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I Will Sacrifice for you
The time had finally come; my water had broken about thirty minutes ago. I was in the back of my husband’s car, and he was driving like a mad man to the hospital. “Are you okay? How do you feel? Are you still awake?” He kept asking me these questions to keep tabs on how I was doing. I could tell that he was going slightly crazy. For the past couple of months he has disagreed with my decision not to terminate my pregnancy. I am not mad at him for being upset because it’s not like he doesn’t have a good reason to be. There is a very slim chance that I am going to survive delivering my child. I am okay with this, though. I have made my peace with it.
Many people do not understand why I am making the choice to save my baby rather than myself. Maybe I am naive, but I believe that all things happen for a reason. My baby is developing just fine, and there is still a small chance that I will survive. I have chosen to go out on a limb of faith. If I am meant to survive along with my baby, then I will. If I am not meant to survive along with my baby, then I will not. If I do not survive, I have faith in my wonderful husband. He will be an amazing father to our child.
Finally, we pull into the hospital and another contraction hits me hard, so I yell. There are already nurses and portable machines sat up and ready for me. My husband had called in before we rushed up here. I am a priority patient right now. It’s kind of hard to take in all of the commotion because everything is going fuzzy and distant to me. My husband throws the car in park and jumps out of the driver’s seat. He comes around to the back passenger door and opens it, picks me up, and puts me on the stretcher with ease. I am much smaller than I was nine months ago, even with my huge pregnant belly.
I am rushed through hallways and elevators. Eventually I stop trying to keep tabs on where we are going. Contractions are only about four minutes apart now, and it’s taking all of my strength not to pass out from the pain. The nurses keep asking me questions, but I can barely keep up with them. I just nod my head yes or shake it no. My husband catches up with us finally, and luckily he takes over answering the questions for me.
I look up and realize that we have stopped in a room at last. The nurses begin to rush around and set everything up. The familiar prick of an IV needle goes into my arm. They must be trying to feed me a little bit to keep up my strength. The doctor that I have been seeing for the past couple of months rushes into the room and fires off questions to my husband. The contractions are closer together now, and are more painful than before. As one hits me this time, everything goes black and I pass out from the pain…
The first set of memories: Sweet tasting food was put in front of me. It was bright and warm out. I touched the food in front of me and grabbed a handful. I tried to put it in my mouth, but I missed and it got all over my face. All of the familiar faces around me smiled and laughed… Mom walked out of the room crying. There were loud voices from her and dad in the room earlier. There were red marks on her arms and face. My mom picked me up from the floor and took us out to the car and we left… My grandma tucked me into bed. My mom wasn’t there again tonight. She had been gone a lot lately. I begin to cry, so my grandma picked me up and comforted me until I settled down. She laid me back down into bed and I drifted off…
I resurfaced to the present during another contraction. Memories flashed through my mind that I thought I had long forgotten about. Even though it felt like I had been out for a while, once I found my way back to reality, it seemed that I was only out for a few seconds.
