Frayed

all about meI have this pair of black pajama pants with a whole in the crotch and a frayed hem. My black pajama pants are exactly four years old today. I remember exactly how old my pajama pants are because I remember the exact day I bought them. I remember the exact day I bought them because I remember the events surrounding that day with, often too much, stunning detail.

I found out I was pregnant with James in August of 2007. A few short months later, in January, one of my best friends found out she was pregnant for the third time. Her pregnancy was unplanned. She already had two children, and her marriage was rocky. While it took her awhile to come around, I was elated and started daydreaming of our two babies growing up together.

Her ultrasound was scheduled for the same day as my six week postpartum checkup. We went to the same doctor so after I received the “you may return to normal activities” I waited to find out if she would be having a girl, it would be her first, or another boy. I waited, and waited, and waited, and just as my concern reached the peak where I was going to go back to find out what was going on, she called.

“It’s a girl.”

“Awesome! I was starting to get worried.”

“Yeah, it is taking awhile. They want me to talk to the doctor.”

“Do you want me to stay?”

“No. It’s okay. Take the baby home.”

“Call me if you need me.”

I didn’t hear anything from her that night. A mutual friend called me the next day. Something was wrong the baby. I sat on the couch, snuggling my perfectly healthy infant, crying and wondering what to do. Without much thought, I got up, took a quick shower, bundled up the baby, and went to her house.

I did not even call.

I just showed up on her doorstep.

She opened the door and fell into my arms crying.

The next few months were hard. Our doctor was unsure what was wrong, but referred her to a specialist. Unfortunately he had the beside manner of a Attila the Hun. He delivered heartbreaking news in the most brutal manner possible.

“Your baby has developed without a brain. You need to have an abortion.”

No official diagnosis. Nothing. Just, “you need to abort your baby.”

We held onto each other and cried some more.

One day at home she saw a news story about a doctor at Texas Children’s hospital that had performed surgery in utero on a baby with success. Not knowing what was wrong with her baby and with a “I will fight for my child” attitude, she sent the doctor an email. He responded immediately. After speaking with him and his nurse, she phoned me.

“Is there any way you can go with me to Texas Children’s tomorrow?”

“Yes.”

I was still on maternity leave and had no idea who I could get to watch James, but I knew I had to be there with her. My neighbor watched the baby for me, and the next day Misty and I drove to Houston. We talked to several different doctors and she had an additional ultrasound, an MRI, and some other tests. Finally they called us back to talk to us.

As we sat in the office holding hands, she was finally given an official diagnosis.

“You’re baby has alobar holoprocensephaly. This has caused her brain to not develop properly. We’re very sorry, but babies with this diagnosis often do not make it full term, and when they do they die shortly after birth.”

The hospital staff could not have been more gracious, kind or understanding. They sat with us and answered every single question we could think of for hours. The nurse even walked us out of the building, and with tears in her eyes, she assured my friend that she could call her anytime.

We cried and laughed all the way home. Laughter would be the only thing that carried us through the next few months. Our ongoing joke was that after the baby was born she would drink a gallon of whiskey.

The next day the head of the neurological department called and asked if we could come back. I once again got my neighbor to babysit and we headed back to Houston. Dr. Clark met with us and talked to us for over an hour about the diagnosis and what was to come. He also told my friend that the decision was hers to make, but if she chose to have the baby he would take her as a patient if she lived. He gave us hope.

My friend came home and started planning a funeral. She decided to keep the baby, but even with the extremely slight chance of hope we were given by Dr. Clark, she knew that the numbers were not in her favor.

She called me the afternoon of September 5th, 2008.

“Jennifer, it’s time. I went to the doctor today and they could not find a heartbeat.”

“What do you need me to do?”

“We don’t have an outfit picked out for her yet. It’s the only thing I haven’t been able to do.”

“I’ll do it. I’ll meet you at the hospital as soon as I can.”

I left work and did not even go home. I went to Target and picked up a few things I would need for the hospital, including a pair of black pajama pants so that I could change out of my work clothes. Next I went to the nicest department store in town and purchased the smallest pink dress with smocking and a bonnet I could find. It looked just like the dress I brought Cady home in from the hospital. Lastly, I went to the liquor store and bought a gallon jug of Crown Royal.

They induced her that evening and she labored through the night. The next morning, with me on one side and her husband on the other, she delivered her stillborn baby. It was the first time I had ever been in the delivery room outside of having my own two children. No words can express the wrongness of a baby born without a cry.

Afterward, I looked at Alexis in her pink dress with the smocking on the front and the tiny bonnet nestled in the bassinet. She looked like perfection. I rested my hand on her back and said goodbye to a baby I loved that never had a chance to live.

As more and more family arrived, I hugged my friend and quietly left. I drove home with tears streaming down my face. The rest of the weekend was spent with my James in my lap and Cady snuggled to my side.

I still wear those black pajama pants. Even though they have a whole in the crotch and a frayed hem.

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Comments

  1. You are a true friend among women.
    Maggie S. recently posted…Is ‘Looking For a Hobby’ the Right Hobby for Me?My Profile

  2. Heartbreaking. You are an awesome friend.
    Lisa recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Say Hello To My Big Friend!My Profile

  3. “No words can express the wrongness of a baby born without a cry” – so very true. And that simple sentence just made your friend’s heartbreaking story all the more relevant and real to me. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I agree with the others…you are a true and wonderful friend.

