pregnant and he dumped me as fast as he could. In an instant my world changed forever. I was devastated about losing him and I was confused about what to do about my pregnancy. Thankfully I have a very supportive family, and my parents and sister helped me transition through the emotional days that laid ahead of me. I think after three or four days of crying I came to a conclusion, I was going to keep my baby and raise her by myself. Her father already had made it clear that he didn't want it by telling me to get an abortion or put it up for adoption, so in the mists of this emotional epiphany I made one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make. I told him my plan and set my boundary. I was going to do it alone, and I wasn't going to ask for his help. It was my decision and I am taking full responsibility. BUT, if he ever wanted to be a part of her life I would never deny him that, but he would have to prove to me that he was ready and that he would never back out. Upon digesting my proposition he packed up and moved from Vermont to Minnesota (No, I'm not kidding).
I continued with college and my job. I think I was three months into my pregnancy went I met my current husband. We worked together and he spilled his heart out one afternoon about this crush that he had had on me for quite some time, and how he couldn't believe how my "ex" could just pack up and go, and then he asked me out. I guess the rest is history in that respect. We have been together for almost 9 years now. (Yes, I'm not quite 30 yet.) Anyway, he stood by me through my pregnancy, he was there in the OR b/c I had to have a c-section, and he basically moved in as soon as the baby was born. She was his daughter. We made it work. We both continued with school full time, and I also worked full time on the weekends. I'm proud to say that I was able to make ends meet without using government assistance outside of Medicaid for her insurance.
When Madison turned 6 months old, Morgan her bio-dad, came home. He wanted to meet her. This was a crazy time. My husband was upset about it and was very protective of her. But to my insistence he let things be. I let Morgan meet her and of course he fell head over heels in love. She looked just like him. Things got rockier then, but we managed. Morgan moved back from MN and believe it or not the three of us figured out how to all be parents together. Yes, there were times when toes were being stepped on, but that happens in two parent households, we worked it out and moved on. We did what was best for her. To this day our pediatrician still marvels at how we are all still in touch with each other. Morgan and my husband play tennis together, and we dog sit Morgan's dog when he is out of town.
Back on track. We lived as neighbor's and we co-parented. On October 8th 2000 My husband was on a drill weekend, so Morgan came over early to hang out with Maddie while I went to work. She was still sleeping when I left, and Morgan was hoping to get a few more Z's on the couch before she woke up. So as I left for work, I skipped kissing her goodbye in fear of waking her and starting Morgans day before he wanted. That was a decision that I regret to this day.
You see I worked at Copley Hospital as the admitting clerk in the Emergency Room. That day I was working the 7 a.m.-3 p.m. shift, it was a Sunday. The day went on like normal, I remember it being a pretty slow day in the ER. Morgan called me once to let me know that Maddie wasn't really interested eating and that she seemed congested. Two days prior she was diagnosed with a ear infection and a upper respiratory infection so we figured that the antibiotic wasn't working and she was still feeling down and out from her head cold, pretty normal behavior for a 16 month old baby. So after he hung up with me he said that he put her in the bathroom and let the hot shower steam fill the air. Thinking this would be a non medicinal way to help clear her up. Then he put her down for her afternoon nap.
At 1:30 p.m., or so, the tone went out on the local ambulance. It was being called to the apartment complex that I lived in for a baby that was blue and not breathing. The call was for apt # 18. I breathed a sigh of relief b/c my apt # was 36. Then it hit me that Morgan's # was 18. I don't remember breathing again for days. I rushed into the ER and told the head nurse down there that it was Maddie. Then I ran back to my office and listened to the radio. I could hear the guys talking and reporting that they were at the wrong apt complex...tick-tick-tick....I called the dispatch and told them who I was and that I thought that they were going to pick up my child and I told them where to go. At that point I remember the nurse turning my radio off and telling me that I should try to call my supervisor b/c I shouldn't be working now. She knew more than I did at that point. I was alone. It gets blurry, but somehow my supervisor shows up and relieves me of my desk. I remember pacing up and down the hallways crying and yelling....helpless...that feeling of utter helpless...I wasn't there for her. Then the ambulance arrived. Morgan and his parents, who were up for the day visiting, showed up too. Morgan was ashed, and his mother was surprisingly giddy. He really couldn't tell me at that point what had happened and I really wasn't interested in hearing it, I just wanted to know what was going on behind the closed doors of room 1.
