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All That You Can’t Leave Behind


It’s a nice enough looking building, all official and comforting, with people buzzing in and out in their neatly pressed scrubs, looking like they know precisely what they’re doing and where they’re going. In the hallway there, there’s a heart statue, or maybe it’s a statue of kids in a ring, perhaps playing a game of “Ring Around The Rosy.”

The desk is always manned by a sweet-faced volunteer to help you find whatever you’ve lost or find your way, except when, of course, you cannot find it at all. There are flowers there, too, beautiful flowers, always fresh flowers. Usually lilies are mixed in, fragrant lilies, reeking of death and funerals, but the flowers are so beautiful that you can almost forgive the scent that makes you want to vomit.

Over there is the place you cried until you dry-heaved as you took your infant daughter to her third MRI in her first week of life. And just past that is the chapel where you prayed for her life. The stained-glass windows during that frigid February day shone a cold bright light as your daughter slumbered through an anesthesia coma, and you tried to forget all that you knew about neurosurgery.

You prayed with all of your soul.

Above the chapel is the waiting room where you sat after you’d dropped your daughter off into the arms of her neurosurgeon, hoping that the last kiss you gave her warm, delicious head, wouldn’t be the last kiss you ever gave her. You sat in that waiting room with the three people who cared enough about you to show up and hold your hand and you choked back tears as the operating room nurse brought you back a bag of your daughter’s first hair in a bio-hazard bag.

You held that bag and wondered if that would be all you had left of her.

Below that waiting room is the gift shop where you dragged Nathan, someone who you will always treasure for being a friend when you needed one most, to buy your daughter something hopeful. A necklace. Carefully, you pick out a necklace that you will give your daughter and someday tell her, “Amelia, Princess of the Bells, Mommy bought you this when you were having your brain surgery.”

It’s a very beautiful necklace. A crystal encrusted heart on a simple silver chain in a velvet bag. It is perfect.

You hope she knows that this necklace is very, very important.

Two floors and a yawning corridor away, is the happy floor, filled with women and new babies, where your life was forever changed with seven words, “Becky, there’s something wrong with your baby.” A new world was created then, a secret place only you could go, this land of tears.

Your soul broke.

Up above that room, down another winding corridor, you screamed as they wrenched your nursing baby from you. Your breasts wept, too, as you cowered in that bed, terrified, in your secret place, your own land of tears.

In the dark basement, worlds away from the happy new parents above, you joined the ranks of the hollow-eyed ghosts in the NICU as you signed in and out to see your daughter. There, at least, you didn’t scare anyone with your eyes swollen nearly shut from crying and cheeks raw and bleeding from hospital grade tissues.

Above her bed there would be her bed post-surgery in the PICU and seeing her in a gown that bore the same logo as the hospital you’d worked at in nursing school made it almost easy to pretend this was all some vicious nightmare. That maybe you’d wake up to a normal, healthy baby.

Then your daughter would cry, her voice raw and hoarse from intubation and you knew this was your new world order.

When your other children came to see their sister, you’d rearrange your horrible face into a mask of what you hoped would pass as cheerfulness, ply them with candy, and hope that they wouldn’t look too closely at your shaking hands or tear-stained face. When they screamed, “I want MOMMY!” as they left for the day, you felt torn between the two worlds, one of which you’d just as soon leave behind, too.

All corridors eventually feed into the cafeteria, where you remember laughing for the first time in months. It was a jangled, strangled sort of sound, but there it was: a laugh, from your mouth, and it was real.

Down by the statue of the heart or perhaps children dancing in a circle is where you waited with your daughter as you took her home with you for the last time. Surrounded by all of the pink things you could find, balloons deflating slightly in the cold February air, you were exhausted, but ebullient: your warrior daughter had made it.

A mother had never been prouder. You held her car seat close to you as you whispered to her sleeping cheek, “You made it, my girl. You’re a fighter like your Momma, all right.” This time, for the first time in her life, when the tears wet her cheek, they were the good kind.

But late at night, when the rest of the house sleeps, these are the corridors that your mind roams, over and over. Your memory, always photographic, can recall everything with the sort of clarity that makes you relive those days constantly.

You are forever delivering that sick baby.

Constantly having her wrenched from your arms, always back in those terrible moments roaming the halls, seeing the same desk clerk, smelling those awful lilies, dry heaving into the diaper bag.

