Grief.

        The human mind is truly scariest thing of all. That is, aside from living with grief. The word grief is defined as deep sorrow, but I think of it differently. To me it is the tension you feel in your chest, the pain you feel in your heart, the thoughts that keep you up at night, and the tears that put you to sleep. Grief is so much more than sorrow. It consumes you, it becomes you. It disables you from living and it almost pulls you apart from reality. When the human mind is grieving, well, that is just the quickest way to die.
You never think that it will happen to you. A shooting, a car accident, a robbery, a fire. These things happen every day, you hear about them, and really just brush it off. I never thought that I would lose someone that I didn’t even get the chance to know. Such precious life, gone in an instant. It truly is just cruel, to have something that you have always wanted, something you deserve, ripped out of your arms so suddenly. Even afterward, when you think about moving on, your mind keeps you in a place, a loop of misery, somewhere you can never escape.
I was thirty-seven when I got pregnant with my first child, only to find out it was twins. I knew that because of my age that there were increased risks of birth defects. I felt reasonably prepared if something were to go wrong with the pregnancy, but also hopeful that I would have happy and healthy babies. Seven weeks after I found out my babies were twins, I also was informed that they were boys. I was ecstatic, buying every baby item I passed by in the stores, reading baby books, and picking out nursery colors. That excitement didn’t last long because Twin A had been diagnosed with anencephaly. This meant that Liam, the name I had picked out for him, had a part of his skull missing. The doctors explained it to me to the best of their abilities, and they said that his brain was not forming correctly and many babies that are born with anencephaly usually die in utero, or live up to minutes, hours, or as little as days of being born. The moment that I received this news my heart had shattered like a jigsaw puzzle thrown on the floor. I cried every night, and was soon presented with the option of selective reduction. I denied, even though Liam did not have much of a chance at life, he had a chance, and I was going to make sure that it was the best chance that he could get.
The twins were pretty tough to carry. A full term for twins is considered around thirty-seven weeks. I only carried Liam and Noah to thirty-two weeks despite all my efforts. With one healthy and one sick baby in my uterus, the chances of complications were high, and the chance of Liam dying during childbirth was higher. I read all the baby books and took all the classes, but I was still not prepared for what I was about to face that day. Both Liam and Noah survived the birth. Noah came out crying but Liam was blue and did not make a sound. They rushed him to the NICU and a few minutes later I got word that he was alive and crying. I was not ready to lose either of them. A mother is supposed to protect her children and I could not protect Liam from what he was going through, I could not protect myself.
For the first hour or so, I could not touch or hold Liam. The top half of his brain and skull were exposed and the doctors could not risk the outside germs coming in contact with it. I sat there, watching my innocent baby boy fight for his life. He hadn’t even gotten a chance to truly live yet and he was already fighting the battle between life and death. I held Noah who was peacefully sleeping, and watched Liam squirm in the transport incubator. He had this look on his face, it was not sadness, it was pain. He did not deserve this pain. This little boy had been alive for an hour, with not a chance to make mistakes or to experience the cruelty of this world, and he was already feeling immense pain.
Around the two hour mark, the doctors came in and told me that I could hold him. As excited as I should have been, this was not a good sign because they clearly were not worried about his acute movement or germs anymore. As they took him out of the only place he had known, the narrow incubator with blue bedding, they told me that I should treasure the little time he had left. I held Noah in my left arm and Liam in my right. I felt their heartbeats, one slower than the other. Liam looked up at me and smiled, I remember it so vividly. His glossy blue eyes and his wide smile, as if his pain had stopped. We lay there for hours, I was not ready to let go. With each minute that passed, his breathing became slower, each cry more heart breaking. March 14 at 8:12pm Liam took his last breath. I broke down in tears. I felt the life leave his small body. I will never forget Liam, he lived six hours and twenty-six minutes. I only held him for about four hours, but you can tell that he was holding on. He was fighting for his life and there was nobody that could help him. Liam’s last breath was the most painful thing I had ever experienced. I felt his relief when the last bit of air left his body and his chest sunk in. I just held him there for a couple of minutes until the doctors came in and told me that they would take care of him.
Noah and I arrived home two days later. It was so odd to have two babies in the hospital and only bring one home. Noah was a perfectly happy and healthy baby, innocent to the fact that his brother had passed. I could barely even function and could not even go minutes without breaking down in tears over Liam. I had no sympathy for Noah when he cried, I was miserable when he woke up in the middle of the night, and had no patience for his irregular feedings. I realized that my misery was not going to help Noah thrive, and that this baby had more than a fair chance at life, so I stepped up and put nursing my son over personal feelings.
I stepped up, I gave Noah my all, yet God is still punishing me. Noah was the healthy baby, the one with a chance, he was going to live. That is what I wanted to believe at least. On June 14, around 2pm I found Noah face down in his crib, dead. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome the doctors called it. There was no God, no God would make one person endure this much pain and suffering. This was not a freak accident, this was not me paying for my sins, and this was definitely not fate. A freak accident should not make somebody want to take their own life, paying for my sins should not amount to one’s life, and fate should not have taken the lives of two little boys.
