3 years ago on this date I said goodbye to my husband for his third deployment. I was around 3 months pregnant with Isabella. He had never deployed when I was pregnant before. It was always about a month after a baby was born. So I was so scared how I was going to handle this deployment. I don't have good pregnancies and to be pregnant and have to take care of Katie who was 4 years old and Jonathan who was 2 years old without my husband scared me. I was also scared he would miss the birth of the baby, at the time we didn't know she was a girl. I really wondered how in the world we would survive that deployment.
Then a little under 2 month later I found out about the Anencephaly, Dwayne found out a few days after me when he finally got the red cross message. He was sent home on emergency leave. We got that extended because we were trying to figure out what we were going to do. After finding out we couldn't induce because the insurance wouldn't cover it, since it is a government insurance, we fought for him to stay until the birth, it took lots of fighting, pleading and letters to the congresswoman and news stations before they let him stay. At that time we wondered how we were going to survive the next few months. How do you go on caring a baby you know is going to die. Once he was able to stay home I was relieved because I did want to carry her as long as I could and to know he would be there with me at her birth and to get to meet her and say goodbye to her was very important to him.
Then at 32 weeks along I had to go to the ER because my asthma was getting really bad. I got a breathing treatment and was left with a joke by a doctor, that I guess didn't read my chart, that once I got that baby out of me I would be great. I had a followup appointment with my doctor the next day, the 25th of Jan, where we learned just how bad the extra fluid had gotten. He recommended inducing because it was the extra fluid making it hard for me to breath and would only get worse. Which also meant less oxygen getting to Isabella. My worse fear was her being stillborn so we agreed to it. Since Katie's 5th Birthday was the day before we decided to wait until the 29th for the induction so in the future her birthday wouldn't be clouded by the death of her sister.
Those next 4 days I wondered how in the world we would survive the death of our daughter and if she would survive the birth. Those four days were busy trying to get Dwayne's leave taken care of, he totaled our van after passing out and flipping it over, then dealing with the insurance and trying to make sure we had everything we wanted for the birth. I still remember Dwayne wanting to buy a car seat and I said no way. He was hopeful that she would be one of the ones to survive for days or months where I am a realist and didn't want to deal with seeing the car seat we bought to bring our daughter home and it never happened. I told him if she survives and gets to come home then he can buy a car seat before we leave the hospital.
On Friday the 29th of Jan at 33 weeks pregnant we headed to the hospital a couple of hours late for the induction. There is no real reason why we were late, I just kept coming up with things I had to do before we go. I was trying to put it off. Dwayne finally made me go. I still remember being scared they were going to say something at the hospital about us being late but they never did. I guess maybe they understood since my doctor had already prepared everyone of the situation. The labor was so long and difficult that I wondered if Isabella or even myself would survive it. I lost way to much blood had a scary reaction to the epidural and they had to use extreme measures to get her out of the birth canal. We both survived. She lived for 3 wonderful minutes. In those 3 minutes I didn't think of anything except how beautiful she was, how lucky we were that she was born alive and how happy we were to have her in our family, no matter how short she would be here with us.
Then at 10:55 am my nurse checked her pulse and it was gone. My tears of happiness turned to tears of sadness. At the time I went from being happy that she was born alive to being angry that we only had 3 minutes with her. I went from being happy that she survived the birth to wondering how in the hell I would survive losing my daughter. I have actually never said that out loud or written down just how angry I was that she only lived 3 minutes. I am not going to lie even to this day while I am VERY thankful for her being alive and for those 3 minutes there are times when I read other peoples stories who had hours, days or months with their babies I get a bit jealous and angry and wonder why didn't we get that time with her? I got over that initial anger, yes it did and still does come back sometimes, and just enjoyed holding her and looking at her and spending some time with her. Yes I knew she wasn't in her body anymore but it is still very comforting to do that. Most people who have never lost a baby just don't understand that. In fact I wish I had spent more time with her body in my room.
The next day I was released from the hospital when the doctor was happy with my blood test results, from where I lost a lot of blood. As I was sitting there in the bed listening to my nurse go over my release paperwork I was wondering how I would survive leaving the hospital with my arms empty. Knowing my baby girl was laying in some cold room somewhere waiting for the funeral home to come get her body. And I won't even get started on how long it took them to come get her, boy was I angry and still get angry to this day thinking about it. Just 3 years earlier that same month I left that same hospital with Jonathan in my arms. I just didn't think I would be able to leave without her.
The next few months after that are pretty much a blur. I remember them trying to send Dwayne back to Iraq but that not happening thanks to a great woman saying he couldn't be deployed due to depression from losing his daughter. I remember some of our trip out to VA and some of her memorial service there. I remember thinking I would never survive this, that I would just die from the pain in my heart. Most people had no idea what I was going through, I don't think my husband even knew how bad it was. I learned very young how to put a smile on my face and say everything was okay.
I look back now and realize I never really started the grieving process until months later, I was just too numb. What started it was a neighbor who became a great friend. She wanted to talk about Isabella, she wanted to hear everything and asked me lots of questions. She didn't change the subject when her name came up or avoid it at all. She didn't act like it didn't happen. Being able to talk about her started to thaw out my heart and open it up to the love and happiness that Isabella brought us in those 33 weeks and 3 minutes she was here with us. Even though sometimes those talks lead me to tears they were tears of happiness and that smile on my face wasn't faked.
Now as I sit here 3 years later I am still in the grieving process, and truthfully I will probably never leave it. Even while I celebrate her life I will always grieve for her. I sit here wondering how in the hell we did survive all of that. I know that we are still trying to survive it. While 3 years later it is a lot easier and the bad days are less and less they are still there and on those days I wonder if I will survive. But as one of my favorite songs say "I am a survivor". While most people put that saying with cancer for me it goes with past 3 years of my life and every year in the future until I am with my daughter. I survived them and I will continue to be a survivor until I can hold her in my arms again. I will fight everyday to celebrate her life, I will fight that anger and sadness that tries to surface every now and then to take away my happiness and I will survive that fight. I will fight it and I will survive it because that is what Isabella taught me to do. She taught me just how special life is and I am not going to let her down. She has made me a survivor.