Garrett & Gordon
In July of 2000, my husband and I found out that “we” were 5 five weeks pregnant with twins. I suspected that I was pregnant because my lower back was bothering me and I just didn’t “feel right”. It’s funny to recall this now, but I told my husband more than once before our doctor gave us the good news, “Something really unusual is going on. If I’m pregnant then there has to be more than one baby growing. And, I bet they are boys. Only two boys could make me feel this weird”. The good news came as a shock to us because we weren’t trying to conceive and I was on the pill. We were shocked, overjoyed and anxious. As the weeks and months passed, we prayed, we planned, we dreamed and most importantly, we tried to sleep. With all of the excitement and anticipation building up, we found ourselves up late at night talking and laughing about what our lives would be like when the boys arrived. At 23 weeks we were told that I was indeed carrying two boys. We then asked every one that we knew to help us find two boy names that began with the letter “G” (having the “g” sound like in golf). By my 6th month we decided on the names Garrett Roosevelt and Gordon Herman. The boys were middle named after my father-in-law, Roosevelt, and my dad, Herman. We thought that that would be a great tribute to our fathers.
The pregnancy went well. I began to show at the beginning of my 6th month and we began to plan for the boys’ arrival. At 7 months I became a stay at home mom, yet, I continued to take our 5 year old daughter, Victoria, to Pre-K every day. I enjoyed having special time with her in order to prepare her for being a big sister. For 5 years she was an only child “princess” and I wanted to make her transition to big sisterhood as smooth as possible.
On the afternoon of Friday, February 18, 2000 (at 32 weeks) I began to have contractions. I immediately called my OB/Gyn’s office for advice. I was told to go to the hospital only if my water broke or if my contractions lasted for more than 2 hours. I asked the doctor if she would prescribe Terbutaline for me as a safeguard in order to stave off pre-term labor. I explained to her that I did not feel any contractions with my daughter Victoria until I was 9 cm. along. This doctor (one of 8 physicians at the practice that I chose) told me if the contractions lasted for more than two hours, then she would prescribe the medication for me. As it turned out, the contractions lasted for only 30 minutes. I felt uneasy about not being checked at the hospital or at least having the Terbutaline as a precaution. I called the office back the next day. On Saturday I was able to speak to my personal OB/Gyn. He was dismayed that the previous doctor didn’t try to assist me further. He eagerly prescribed the Terbutaline, which I took faithfully.
On the morning of Monday, February 21, 2000, my husband and I decided to get up bright and early in order to catch a baby furniture sale at Sears. I woke up feeling fine, yet, I moved around the house slowly. Oddly, I didn’t feel as hungry for breakfast as I usually was. We decided to visit our OB/Gyn just to make sure that all was well. We arrived at the doctor’s office without incident. As I took my last step up to the receptionist’s window I felt a contraction. She saw the grimace on my face and immediately dropped everything to whisk me into an examining room. My personal OB/Gyn was there, thank goodness. As it turned out, I was 5 cm. along, my water bag was bulging and my doc was able to see the breeched feet and legs of my son, Garrett. An emergency c-section was imminent. We didn’t have time to wait for an ambulance to get to the office and the hospital was 17 miles away. Luckily, my husband is a police sergeant with several hours of advanced driving training under his belt. I believe he drove about 100 miles an hour getting me to the hospital!
I was given magnesium sulfate (most horrible) and tons of other drugs to stave off the contractions. The medications worked, thank goodness. At 6:18 a.m. and 6:19 a.m. on Wednesday, February 23, 2000, Garrett (4#13) and Gordon (3#8) were born. Both boys were perfectly fine. They simply needed growing time. Garrett stayed in the hospital for 1 week and Gordon stayed in for 3 weeks.
Things were great having the boys at home. They were on the same sleeping and feeding schedule, thanks to the hospital nursery. The boys had distinctly different personalities. They were just a joy. Victoria was crazy about them. She loved singing and reading to them every chance that she could. On Wednesday, May 10, 2000, we took the boys to their pediatrician for their 2-month shots. They were 11 weeks old. That evening they were just fine. They were not cranky nor did the run fevers. My husband fed them at 11 p.m. and rocked them both to sleep. I placed the boys in their cradle, right next to my bed, and went to sleep at midnight. At exactly 3:16 a.m. Gordon awoke crying to be nursed. I lifted him out of the cradle and began to tap Garrett to wake him up. Garrett wouldn’t wake up. I lifted him out of the cradle and realized that he wasn’t breathing. I screamed to my husband to wake up and do C.P.R. I called 911 and the police, firefighters and an ambulance were there in 3 minutes. The ambulance took Garrett and my husband to the hospital as I dressed Victoria and got Gordon bundled up. I was in shock. I begged God for a miracle. I couldn’t believe what was happening to us. When I reached the hospital, my husband met me outside in the driveway to tell me the news. I screamed so loudly that I’m sure all of the angels in heaven heard me. We were able to stay with Garrett in the hospital for about 3 hours. 15 of our family members came to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning to say goodbye to Garrett and to support us. They held him, kissed him and sang “Jesus loves you” to him. These were the greatest things that they could have done for us. The longest 10 minutes of my life were the last 10 minutes of holding Garrett. It took me 10 minutes to release my firstborn son to the waiting nurse as she stood only 5 inches from me.
Our Garrett was funeralized on Tuesday May 16, 2000. Two days after Mother’s Day. May 11 was a day that dramatically changed our lives forever. In the days following Garrett’s passing, we traveled back and forth through the different stages of grieving. We thought that we wouldn’t be able to stop crying on some days. One thing is for sure, with time the debilitating pain does subside.
April 13, 2001
We are now less than one month away from the memorial anniversary of Garrett’s passing. We have great memories of Garrett. Whenever we remember how he tried to out-sing Gordon and play “footsies” with him we can’t help but laugh. His pictures are still all over the house and we talk about him as though he can hear us. We are grateful that we have found peace with Garrett’s passing. We are thankful that we were able to love him for 11 weeks. We are honored to support and encourage other grieving parents of infants along the journey that we are taking. And we are especially grateful to you, our CLIMB family, for understanding our pain, fear and sense of peace after such a storm.
Garrett’s memory and legacy lives on. We are volunteers with the SIDS Alliance of Georgia. Allison travels around Georgia part time for the Georgia Division of Public Health training healthcare professionals and crisis responders about SIDS risk reduction measures and bereavement support. Allison attended the National SIDS conference in Chicago.
…She has given birth to a subsequent daughter, and is currently the SIDS Training and Bereavement Support Coordinator for the Georgia SIDS / OID Information and Counseling Program.