Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Story of Me ~ part 2 ~ A life begins and another life ends

The early 80's really were "The Best of Times and The Worst of Times." They started off as absolutely the Best of the Best...
On Jan 3 (after 3 days of labor ~ ugh!) I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Jennifer via c-section. They had to tell me 3 times that I had a girl because for months before hand EVERYONE told me I was having a boy. The question I always get is "why did they let you stay in labor for 3 days?". Well, it was the 80's and doctors were getting criticized for "taking the easy way out" and doing too many C-sections, so they were doing everything they could to NOT do them, which included leaving women in labor for waaay too long. Once they started to lose a heart beat on both Jennifer and I, they decided to finally do the right thing and get her out. Fortunately she was born beautiful and healthy and I was one happy mommie. She has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine ~ and she still does to this day. I loved being pregnant and I love being a mother. It's something I've wanted since I was very young and now, with her, it is so much more than I had ever imagined. She was the best baby. She slept through the night almost right away. She was never fussy ~ always happy. She laughed easily and loved with all her heart. She walked at 9 months and climbed on everything. She was our monkey doodle (and yes, she'll not be happy that I told this to the world!). She actually still has a little stuffed white monkey (named monkey doodle) that my mom gave her! She talked early and a lot (still does) and was the absolute light of all of our lives (still is).

Life wasn't always easy though. I went back to work full time when she was 3 months old and was fortunate enough to have my mom right down the street and she watched Jen for me. My mom, although I didn't know it at the time, was struggling in her marriage to my Dad and Jennifer was the bright spot in her life. She doted on her above and beyond that of most mortal grandmothers... and Jennifer adored my mom. There were times I was actually jealous of their bond but at the same time, so very grateful for it as well.

When Jen was a year old we bought our first townhouse but shortly after that my husband and I started having problems again as well and even separated for a bit with me moving into my parents place for a couple of months. We eventually got back together just before the holidays and seemed to be stronger than ever. We had even decided to have another child.
Here's a pic of the my mom's 5 grandchildren (all girls. My sister Cathy's 3 girls, my brother Sonny's daughter (hi Trish) and my Jen.

In the meantime, my mom's health was deteriorating and she had to be hospitalized several times. While on vacation to see relatives in NY and attend the wedding of Jen's godfather I received a call that my mom was again hospitalized. It was her heart once more. She previously had open heart surgery in the early 70's, which was fairly new in the days of that type of surgery and it unfortunately didn't take care of "all" her issues. She remained in the hospital (being transferred to Miami Heart Institute) in preparation for yet another open heart surgery. My dad sat us down the night before her surgery to tell us that they had talked to the doctors and there was a good chance she would not survive this surgery. Because of her previous surgeries, there was the possibility that they could accidentally cut her heart when the first went in and if that happened, the prognosis was not good.

It's so very difficult, even all these years later, to write all this down but the worst did happen. They did indeed cut her heart during the surgery but it was small and they continued on with the surgery, repairing what they could. When they came out several hours later to tell us how the surgery went, they said the words we did not want to hear ~ She was alive but would most likely not survive the night.
I have to tell you, even though we had been warned ~ I never believed she wouldn't survive. That just wasn't possible in my mind and now, it was happening. I physically felt a numbness run through my whole body. I remember it like it was yesterday. My body actually went into shock. I didn't cry though. My dad broke down into tears, my husband started to shake uncontrollably and asked me to go to the hospital chapel with him. Me, I just functioned.
My mom was a fighter though, and she hung in there. She was not conscious at all and after a couple of hours her kidneys started to shut down and so they were putting her on a dialysis machine and warned us that she would probably not make it through that ~ but she did. Then they decided to move her from the operating room (even though they could not completely close her chest) to the intensive care unit. They prepared us by saying that she probably wouldn't survive the move ~ but she did. This all lasted several days ~ her remaining brothers and sisters flew in as did my two sisters that lived out of state. We were all there, all day, most nights.
They let us in to see her, one at a time. I could definitely see that the part of her that was my mom (her soul) was not there. Then one night before we went in to see her, the nurses told us that she seemed to be somewhat conscious from time to time although they were not sure. My dad went in to see her first and when he came out he said "no" she was not conscious at all. I went in next. It was scary to go in. She was hooked up to so many machines. There was a sign above her head warning the nurses not to move her, even the slightest movement could be deadly. At the other end of the bed was an 11x14 picture of Jennifer. We all knew if she did wake up, that would be the best thing she could see. And then something miraculous happened. She opened her eyes and looked at me! She couldn't talk because she had tubes in her throat and she was so very weak but she tried with all her might to reach for me. She tried as best she could to tell me that she loved me and I babbled uncontrollably telling her how much I loved her and how we were all there for her. I ran and got my dad and they let us all come in... including all 5 of her brothers and sisters ~ we all got to see her ~ and she got to see we were all there.
Unfortunately my two sisters weren't there at that moment. They had gone to the airport to pick up the third sister. We let them know what had happened and they went to the hospital first thing in the morning. They let all three of my sisters go in together and again, my mom opened her eyes and did her best to communicate with them for a few moments. It was just minutes after they left her room that she passed away. She held on until she could be strong enough to see us all, tell us she loved us and then she let go.
Still in shock, I functioned through the next days, calling my moms friends (she left us marks in her phone book on who to call) to give them the news. I went to the funeral home with my dad to make the arrangements. I hosted my moms 5 brothers and sisters. And I made it through her final services. I did break down ~ but it was much much later.
And I am now drained from the telling of this part of my story so here is where I will end, for now.

Dorothy Granger Watson July 9, 1927 ~ February 8, 1982


Danielle said...

OMG Guess I shouldn't have read this at work! That was an AWESOME but very sad story, those are things I NEVER knew about her! Makes me very sad to have never met her and sad for her for what she had to go through with her health! Love you! Dani

Jennifer said...

Well told, Mom. I know that was hard for you. Love you!

Trish said...


I'm glad to have read your Mom's story, she sounds like a very stong lady.

And, WOW, about laboring for 3 days before c-section, I can't imagine...

Barb said...

Dani ~ I wish you could have known her and she could have known you ~ her 6th granddaughter. She would have adored you.
Jen ~ Thanks so much and yes, it was hard.
Trish ~ You probably don't remember but she watched you for a time as well and she loved you so very much. It was really hard for her when you all moved away.

Charlotte said...

There is no such thing as replacing someone you truly love. However, if you are able to feel the pain of the other person close to you it is hopefully possible to help a little with the healing. The pain never goes away, it lies just below the surface. The joy today comes from all the wonderful things that have happened since then, and the hope, that somehow the loved one can share in them. I always felt that your Mom and I would have been friends - and in a sense, we are. I do know that I love you and treasure you as the daughter I received in trust and love when you married my son. My arms will always be open as is my heart. yM

Miss Healthypants said...

Oh Barb, that must have been SO rough for you. When my Dad had his heart attack a couple of months ago, I went through many of those same emotions. Even though he's okay, I recognize that no one--not even him--will live forever. Still, it's just so hard to see your parent dying--it doesn't seem to make sense, since they were there for you all of your life, and it's like "How can I be here on earth without them??" You know what I mean? Well, I'm sure you do. And I totally sympathize with you, that you had to go through this. But life is just like that, huh? Full of ups and downs.

I'm really enjoying reading this chronicle of your life!

Mom Taxi Julie said...

:( How sad :( Sitting here trying not to cry at work!