I cried for weeks on end. Going to sleep very late and waking up very early. Waking up, crying for half the day, eating lunch, laying on the couch zoned out while the television played, and going back to sleep crying. After a while, I started to get angry, at myself, the twins, the doctors, and God. I would go through my days furious and the voices inside my head made me feel like I was going insane. There were about four voices inside my head, each one saying something different. The first voice was saying to kill the doctors because of what they did to me, the second one telling me to dig up my baby’s bodies, the third telling me to burn down the local church to get back at God, and the fourth just simply telling me to take a knife to my own throat, and end the pain. These voices stayed for what felt like years, never letting me have a moment of peace. Then, there was a Tuesday morning, where I woke up, and it was silent. I went to my breakfast table, and just sat. It was only for a few minutes, but it was complete silence. There was no sobbing, no voices, no television, and no babies. There were no babies, no family, and no friends. I begun to bang on the table so repetitive and compulsively. The voices came back telling me to do worse than before, I knew I shouldn’t listen to them, but I needed to. They weren’t only talking to me anymore, they were talking to each other. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I picked up a knife and stabbed it through the side of my head. The voices fell out and I knew that they were going to do everything they said they wanted me to do, so I called the police. The cops rushed to my house, barged through the door, with the voices trying to escape. The leading cop ran over to me and saw the voices all over the place. He must have gotten confused because he called the medic over to tell him that “it looks like she lives alone, single mother, attempted suicide.” The medics quickly put me on a stretcher, “ma’am can you please tell us your name?” I looked the blonde haired medic straight into the eye and said “worry escaping voices turn yours!” The medics loaded me up into their ambulance and told me that they were going to help me, a few seconds after that, everything went black.
I woke up in a white, padded room, surrounded by machines and drips. The doctors came rushing in and told me that I had a psychotic episode. In the four days that I was unconscious, I had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, suspected to be induced by the trauma, and that is why I had stabbed myself in the head. I told them that I would never do something like that, and that it could not possibly be Schizophrenia because no one in my family had it. The doctors explained to me that they needed me to stay here for long term treatment, in the same hospital I had given birth, and that they would do everything they could to help me but Schizophrenia is incurable. I told them that I understood, and they gave me antipsychotic medication to keep me in my right mind for as long as possible. I needed to make this place just like home, to show them that it was only grief, and that I am okay now.
Over the months I learned more about how long my Schizophrenia really had been going on and what action I would have to take from here.It turns out that the first psychotic episode is often the worst. I had intrusive thoughts, went catatonic, and nearly killed myself all in one episode. They suspected that my symptoms were on going for about six months and I should have seeked help sooner. I was lucky to be alive, the surgery was very extensive, and complications could arise at any time. I was doing well as far as everyone knew and the longer I kept to a daily routine the more likely it would delay my next episode. My routine everyday was to get up at seven, eat eggs and toast with juice for breakfast, go to the hospital gym, then to therapy, one hour of watching television, eat lunch, visit the common room, call an old friend, go for my evaluation, eat dinner, read, write, and get ready for bed. This worked for a long time and the doctors looked into clearing me into a more open part of the hospital and declaring my illness residual.
I was so close to being okay again. “So close, yet so far” I think the saying goes. I was on my way back from therapy. We had talked about why I stabbed a knife through my head, and we were making great progress. We talked about the second voice, the one that told me to dig up my children’s bodies. “Did you want to listen to that voice?” “Of course not.” “Why did they taunt you to do it in the first place?” “I missed my babies and they knew that.” We decided to wrap it up there, and I was walking the halls, on my way to watch TV, when a saw the doctor. Not any doctor, Liam’s doctor. Lenny Misnick, he delivered and cared for Liam until his death. “Dr. Misnick!” I said, faking my happiness. He seemed uncomfortable and like he wanted to run as far away from me as possible, he apologized to me, I kept my sanity, but then he asked me how Noah was doing. “Noah?” I said, heartbroken. This doctor was clueless, did not care about me or the twins after Liam. This wasn’t my routine, but I could not just stay calm. “I’m sure he’s developing into a great kid.” Sorry, doc. “I would love to do his next check-up.”  Check up? He needed you to check his dead body, doctor. “What school are you going to send him to?” This question made my blood boil. My boys would be old enough that I would be thinking about schools, but they are gone. Before I even did it I knew, but I did it anyway. I shoved the doctor into the wall and put my hands around his throat. A lockdown was immediately called, every security guard in the building was looking for the insane Schizophrenic lady. I wanted to kill this doctor, but there was something else I wanted to do more. I took my hands off of him and ran. I stopped inside the NICU and saw Liam’s picture on the wall with the rest of the sick children who had passed. He was so pure, with his tiny fingers, and his smooth brown hair. I could almost feel his presence. I took the framed picture off the wall and walked into the delivery room that I had given birth in. I read in a pregnancy book that “giving birth was like dying while giving life.” Unfortunately, my experience ended in death. It was only grief, that is why I had done all of this, or maybe it was my mind that had gotten messed up The human mind is a scary thing. I picked up the scalpel off of the metal tray, I saw Liam in the reflection. He was waiting for me. I took the scalpel to my throat, and slit from one end to the other, and straight through my carotid. It wouldn’t be long before I was dead, this time, without the chance of being saved. I was at peace, I just waited. I was grieving for a long time and when the human mind is grieving, that is just the quickest way to die.

Comments

  1. This short story was inspired by a TED talk that I watched a few months ago. It was “How my son’s short life made a lasting difference” spoken by Sarah Grey. She told the story of her pregnancy and when one of her twins was diagnosed with anencephaly. With his short life, she found a way to make something good come out of it. It is a very empowering story that taught me about the importance of organ donation and educated me on anencephaly. Her story is very inspirational and I recommended that you watch it.

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