For the past three years I had been sharing stories of Lake Avalon in Hillman, Michigan with the love of my life, Nicholas; its' beauty and childhood memories. We'd drive by the exit upon every trip up north to visit his dad and each time I'd beg him for the chance to take him there. It has always been a dream of mine to take my husband and children to this lake to enjoy its beauty together and also create many memories, as I did as a child. So, it being my birthday weekend, Nicholas asked me where I wanted to go.
Also, a holiday weekend we both had an extra day off and my parents were already headed up there to go fishing, along with my grandparents, so without hesitation I knew this would be perfect. The entire week prior I went back and forth debating whether we should go being so close to giving birth to our second daughter, Miranda. With only 3 weeks to go, we decided this would be a perfect way to relax and enjoy Ashalyn fully before her sister's arrival.
It was a cool, September morning when we packed up into my grandpa's mini van and joined my parents and grandparents on this mini, weekend fishing trip. And to make my dream come true of introducing Nicholas and Ashalyn to muhc of my childhood years. The perfect weekend: We swam. We fished. Nicholas tubed and knee boarded. We played games. We relaxed. We had several special family bonding times.
Saturday evening we sat on the end of the dock in lounge chairs with a full moon and fireworks over the water. Ashalyn fell asleep on daddy's shoulder and Miranda kicked in mommy's belly right along with the boom of the fireworks display. An absolute perfect moment, we talked and made plans for our daughters futures. We remembered Ashalyn's first fireworks experience and wondered how Miranda would enjoy them when she came. We discussed lots that we were going to do as a family, but we were never prepared for what was about to come.
We had a 300 mile journey home ahead of us, so we all buckled up and made ourselves comfortable. All getting a little hungry, we made one last stop at a McDonald's for a potty break and a quick snack. Having a few contractions I chose to switch places with Nicholas and take a nap on the back seat. After several miles I was sound asleep, but awoken by Nicholas letting out a scream. "Denver!"
Ashalyn has just dropped her sippy cup so Nicholas unbuckled to assist getting it for her. In the instant he did this he was able to see the stopped vehicles within a few feet in front of us, his reasoning behind the scream. Not sure what had just happened, I'm finding myself fighting to stay awake and hollaring for the phone. I see Nicholas, pale as can be, with blood just dripping from the side of his face, fighting as hard as he can to break free to get to Ashalyn and I. Ashalyn is screaming in her seat, with her mouth wide open and blood gushing from her mouth. My grandfather and grandmother both unconscious.
I look down and I notice a definate break in my arm but feel no pain. I try to stand but cannot move from my knees off the floor of the mini-van. Than I am reminded of our unborn baby in my belly....we have to get help I remember thinking. But how? It seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere and neither Nicholas or I were able to get to the cell phone. I had no idea where we were and remember thinking no one was going to find us. But within seconds there were people there, 2 especially that my family will never forget.
The bystanders were trying to keep us calm and tell us help is on the way, but I look up to see the van smoking. I beg for them to help us out before it starts on fire, so they grab Ashalyn's entire car seat and take her up out of the van to safety. At this point now I cant see her and I'm crying for them to bring her into my sight. Now I can see Ashalyn, but remember I'm slowly starting to fade, so before I do I want to ask about my baby. "What about my baby? How is she?"
The girl at the top of the hill tries to calm me, "She's okay. She's right here, we have her and trying to keep her outta the rain." She was such a pretty girl and I'll never forget her sweetness, but at that point I was frustrated and I argued with her. "I'm talking about the baby in my belly." I think the look on the guys face who was trying to calm me said it all at that point. All the sudden I hear them saying, "We have a pregnant lady. We need to get her help NOW!" They were talking to me trying to keep me awake. Vaguely I hear sirens, but they seemed so distant. Within seconds it seemed liek a whole group of hunters we're coming to our rescue. Later, I was told not a single guy there was in camaflouge. That's how out of it I was.
