This is the last flashback of the weekend. Tomorrow will be business as usual with some fun news (and a great video!!) from our weekend.
One of the most profound experiences of my life was the life and death of my daughter, Darcy. Before this blog existed, I wrote on CaringBridge. (You can find that entire journal here.) Among many other things, I chronicled the five excruciating days I was hospitalized trying to deliver her body. These posts are from the day we met her and handed her over. And then one year later.
This Parents Magazine contest has morphed into something way more profound than I ever imagined. I'm so grateful for your emails, kind comments and support for our family. More than that, I feel like I have been given a gift to be able to reach the broken, the hopeless and the frightened. I feel honored that anyone would think to reach out to me for support or to lift their spirits. If sharing my experience helps even one soul feel less alone or less burdened... I will have won more than a contest. Thank you, Parents Magazine, for changing my life already.
MONDAY, MAY 10, 2010 5:16 AM, CDT
Darcy Claire Leong was born still at 2:40am on May 10.
She weighed 6.5 ounces and was 7.5 inches long.
Baby Darcy is resting comfortably in God's arms.
Mommy and Daddy are heartbroken.
MONDAY, MAY 10, 2010 2:46 PM, CDT
Today has been, without a doubt, the hardest day of our lives. I haven't decided if I'll write about the details of my delivery. What I will say is it was peaceful, non-stressful, and miraculous. Darcy was perfectly formed - perfect hands and feet that were as big as a fingernail. Perfect ears. I'm sure she had Brian's nose. And her lips were gorgeous little rosebuds. I delivered her at 2:40am and my friend, Karen, flew to the hospital and was there by 3:30. She took tons of photos for us for which I'm so grateful. Our nurse was able to get footprints and handprints and gave us other mementos to hang onto - hospital bracelet, name card, etc.
I held her for hours - even napped with her on my chest for a while. I sang to her, rocked her, and told her how sorry I was. I expressed my sorrow for the hopes and dreams I had for her future that will never be. And we cried... and cried. The sorrow in the room was intense.
Our daughter. Dead.
We decided to contact the hospital chaplain because of the early hour. Our priest at home was further away. The Chaplain performed a private service in our room - blessing Darcy and comforting us. After the service, we knew it was time to let her go. Her little body was quickly changing and we wanted to remember her before she deteriorated greatly. The Chaplain and a nurse came back to take Darcy to bring her to the morgue. I froze. I just couldn't hand her over. After crying all over her, I had to hand her to Ed and ask him to walk her out of the room. I just couldn't do it. A few hours later I received a call from our funeral director that he picked her up and had her safely at his home.
I can't believe our beautiful Darcy Claire is gone.
Just when I thought it was over... that we could go home and hug our little boys... more bad news. After the delivery, my blood work came back with elevated liver enzymes. I've been told that I have an "Atypical presentation of PreEclampsia". My blood pressures leading up to this hospitalization were fine at every doctor's appointment. It's possible that Darcy's death is due to preeclampsia. And there was nothing I could have done about it as it wasn't picked up. It's also possible that her death could have been a cord accident. The umbilical cord was twisted extremely tight.
So, here we are, still in the hospital. They will be repeating my labs tonight and hoping that they go down. If they do, I will go home. If they don't... we'll be overnight and go from there. They don't want to send me home as I could be at risk for seizures if left untreated. Ed is not leaving my side - we really need each other right now. I've started trying to pump to get my milk to come in. I'm still planning to donate as much milk as I can to a milk bank in Darcy's name.
These have been the worst days of my life. I can't begin to express my gratitude for the many, many notes and letters and emails. They mean so much to me.
One year later...
Dear Darcy Claire,
Well, here it is. The one year anniversary. Where did this year go? It seems like yesterday that I was holding you - memorizing you - your blanket catching my tears. I thought I would be more "okay" today... and all the days leading up to today. I'm always okay! But strangely, I am not. I've struggled through these days and I can't explain why. It's just a year. But then again... it is a year. A year where we could have been getting to know you... not left with the wonder of who you might have been. My heart breaks today just as it did this day last year.
I miss you so much.
This morning when I woke up, I had an unexpectedly busy day ahead of me. While Tuesday's are normally just one therapy for your brother - it turned into three when I accepted last minute make up sessions. I was regretting that decision as I brushed my teeth - but felt so conflicted. Part of me felt so anxious, not interested in "company". But part of me felt so guilty - why should I deprive Gavin from his therapy. I hemmed and hawed and, although it was too late to cancel his Physical Therapy this morning, I was able to cancel the other two and they totally understood. I just needed to... be.
But Darcy, strange things have been happening today. I think your brothers sense that Mommy is hurting and they have been so good. Gavin was all smiles through Physical Therapy, which was a huge shocker. Brian and I were his cheering section and were so proud of him as we watched him work out with Miss Wendy. And Gavin took a nap - which is totally out of character and gave me a much needed break.
And Brian... he has been something else. He's never done this before, but everytime I walked away from him - to do laundry, to do dishes, to sit down - he'd come over... grab my hand... and pull me into the playroom to sit with him. I couldn't help but think that this was his way of getting me out of myself. Keeping me busy so as not to be preoccupied with grief. It did work, I have to hand it to him. He's just so irresistable, your brother.
But the weirdest thing that is happening today is just that... really weird. Last night I threw up out of the blue - just felt so sick and exhausted and out of it. It was really out of the blue! Then through the night I woke up in a sweat several times. This morning when I woke up, my back ached like I'd been lying in bed for days. I felt crampy and uncomfortable. I'm not making this up - it really freaked me out. It felt similar to how I felt this day last year... after five days of lying in bed trying to deliver you. I don't know what to make of how I feel - it certainly isn't helping my mood.
This past year has changed me in so many ways. I am less bothered by small things... more appreciative of my family... and, most importantly, proud of myself. Those five days leading up to you were agonizing. The five hours I held you were heartbreaking. And giving you up to a stranger to take to a morgue - horrific. There were days I didn't think I'd be able to get through it all. I don't mean in a final kind of way... I mean a "coping well" kind of way. But Darcy, I did it. Sometimes you don't know the strength inside of you until you suddenly need it. And then, nothing can break you.
Your short little life has opened up a whole new world for our family. We've made new friends as they found out about our story... we've been placed on countless prayer chains... I receive at least ten emails a day with support and love and asking for advice that I really don't feel qualified to give. You are more than a baby who didn't make it. You are more than the ashes I wear every day around my neck. You are an angel to all of us... and you've left behind a legacy of caring that reaches beyond this little family of ours.
I am so proud to be your Mommy.
Last night before the sun went down, your Daddy, brothers and I had our own little memorial for you. It was a bit chaotic what with the timer on the camera ticking, Brian wanting to jump out of Daddy's arms and Gavin arching back. Before I knew it the balloons were in the sky... like love letters to you in Heaven... just like last year.
You will always be missed. You will always be loved. You will never be forgotten. I promise.
If you'd like to see the video I made for Darcy (if you haven't already seen it a hundred times) click HERE. (There are some graphic and possibly unsettling pictures... you've been warned.)