Kayla had already survived so many sicknesses in her short life. I had been taken off work at 19 weeks. I felt so much lower pelvic pressure. I had a difficult delivery with Christopher, so we didn’t want to take any chances this time. I knew this would be my last pregnancy. I took it very easy and carried Kayla and Kelsey to 36 weeks. Kayla had survived having the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck at birth. She was born at only 4 lbs. 12 oz, and had dropped down to 4 lbs. 3 oz. at the end of Day 3. However, by the end of that second week, she bounced back and was able to come home. Then, at two months, Kayla and Kelsey contracted RSV (a respiratory virus). It was awful! The poor things couldn’t breathe very well at all for two weeks. Because of the RSV they both developed ear infections. But, again, they both were tough and survived. Because of all this, we felt Kayla and Kelsey were both strong little girls. And, as it turned out, Kayla ended up being much more feisty than her sister, Kelsey. To have Kayla die of something so mysterious and senseless is absolutely heartbreaking.
One week before Kayla died she was diagnosed with another ear infection, and was put on an antibiotic. The day I took her to the doctor, I came home with her and Kayla cuddled with me and laid on my chest for three hours. How I now cherish that time spent with her! The morning Kayla died, she woke up bright and cheery at 5:00 a.m. She was babbling endlessly like she was ready to start the day. After listening to her on the nursery monitor for almost an hour, I went upstairs, gave her her pacifier and told her, “It’s too early to get up, now you get back to sleep, little girl.” At 7:00 a.m. my husband, Patrick, went upstairs to get the girls up. It was his morning off work so he took the kids to daycare. I gave the kids all a big hug and kiss and told them I loved them. That was the last time I saw my little Kayla alive.
Around 8:30-9:00 that morning Patrick had to take the diaper bag (previously forgotten) to the daycare. Kelsey was sleeping, but Kayla was wide awake. Patrick played with her for a while, had her laughing and said goodbye to her for the second time that day. That would be his last time to see his little baby girl alive. She was put down for a morning nap, never to take another breath. I received a call at work about 11:15 a.m. Roseanne said, “Teri, Kayla’s not breathing.” My heart stopped, I guess I was in shock. I was on the phone chit-chatting with her about what was wrong with Kayla like she only had a diaper rash. A nurse got on the phone and said, “You need to get here now – meet us at the hospital.” I asked her, “Is Kayla going to be all right?” She replied, “I don’t know.” I worked 45 minutes from home. That had to be my longest drive ever that day. Kayla, of course, was dead when I arrived at the hospital. As a matter of fact, I’m sure she was already dead when I received that dreadful phone call.
That day has changed the rest of my life. Oh, how we had looked forward to parenting twins. We already had a wonderful two-year-old son, Christopher, when we found out we were carrying twins. My husband had always wanted three children. I said I wouldn’t have any kids at age 40. We thought this was God’s way of telling us, “These two kids make three, and you don’t even have to get pregnant again.” We were thrilled, shocked. And then we found out they were two little girls. Our son was so looking forward to his “two baby sisters.” Christopher absolutely adored those little girls, and was so proud that we had two babies.
As I write this story, it has now been almost four months since Kayla suddenly and quietly left us. There is a huge void in my heart, yet at the same time, my heart feels extremely heavy. I pray God gives us continued strength to survive the holidays. Our son is an absolute sweetheart, and he consoles me a lot. He is three years old now. Kelsey keeps us going as well. At 9 months old, she is a lot of fun. It was an age I was really looking forward to watching how Kayla and Kelsey would interact. They had only just begun.
An Update with Our Family…
In August of 1998, we lost Kayla, one of our twin daughters, to SIDS when they were almost 6 months old. At that time, we also had a 2+year-old son, Christopher. It has now been more than two years since that day that has forever changed our lives. Everyone is right – time does help heal, but it never takes the hurt away. For me, the second year of anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc. were the worst. I think that first year you are still in a state of shock. When that second year rolls around, you realize what “forever” truly means, and that your loved one is never going to return.
I have always prayed that I would at least get some signs from Kayla or even dream of her to let me know she’s all right. Friends have always told me to keep an openmind. They said I’d probably dream or receive those signs when I least expected it. They were right. Although, I still haven’t been fortunate to dream of her, I’d like to share a couple recent “signs” my children and I have experienced.
A bright light fades in and out rapidly
The last week of August and first week in September is when this happened to me. I’d be in the kitchen by myself. Suddenly, I’d see a flash of light– I’d turn around, but nothing would be there. I thought to myself, it must be the sun reflecting on something. I never really gave it any more thought until a couple weeks later when I was with a couple friends I hadn’t seen in a while. They had been talking about the loss of both their moms and were wondering how I was coping with the loss of Kayla. The one friend mentioned how she knows her mom visits her periodically. She told us of how it always happens when she’s alone and relaxed. Her mom visits in the form of a bright light. Oh my gosh! It was then, that I relayed my story, and was wondering… They both said, “We’ve told you before – you need to stop wondering, and just believe.” They were both sure it was Kayla coming to me for a visit.
Kelsey smiles and waves to Kayla
On Tuesday, August 15, 2000, we drove to Whitmore Lake to visit friends. During the visit, these friends had taken all the children tubing. My kids loved it!!! They had grins from ear to ear, just beaming with joy! It was such a great feeling watching them be so happy. Suddenly, Kelsey looked up at the sky and just started smiling. I looked up to see if she was watching birds or a plane. But, there was nothing there. Hmmm, I wondered. Could it be Kayla? Then, Kelsey picked up her arm, and waved up at the sky, smiling once again. Patrick, Dee, and I all looked at each other at the same time, smiling at one another. Patrick said, “It’s Kayla – she’s here with us.” Dee agreed. Kelsey was letting Kayla know just how much fun she was having, while at the same time making us aware of Kayla’s presence. For just half a second, I wanted to cry. But, then, it was that sign of peace I had been longing for – it brought a smile to my face.
Christopher catches a glimpse of an angel
It’s Thursday, September 28. I’m preparing lunch in the kitchen for the kids. Christopher, who will be five in just another week, had just returned home from school, and was putting his things away. He walked out of the kitchen into the living room, and turned back around just as fast. Excited, he inquired, “Mom, did you see that angel?” Not sure of what he had just said, I replied, “What?” He looked embarrassed, and said, “Nothing.” Well, I could only let that go for just a few minutes. Making it fun, I said to him, “Christopher, did you really get to see an angel?” He said, “Yes”, smiling big time. I said, “What did it look like?” He looked around, hesitated, pointed at one of my angel candle holders, and said, “Just like that one over there.” I said, “Wow, lucky you, where did you see it?” And he replied, “Right in the box with my Pokeman cards!” We both agreed that was pretty cool!
I hope I have been able to put a smile on some of your faces, or maybe even give you hope that your day will come too when you will receive some kind of sign.
For those of you that are still in the first few months or even first year of losing your baby(ies) for whatever reason, keep networking with everyone you possibly can. If it hadn’t been for Jean here at CLIMB and all the contacts she gaveme, I don’t know how I would have survived. A big thanks to Ramsy – you’re the best! For me the thing that kept me going, was knowing all these other people had survived the same terrible tragedy. For the last year and a half, it was been therapy for me to be able to help others with the loss of a child. If I can just say or do one little thing, that will help a parent cope with getting through yet another day, then my goal has been accomplished. It’s a hell of a price to pay – losing a child – but, I have met so many wonderful people because of it.