About that quick, these guys I thought were hunters are pulling me from the van and strapping me to a hard board. Pretty sure I was about to fall on my head, I ask if this is a dream. A man speaks to me, seems like it was the slowest speaking man I've ever listened to and says, "I wish I could tell you it was mam, but you have been in a bad car accident." In the next minute I hear people yelling for help. They were trying to climb a steep hill to get me out of the ditch. "I'm slipping." "This rain isn't helping us." "We need more help." "Together, we gotta get her up this ditch." Pretty sure I'm at a 90 degree angle about to fall on my head I try to remain calm because the pain of the board just hurts. Every bump and slip from the rain caused more pain. Finally I'm up and they lift me into the ambulance with Ashalyn to get me out of the rain and to wait for lifeflight.
Ashalyn was in the ambulance at my head. My poor little girl was screaming and scared and all I wanted to do was hold her and make it all go away. But, I couldnt, I could move and I felt helpless, like a failure of a mother and a failure of a wife. I left on life flight not even knowing if my husband made it out alive. It was the worst thought of my life. On the lifeflight ride I cried. I begged that they not call children's services on me for leaving Ashalyn behind with strangers. I treid to pray but just could not find the words.
I was told that Ashalyn and Nicholas were on their way together on another lifeflight and we'd all be at the same hospital together. That was a huge relief. Then I was told they had a heart beat of 142 for the baby; the next huge relief. That was the moment I thought we'd be okay. We were goingt o be a pretty banged up family but our family was going to be together.
We were in the trauma room at St Vs where they were evauluating all our broken bones and cuts. I had people on all sides of me, poking and proding, but my eyes remained solely on one lady, the ultrasound tech. The look on her face will never leave my mind. That was the exact moment that I knew my baby girl left me to be in the arms of Jesus. They didnt have to tell me, I just knew. I couldnt cry because I still held out hope. I prayed and begged that I wasnt right.
Soon I was being wheeled in for a cat scan. The entire catscan I'm reliving the look on her face and not even realizing if I was pregnant we wouldnt be doing a catscan. That didn't dawn on me once. I was in to much pain from them moving me from stretcher to board to bed to whatever else I was moved to. I remember going into the tunnel and praying. My prayer was, "God, I just have a feeling you're holding my little angel. Protect her for me." But I still was holding my breath it was all a dream. After the scan was all done I looked to the lady doing my catscan and said, "do you have any info on my baby." She had to of known, they wouldnt have sent me for a catscan if I was pregnant, but all she could say, "they don't tell me those things."
Now I'm watching ceiling tiles go by and being wheeled down another hallway. I see a state trooper out of the corner of my eye, his hat off his head and by his chest. Finally I'm in a room, it didnt feel like much of a room, dull and machines all behind me. I'm in a neck brace so all I can do is look up and whatever moving my eyes will allow me to see. But shortly a man, that I will never forget, comes in. He seemed like a sweet man, but I dispise him to this day. He tells me how sorry he is but there was no fetal movements and they would be going in soon to operate. I even remember asking him, "is there still a chance she'll be alive?" And with the saddest, sweetest look he could have he nods his head and says, "I'm sorry."
Life is not fair and the person I needed by my side the most was off being treated for his injuries as well. I could have used Ashalyn's smile but she too was being treated. It was the worst experience a parent should NEVER have to go through, especially alone. I wanted to stant up and run to Nicholas and Ashalyn because I know they were getting the news as well but I had no clue where they even were at this point. It absolutely sucked.
I don't remember exactly when it was that Nicholas and I were brought into the same room together in the intensive care unit, but I do remember at one point reaching my arm out for his hand and we was there. We couldnt see each other because we were both flat on our backs with neck braces. We couldnt turn side to side to really even see who was there. But there was one moment that seemed so heavenly. The lights in the room seemed so dull but everything seemed to have a special glow to it. That was the moment they placed my sweet Miranda in my arms. I was beaten to crap and everything seemed so perfect and so beautiful for those few short minutes. Almost as if Miranda was giving me just a glimpse of what she was getting to enjoy in heaven.