Monthly Archives: January 2012

No “Gettin Over”

After the chaotic frenzy of getting The Brothers out the door to their school, Johnny and I have well over an hour before he has to leave.  His school has a 9 a.m. start time, which is a real drag with his internal 6 a.m. alarm.  There are advantages though.  Like the finishing of homework that was just TOO insurmountable the night before, which is just not as complicated after Mommy has had some sleep and some coffee.   At this time the house is quiet and Johnny entertains me with his WIT AND WISDOM.  Both of which he has NO SHORTAGE of.

A funny thing about Johnny is that a great deal of the time his body language says, I am not listening to you…………….  I have no idea what is going on around me……………..I am in my own LITTLE BATMAN world, and I LIKE IT here.  Actually, not all of the above is true……………He IS listening and he IS PAYING ATTENTION to everything going on around him.  Especially to me…………

Since Precious Baby Girl, Madeline, has been gone, Johnny is perhaps the most AWARE of my grief.  He will ask, “What is wrong Mommy, you have your Madeline face.”  He informed me this is my face when I look sad like I am really missing Madeline and might cry.  He DOES NOT like this face, it makes him extremely nervous to see Mommy very sad and he has seen a Great Deal of that this last year.  The force of the grief is just TOO great to hide some days.  The days I can’t “fake it” he attempts to soothe me with a nice pat on the back………… which is usually delivered with the force of the Heimlich Maneveur.  Delicate he isn’t……..  My “typical” children just vacate the area until I can “get it together.”

This morning, Johnny and I were bonding over the laptops.  He was “working on math” and I was e-mailing his teacher.  I must’ve had “THAT FACE, because  Johnny asked……..Mommy, are you looking at pictures of Madeline?

Me-No, why?

Johnny-Well, you have THAT FACE, you know, the one…….

Me-No, Johnny I am not looking at her picture, but I love to.

Johnny-Oh!………………then extended quiet……………

Referring to a phone call he overheard a few minutes earlier Johnny spoke up.

Johnny-Mommy, what is a “bad hair day?”

Me-It’s when you are not in a good mood, you are not happy with the way things are going……you know, like when I won’t let you wear your sweat pants every day.  But you just have to GET OVER IT AND GET ON WITH IT.

Johnny-You mean like what you need to do with Madeline and her breathing problem.

Me-(Somewhat stunned) What do you mean?

Johnny-You know………that morning……when she couldn’t breathe…….. and then she died.

(That day plays like a constant tape in my head………so YES…………I KNOW exactly.

Me-(Really wanting to Cry but did NOT)-Chosing my words carefully…………………No, Johnny………………it is not the same thing, Mommy will never GET OVER Madeline or GET ON WITH IT.  Mommy misses her soooo much EVERY DAY.  So no, THAT IS NOT what I mean by GET OVER IT AND GET ON WITH IT.

Johnny-Simply Staring.

Me-(Not letting it go) I mean like,  GET OVER IT AND ON WITH IT when you are mad you can’t have a toy, play with your friend, have your favorite food or have to do homework.  And to EMPHASIZE my point, I added, Mommy CANNOT just GET OVER AND ON WITH IT about your Sister.

Johnny-(Pauses and sighs) Yeah, Mom, me neither…………….

Johnny, I don’t know HOW  but YOU GET IT!!!  What an Amazing Little Man you are………………

A Beautiful Life

For whatever reason, my basic personality, I guess, I don’t much get into sharing my political views with others.  But this is something near and dear to my heart and I have to “share.”  Yesterday marked the anniversary of the decision of Roe vs. Wade, which I guess I didn’t always give much thought to.  Although I knew, of course, knew the abortion argument but never saw my role in it.  And really, didn’t give it much thought.

However, one day that all changed.  What did it take???  A simple phone call.  One that rocked my world and forever changed who I am or thought I was.

This phone call was from the Genetics Counselor at the Hospital.  She said, is this Mrs.  O’Connell?  Yes, it is.  Well, she said, we received the results of your Amnio and your Baby has Down Syndrome.  At that moment I remember my blood went cold and my heart dropped to my knees.  I remember looking out the window of my boys room and swear I thought I saw the color of the sky turn a different color of blue.  WHAT???  How could this “happen to me, I thought.”  (this is not a thought I am proud of but it is what I thought).  I was numb.  I immediately thought, Autism and now this, what is God thinking, what am I going to do???!!!!  This all ran through my mind in the span of about 3 seconds, then the “Counselor” spoke again.

The Counselor then said, it is nothing you did Mrs. O’Connell.  Now, do you want to schedule a termination of the pregnancy?  THEN, I lost it.  WHAT, NO!!! HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT TO ME???  Then full blown hysteria set it.  I wanted to throw up, the first and only help offered was to terminate the pregnancy.  I called a Dear Friend who circled the wagons, then I lay on the couch for 24 hours in tears.  My baby… people already think my Sweet Baby is not worth having life.

I then had to call back to make an appointment  with my Doctor.  In a puddle of tears I went to this appointment.  Why?  I said.  And why do they immediately ask you when you want to schedule a termination?  I just want to know how many people terminate?  Well, she said, at this hospital, if we have 6 positives for Down Syndrome, 3 of them are terminated.  More tears again.  I was full of mixed emotions.  I was overwhelmed.  But I kept thinking I am having a baby that 50% of the population don’t think is worthy of life.

Then I didn’t know how to tell people, so for a while I didn’t.  Afraid of what 50% they belonged to.  Some close friends knew and they were supportive giving me names of friends of friends I could call, but I needed to find my own way.  I lurked around on message boards and found something that spoke to me.  A couple that decided to share the news with others and let their anticipation of this new Little Person be known.  Then when the New Little One arrived, there would be no period of time where  friends and family wondering how to react, what to say.  They would know that we were excited and hopelessly in love with our Baby.  I went with this.  It worked for me.  With a close few I shared my fears but also my hopes.

On July 4, 2009, this “theory” didn’t matter anymore to me.  Our Precious Baby Girl, Madeline Elizabeth came into this world, it was no act, WE WERE BEYOND IN LOVE.  She was just BEAUTIFUL and I couldn’t wait to show her off.   Neither could the Big Brothers.  Daddy, took one look and said, Madeline, YOU can have whatever you want, Precious Baby Girl!

We spent the next 16 months in a near constant fight for her Precious Little Life.  It is a fight I would do again without a thought.

Our grief renders us immobile at best and unable to function on the really bad days.  What I wouldn’t give to stroke that golden hair, get a signature Madeline Rasberry Kiss, and do the 50 yard dash across the house because she figured out how to remove her trach.  I think she kept a stop watch to record our time.

I am sooo happy we Chose Life.  The love she brought forth is what life should be about, I would hope.

So…what I thought as I was running this morning.  If having a child with Down Syndrome is such a horrific tragedy, that they should never draw their first breath then WHY am I soooo sad and broken that my Little Madeline is gone.  What a blessing her life was.  As her Big Brother said on meeting her…………..”Mommy, I don’t know why they say something is wrong with her, she looks fine to me……….”

Precious Baby Girl, Madeline