Those moments in our bedroom waiting for the ambulance as Carina struggled to breathe, tried to write ‘I love you’ and repeated over and over ‘I don’t want to die, I love you, I don’t want to die, get Daddy, tell Daddy I love him’ slurred like she was drunk, not knowing we were both right beside her, wild movements, then not breathing again, complete panic, desperation, and a sense of helplessness was with us in that room.
In our valley you can hear the ambulance coming from a distance, she struggled to get up, pulled over the bedside table, couldn’t stop screaming, then the ‘I love you, I don’t want to die’ started again. Our neighbor came in the room, my control broke, I’m the calm one, the one to take the kids for injections, the one to stay in the room at hospitals, Sam can’t cope with anything to do with the thought of choking.
It took forever to strap her onto the board to load into the ambulance. Delirious she thought we were trying to choke her, she fought the straps. “She has to stay still” the ambo’s tell me, in the ambulance we are all standing holding her on the board, I brace myself for the ride down the mountain to the waiting helicopter. Sam is following in the car.
We drive straight out onto the football field, the gates held open. I am led to the helicopter by the kindest man, reassuring me all the way, such a calm soothing voice. In the helicopter I watch the expressions on their faces, I can’t hear what they are saying, Carina vomits.
After multitudes of tests it’s confirmed that she has a severe concussion, we are admitted overnight. I hold her as she showers to wash the vomit from her hair. So fragile and vulnerable.
The nurse puts in a drip, we share the room with a five year old admitted with asthma, each time they try to put a ventolin mask on her she screams the place down. The night is filled with screaming, almost constant screaming, not crying it’s beyond that. In our ward we have maybe six children under five and Carina. We hold hands through the night when the screaming gets too bad.
She has my pillow from home, they used it to hold her legs still as they strapped her onto the stretcher. Sam arrives and I leave to find food, only one parent can stay in the room. I wander the hospital, sections seem abandoned, and when I return I can’t find the right floor, I take the lift to the eighth floor and walk down peering through each window trying to recognize something.
Lost, anxious, constantly to tears, I cry as I leave the cafe with two panini and bottles of water.
Later we share her dinner, the food is incredible, best mashed potatoes ever and the chicken so tender. I feed her tiny spoonfuls and she rests between each one. Those little girl moments are so precious, soon she will be a teen, things will change, but this closeness will always flow between us.
Our first little boy Aaron was full term, ten pound and my pregnancy was perfect.
I went into labor Easter Sunday and Aaron was born alive, but critical.
We were transported to the Children’s Hospital by ambulance
and he died in the early hours of the Monday in the ambulance just as we reached the hospital.
I didn’t know he was already dead as we followed him into the hospital.
My world fell apart
I fell into the black hole that is grief, it took a long time to see the sunlight again.
Trying to get pregnant again with no result. I thought we’d never have children.
My world become about ‘trying’ with books and gizmo’s to tell me the exact right time to conceive.
Our next pregnancy with Carina was like walking on egg shells, I was so fearful that something would happen to her.
She was born almost exactly two years after Aaron, healthy and pink, and screaming her lungs out.
Luca came along two years later. By that time I had become paranoid and fearful that something bad would happen to Carina. I couldn’t let the kids out of my sight, if Sam wanted to take them with him to the shops I’d make sure I went along.
I didn’t even trust my husband to care for his own kids.
It consumed me, this fear.
I would have elaborate dreams about our daughter’s funeral,
what she would wear, and the toys she would have in the coffin, the music that would play.
I nearly sent myself over the edge.
The sound of any ambulance fills me with dread, still after all these years.
We both know how sudden loss can be, how it feels to have no control over the situation, the thought of loosing Carina was with us, a heavy weight in my heart, and Sam crying in our room hearing Carina saying ‘I don’t want to die, I love you’……it really never leaves you.
Our community here in the valley has been wonderful, many people told us they heard or saw the helicopter. Some have little rituals they perform, others rang relatives to check they were okay, nobody knew it was Carina other than those in our village.
As I boarded the helicopter I glanced around to find Sam and the entire village seemed to be out, offering to help him with directions, just wishing us well, and sending a prayer our way.
In the week that has followed we have had visitors, phone calls, messages, and outpourings of concern and love. We are stopped in the street, Carina is given the once over, everyone asks after her.
Our home is now here in the Valley, and we have friends and family all over the world, we are so lucky to have found our home in the mountains of Piedmont, to have become part of such a warm community, and to continue creating a life we love.
Today, one week later was spent with friends in the mountains, enjoying simple food, lots of laughs, cooking chestnuts on an open fire, eating cheese made from fresh milk, bread that is homemade, salami, tiramisu, strong coffee, and some strange kind of digestivo that almost blew my head off….
I’m now slightly tipsy, and rambling so I hope you feel the love,
who knows what the future will bring but I feel it will be Great things for all of us.