  4. Amazing story of friendship…I’m so sorry that your friend (and you) had to go through this.
    Erin recently posted…How to be BlogaliciousMy Profile

  5. I… um… I… just don’t know what to say.

    What a story, what an amazing friend you are.
    Jen recently posted…CommandoMy Profile

  6. I love your beautiful heart.
    TheKitchWitch recently posted…Feeling French-yMy Profile

  7. What a very touching story. I’ve always thought giving birth to a baby you know has passed must be one of the hardest things a mother can do.
    I am sure she appreciates you being there for her at such a hard time.
    cyndy recently posted…Who Broke the Baby???My Profile

  8. That is absolutely heart wrenching. Thank goodness she had a friend like you to help her through it all.
    Kmama recently posted…Calm ParentingMy Profile

  9. Jennifer,
    This is a heartbreaking story, yet a beautiful one at the same time. Friendships like this are rare and special.

    Thanks for sharing your heart.

  10. I can not even imagine. I’m glad you were able to be there for her.

  11. You have always been and will always be such a good person and friend. Such a heart wrenching story…

  12. I cannot even fathom…

    Just sitting here with tears in my eyes.

    she is truly blessed to have someone like you as her friend, someone there for her and meeting her needs.

    You’re a definite gift.

    thank you for sharing this story, heartbreaking as it is.
    Rachel – A Southern Fairytale recently posted…6:45 PM The First Day of KindergartenMy Profile

  13. This story is just so heartbreaking…and a true testament to your heart and strength as well as that of your friend. I do hope she is doing ok. I can’t imagine her heartbreak. We were facing the possibility of losing one or both of our twins for our entire pregnancy…they gave us 50-50 odds…but we were so fortunate and after a day like today when I was SO spent – I am reminded to be thankful and gracious for my gifts. Thank you for that and for sharing your story.
    Nicole recently posted…Healthy Lunches Bento Style! {Beyond Bologna}My Profile

    • Oh trust me, I need the reminder some days too. When I was going through all of this I prayed that I would keep that feeling of thankfulness for my blessings every day. Some days I don’t, but I try, and I guess that’s what is most important. The trying.

  14. God this is simply gutwrenching. Your gift of friendship is amazing, and I just found myself saying a prayer for your friend. I am so sorry. :(
    thedoseofreality recently posted…My Dreams Of Hollywood HairMy Profile

  15. Oh my gosh do you know how much I love you right now. You are an amazing friend and I’m not sure if you realize how few people are able to do what you did for your friend. I am so sorry for her loss but so glad that she had you. I wish I had you, I haven’t talked to my best friend, the maid of honor in my wedding since the day Hadley died. She didn’t know what to do so she chose nothing.
    Jessica recently posted…LightMy Profile

  16. You are an amazing woman and an amazing friend. Love you so much. (I loved that you just went over without calling first – that is such the right thing to do)xo
    tracy recently posted…When I Was YoungerMy Profile

  17. Spilling a few tears for you, your friend, Alexis, the journey you all shared. This is a story about friendship, support, compassion, love. And, I think hope too. You’re one of the good ones.

  18. This is exactly what I am trying to teach my girls about when it comes to friendship. It isn’t about what is convienent for you. It is about knowing in your heart when it is time to drop everything and be there for them.
    You are both very fortunate to have each other and I wouldn’t ever get rid of those pants either.
    Kristen recently posted…Shopping With A TweenMy Profile

    • That is exactly what being a real friend is all about. It reminds me of that Will Smith quote, if you can support me through the hard times then don’t expect to be there during my success. Or something like that.

  19. Oh my heart hurt for Misty. What an amazing friend you are.
    Alison recently posted…PrioritiesMy Profile

  20. I was sent over by Four Plus An Angel. What a wonderful person you are! I think so often we say, “Let us know if you need anything,” instead of just showing up on people’s doorsteps. We should show up on people’s doorsteps more often and be the kind of friend you were to her. You are amazing!
    Janice recently posted…Take Another Little Piece of My Heart Now BabyMy Profile

  21. I read this yesterday but I guess I was too taken aback to comment. You were truly there for her in her time of need and that IS part of what makes an you amazing friend. But I already knew that about YOU.

    I’m so very sorry she had to go through all of that. SO hard.
    Elaine recently posted…Last First DayMy Profile

  22. I have no words that can possible describe how reading that affected me.

    You and she are both blessed to have such an awesome bond and friendship. Bless Y’all.
    Paulette recently posted…Rough Seas, Boat Still AfloatMy Profile

  23. Thank you so much for being brave and sharing your friend’s story, and your experience as her support person. Reminds me of my own pajama story. My daughter died. I’ll never forget the pajamas I was wearing when we rushed her to the hospital. They were old and ratty. I bawled when I found my dog had chewed them up. Sending you lots of love.
    Kristine recently posted…Social Media During a Presidential Election YearMy Profile

  24. You define what friendship is all about. Your bravery, your courage, and your friendship are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story. Keep those pajama pants forever. Also, thanks for making me cry, and for bringing me right into your post. Phenomenal! Thank you.
    Nikki – Days With Us recently posted…My Top 10 BlogHer ’12 Recommendations: Newbie to Newbie – Are you listening?My Profile

  25. You told me not to read it and I did anyway, hence I am crying. You are a wonderful friend. I would give almost anything to have a friend like you. I applaud your friends decision, it was hard but I am sure it was what felt right. Thank you for sharing.
    Patti Persia recently posted…People with Tattoos are TrAsHy … I’m toldMy Profile

  26. I read this yesterday and thought and thought on it. And then realized tonight that I had never left a comment.

    Maybe because I am not sure what to say.

    I think sometimes thinks happen and the people that need to be there are just put in the right places at the right time. I think for whatever reason you were meant to go throught that experience with your friend.

    How incredibly strong and brave you both were.
    Making It Work Mom recently posted…What I am Doing and Not DoingMy Profile

  27. I have a Pinterest board called There But for Grace where I put things that remind me how incredibly lucky I am, despite the challenges in my own life. This has been pinned there. Thank you so much for writing from your heart, time after time.

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