Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Laura's Story from an Aunt's View

Before I start, for those who don't know, my name is Cassidy and I am Laura's aunt. For the first time I will share Laura's story from an aunt's point of view. Britt and I are not only twins but best friends. We do everything together, from the same sports, to the same careers as EMTs. When she is happy, I'm happy and when she's hurting, well, I'm hurting too. Whenever I have exciting news, she's the first one I share it with. So, there was no doubt when she found out she was pregnant, I was the first one to hear of this fantastic news. Right from the start, my unborn niece or nephew was already spoiled. I had picked out a boy outfit and a girl outfit because I HAD to get the first outfit. When Britt found out she would be having a girl, I was beyond happy. I imagined our girls (My daughter was 3 at the time) being best friends and already started planning the 'yearly Christmas Grandkids picture'. Those exciting thoughts soon changed to anxious thoughts as it was discovered in-utero, that my niece had a significant heart defect. Britt saw quite a few doctors and each time I would impatiently wait by the phone for what I would hope would be good news. The doctors had trouble pinpointing the exact heart problem but were pretty confident they would be able to fix it. I remember sitting in one of her appointments with the fetal cardiologist and for over an hour the doctor reviewed the ultrasound of my niece's heart. The doctor mentioned delivering her in Boston so they could do the heart surgery shortly after birth. Throughout the entire doctors visit I dreamed, my niece being born and the doctors would be wrong and she'd get to come home. The closer it got to then end of the pregnancy the more I anticipated my niece's birth. When Britt announced that her name would be "Laura Marie," I instantly fell in love with the name. When Britt was 35 weeks, due to contractions she was transferred to Brigham & Women's hospital in Boston. Just a day before Laura's birth I was up visiting Britt and we were joking around. The day before I had my wisdom teeth removed and Britt and I joked that Laura would grow up calling me, "Auntie Chipmunk" because her first look at me would be of a swollen jaw. We sat and chatted and before I left I told her, "Next time you want me to visit, it better to be to visit you and Laura!" At approximately 11pm that night, I got a text message saying, "I want you to be in the labor room, come now, my water broke." So at 11pm I flew up to Boston in a record of 45 minutes just to find out they were trying to stall her labor so that there would be more NICU and specialty doctors on when Laura was born. So the entire night, my mom and I, shared an itty bitty couch and didn't get much sleep. Early the next morning Britt's labor progressed quickly Laura came into the world so fast I barely had a chance to realize what was going on. The second I heard her little cat-like whimper, I cried tears of joy. I was so proud of Britt and told her how much I loved her. As they were drying Laura off I realized I hadn't taken any pictures of her yet. She was tiny and a couple of different doctors in the room. My shyness started to overcome and I said to myself "I'll grab pictures later on when things settle down." Then, for some reason I felt the need to overcome the shyness and started taking dozens of pictures on my phone (which I wouldn't learn till later, that those pictures were the only "healthy" pictures taken of Laura). Britt got to hold Laura and I could see the joy on Britt's face. She had that "happiest mom ever" look. As I watched them bundle Laura up I couldn't help but think how amazingly beautiful she was! They took her to the NICU shortly after. Later that night, I got a phone call from Britt saying how Laura was having trouble breathing so they had to intubate and put a chest tube in. We all expected some set backs as she was only born at 36 weeks and her known heart complications. Even though it was worrisome, I knew Laura would over come it. Over the next week and a half, I kept my phone by my side and visited often. I spoiled Laura with new flower hair pieces that gave the nurses an excuse to play dress-up in the middle of the night! Laura's health wasn't getting any better and as the time went on I worried more and more. I wanted nothing more than for Laura to get better. I pictured her what she would look like in her toddler years and overall thriving. Nearing Laura's second week of life they discovered it was most likely lung related so a biopsy of her lungs was obtained. The doctors had told Britt the results would be in the next day. So I had planned to take the day out of work and went to Boston for the day to not only spend time with my niece but to be there for Britt when the results were in. I'm not one to sit still but never in my life had I been so content sitting by my niece's side the entire day. I remember rubbing her big feet and joked how she had feet like Thumper the rabbit. I held her little hand and snuck in as many kisses as possible. I