I was going on maternity leave six weeks before delivery, and that last day, August 26th, the guys at work took me out to lunch. I ordered a taco salad – the one which has the edible taco bowl. I was half way through and mentioned I had never felt so full – I felt like I had eaten a brick. So we stood up to leave and my water broke – right there. In the restaurant. With the fellows that had been joking about me going into labor at work for the last six months. They called an ambulance and took me to the nearest hospital… a small community hospital. My doctor did not have privileges there, so they had to call in someone I had never met. He was old school… said I had to have a C-section, said he only did longitudinal procedures, and that was that. Bill showed up and said the most telling, and some would say, most inappropriate thing: “Don’t worry, I’m not mad.” He wanted me to know that he wasn’t angry that this rather sudden birth would interfere with his sacrosanct salmon fishing trip that was scheduled for the following week. Really? Anyway, I went into surgery and we had a beautiful little girl, six weeks early. Before I was put under so they could suture me up I heard her Apgar scores – a 7 and then an 8 – and I went into my drug-induced twilight smiling.
They brought her to me in recovery. I started speaking to her and she focused right on me, and grabbed my finger. She had curly dark hair… she was gorgeous! We named her Brittany Nicole – we had chosen the first name but hadn’t gotten as far as a middle name. My father mentioned he loved the name Nicole, so Nicole it was. Then in a while a neonatal nurse came in and told me they didn’t have the proper set-up for a preemie like Brittany, and because her breathing had become somewhat labored they were going to send her over to St. John’s in Grosse Pointe, where they had a special neo-natal unit. They told me there was nothing to worry about, she just needed a bit more care, that I would be able to go visit her every day. So I bid my baby girl goodbye, got put in a room, and fell asleep. Bill went over with her and came back later that evening to tell me she was twice as big as any other baby in that unit.
I woke up to Bill’s voice in the hall the next morning. I was beaming as he walked around the corner into the room, but then I stopped. He looked awful! His entire face was a strange color, and it was distorted and wrinkled in pain… I had never seen him look like that before. I asked, “Did you go to St. John’s? Did you see her again?” He stopped, stood there, and barely managed to croak, “She died.”
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