Baby Amy’s Story
***WARNING Graphic Descriptions***
Baby Amy was born on January 3rd 1996, around 6am. She also died on that same day about an hour and a half later. Her life was short but her impact on mine will be forever. Her story really starts on the day I found out I was pregnant.
My son was only 4 months old and I was only married for about a year! We were no where near ready for a child let alone another one. As a mom I knew that I already loved that baby and was excited to know that another amazing child would come one day. So I did all the normal doctor visits and prenatal vitamins. I had a few problems with spotting off and on during the pregnancy but the doctor assured me everything was fine.
On the early afternoon of December 31, 1995 I started passing blood clots the size of small baseballs. I headed to the emergency room. The told me that it was probably the placenta coming loose a little like with my son. I was sent home and put on bedrest. On the way home we hit “Hot & Now” burgers and got some lunch to take home. I sat on the couch to eat and my water broke.
I drove back to the hospital and was admitted. My mom arrived around the time they were moving me to room in post partum recovery to be monitored. It was explained that they would try to keep the baby in me as long as they could. I was only 23 and 1/2 weeks. They started steroids in hopes of developing the baby’s lungs quicker. We knew that they baby’s birth was imminent and her chances weren’t the best.
The doctor explained that we would be given the choice of saving her or letting her pass when she was born. Premature babies were just really starting to be saved at this point in time. Not many survived and many had severe issues that weren’t sure how severe they would be over time. We decided that we wanted the doctors assistance in the decision. We didn’t want to prolong her death if there really wasn’t any chance for her to survive.
A Glimmer of Hope
I sat in the hospital for days and started to gain hope that my baby would survive. Maybe, just maybe, there was some hope. Then on the night of January 2nd I started to show signs of infection. They moved me back down to labor & delivery in case they had to get the baby out quick. That next morning at 4 am I started to feel contractions. They hooked me up to a monitor and checked me. They said that I was not in labor my cervix had not changed since the night before. They would come back in an hour to check me just to confirm. I called my mom anyway and told her I was in labor. She lived almost an hour away.
An hour later, no contractions were showing on the monitor but when they checked me anyway. When they did check me, a foot was dangling from my cervix. They quickly jumped into action and soon she was born. They placed her in a little bed and began pumping air into her lungs. The neonatologist came in and told us there was no chance. He left the room and the nurses stopped pumping the bag. They dressed my little girl in a purple handmade dress and placed her on my chest.
I studied her face as long as I could. She was so tiny. Only 1 pound 3 ounces. I was 24 weeks pregnant on the day she was born. She had little tuffs of blonde hair around her head. Her eyelids were sealed shut still and there was a few very small eyelashes developing. She had a thin layer of skin over her nostrils and her nose looked like my moms.
As I studied her and also let her dad love her; she took a few shallow breaths. My mom arrived while she was still alive. She was able to hold her and see another little breath. My mom handed her back to me and I soon realized she was gone. We never knew who was holding when she passed. She needed a name though and it had to be a good one.
I wanted to name her after the woman I was named after because my great great great Aunt Amy was a preemie too. She was born in 1901 and her family was always told she would NEVER survive. Story goes that they put her in a dresser drawer instead of a crib because she was so tiny. They fed her whisky and she grew VERY slowly. The doctors came every year and said she wouldn’t see the next birthday. She ended up out living everyone in her family, even her own son by many, many years. She died as a feisty old woman at 89 years old. She was a fighter and survivor and she was a HUGE part of my life that had only been gone a few years when my baby was born.
I decide I would name my baby girl after her (even though it was also my name) since they were both preemies. So my baby was given the name Amy Aileen Wadleigh. She only lived for about an hour and half. I also wanted her buried near my Aunt Amy. My mom and I had a strained relationship most of her life. During my baby’s short life and her death was the only time I ever really felt my mom was there for me. She took control of everything including her funeral. She even sewed a beautiful silk nightgown and bonnet for her to be buried in. I crocheted a blanket and placed a clipping of red, pink, and white poinsettia’s in her casket. I also placed a picture of her dad and I in he casket.
Poinsettia’s are Our Connection
After she was gone I was sent back to post partum to recover. That night my best friend at the time filled my room with poinsettia’s. I mean really filled it. They were everywhere in red, pink, and white. These holiday flowers have been a reminder of my baby’s sweet little face ever since. Her face is forever frozen in my head and I always see her when I see a poinsettia.
Every year, only AFTER Christmas is passed, I scour my town looking for Amy’s birthday poinsettia. The year she would have been 18 I purchased one for every year since she was born. Some years I get a super fancy one and some years its half dead. So far there hasn’t been a year that I can’t find one. This year I found a beautiful plant with a poinsettia in it. I have many house plants and love them but for some reason I cannot keep my poinsettia’s alive. Every year I plant my Amy plant in the soil and some years it makes it longer than others but it never survives. Somehow it makes me feel better.
What Amy Taught Me
Her life was short but she will forever be in my heart and mind. She reminds me daily that I always need to enjoy my life for the fact that I can take another breath. She taught me to always be strong and fight like nothing else. She was only suppose to survive minutes and made it for over and hour. On this January 3rd she would have been 20 years old and I will have a good cry and then be strong the remainder of the day. My current husband is the best and most years runs around finding the poinsettia. He is always extra sweet and understands my absentminded actions and sometimes grumpy attitude.
I have another daughter that is 9 months younger than Amy. She was also a preemie (31 weeks) She was born looking like she was Amy’s twin. I always imagine what life would be like if she had survived. I picture her and Tarrena looking almost the same. I have 4 daughter and they all look a lot alike actually the middle two could almost be twins. Amy would be their triplet. I assume that like most sisters Amy and Tarrena would be opposite each other. I picture her real girly and a drama queen. Its funny over the years I have dreamed so much about who she would of been that she is like a character in a novel that lives in my head. I could probably write a book about the Amy I imagine every year on her birthday!
So that is about all. I don’t have pictures of her alive. I only have one old polaroid of her in her casket. This is Amy’s short impactful story so take heed and enjoy the breaths you take and fight to live everyday. Enjoy your life and what you have now sometimes it ends way way to soon.