remember brushing down her fuzzy brown hair that smelled like that fresh newborn scent. I watched the monitor and every time her SPO2 (oxygen rate) went up I felt comforted in knowing that she was going to get better. Every time a doctor walked by, I anticipated it was them coming in the room with the results. The day went on and no results were given, so I left the hospital and headed home. The next day I went to work at my office job with my phone in sight and not at all focused on the job. My coworkers all gave happy thoughts and I was pretty convinced the results would show that what ever it was that Laura had, they could fix it. Around 10am I received the text message; the one that would forever change my life. I read the words "there is nothing more they can do for Laura." I knew what it meant, but I couldn't come to terms so I text back, "what do you mean?" Then the reply was not what I wanted to to hear, "Come now if you want to say goodbye to Laura." I just cried. My coworker asked what was wrong and I just handed her my phone. I called my then boyfriend and he came and picked me up and off to Boston we went. The entire car ride was silent. Not one word was spoken the entire ride up there. When we got there, I waked in Laura's room and my mom and dad had already got there. I remember loosing it all over again. My dad and I hugged and we cried. The next couple of hours was spent making a dozen of hand prints and footprints, clipping a piece of her hair and just enjoying her. The nurses were so incredible and caring, it's something I will never forget. Laura was then baptized in the beautiful angelic dress that Britt and I wore for our baptism. I took hundreds of pictures because I knew just how important those pictures would be. The time had come to say "goodbye". We left the room so the nurses could remove all the tubes and monitors. When we re-entered the room we sat in chairs and Britt in the rocking chair they set up for her. They placed Laura in her arms and she looked so peaceful. She was free of tubes and wires. Warning: if you upset easily, you should probably skip over this next paragraph. Shortly after Laura was placed in Britt's arms, the color began to drain from Laura's face. Right then, my mind flashed back 4 weeks prior: I was only a basic EMT at the time and had my first code. The patient, a 70 something year old lady was a trach patient on a vent. We had gotten her into the ambulance when I looked over to see the color drain from her face starting at her lips. Her lips turned blue followed by the area surrounding her lips. Because this lady was a "full code" we worked her. We performed CPR on a 70 year old lady with a trach and got her back. Fast forward back to reality, there was Laura, and I was witnessing the same thing. The blue in her lips began to set it and I asked myself, "how is it, I have to do everything is my power to save a 70 year old trach patient but I can't jump in and save my 2 week old niece?!" It just wasn't fair. How could I just watch her pass, I'm an EMT, I'm trained to save lives! Every few minutes the nurse came in to listen for a heartbeat. I just sat staring at the perfect angel and tried so hard to picture every single detail about Laura so I would never forget. Britt sat there rocking her and I didn't even want to begin to imagine what it would be like to leave the hospital forever without her daughter. She had only been a mom for two weeks and I had already claimed her to be the strongest mom I knew. Britt leaned down on multiple times to kiss Laura but when I saw her whisper something to Laura, I knew what Britt was telling her. I knew it was over. Laura grew her wings and was finally at peace. The nurse came and put Laura back in her bed and discussed funerals and a bunch of other things that I tuned out because of the thoughts of how am I going to leave this room and never see her again. Eventually we packed up and left. When we got outside I felt peace for Laura. Yeah, I was sad, but I knew she was at peace. Then while driving home, we saw a rainbow. A rainbow on a perfectly clear day. I thought only those kinds of things happened in movies. But there it was, right in front of us. It confirmed my feeling of peace for Laura. The days and weeks following Laura's passing, I held my emotions together to be strong for Britt. As not only my sister, but as my best friend, she needed me more than anything. Laura has been gone for 4 years and still I think about her daily and miss her so much. I miss her as if she was my own. When I am having a bad day, or my daughters are driving me nuts, I think of Laura and Britt. Britt is the most amazing mom and I will forever look up to her because she is an incredibly strong mom. Written by Cassidy O'Keefe

1 Comment:

Kelly Shadeck said...

Cassidy you are an amazing sister and I am so sorry for your loss as well. Your sister is an amazing women and one to look up to. I have never met her believe it or not but I followed her story though a mutual friend and it hit me hard. Just know that people that have never met your family think if Laura too till this day :)