The words still echo in my mind.

“There are no signs of life.”

It doesn’t seem possible that 40 years has passed since that unexpected conversation took place at church.

I do remember it was a cold Sunday morning during November 1976.

I was standing in the hallway at church, ready to enter the chapel. The radiologist was a church friend.

I had waited for my OB to return the call. He had not.

So the radiologist, who had read the ultrasound, delivered me the results.

He whispered in my ear, “Diane, there are no signs of life.”

I wasn’t sure what to do next.

I thanked him and then looked at Jared, my 9 month old son, as if to ask him . . .

Do I cry and run out to my car?

Do I quietly and reverently find a seat in the chapel?

My husband was out of town.

The radiologist’s ultrasound results were upsetting. I was unprepared.

I needed to talk to someone. Cell phones did not exist. My family was 3,000 miles away on the East Coast.

Although I was overcome with grief, I didn’t run. I walked into church and found a seat in the chapel.

I held Jared close to me, closed my eyes and prayed.

I knew something was wrong with the pregnancy from the beginning. I had a 9-month-old son. I knew what a normal pregnancy was.

However, I was expecting twins, and after months of sickness and medical procedures to determine viability of the twins, I learned in a church hallway, “there are no signs of life.”

Within a short time, as they suspected, I became very ill and was hospitalized. I had an IV, NG tube, and catheter to ease the pain.

A few days later, the twins were born.

I can still remember the cold, quiet delivery room, where no one was talking. I was heavily sedated, when the nurse whispered to me, “Did you see your twin girls?”

I viewed the twins, for a brief moment. Then the transport team whisked them away.

I whispered to my husband, “They are so big.” I was sedated.

The twins were not big. They were 1-pound and 2-pound baby girls, born at 25 weeks gestation, four months early.

The twins were given the names of Big Mack and Little Mack and were immediately, transported to the Children’s Hospital NICU.

Little Mack, Kristin passed away at 5 days old.

The doctors were hopeful that Big Mack Kelsey “might” live three to six months.

“There are no signs of life” and “might live” a few months, were not accurate words.

Big Mack, Kelsey, was not going to take the path the doctors expected.

In fact, I’d like to change the “might” with another “M” word, Miracle.

This week, Kelsey will celebrate her 40th birthday. It is incomprehensible how she has survived with such novices as us, her family.

As for “There are no signs of life,” Kelsey’s life has been quite the opposite.

Our journey has been FULL of life.

Since birth, Kelsey’s daily regimens of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and who knows what other therapy, have been festive, entertaining, and quite the gathering.

Since birth, Kelsey’s thousands of doctor’s appointments have been a party, amusing, enjoyable and revealing as to how much her docs really knew about disabilities.

Kelsey was fine with the doc’s decisions, as long as they didn’t say the “H” or “S” words.

Kelsey’s “Hospital” or “Surgeries” were multiple, lengthy, and painful.

Kelsey’s “no signs of life” has taken us to walkers, wheelchairs, AFO’s, braces, Special Olympics, swim lessons, piano, dance, choir, larger vehicles, IEP’s, IFSP’s, annual plans, PCP’s ISP’s, special dances, annual goals, equine therapy, library, PCA’s, T-Ball, and disability conferences and conventions.

And is there anyone out there who doubts that Kelsey and I are forceful advocates? (Go to thekelseymackstory on Facebook)

Kelsey’s journey has been FULL of life.

What would I do without my sweet Kelsey? How I love her.

If you’d like to receive an invitation to her party, as she has asked me to invite the readers, email me at Director@Jacksoncountyfamilyweek.com.

Until then, I am still watching over my precious preemie, the little one, of whom the radiologist once stated, “There are no signs of life.”

 

 

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.