(August 27, 2009)
The first thing I remember was a woman looking into my eyes and saying, "You're going to be fine." I was confused. I didn't know where I was or what was going on, but usually when someone is telling you everything is going to be okay, it means something is really wrong.
I looked down at my hands. Blood. I felt my forehead, looked at my hand--more blood. Again, "You're fine. Every thing's going to be okay." I looked down at my feet. I was barefoot. My right ankle was the size of a small cantaloupe. I remember thinking, "Oh, this is not good." But where was I? I looked around. The hot, bright, mid-day sun shone down on everything. Blinding. I was on the side of the road. My logic started working. I realized I'd been in a car accident.
The woman was talking to me again. "I found your purse, and your phone. I got them out of the car. Is there someone I can call for you?" I must have given him my husband's name. She stepped away, and came back a few minutes later. I spoke to ____, he is on his way. A female police officer was asking me questions. Accusingly, "Were you on the phone when you had the accident?" I was sure I hadn't been, and yet, I couldn't remember anything. The other woman jumped in. I think she looked through my iP.hone and saw that there were no incoming/outgoing calls within the past couple of hours. I couldn't have been on the phone.
Then the lady came back to my side. Something dawned on me. I looked into her eyes. I said, "I'm pregnant."
"You're going to be ok!"
I remember her telling me, "It must be a girl, then. I have two daughters, and I can tell you, only a girl would do this to you."
Obviously, she was trying to make me feel better, diffuse the situation.
Police officer stepped away and got on her walkie talkie.
Police officer came back and said, "The Ambulance is on its way."
Someone asked me about the car seat in the back of my car. Where is your child? Fear choked me, then I remembered quickly: He was safe at daycare.
The woman, again trying to distract me, asked me about my child. How old? Boy or girl? Handsome Man's face floated in my mind. In that moment I wanted to hold him more than anything, but was so glad he was no where near all of this.
We waited. The sun beat down. Oddly I felt no pain. I looked again at my ankle, how could I not be feeling this?
The EMT's arrived.
Strangely, I remember thinking how cute the young EMT was.
He asked me,
"What day is it?"
I guessed. I got it wrong.
"Do you know where you are?"
I told him I was on hwy x.
I was actually on hwy z.
I had no memory of being on hwy z.
Then, "Ma'am, are you pregnant?"
I looked into his eyes. I felt so strange, like I had just woken up from a dream. Like maybe I was still in a dream. I had dreamed many, many times of being pregnant, only to awake and realize I was not. Suddenly, I wasn't sure any more. I felt stupid. I didn't want to say I was pregnant only to realize I wasn't. To be a joke: pathetic.
"I don't know....I'm not sure!"
The woman told me she was going to call my husband again. She stepped away. She came back to me and said, "Honey, I spoke to ____. You are pregnant."
I started crying. Joy, like finding out my dreams had come true all over again, and then, gut wrenching fear for the fragile life inside of me.
EMT said, "Okay, we are going to take you to the nearest trauma center. How do you feel about taking a helicopter ride?"
They landed the helicopter in a field across the highway and rolled me out into the field. Aboard the helicopter, the female EMT said she was going to give me something for the pain. I refused..."I'm pregnant. I'm pregnant." I kept repeating. She told me the drugs would not hurt my baby. I still refused. I think I told her, "It is a miracle I'm even pregnant. I can't risk it."
They had to cut off my clothes. She told me she was going to check 'down there' to see if I was bleeding. She told me, no blood. That's good. Do you have any cramps? No. I felt nothing.
Then suddenly, it dawned on me. I was in a car accident--with another car. What about the other driver. Were they ok? I started to freak out. She told me, "They are going to another hospital by ambulance. I think everybody is ok. We'll ask when we get you to the hospital."
At the hospital: Rolled off the helicopter. I must have been on the roof. EMT gave my vitals, and said, "Six weeks pregnant. Very concerned about the baby. Refused meds." A nurse looked at me and said, "I'm MaryAnn. I'm going to be with you the whole time."
I was rolled in to the emergency room, and off of the EMT's gurney onto the hospital gurney. For the first time I was aware of the pain. I looked at my right arm. My elbow throbbed. I couldn't move it.I was sure it was broken. The doctor used an ultrasound to see if there was any internal bleeding. He moved the Doppler over my lower abdomen. Silence. At six weeks, not much was clear. He spoke to the nurse in hushed tones. He could see the pregnancy in my uterus, but could not detect the heartbeat. I closed my eyes and sent up a silent prayer: "Please God, don't let this be The Worst Day of My Life."
It was determined that I had no internal bleeding, so I was moved into another room. Again rolled onto another bed. Again, more pain. Tests were ordered. MaryAnn stayed with me. She was my advocate: She ensured I had a double layer of lead aprons over my pelvis each time they used the the x-ray machine. And, when I went in to the cat-scan machine to check my brain, she stayed with me, reassuring me, your pelvis is no where near the machine, just your head and neck are in. She ordered a pelvic ultrasound from labor and delivery. We had to wait for them to come down with the portable machine. She waited with me. We talked about my family. My son. My husband. And, why it was such a miracle that I was pregnant. Pretty soon more and more people were (nurses, techs) were in on the story. When the ladies arrived from L & D with the portable machine, MaryAnn held my hand while they inserted the dildo-cam. There was a palpable holding-of-breath in the room while they looked around for the heartbeat. Everyone stared at the screen. Then, there it was: A little flickering light. MaryAnn said, "We have cardiac activity!!" Then she told me, "Call your husband!"
On the phone, my husband was trying to stay calm. He was on his way, but it would take him about two hours to the hospital way up north where I had been taken, from his office in the City. "There's a heartbeat," I said. I could hear him exhale. "There is?" He asked. "Yes, the Baby is alive."
MaryAnn cleaned up my face. Tiny shards of glass were removed from my skin. I asked her to wipe out my mouth with a cloth, as it was full of grit from the exploded air bag. I wasn't allowed to have any water yet until the blood tests were done. The doctor stitched up the cut on my head above my right eye. I knew I would have a scar, but I didn't care. My baby had a heartbeat. Despite the pain I was feeling, I was floating on air.
Remarkably, no bones were broken. My legs were useless. Both legs were black and blue from feet to knees. My pelvis had absorbed so much energy from the impact and was so sore I couldn't stand, even if I could have put weight on my ankle. For many weeks the back spasms I endured were terrible. Especially since I couldn't take any of the "good" drugs due to the pregnancy. But, little by little, I got better. Pretty soon I could walk without the crutches, and with the help of my chiropractor, and physical therapy, within three months I was back to normal. I still have a stiff ankle. I probably won't be taking up marathon running as a hobby. I imagine when I'm older, I'll be able to tell when it's about to rain, because, "my ankle is acting up."
The other driver and his wife were not badly hurt. He had some cracked ribs, and she suffered from a very bruised knee from hitting the dashboard. It filled with fluid and had to be drained, but an MRI revealed no torn ligaments or cartilage.
There were definitely angels on the highway with us all that day.