The sadness is omnipresent and yet nowhere. It is the new world order.

Save for roaming the corridors all night every night, you haven’t been back to those halls since your daughter had those awful thick black stitches removed from the back of her head.

You must return. New problems, a new specialist, means one thing: you must face your demons and return.

A new desk clerk and a new flower arrangement await you in the official looking building in which you found absolutely no comfort and now you must face up to walking these halls once again. It’s likely that you’ll cry. It’s likely that you’ll dry heave. It’s likely that no one will understand your reaction to this big official building. It’s just a place, after all.

But this is so much more than a place. It’s where the old you shriveled up and died and the new you was dragged screaming into the world.

So you and your ghosts walk the corridors all night every night, reliving the worst parts of your life, wishing they could be laid to rest, knowing that they never will.


166 Comments to

“All That You Can’t Leave Behind”

  1. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:47 am thepsychobabble Says:

    Will be sending Strength and Courage vibes to you! Whatever comes, you’ll make it through!

  2. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:49 am mommaruthsays Says:


    I don’t even know what to say – other than look at how far you’ve come since then. Look how far both of you have come.

    It’s beautiful.

  3. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:49 am Hannah Says:

    wow. i am speechless.

  4. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:50 am MFA Mama Says:

    I know exactly how that feels. I have my own haunted hospital of DOOM and I hate that my kids and my husband have to go back there every couple of months for clinic appointments of various types, because I’m always wrecked for the day after I go there. I’m glad you and your sweet girl got to leave that place together, but it sucks that you have to go back. This was a helluva post, lady.

  5. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:52 am Becky Mochaface Says:

    I cry these tears for you. And for your daughter. Much love and hugs and prayers to you and yours.

  6. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:53 am KeepingYouAwake Says:

    You’re stronger for this.

  7. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:54 am jana Says:

    **tears*** and praying for you as you walk those corridors again. I understand the pain you have and are feeling. It took me a long time to walk the hallway where I took a very sick baby to the PICU on a Wednesday and left empty-handed and the mom of an Angel on a Saturday. (((hugs))) to you and to your precious family.

  8. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:00 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Oh Jana. I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry. Please, let me know what we can do to help. We’re all here for you.

  9. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:01 am jana Says:

    He would be 7 now. I have a beautiful guardian Angel with a name ^i^ Maybe he’s watching over you, too πŸ™‚

  10. On August 18th, 2010 at 4:04 pm Kristin Says:

    It may have been years but we never ever stop missing them. {{{Hugs}}}

  11. On August 19th, 2010 at 11:31 pm andrea Says:

    Jana, What can I say? I love that you are the mother of an angel. I have dear friends who named their child Angel … she became an angel in her mother’s womb.

    As a mom of a 2-yr old, this is one of my greatest fears. The fact that you are alive to tell that story is a tribute to your strength and courage.

    Do you have other children?

  12. On August 20th, 2010 at 8:51 am jana Says:

    I have a 5 year old. My angel’s name is actually Charlie. I just call him my angel well, because he is.

  13. On August 27th, 2010 at 12:47 am gorillabuns Says:

    i’m so very sorry. i wish it was easier. so very sorry. love.

  14. On August 27th, 2010 at 9:03 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    I know you understand and I’m sorry, too.

  15. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:54 am Amanda@LadyScientist Says:

    My heart breaks for you. I can’t even imagine how hard this is for you. But I’m so proud of you for facing your demons and being your daughter’s best advocate.

  16. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:55 am Queen Momma Says:

    I’m glad I don’t have to speak this comment because it took my breath away, choked me up, made me cry, made me smile … put everything in prospective ~ We’ve all been faced with a new world order of some kind… thank you for sharing yours. My thoughts and prayers are always with you and your family! xo

  17. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:55 am Maria Says:

    You’re such an incredible writer. That is all I can say right now because I have “something in my eye.”

  18. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:55 am Brahm (alfred lives here) Says:

    Wow, beautiful post. You almost brought me to tears. Or tear, singular. I hate that because I am a manly man, however you wore me down…

    “A mother had never been prouder”. Awesomely touching…

  19. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:57 am JoJo Says:

    thank you for your authenticity.

  20. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:57 am Jennifer C Says:

    *Gulp* *Tears* Beautifully written. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. You and your beautiful, amazing little girl are inspiring. God Bless.

