If you haven’t caught up on Part One or need a refresher, you can find it here.
As we sat on the side of the road huddled together, we began to see more activity. The flashing blue and red lights seemed to grow, a fire truck came, one ambulance and then another arrived. All of the highway traffic had come to a complete standstill, the road a growing river of headlights.
I need to call Ty. He doesn’t even know. What if he’s asleep?
The man who had carried my mom to safety graciously offered me his phone.
Come on Ty, pick up. Please hear your phone. I know you’re asleep, but please wake up.
Miraculously, he answered. He’d been up painting our loft as a Mother’s Day gift. I couldn’t put all the words together. I finally got out that we had been in an accident and that I didn’t know where we were but that we were going to have to go to a hospital but I didn’t know which one yet. I told him that he needed to come to the hospital to stay with Noah. We can’t leave Noah alone.
We hung up and I felt so relieved to know that he knew. It didn’t matter that we had no clue where we were going and that I hung up without making a plan. I was just glad that he knew something had happened, and didn’t even think about the rest.
While I was sitting on the ground, I started to assess the state of our family.
Noah seems okay. I can’t see any blood. Well, just a little on his chin. Where’d that come from? He’s calmed down, so that’s a good sign. Wait, is that not a good sign? What if he’s too calm?
At the same time that I was busy being a mom, so was mine.
“I’m okay, Mom. I am having some trouble breathing, but I’m okay. My ankle is broken, but I was just walking on it, so it can’t be that bad.”
I tried to get her to evaluate her own situation with her legs. “Did you break the whole leg? Both legs? Anything else?”
With the adrenaline masking our pain, we couldn’t truly assess ourselves.
But I knew there was something else going on with me. I couldn’t get a full breath. With each attempt, I felt a sharp pain.
You know how when you’re in the middle of a trauma, it seems like it’s happening to someone else? It’s like you’re watching things unfold outside yourself. I think it’s our way of dealing. Of protecting ourselves and our fragile mental selves.
It affords you this weird sense of time, space, and awareness. Those 5 seconds in the car with the truck barreling down on us felt like minutes, and I was so calm and with it. It was like A Beautiful Mind in my head with all the calculations I was doing in those short seconds.
What else it often gives you is a warped sense of detached humor.
I confided in my mom, “Every time I breathe, I feel like something is gurgling. Like a gurgling in my lungs, maybe. Do you think it’s blood or something?”
In the panic of the moment, my mom turned to the emergency personnel quickly approaching us and began frantically yelling over and over, “She feels gurgling! Please help her, she’s gurgling!”
In a movie, this would have been the quick comedic release the audience needed to survive the rest of the show. As inappropriate and bizarre as it happened to be, I collapsed into a fit of giggles. I was still in this surreal state of shock that this was real life.
What are these people supposed to do with that? Gurgling? How very scientific of us.
At that moment, a gentle woman approached me and asked if she could take Noah to the ambulance to have him evaluated. Bless her giant heart, she asked me what his name was, what things he liked, how to keep him calm, and then she gingerly carried him away.
Letting go of him struck fear deep into my soul.
Please take care of him. Please let him be okay.
Soon my mom and I were asked to lie down on our backs so that we, too, could be assessed.
So there we were, hand-in-hand, lying in the middle of the desert, staring up into the dark night sky.
Within moments, I heard Noah laughing and chatting with the EMT in the ambulance – it was the most magical sound I’d ever heard.
As the EMTs were checking our blood pressure, the driver of the first truck and his passenger were brought to lie down next to us.
A man began taking my vitals and stats.
“Pregnant female. 23 years of age. 23 weeks and 3 days. Blood pressure…”
As I lay there listening, I kept waiting for him to discuss the stats of the baby.
“Heartbeat strong”. Just say “Strong heartbeat.”
Nothing on the baby yet.
When all of our vitals were taken, I asked the EMT what would happen. Would I be able to go in the ambulance with Noah? Could he call Ty and let him know where we were going?
He told me that we couldn’t take an ambulance because we were too far away from anything and we were all considered too critical.
We would each need to be evacuated by air.
And Noah would be going to a different hospital than I would.
Um, I don’t think so.
I have to go with Noah. Who is going with Noah? He can’t just be alone in a helicopter!! With strangers. How can he be at a different hospital? Who will take care of him? Who makes decisions for him? Is this even legal? How can they do this? He’s barely 1 year old!
There was nothing I could do. They assured me that he would be fine and that they would find Ty.
I was placed on a stretcher, and the air around me began to swirl from the rotors of the various helicopters landing around us. I was gingerly lifted into the helicopter. As I bumped into place, I felt searing pain in the left side of my back for the first time.
Why am I feeling new pain? What is that?
I don’t know how much longer I can lay on my back like this.
I was crying from the new pain. The EMT rechecking my vitals in the helicopter began checking for a teeny tiny heartbeat. As his hand moved all around my stomach, he kept frowning, and my heart started to sink.
I don’t like the look on his face. This can’t be good. Where is the heartbeat? I knew there was no way a baby could survive that impact.
Jesus, if I have lost this baby, please just help us to be okay. I know we’ll get through it. We have to. Noah needs me to be okay.
The man grabbed my hand and yelled over the noise that the batteries could be dead. We’d be at the hospital in 20 minutes.
I nodded. For the rest of the flight, I stared helplessly at the ceiling of the helicopter, focusing on the hundreds of backlit buttons.
Jesus, when he gets there, His name is Jack. I think I would’ve named him Jack.
Click here to check out Part Three!