Posted by: scintillatingspeck | April 1, 2009

Lily is two years old. April 2, 2009.

I am a bit flabbergasted that my little girl is two years old.  She kept growing, and time kept passing, and here she is, and she’s not a baby anymore.

Lily, March 2009

I suppose this should feel like the usual course of events.  Right?  I mean, I found Tom, we fell in love, we decided to have a baby, I was pregnant, I gave birth, and I have been caring for this child ever since.  Why does it feel so remarkable?

On April 2, 2007, I gave birth to a living child, and I still can’t quite believe it.  I feel as if my consciousness split in half, starting at about 5:30pm on 4/2/07, and ever since then, I have been living this life with Lily, and my doppelganger has been living without her.

The doppelganger, somehow, follows multiple paths and alternate scenarios, all leading to Lily’s demise and my heart being ripped to shreds, and meanwhile I am on this one path, this lucky path threading through a minefield, with Lily alive and happy, innocent and unaware, while I am all-too-keenly aware of every narrowly-missed tragedy, or potential tragedies further down the path.

Here are some of the paths my doppelganger has walked down:  In February 2007, she decides to refuse the glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes, believing that GD is overhyped by the medical establishment.  She is unaware that she has GD.  Everything seems fine, until April 2, when she hasn’t felt the baby move for a while.  When she visits the midwife, a heartbeat cannot be found.  The baby has died.

In March 2007, she is extremely anxious and exhausted, and very hungry.  She has GD and is on a restricted diet and is pricking her fingers four times a day to test her blood glucose and gives herself shots of insulin, and it is all quite difficult to cope with.  She reviews the debates on GD and decides it’s not worth putting herself through all this rigamarole.  She stops going to the twice-weekly monitoring at the hospital.  In early April, at an appointment with the midwife, her baby has no heartbeat.

On April 2, 2007, she is totally compliant with the GD regimen but is having her twice-weekly monitoring at the midwives’ office at Holyoke Health Center rather than at the hospital, having been given the choice between the two locations when diagnosed with GD.  While being monitored, the baby’s heart rate apparently vanishes.  Mayhem ensues.  An ambulance is called and rushes her to the hospital.  She has an emergency cesarean.  It is too late.

On April 2, 2007, she is at the hospital, being monitored.  All seems well.  The nurse who is keeping track of the test strips says, “Okay, everything looks great, see you again in a few days,” and unhooks everything at 5:20.  She gets up and leaves.  In the parking lot, she feels a tremendous sensation of movement from the baby, then it stops.  She continues home, thinking all is well, but it’s not.

These are the scenarios that still echo in my head.  I suppose it would be easy to accuse me of negative thinking and that I should just move on and be grateful.  I AM grateful.  I am, possibly, even more grateful because of my heightened awareness.  But the part about moving on, putting it all behind me… I can’t.  There is no such option.  Part of me is still in a hospital bed in Holyoke, stunned, terrified, and unable to comprehend that my baby is slipping away or perhaps already gone.

April 2 is a complicated day.  I am truly thrilled to be able to celebrate Lily’s birthday.  I know I’m biased, but indulge me: she is a marvelous, beautiful, sweet, friendly, loving child.  In my eyes, she is a magnificent flower.  When I look at her or think of her, my heart practically bursts for joy.  I know that there are many mothers who had similar moments of stunned disbelief and terror, except that there was no miracle in the end: their babies died.  They would give anything to be celebrating their child’s birthday.  Those babies, if they were alive today, would be magnificent  flowers too.  I don’t know how to express how important it is to me to stand in solidarity with those mothers and babies, to recognize and honor them.

Lily March 2009



  1. We each have our own birth experiences, some more dire or joy full than others, but I think there is a common thread/bond and therefore I grock your sentiment and your doppelganger.

    And, on this joyous day do indulge your self and revel in your precious flower, for she is one! Happy Birthday Lily! And, Happy Birthday Mama!

    (We’ll meet you someday!)