They brought me in as they were working on her....I knew she was gone and that she had been for awhile. I cried and touched her and then told them to stop. It came so natural. She was pronounced dead at 2:22 p.m. The ex-abated her and then let me hold her. My family showed up one by one. My parents and sister were first. Then my husband and an hour or so later my in laws. We were all in shock. Why? How?
They had the normal cop routine because she was an infant. They prodded me for information about Morgan. I guess looking to point some sort of finger. I told them that there was no way that he would hurt her. Then I remember them moving her to room 5. The room right next to my office. In there she was swaddled so tight that It was hard to believe that she was gone and not sleeping. I can't tell you how long I spent in that room....leaving the hospital without her was the hardest.
The days following are all a blurry. She passed on a Sunday. Her autopsy was on Monday and when that was finished I was allowed to pick her up. So My hubby and I made an appt to have a tattoo done in her memory. I'm not the type, but at the time I just needed to do it. It wasn't planned but my tattoo started right at 4 p.m. right when they were beginning her autopsy....When we were finished we drove to the medical center and met with the medical examiner as well as her pediatrician to talk about what they found. There was nothing. Some things were still to be sent off to their lab, but there was no answer to our questions of why.
The state of Vermont is very lenient about body handling, and we were informed that we could just take her with us and bring her to the funeral home if we wanted. Of course, I wouldn't have it any other way. So we carried her body, in a moses basket, in our car and made the 45 minute drive to the funeral home closest to my parents house. At the funeral home, the director told me that I didn't have to have her here. That she wasn't going to sit in a cooler, but on his desk. That back in the day we used to take care of our own, and if I wanted to do that, I could. I could even bring her to the crematorium when I was ready. I collected the needed paper work, and my daughter's body and headed home.
The first night I placed her body on my bed. She was still in her basket, but I needed her close. I inspected her body. Checked every wound that the ME inflicted. I touched her and cried. Her perfect "Y" incision on her chest...and the halo of sutures on her crown --- a violation of a very perfect body.
The next day we held her wake. We had it at my parents house and once again my memory of this event is quite blurry. I remember a lot of people in my parents house. 104 to be exact (at least that's how many signed in).
On Wednesday I was ready to bring her body to the crematorium - it was time. Nature was telling me. There was nothing gross or disfiguring about her, but I just knew that it was time to go. I drove. I remember my hubby and father being in the car with me. I'm sure that there were others, but I just don't remember. I remember pulling up to the funeral home, carring her inside and saying my last goodbyes.....
The weeks following are jumbled. And it took about 6 weeks to start to feel normal again. (Normal - loosely, as I'm sure that you can understand.) But it was at that 6 week mark that I learned that I was pregnant. The following fall my son Owen was born. Adding new emotions to how I viewed motherhood. He kept me alive, and still does. A part of me died when I lost Madison, but I hold her deep within my soul, and it is that memory that aids me in how I mother today. I think of her at least once a day, and I live my life for my kids.
Madison's fulfilled her life's mission is such a short time. She showed me how to love and live after a loss. She showed me that I was strong and that I could do anything that I set my heart too. She opened up a whole new world to her father. Showing him that the unexpected isn't always bad. She showed my hubby the true meaning of fatherhood and passion. She brought my biological father home from Alaska, and turned his heart from the cold stones of denial to acceptance and devotion. She touched numerous people in countless ways. I could go on for ever. I feel that I was blessed to have this child as my daughter. I long for the future that she will never have. I watch the girls that are the age that she would be today....I miss her with so much of my soul, but I go on. I keep her close and I remember to live, not only for myself, but for my boys.
The pain doesn't go away. Grief grabs your soul and impants it's tendrials so deep that you are force to deal with it in one way or another. The days do get easier as life goes on, but there will be that one day that will knock up off your path and you have to learn how to deal with it. Expect it - embrace it. Because it keeps the memory and that passion that we hold so dear alive.