In Memory of Charles
I was born with Spina Bifida and am now 24 years old. I was told by doctors that I probably would not be able to have children due to my medical conditions. I am single and had no plans to start a family until I married.
I was in a relationship with a man that I met at my college in 1998. As the relationship grew stronger, we got involved sexually and used protection. In May of 1999, we grew apart and I made the decision to break off the relationship with my boyfriend. The next several months, I was quite ill and weak off and on again. I went to the doctor a couple of times, but a pregnancy test was never given. I did not suspect I was pregnant because, I was still having my periods and I hadn't gained any significant weight. I share a house with my mother and she never suspected that I was pregnant either and the same went for other family and friends as well as coworkers.
On Wednesday, November 3, 1999, I was rear-ended in a vehicle accident. I felt some pain and discomfort in my abdominal area, but I just thought it was pressure from the seat belt when I was hit. I leaked some blood later that night and dismissed it as my period starting for the month.
The next day, I experienced what I thought was menstrual cramps and didn't think much else of it.
By Friday, I was in worse pain, but refused to go to the doctor. I told my Mom about the pain and she thought I might be passing a kidney stone. She wanted me to see my doctor Friday, but I decided to wait until the next day.
By Saturday morning about 7am, I hadn't had much sleep due to the pain and woke my Mom up to take me to the hospital. I had this strong urge to use the bathroom at this point and sat down on the toilet. I heard all of this "liquid" stuff just flood out from under me and the pain seemed to subside. I got off the toilet and looked down to find a baby! I couldn't believe what I was looking at and I was in such a state of shock that all I could do was yell for my mother. She helped me take him out of the toilet. His body was as white as sheet and he was very cold. He didn't have a pulse. My Mom and I were both in such a shock that all we could think of doing was getting us both to the emergency room at the local hospital. My mother sped us there in a flash.
The doctors and nurses worked on my son immediately, but they were unable to save him. Noone would really tell me anything. The doctor examined me and cleaned me up. And he made some rude comment that I should come to his office next week to be sterilized so this sort of thing doesn't happen again. The nurse came in and informed me that the police had been called, because the baby had been born at my house and died that a report and investigation must be put into action. She told me they would be by soon to talk to me.
I was in such shock at this point that I didn't even realize what sex my baby was. And noone would tell me if it was a boy or girl. For about an hour they wouldn't even tell me if he was alive. They wouldn't let me see him. I had to talk to so many people that day...the hospital's social worker and also their chaplin/pastor. My head was just spinning by the time the police and coroner investigator arrived. They kept asking me if I had hid my pregnancy and I kept saying I didn't know I was pregnant! They told me that if the autopsy concluded that he breathed in air and water from the toilet that they would charge me with my baby's death as murder. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was frightened and extremely upset over this tragedy!
When we had first arrived at the hospital, the nurse had taken my son and I both up to the birth and delivery floor and was put in a "family" room where one would normally give birth at. They never moved me to another spot of the hospital the entire day, so I had to listen to other babies cry and what not.
My Mom and I didn't say much to eachother that day. She wasn't mad at me or anything like that...we just were both speechless over what had occurred. I'm thankful that she was there for me. Just having her at my side was more than words could ever say.
I was told that I could check myself out of the hospital after 10pm that night or I could stay until morning. I opted to leave that night and I left around 11pm. Before I left the hospital, the nurse, Brenda, who was a great help to me all day, gave me some literature on different places I could contact for support. She also gave me a little handmade angel along with a small memory box with a beaded bracelet with my son's name on it. I was also given a beautiful small handmade quilt. Brenda gave me her number and told me to call anytime. She also called me a few times at home that first week after losing my son.
The hospital chaplain, Pastor Anne Hutchins-Case of Greenwood United Methodist Church, has also been a wonderful supportive friend since the day I lost my baby. She helped me with the funeral arrangements and baptized Charles Christopher the day of his funeral and cremation.
The first time I was truly able to hold my son and view him was at his funeral. It was a very private and intimate ceremony with just my Mom and I. After the funeral at the church, we took him back to the funeral home and I sat and held him for a few hours before his cremation. Leaving him there and seeing his body for the last time was the most difficult thing I've ever had to do in my life. All I really wanted to do was wake up from this nightmare and take my beautiful baby boy home. I wanted him to be alive...not dead! I hated myself for not knowing about my pregnancy and I've blamed myself for his death for many months. A part of me still does blame myself.
The autopsy report concluded that my car accident caused my placenta to abrupt and all that fluid had gone down into his esophagus and caused immediate death.
A few days after I came home from the hospital, I went through the list of contacts the nurse had given me. I was feeling really bad and was desperate to talk to someone that would understand. I came across the Neo Fight phone number and left a message on their voice mail. Ten minutes later, I received a call back from Michie Sebree. She briefly told me of her experience of losing her son, but she mostly listened to what I had to say and on my pauses from talking she would add kind and heartfelt words of support. It was like talking to an angel. She calmed me down so much and during the duration of our phone call, my anxiety subsided a little bit. Michie took down my information and told me to call anytime that I needed to talk. She has since called me many times even when I haven't called her just to see how I'm doing. We have become good friends and have gotten together on various occasions.
I first met her in person a little over a month after my son's death right before Christmas. Michie invited me to a Christmas memorial service in the chapel at a local hospital to honor all babies that have passed away. The service was put together by RTS (Resolve thru Sharing). When I arrived she gave me a very loving gift. It was 2 wooden carved angel bears...the first one had Charles written on it and the second one had his middle name, Christopher. After the service we went joined RTS for a bereavement group meeting. It was the first meeting I had attended since my son's death and it was difficult to talk about my experience, but it also felt good to have some of that weight lifted off my shoulders. Since then I have attended meetings by Neo Fight and have done various things to honor my son.
This past year has been difficult, but with Michie's and Neo Fight's help I have survived the darkest times of my life. I didn't think there was light at the end of the tunnel, but I do now believe there are brighter and happier days ahead.