  21. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:59 am Kevin Says:

    Wow. Good luck. And you both kick its ass again.


  22. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:59 am Jana Says:

    I think I held my breath the entire time I read this. I hope one day, somehow, these demons disappear.

  23. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:04 am Rebecca Says:

    ((Hugs Aunt Becky)) Your little girl is such a strong girl that she will overcome it all and one day she’ll laugh and you’ll laugh at how worried you once were.

  24. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:07 am Fruitloopmum Says:

    You’re one strong, brave woman. I pray that your daughter has inherited your traits and that all will be well. My thoughts are with you. You really do deserve to share my vodka-vallium-latte stash. Keep you’re chin up and keep us posted. Big hugs from the other side of the world.

  25. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:17 am Liz Says:

    Send you the love as hard as I can!

  26. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:19 am Tonya Says:

    I send you strength, love and prayer. When you walk those halls know that we are with you and ur amazing daughter.

  27. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:22 am Holly B Says:

    Positive thoughts to you and your daughter. Your story has literally gutted me as it takes me back to a time that I wish to bury as well… but never really can.
    Love to you both.

  28. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:26 am Lauren Says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  29. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:29 am Claire Gregory Says:

    Ah, Becky. You know I know all about it- no matter how good things are, no matter whether we’re going in so they can just see how well she’s doing for their clinical study, I get the same feeling every time I walk in the door. I get defensive. I don’t want anything to be wrong with her, whether they’re trying to help or not. All I want from them is to tell me that she’ll never need another specialist’s appointment in her life. Probably not going to happen, but still.

    You know what helped me immensely? Last Christmas, I went back to the NICU with a huge platter of Christmas baked goods for the staff to enjoy over Christmas Eve/ Day, when they were looking after other people’s kids instead of being with their own families. I felt sick even walking in there, but by the time I walked away I felt stronger than I had before. Being able to do something for other people who are helping, or for other people who are suffering, heals the pain. I’ve had 17 emails now from people who’ve found my blog and drawn hope from it.

    I don’t know how many you’ve had, but I’m willing to bet the answer is plenty. Your strength AND your struggles are inspiring, and your willingness to share is something that reaches out to others in need and helps them. You helped me. All I can tell you is what I’ve figured out: 1. That pain never will go away, and it’s okay. It’s part of who you are- part of your strength. And 2- you can start to move past it, dull the sharpness, if you do what you can to get the sadness by the neck and make something happen from it. If you take what happened, and make it something positive. And it is, though it sounds crazy, something positive- you already do so much for others even by sharing your story. From something horrific has come something special.

    Much love coming your way.

  30. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:36 am Anna Says:

    Oh Becky. I would hug you if I were closer.

  31. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:40 am Alicia Says:

    Wow. Brought tears to my eyes. Amelia is so very lucky to have you for her mom! You are definitely both fighters and she will undoubtedly prove that to the world once again. My prayers are with all of you – everyone who has those haunted corridors.

  32. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:46 am Julie Says:

    I just love you, is all.

  33. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:47 am mommakiss Says:

    Thinkin’ about you and that lil babe of yours.

  34. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:49 am Wombat Central Says:

    I love that you’re willing to share your story so others can benefit. It’s a great reminder that the little moments with our loved ones are what make life meaningful. So much of what upsets us in daily life is inconsequential. Thanks for the reality check.

    Hugs to you. I’ll be thinking of you as you walk into that building with your little warrior. Go kick some butt.

  35. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:49 am Sarah Says:

    So much for making it through the day without crying about something.

  36. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:01 am StacieT Says:

    Feeling for you in a way that only someone who has been through her own hell can. Oh man am I sending you some extra love and hugs right now.

    I have issues with the hospital, although I can go there when I have to and not have a heart attack. But, on the route to the hospital, there was one [articular stop light. In my head I had to fight with myself every single day to not turn around at this stupid light. On the “good” days, the light would be green so the decision was made for me. On the “bad” days, the light would be red. I would literally have to battle with myself to drive through the light and go to the hospital. Every. Single. Day. three times a day for nearly 16 weeks. Sadly, I still fight with myself about driving through that stop light. I still want to turn around and go home when I get there even though it has been nearly 3 years. I tell myself that it will get better as the memories and pain fade, but I too know that they never really will. Hugs.

