Jennifer, My Angel

October 9, 1970.  Six a.m.  After an anxious, prolonged, nightmare filled pregnancy, it was over.  Jennifer had finally been born, but all was not well.  She didn’t give the long-awaited cry of protest upon entering my world.  I held my breath for what seemed like hours, watching the doctor and nurses working with her, until finally I heard that cry of protest coming from her at being thrust out into a cold and what must have seemed like to her and unwelcoming place.  If only she had known how much I was wanting and waiting for her.  But she was immediately taken out of the room to the ICU nursery, while the doctor turned his attention to me.  I finally let out my breath, and asked him what was wrong with my baby.  I had learned by then that it was Jennifer, the long-awaited second daughter I already loved with all my heart.  The doctor cracked a very unfunny joke, and got me ready to transfer to a room.

Her name had been chosen for years, but she had been a he three times before.  Two of her big brothers had lived, but the one just before her had been stillborn.  His name was Richard, and we were alone when he was born.  There were no cries of protest, but a lot of pain at his birth at seven months, but I had anticipated it, because all movement had stopped at five months.

But for Jennifer, I think I anticipated it also.  The nightmares began four months into the ten and a half month pregnancy.  Each time I closed my eyes I would see a coffin.  At first I couldn’t tell if the coffin was a large one for me, or a small one for my baby.  I just knew I was afraid to sleep.  After a few months, I could tell it was a small, white coffin.  I told a friend about it, but she was sure I was only reliving the events from the year before.  I told my mom about it and she told me I was melodramatic.  I tried telling my doctor about it and he told me I was only worried because of the stillbirth before.  No one listened to me.  So I stopped talking.  My three older children were too young to be burdened with mommie’s problems.  Mike was still a baby himself, still cuddly and wanting to be held and cuddled a lot.  I have always thanked God for that.

The family turned out to visit that day, all telling me how beautiful Jennifer was, my mom, of course criticizing my choice of names, since I already had a Gina, so how would it sound to call one Gina and one Jenny.  She still wouldn’t listen to me.  Even though Jennifer weighed 9 pounds 3 ounces and was the largest baby in the pediatric ICU, and her chances were less than 5%, my mom still wouldn’t listen.  To this day she won’t listen to me.  It’s so much easier for me to just talk to the wind.  At least I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I talk to the wind.

The doctor ordered me on bedrest that day.  No visiting the nursery.  So I never got to see my angel.  Never got to hold her in my arms.  Never saw her take a breath.

At nine p.m. I was given a sleeping pill, and had drifted off to sleep, hoping to finally get my first night’s sleep in months.  Not to happen.  At eleven p.m. on the dot, a cool breeze and the odor of the most beautiful flowers wafted over my face, woke me up, and I felt a slight touch on my face.  Seventeen hours after her birth, Jennifer kissed my goodbye on her way to heaven.  I knew.  I felt it.  And even though none of the photos exist any more, my mother-in-law took some Polaroid photos at the funeral home, where again, I was not allowed to go, and the casket Jennifer’s dad chose for her was the one I had become so familiar with in all those months of nightmares.  That little while coffin.  She wore the white christening gown I made for her older sister five years before, white muslin with daisies embroidered on the tucks of the bodice, in pink, blue, and yellow.

When I returned home from the hospital, my three living children were my life savers.  Mike was still cuddly.  And he got a lot more cuddles that he ever imagined he could get.  Coming home with empty arms is a feeling I simply can’t describe.  All those months you spend waiting to bring a baby home, your arms are getting ready to hold the little one, to cuddle, and not having them filled is something you just can’t imagine.  My heart goes out to all who have ever gone thru this feeling, because I’ve been there.  In a lot of ways, I’m still there.  You learn to get around it, but you never get over it.  You just learn to live with it.

This day is still hard for me.  Jennifer would be 43 today.  She is buried in Whitesville, in the St. Mary of the Woods cemetary, with a small white marker.  I can still find it, even though the tree that was once there has been destroyed in a storm.  At one time I had hoped to lie beside her, but since my divorce from her dad, I don’t see that happening now.  I’ll be cremated and my ashes will be interred in Mater Dolorosa Cemetery next to the Goetz family.  But that really will never matter, because I will finally be holding Jennifer in my arms.  Our resting places on earth are temporary, but our places in heaven are what counts.

A.

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9 thoughts on “Jennifer, My Angel

  1. Angie…this is eloquent. You’re so brave to tell this story. Sending good wishes both to you and Jennifer in heaven.

    • Thanks Marisa. October is always a hard month for me, but I can get thru except for the 9th. That was very cathartic for me to finally write down. It helped so much, and I appreciate your comment. Jennifer takes care of me in ways no one else can understand.

    • Learned the hard way Dale. Also learned the hard way not to expect anything positive from living daughter except grief. Got that in spades a few minutes ago.

      • well, do what I do.. when my dad starts his shit, I just say, ” keep it up, and I’ll hang up” that snaps him around.. : ) seriously… hang up on her… why not? I don’t let anyone give me grief and I don’t let it bother me in the least when they try… it’s not about you, Angie, it’s them.. and if you get a vision, tell me about it… only those that have had the experience understand anyway.. I’ve never had one in a dream though. I’m just here, then, poof!!!! : ) show time!!! : ) anyway… spirits in the material world… let the miserable be miserable… they deserve it. Good night angel.

      • Thanks Dale. I hang up on her a lot. That’s the first and last time I’ve had visions, at least I hope the last time. The source of my insomnia. I’ve been afraid to seep since then. Good night bro.

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  2. Wow. I’m so sorry for what you went through. What a beautifully written and painfully honest post. You will be with your Jennifer finally one day. And what a blessing it is for you to have your other 3 children. My mother had a number of miscarriages before finally giving birth to me and one in-particular, haunts her still. Life is funny sometimes but things happen for a reason I’m sure. Your Jennifer is an angel now and I’m sure has been looking down on you for a long time, just waiting to be reunited.

    • Thanks Jess. I think I’ll always miss her, even tho’ I’m the only one who remembers her. And she still helps me out a lot. Maybe more than if she had lived. But this is one day that is hard for me to get thru every year. And after a horrible phone call from my living daughter a few minutes ago, maybe it’s good that Jennifer didn’t live. She could have become poisoned by her dad the way the others were eventually.

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