My doctor was still asking my husband questions. He was trying to get all the information that he could before I began to deliver. “Ash, we are not going to be able to give you an epidural. You are already too close to delivering. As well as it takes away from your already slim chance of surviving,” My doctor said this while looking at me seriously. There was no more tiptoeing around the fact that I could die. The pain was already really bad, but I wasn’t going to argue. My husband holds my hand as they put me in a position to get me ready to deliver. “Pull through this for me. Please,” My husband begs me to keep up my strength. I give him a weak smile and nod. Another contraction hits me and I lose touch with reality again…
The next set of memories: My first day of Headstart was great! I came home on the bus and began to talk my grandma’s and Uncle Dustin’s ear off. They listen to my stories and smile and laugh with me. I wish my mom was there so she could listen, but I’ll just have to wait until later to tell her about it… It is my second year of Headstart and we are sitting at the carpet. My stomach doesn’t feel good, but I don’t say anything about it. We only have a little bit more time until we have to leave. Once I get on the bus, an excruciating pain rips through my stomach. I cry and scream and get upset with the bus driver because she won’t hurry up and get me home. My mom is standing out in the driveway and her face drops when she see that I am crying. She tries to ask me what’s wrong, but I just cry, scream, and clutch my stomach. My mom is on the phone for a while until I throw up. Then she throws the phone down and rushes me out to the car. She gives me a grocery bag in case I get sick and then rushes me to the hospital. I have never seen my mom so scared. I also have never been in so much pain in my entire life. I remember lots of doctors, talking, a helicopter ride, and being in the hospital for a while. My intestines had telescoped on itself and I had almost died, but they caught and took care of it in time… My grandma and mom switch me off. My grandma just got off of work, and my mom just started her shift. My grandma laughs and talks with me and she cranks up the radio so we can jam to the oldies. I smile and sing along with her…
I resurface again, crying slightly. My grandma died a few years ago from lung cancer. She didn’t even get to see me graduate from veterinary school. I miss her so much. My husband looks at me. “Are you okay?” He asks me worried. “Yeah, it just hurts.” I tell him between breaths. I don’t tell them about the passing out because it’s minor enough that they haven’t noticed, and I don’t want to worry them any more than they already are. “Ashley, you are dialated to a ten. I’m going to ask you to start pushing. Just remember to breathe deep. It’ll all be okay,” My doctor tries to reassure me, but everything is already starting to go out of focus again…
The next set of memories: ‘Kids are mean. It seems that no matter what I do, I’ll never be able to fit it. They make fun of me for my weight and the fact that I am smart. I don’t know why, but I just wish that it would end.’ My mom walks in on me to find my writing in my journal and crying. I tell her about everything that is going on and she tries to cheer me up. “In a couple of years, they’ll all realize just how wrong they are to make fun of you, Ash,” she smiles at me and wraps me up in a hug. “Yeah. Right. Sure they will. Whatever,” I just roll my eyes and hug my mom until I feel better… Today is my first volleyball scrimmage match. My mom couldn’t be there because she was working, but my grandma did come. We played hard, but my team lost. I was disappointed, but I couldn’t be too sad. It was a very close game. When the coach was done talking to us, I gathered my things and went to go find my grandma in the bleachers. “You guys played so well!” She enveloped me in a hug, “I am so very proud of you. Would you like to go get some ice cream?” “Um, of course I would! What kind of question is that?” I ask her with a smile. We leave the middle school and its gym to find a beautiful sunny day awaiting us. As we get in the car and roll the windows down, I can’t help but forget my disappointment over losing the game… I open my eyes groggily to find my mom rushing me to get out of bed. She looks frantic and very upset. “Baby, come on. Get up. We have to go now,” She is rushes out of my room. I pull on my shoes and glance at the clock. It reads 2:11 a.m. We get in the car and my mom is silent during the drive to my grandma’s house. There is a knot in my stomach, and my mom ignores my questions. I just knew that something wasn’t right; something bad had happened. Finally, we arrived at my grandparent’s house. All the lights are on, and there are multiple cars in the driveway. As we walk into the house, there are many people sitting around with tears filling their eyes. Talk about death reaches my ears. I want to ask what happened, but it seems better to stay quiet and just listen. I go to sit on the couch with my grandma. Suddenly, my world drops out from underneath me when I hear what my mom says. She is on the phone with someone, “Dustin is the only one who didn’t make