I can’t believe it’s been a year since my daughter stopped breathing in my arms. It’s been a year since I lost my little baby girl to a nasty and overpowering illness. She fought for her life every day. She was in pain every day, and as I try to remember that she isn’t in pain anymore, I’m still so mad…Why her?
THE LAST DAYS
Alana was surrounded by love, cuddled every day, bounced in attempts for a laugh and sang to in hopes of relaxation. She was given medication to try and ease her pain and symptoms. This is how most of her illness went. This changed during the last five days of her life. Alana’s decline is more obvious now than it was a year ago. We didn’t want to think these were her last days even though in the bottom of our hearts, we had a good idea. As the last days approached, Alana had more “Lala Land” episodes, but less spasms. Each day she needed more and more oxygen to keep her levels up because she couldn’t do it on her own. We checked her heart rate and breathing rate constantly, and with every check, we saw a slight decline in heartbeat and breaths. This continued for five days until her final count was five breaths and eight to six heart beats per minute. We couldn’t feed her anything but a little water because she would throw it up, then choke on it because she lost her reflux. We knew the day was coming. We spent her last days right beside her, admiring the Christmas tree she loved so much, sleeping downstairs with all our family in case it happened in the middle of the night, giving her our unconditional love, and clinging on to the short time we had left. No one wanted to miss saying goodbye.
On Wednesday, December 16th at 11:58 a.m., Alana’s heart stopped beating in my arms. In that moment, I wished mine stopped beating too. I just lost my first born—my baby girl. There is no exaggeration when I say that she took a piece of my heart with her and left a hole that can’t ever be filled. But she took it, and I want her to have it, forever.
THE SADNESS AND ANGER
If you have experienced loss of a loved one, I’m so sorry. But if you lost your child, the being you created, the love of your life, I am so, so sorry you have to live with the same pain and gap in your heart. Since the day we lost Alana, I have not been the same person. Every day I am reminded of the child I lost and the angel I have. I have lost the carelessness and outgoingness of my personality. But to be honest, that didn’t start after Alana passed. That started when we found out our daughter was going to die. I recently realized that I have lost most of the patience I developed while caring for Alana. I also lost compassion for people with less petty problems. I mean hell…their child wasn’t dying. I have gained some bitterness and resentment to those who I thought were going to be involved in my life, and the friends I use to have, that now don’t bother because they don’t know what to say. I guess I shouldn’t blame them, but my loneliness wants to. It’s not like I expect them to understand. I just want them to be there every now and then. But on the other hand, I have met great people who support me and understand what I am going through. I guess that’s all that matters. I have also been in a deep state of depression, and it’s hard to believe I’ve been this sad and depressed for a year. I don’t laugh hardly ever. I don’t smile like I used to. I hardly talk and engage in conversations. I am that woman walking depressed with the rain cloud following her everywhere. That’s me. I’m OK with overcast, but lately a storm has been following me.
THE JOY BEYOND THE HEARTBREAK
Alana truly brought me the greatest joy I could have ever imagined. That’s one of the hardest parts because now, my joy is gone. And to be honest, she brought me more joy when she was sick, and I hate to admit that. That’s why I always challenge parents to slow down and enjoy their children, truly enjoy them, before time flies and you don’t get today back.
During Alana’s illness, I took every day as a blessing and a gift from God. I took every laugh, smile and giggle and cherished it in my heart. Every moment that I could have her head on my chest, smell her baby breath, hold her little hand and keep her warm…that was my happy place. If I close my eyes and dream hard enough, I can almost feel her. Every walk through the neighborhood, every trip to the beach, every day she was well enough to do something was a memory to hold onto forever. Every moment I saw Alana and Kyle sleeping together, or just lying there, or playing, were all moments to cherish. I especially remember when her daddy would bounce and lift her higher and higher to try and get that laugh which would normally result in hiccups; those were moments to cherish. Alana brought us joy that I never thought was possible. I try to cling onto those moments and remember them, but that just makes me miss her more. The thought of her no longer in pain brings me slight comfort. Every day is different, but I look for signs from her every day and take every little sign like one from her.
I am so proud of my daughter. She has impacted so many lives with her life. I see that many people still remember and think of her often, and that means more than I can put into words. She taught people how to slow down and be grateful for the health their children have, even on the toughest days of raising children. People from all over the world remember her, and I think that is an absolute miracle. I think she has improved the quality of life for some people and families. I know she was given to us so that we could work through her to make this world a better place. The foundation is a great way to continue her life and legacy, continue to talk about her, and let people know about my beautiful angel who will continue to leave her footprint on this world. With her help, we have blessed almost 60 families who I know she helped us pick. As her mother, I will work to keep Alana’s life and legacy alive for as long as I can. To anyone reading this, bring her up, mention her, ask me about her life, and continue to think about her. If all of those things are gone, it would be like her memory is slipping away.
A THANK YOU…
To Kyle for never backing out and loving her with all his heart, and to Sandy, Alana and Selina, our aunts and uncles who continuously reach out and support us. To some of my extended family and Kyle’s, to Gia Forester and her family, to Kristin Archibald & family, to all NKH Crusaders who helped me better care for Alana, to ALL her nurses and doctors for giving her the best care. To the news reporters that loved her and offered their time. Thank you to all my gymnastics family, to my Facebook support system, and to everyone who prays for us constantly during this every day battle. We still need you. Love you angel, Momma.
ALWAYS REMEMBER ALANA ROSE PRETTYMAN, OUR GUARDIAN ANGEL.