  37. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:01 am ColinP Says:

    Ok, after your appointments are all done and your warrior princess is chattering your ear off you need to watch the last 40 minutes of the Dark Knight. Watch and enjoy as the Heath Ledger (as Joker) blasts the hospital of your nightmares into splinters. In fact watch it over and over again. Trust me it will help.

  38. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:03 am Randine Says:

    This is such a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing it- even if it did make me cry (a little).

  39. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:05 am Mrs Soup Says:

    I love you, Slore. You and your beautiful daughter who will be taking over the world with my daughter. We’ll get to sit back in the palace of the world sipping Mimosas whilst our daughters rule the entire world with their iron fists.

  40. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:06 am Chibi Jeebs Says:

    I love you and I know Mimi’s gonna beat this. I don’t know what else to say. I love you all.

  41. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:09 am Nicole Says:

    someday… hopefully not long from now… but someday this will be a speckle in your memory. It will be covered by all the amazing memories you will have of your daughter. Her first day of kindergarten, the first time she makes you a noodle necklace, her first part in a play, her first boyfriend, first prom, and all the little insignificant things in between that are the most significant. Each kiss, each time she says “I Love You Mommy” will make every tear disappear. Stay strong (of course you will!) Mimi will be as strong as always! You are amazing and she is the luckiest little girl in Chicagoland to have such an amazing support!

  42. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:20 am The Mommy Says:

    (((HUGS))) Because I got nothin’ else. I’ll say a prayer.

  43. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:24 am The Suburban Housewife Says:

    Walking through the halls again for the first time will be difficult, and it will bring up all the memories and emotions of that chapter of your life. But, you will also have your healthy little girl with you, and you know that she is a fighter. She will amaze her new specialists, just like she amazed everyone else.

    We are all thinking and praying for you and Amelia during this new chapter that you will be starting.

  44. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:27 am Jess Says:

    thinking of you and sending strength and courage and love your way…

  45. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:34 am Tia Says:

    Thank you for writing this. I would have cried but am in Starbucks. They probably are already annoyed at me for using up a table all to myself. I will be thinking about you and your strong little girl. You are stronger than you think. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.

  46. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:51 am April K. Says:

    I’ve been down those halls, too. You guys are definately in my thoughts and prayers…

  47. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:51 am Ms Dreamer Says:

    Hugs, Bex.
    For you.
    For iron-willed Mimi.
    For all NICU babies and their parents.
    For love.

  48. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:55 am EmmaLee Says:

    Wow. I too know those feelings. Traumatic. It seems like you’ve been traumatized by such difficult events in your life and the life of your little girl. It’s been helpful for me to process some of those with someone. Just curious if you’ve ever thought about it.

  49. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:56 am Mandy Says:

    Just from the title, I knew I was going to cry reading this. Having feeling hurts, yo. Always know you have a soft place to fall, here amongst your adoring Pranksters. Infinite love and sparkles to you, my friend. ~~~> ***<3<3

  50. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:58 am Dora Says:

    Oh, hon! Fucking OUCH! But OMFG, if this isn’t the most magnificently written post. You MUST get a book deal!

    The warrior princess Amelia, with her kick ass mama at her side, is going to be victorious. Then you’ll probably never get her to shut up. Much love to you both.

  51. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:00 pm Fran Says:

    Sweet Aunt Becky,
    You make me cry almost as easliy as you make me laugh. It’s a testament to your authenticity and I applaude you for your ability to pour your heart out to us. ((Hugs)) to you and Mimi

  52. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:01 pm leanne Says:

    I’m sitting here, in awe. And nodding my head as I fight the tears streaming down my cheeks. Recognizing the corridors we roam night after night because of that one fateful day when nothing would ever be the same again.

    One powerful post.

    All my love to you and Amelia…

  53. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:03 pm Kate Says:

    I’m sorry for what you are going through. Remember, no matter what the new specialist tells you, it doesn’t change one thing about your daughter. She will be the same little dynamo you love. A diagnosis of a problem is hard, but it doesn’t change WHO Mimi is.

    The raw pain you still feel over Amelia’s birth & surgery makes me hurt for you. I’m sorry, Aunt Becky… I wish I could do something to help.