it? Everyone else got out okay? Are you sure there’s not still hope?” At that moment I knew that I had lost my uncle. The guy who took care of me like a big brother. Finally, I had decided to speak up, “Mom! What happened? WHat is going on? Will you please tell me?” My mom looked at me, and this time it was different from all the other times. It was as if she was actually seeing me for the first time tonight. WHatever trance she had been is was over now, and she spoke to me, “Oh, honey, there was an accident. On the way home from work the boys went over a flooded bridge. The bridge broke and the van became stuck. Everyone else was able to get out and swim to the river bank, but after Dustin jumped out into the river he disappeared. He hasn’t been seen since. Baby, he’s gone.” My mom’s eyes were shining with tears. I could tell that she was barely keeping herself together. After the news had sank in, my heart felt like it had been ripped out of my chest and was tore apart. I leaned into my grandma and cried like I never had before…
The memories stopped, and it was like someone had paused the television. I miss my uncle dearly. Later on after the accident, I had found out the reason my uncle was the last person out of the van was because he had made sure that everyone else had gotten out safely. He took care of everyone else before he took care of himself. He is a hero to me, and I wish he would have been in my life longer than he had been allowed. As I was pulled back into reality once again, there was bright lights shining into my eyes. The doctor was telling me to push, so I listened. Then I realized that there were more people in here than there had been before. The room was becoming extremely crowded. It took so much effort and it hurt so bad. I heard voices talking to me, “Keep going, you’re doing great. We can see the baby’s head.” An uncomfortable pain rips through the lower half of my body. I fade out again…
The next set of memories: My best friend and I ride up to Columbia together in my car. We both felt like a million bucks. Today was the day that we would spend the first nights in our dorms. Even though we will be on separate campuses, we are a lot closer to each other then we have been in the last couple years. The windows are down in the car, and we have the radio cranked up. Before we left our hometown, we made a mixed CD of all of our favorite songs… I stand in front of the full body mirror and stare at myself. There is a stranger looking back at me. I would probably cry, but I don’t want to ruin my make-up. There’s a knock on my door and it opens slowly, “Hey, Ash. WOW! You look beautiful!” My mom’s eyes fill with tears as she walks towards me and wraps me in a hug. “Mom, I know you aren’t the biggest fan of him, but I love him. I really need you to be able to forgive him and not make this miserable,” I plead with my mom, even though I plan to still go through with the wedding regardless. “Oh, honey, I’ve forgiven him already. When he came to us and asked for our blessing I realized how much he really did care. That was the turning point.” My mom pulled back out of the hug, and I could see the honesty in her eyes… It’s stuffy and crowded in the big auditorium. No matter how miserable the conditions were, though, nothing could ruin this moment. All of my family members were sitting out in the crowd; I sat in the many rows of seats that were filled with college graduates. We were all filled with nervous energy and were ready to walk across the stage when our names were called. Eight long years of college were enough for me. I will be graduating with my doctorate of veterinary medicine. “... Ashley Elizabeth Phipps…”A friend nudges my arm when they call my name and I don’t stand up. I shake off my daydream, look down and blush, then stand up and make my way to the stage. I shake all of the necessary hands, grab my diploma and all the other papers, get my picture taken, and then make my way back to my seat. My heart fills with pride; I made it and I made it successfully.
I resurface again and this time I gasp for air. It feels like my body has been drowning; like there is a weight on my chest. My doctor looks up at me concerned, “I know it hurts Ashley, but you have to keep pushing. Things are going smoothly. We can see the baby’s head. Keep it up!” My head lolls back because I don’t have the strength to hold it up anymore. My husband puts his hand on the side of my head. I think I also feel him squeeze my hand, but there is so much going on that I am not completely sure. “Ashley? Ashley, are you okay?” His voice is urgent and concerned, but I can’t bring myself to answer or acknowledge him. Everything goes fuzzy and fades out again…
