May 14, 2004, less than a month before high school graduation, and two months before leaving home and heading to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for basic training with the U.S. Army...I was in almost the best physical shape of my life, a stellar student academically, one of the best EMTs for my age and experience, and honestly I really had everything going for me other than the chaos that comes with teenage relationships. It was then that I learned I was pregnant, though only through the tragedy and heartbreak of a miscarriage.
To say the majority of me was shocked, would be an understatement, in fact, most of that afternoon and evening was a total blur...so many emotions with being alone through it all, not totally understanding what was going on, even though I had the medical knowledge to give me the objectiveness of it. Then being handed a 16wk baby wrapped in a blanket, not wanting to really take a good look at "it" because I was angry, frightened, alone, and so hurt that even wounds that I thought were healed enough reopened and caused even more pain. The recovery was complicated physically, it left me sick for many weeks, the emotional recovery didn't totally start until about six months ago, when for the first time in 13 years, I let the one person who really needed to know, my best kept, but darkest, most painful secret in my life to date.
The bereavement nurse in the ER, God bless her, did everything in her power to get me to talk to her, to just say anything at all and the only thing I told her was they could run the tests they wanted on "it", and to put the blanket in multiple envelopes so I didn't have to see it. That day, I didn't know whether or not the baby was a boy or girl, not sure that it completely mattered until more recently in knowing I cannot have any more children of my own, and this situation and the poor recovery didn't help it any either. Six months ago is when I opened the white envelope inside an envelope that had been tucked away with my most sacred possessions of my mother's and came face to face with the little blanket I held her in for only a few moments. The pain, the hurt, the memories flooded back to me, but at least this time I wasn't alone with them. I had been to my doctor who saw me then to ask her about the pathology reports and whatever else they had done then, and luckily while they had been archived, they were electronically available for her to see...my little girl had multiple congenital heart defects and while my 17 year old self would have been relieved to have not had a baby with special needs, and quite possibly raising her alone...the almost 30 year old version of me wonder what life she could have lead despite those odds.
I will never know, but it did put a new perspective on congenital heart defects for me, and hence last year when I started more initiatives in that specific realm of the medical world. The saying is very true, one is never 100 percent concerned about an issue until it affects them personally, and while I am always very devoted to each child we serve, some are just a little closer to home than others. A couple months ago, I finally gave my little angel a name...her name is Nessa and for her, I will continue to fight even harder for the children in our local area and abroad for congenital heart defect awareness, treatments, prevention, and one day eradication as well.