  54. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:05 pm dana Says:

    I can’t forget the smell of the soap. The soap you lather yourself in from fingertip to armpit before the automatic doors zip open and let you into your own brand of hell.
    Two years after our oldest spent 10 terrifying days in the NICU, my brother cheated death and spent eight months in Shock Trauma. The soap smelled the same.
    I can’t forget it.

  55. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:08 pm Christa Says:

    I have a friend who had a similar reaction to the hospital her mother died at. She was pregnant and doing the tour of the hospital when she started having a panic attack because the maternity ward was the exact same lay out as the cancer ward. She was terrified and did not want to go back to give birth at that hospital. She did give birth there. And it did bother her a little. But since she had time to prepare herself for it things were not nearly as bad as she expected.

    Hope all is well.

  56. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:14 pm Kadye Says:

    Your writing abilities astound me. You make us laugh until tears stream down our face, just as easily you write such powerful posts as this one that wrench at our hearts.

    You are a strong, powerful, amazing person. And Amelia is just the same.

    Hugs to both of you.

  57. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:17 pm Alana Morales Says:

    You are very strong for having survived this and sharing it with us.

  58. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:23 pm Erin Says:

    I’ve never read far back enough to know where “Princess of the Bells” comes from, but that title alone makes me all sniffly. Every time.

  59. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:42 pm Nichole Says:

    This is such a painfully beautiful piece–such absolutely lovely writing.

    Thank you for sharing it…thank you for letting us into your world.

    Your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers…

  60. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:46 pm Amy Says:

    Wondertwin powers ACTIVATE! Form of a super strong smart mom who will get through this with her lovely daughter and sweet boys because she’s just that awesome. Oh yeah. You already are. I’ll be an ice dinosaur. RAWR!!!

  61. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:51 pm jessica Says:

    Becky This piece was so incredible, so beautifully written and yet I can only imagine how much you would give to have never had to put these words together. Sending you lots of love.

  62. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:51 pm Melissa Says:

    I am so sorry that this happened, but am so glad Mimi is there with you, and strong!

  63. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:57 pm Carolyn (temysmom) Says:

    So beautifully written. You touched my heart with your story as only children usually do. I’ll be hugging mine a little tighter today.

  64. On August 18th, 2010 at 12:58 pm Tweets that mention All That You Can't Leave Behind | Mommy Wants Vodka -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Aunt Becky, Kevin Boulas, bernthis, Carolyn West, plundgren and others. plundgren said: RT @mommywantsvodka: This is post traumatic stress disorder: […]

  65. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:00 pm Jamee Says:

    Both a heart-breaking and beautifully written piece. You and your family are in my thoughts & prayers.

  66. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:07 pm starle Says:

    Awwww Aunt Becky!
    That was beautiful ans so moving. I wish I had words that would help you. Keep writing for us, we are listening.

  67. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:08 pm Krista Says:

    Oh God. Sending you many thoughts & prayers.

  68. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:23 pm SarahK Says:

    Powerful words lady. I really admire your strength and your writing. Keep on keepin’ on Warrior Princess!

  69. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:23 pm Jenn-Jenn Says:

    I don’t know you, and feel like I’m intruding, but just want you to know that, although I haven’t been there, and I don’t fully understand, I wish I was there to just hold your hand while you go through this. All I can do is pray for you, but all that’s coming out is “Dear God, hold her and her baby close.”.

  70. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:23 pm Meghan Says:

    you are amazing.

    being a mom really stretches the soul.

    the most telling thing about this piece, for me, was that you had to tell it in the second person voice; first person is still too raw.

    this too shall pass. that’s what my dad always told me.

  71. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:25 pm Meghan Says:

    also, i am not a robot.

  72. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:27 pm Kimberly Says:

    Thank you for putting this into words. No one really understood my PTSD but you described it here to a painstaking T.
    Know that it does get better. Know it. You can do this.
    My heart truly goes out to you

  73. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:35 pm Sam Says:

    Someone infinitely more talented than I am said “having a child is like having your heart on the outside of your body forever” – (or words to that effect) – what they didn’t say is when things happen that break that heart, or tear it, or crush it and you can’t do a *damned* thing but cry and pray and try to put the brave face on for the little faces watching yours. God love you and good luck with your journey, and Amelia’s. <3

  74. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:41 pm Mommycosm Says:

    WOW. Just wow.