The last set of memories: After waiting for what seems like forever, I look at the store bought pregnancy test. The little window on the stick says the test came back positive. My husband is sitting in the living room, and I come in there doing a little happy dance. His face lights up when I tell him the news… The first doctor’s appointment that we go to, we are told that everything seems to be going well and that it looks like it is going to be a healthy pregnancy. My husband and I walk out of the office with smiles on our face, and a bunch of different booklets on how to eat and what parenthood is going to be like… This is my third check-up. This check-up is not as positive as the other ones. “You have been losing an unhealthy amount of weight. Have you been following the diet plan that we sat up for you?” The doctor looked at me with a worried expression on his face as he looked over my chart. “Yes, I have been following it perfectly. At times I have even eaten more than what you have recommended. I haven’t added any exercise or anything. I don’t understand why I am losing weight,” I tell the doctor this with a worried expression on my face. “Well, I guess we are going to have to increase your calorie and nutritional intake. I am going to run some tests and keep a close eye on your weight,” He pushed his glasses up on his nose, grabbed the chart, told me that I was free to go, and left the room… “IT’S KILLING YOU! AND YOU’RE LETTING IT!” He clutched handfuls of his hair as he yelled at me. “That it that you are talking about is your baby!” I snapped back at him. The diets that the doctor had tried me on altered nothing about the fact that I was losing weight. The doctor had explained to me that my body was rejecting any type of nutrition. The baby, however, was receiving plenty and developing perfectly. I am five months along now. At this point, abortion had been put on the table as an option. I have refused that, though. What worries the doctor is that when I go to deliver that I will be too frail to survive. At the beginning of the pregnancy I was a hundred and sixty pounds. Five months later I am down to a hundred and thirty pounds. In order to keep me from wasting away completely, I have had to go to the hospital at least five days of the week to receive IV feedings. This has slowed down my weight loss slightly… I am three weeks away from my due date now. This is one of my last check-ups. The doctor is asking me to consider my options. “It is very likely that you are not going to survive this. You are so frail. You are down to a hundred and fifteen pounds. Your body is not going to be able to handle this stress,” His face and eyes were full of concern, but I am resilient and determined in my decision. “Doctor, no disrespect, but I am having this baby. Even if it kills me. I am strong and determined. I can do this, and I will survive this.” Even as I say this, though, I know it is a lie. I can barely do anything for myself lately. I have been tired and weak and I know that I am slowly killing myself. “There’s no use in telling her anything different. I have tried everything. She is going through with the pregnancy,” My husband, who sits beside me, finally decided to speak. Up until this point he had been silent with his head between his hands. His voice contains hints of bitterness, but he also sounds resigned. I try not to look at him or the doctor because their looks of fear and pleas of concern are breaking at my resolve…
I resurface back to reality again, and this time I know that if I go out, I won’t be coming back. I am too weak to speak or move, and all the sensations in my body are dulled. I hear a voice, “It’s a boy!” The doctor tells me with joy, and I hear the crying of a little baby. I want to smile and see my baby, but it’s difficult to find the strength to open my eyes or say anything. That’s when all of a sudden, the monitors started going haywire.
Everything was going black and fading out, and I could not really feel anything. It felt like I was being enveloped in icy water that turned me completely numb. I heard voices speaking frantically and lots of movement around me, but it was like there were earmuffs covering my ears. Suddenly, a voice breaks through the beeping of the machines. It is pleading to me. “Hold on. Please don’t go. You told me that you would be strong. You promised me that you wouldn’t leave. I can’t do this on my own. No. No. NO! Don’t leave!” My husband’s voice broke and I felt something press against my forehead. I hear him sobbing, and feel my forehead getting wet. I try to whisper, move, something, anything, but my body just won’t respond to me. I know these are my last moments.
Now, all of the sounds completely fade into the background. The crying, the beeping, the talking, they all bleed together and die out. I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs, so I stopped trying to breathe. Dying is miserable. All I want to do is let go and end this. In my last moments, though, I can’t help but think of my baby and my husband. I see flashes in my mind of what I want their life to be like together without me. I want my husband to be a loving and doting father. I want him to read stories to his son at bedtime. I want my husband to help our son with his homework everyday after school. I want the two of them to bond with each other doing the things that boys love to do together. The images of them growing together gives me peace. I just hope that there is an afterlife that I can enter into and watch over both of them. My thoughts slow down and practically stop. Suddenly, after all of the darkness comes a light. It is small, but I can’t help but reach for it. As I reach out for it, it envelops me and I am gone…