  2. You do celebrate your blessings – and Lily is definitely one. Doppelgangers are met all throughout life – you just need to remember the Life you are leading. 🙂

    Happy Birthday Lily…and many blessings to you all.

  3. Lily had a nice birthday in Amherst, despite being sniffly and fussy sometimes.

    The scariest moments from that day were related to me afterwards – I was at work and did not know what was happening until after the heartbeat sound had resumed, maybe 1/2 hour later (?). It’s still really hard to imagine what it must have felt like.

    Now I know what a doppelganger is and that it can be grocked.

  4. All this talk of dopplegangers and I am in. You know how many cool flicks have been about dopplegangers? Anyway, I must look up ‘grock,’ as to me it sounds like a food or some republican conspiracy theory…

    It’s hard to think of all these dark things when thinking of Lily, Tom and Jen. I must say I am lucky.

    Lucky because I know only the right path. That which led Jen to the hospital on time. That path that held Lily close and safe so she could be born healthy.

    Lucky because Tom loves Jen. Jen loves Tom. And they made this extraordinary little girl who has changed me and my life forever–but forever in the way you hold a memory so close because it means so much to you.

    I hold Lily there with Jen and Tom–in my Secret Box of Joy.

    And all the dopplegangers in the world are lost to my box because I guard it with a smile and love. And, of course, a Lily hug!

    So I stand with my box in both hands and beam with joy and delight because on April 2, 2007, the world became a better place. And in April 2009, I get to be a part of it.

    And I love every second of it.

    Thank you Hartleys…

    PS: Breed again!

  5. Jen, jen,
    This is so beautiful, and amazing. How ironic it is for me to read this, as my doppelgangers are the ones who save the baby, and yours are the ones who fail to do so.
    It is just so awe-inspiring for me because you are the only person I know who really, truly realizes her child. I mean this.

  6. I’m here from Carol’s blog and just wanted to say………. thank you. Your little Lily is beautiful. I lost my daughter Hope during labour last August in similar sensless circumstances to the way Carol lost her Charlotte. If my daughter had lived, her name was to be Lily. I constantly think about that path I so narrowly missed out on heading down. The one where I get to hospital quicker, I am rushed in for a c-section and the baby lives and we all breathe a huge sigh of relief at what a close call we had. But we walked away with only empty arms, a lost purpose, sheer heartache and an all-emcompassing, soul-destroying grief.
    Thank you for recognising our pain but for also celebrating Lily’s life.

  7. hi, i’m her.

    the one who went to a midwife for a homebirth.

    i chose incorrectly.

    i believed the bullshit about the over-hyping by the med establishment.

    paige died the day before her due date in sept of 2007.

    happy birthday, lily.

    jen, you are right to be this grateful. it lifts my heart a little to know that lily is here, yet you didn’t forget she didn’t have to be. i hope that comes off the way i mean.

  8. i forgot to specify:
    she died because of uncontrolled blood glucose.

  9. Thank you, everyone, for your comments, your understanding, and your birthday wishes.

    Carol, I wonder if our doppelgangers are also friends in a paralllel universe? I bet they are. I bet the level of understanding is still the same.

    Sally, I have visited your beautiful blog before and am glad to be in contact with you. I don’t think I knew that your daughter was to be named Lily… thank you for sharing that with me. I know it can be hard to meet or know of living children with the same name. It touches me deeply to think that your daughter and my daughter have this in common. So many times when I look at Lily playing by herself, I picture her surrounded by “ghost friends,” often Carol’s Charlotte and others… now I will picture Sally’s Lily there too.

    Charmedgirl, my heart is breaking for you right now. I am very grateful for your comments and I think you ARE coming through in the way that you mean. I am holding you and Paige in my heart. I am planning to look at your blog. It means a huge amount to me to be in contact with you.

    And all babylost mamas and dads and families and friends: it cannot be said enough, how sorry I am that you must endure this pain and loss, and how important it feels to me to participate in grieving for your children.

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