No one remembers the other baby – no one but me. No one even knew she existed except Greg and me and the doctor.
All the attention, all the concern focused on Elizabeth. Our Elizabeth had just reached her first birthday. She had been a happy, healthy newborn. She latched on to my nipple the minute she found it. She was, after all, the fourth child of a La Leche League Leader. She knew what she was doing. She was a bright, healthy, beautiful little girl, getting ready to walk and talk.
But then things changed. Nothing alarming. Little fevers — just teething. She wasn’t gaining weight so quickly – normal in a breastfed baby. She grew quiet -- not irritable, just quiet.
The doctor said she was fine. Then her urine developed a strange, strong smell, although no one could smell it but me.
On Monday morning we made the three-hour trip to Edmonton on the Greyhound to see the pediatrician. She, too, pronounced Elizabeth just fine, but if we would come back on Friday, she would run a few tests just to make sure.
The cramps began that Monday night on the three-hour bus ride home. They didn’t hurt much. At home I put the kids to bed and threw in a load of laundry. The cramps came back. They hurt more. There was blood, and then more blood.
Greg took us to the hospital, the baby and me. He went home to care for the other children, and we were alone, the baby and me. And then she was gone, and there was only me.
The lab report identified her as “fetal tissue”. They didn’t give her a name. They didn’t even give her a gender. But I knew she was a girl, my girl.
They sent me home the next day. They did a quick D and C, gave me a quick blood transfusion to build up my strength – I was a busy mother of four, after all – and that was that.
On Friday morning we were back on the Greyhound, taking Elizabeth again to Edmonton for her tests. She wasn’t fine. She had a kidney blockage. She needed surgery. They could do it right away. In Alberta, when they tell you they can do surgery right away, you know they mean business.
Our tiny girl made it through the surgery, and then she blossomed. She gained a full pound in two weeks. She learned to walk and talk and climb. She grew. Today she is all grown up. She’s gifted and gorgeous. She has a Master’s degree in her hand and an engagement ring on her finger. She’s everything a mother could ask for – and more, my Elizabeth.
No one remembers the other baby. No one but me.
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