    I can’t begin to imagine the PTSD you’re facing. I had a panic attack the other day when I had to drive by the exact spot where my childhood friend recently died in a car accident. I’m thinking it’s that x 1000+?!
    You’re in my thoughts. You practically have balls (compliment) – so I know you can do this.

  75. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:45 pm KLZ Says:

    Hugs and kisses to two beautiful fighters.

    Good luck.

  76. On August 18th, 2010 at 1:54 pm Tiffany @ MomNom Says:

    Becky, I shuttered as I read this. I was diagnosed with PTSD in April, after nearly losing my son in an accident on July 19, 2009. And, I have yet to find a place online where I can find women that are suffering with something similar. Thank you for posting this. I cried as I read it. I have memorized every detail of those tragic days and months. It’s so hard for my family – even my own husband – to really understand what I am going through. The nights are the worst for me as well. Anxiety sets in and my mind just races with morbid thought and memories and fears…

    You have no idea how much I appreciate this post. In some twisted way, it feels better knowing I am not alone (or completely crazy, as I often think I am at 3 a.m.), reading that another mother is suffering with something similar.

    I’m not SO familiar with your story that I know what is going on with your daughter – but I now completely dedicated to reading more and following along.

    Your daughter has my prayers. And, so do you.

  77. On August 18th, 2010 at 2:06 pm stark. raving. mad. mommy. Says:


    Brilliantly written, as usual.

  78. On August 18th, 2010 at 2:14 pm Alex@LateEnough Says:

    This: “But this is so much more than a place. It’s where the old you shriveled up and died and the new you was dragged screaming into the world.”

    Thoughts & prayers to you and your family right now.

  79. On August 18th, 2010 at 2:14 pm Queen of the Rant Says:

    This should be published. I seldom find writing that can move me in this way, as so much of your work does. Becky you are truly gifted, with an ability to write, and persevere. Both you and your daughter are fighters, a force to be reckoned with, and I really appreciate you putting your heart and soul into everything you do!

  80. On August 18th, 2010 at 2:15 pm Karen Says:


  81. On August 18th, 2010 at 2:34 pm Kate Says:

    I posted once, but feel compelled to comment again.

    Becky, there is something very special about your ability to write about your experiences and feelings without it sounding ‘drama queen-ish’ or contrived. I have been through so many surgeries and difficulties with my kids and I have thought & felt so many of the same things as you, but I lack the ability to articulate any of it, so I no longer even try. Your ability to share your emotions, and to do it so beautifully & in such a way that people CARE, is incredibly special. Thank you for articulating what I am unable to. It helps me to know that others have felt the same things, gone though similar trials, and are still standing. Sending a gentle hug & wishing I could do more.

  82. On August 18th, 2010 at 2:34 pm JenniferB Says:

    Oh Aunt Becky. You’ve got me in tears and I haven’t ever been through anything like that. But I’m a mom. And I can only imagine the depth of your pain. Sending you and Mimi all the love in the world. You are both kick-ass women, so together, you can conquer this. I believe in you both. Hug!

  83. On August 18th, 2010 at 2:53 pm Natalie Says:

    Wow, KLZ from Taming Insanity said I had to read this. It’s beautiful and scary and made me cry and mad me sad and made my heart hurt for you and your family. It’s all of those things and more. Because there’s strength and courage in it. And it is 100% real.

    Prayers to you two fighters.

  84. On August 18th, 2010 at 3:08 pm amy d Says:

    This is a beautifully written and horrifically honest post. My prayers and thoughts are always with you and your beautiful cinnamon girl.

    all my love Bex.

  85. On August 18th, 2010 at 3:41 pm Michelle @ Mommy Loves Stilettos Says:

    I am speechless. *HUGS*

  86. On August 18th, 2010 at 3:43 pm Leslie Says:

    Oh, this is good writing. Wow. I know somewhat of how you feel. My niece drowned in a swimming pool when she was 5, and through it I ended up with PTSD. I’m doing much better now, 3 years later, but I know how awful the feelings can be. I relived that call over, and over, and over.

    I can’t imagine what you’re going through, Becky, and I’m so sorry. I wish I could do more, but know I and lots of others are thinking of you and Warrior Amelia.

  87. On August 18th, 2010 at 3:43 pm Gamanda Says:

    So raw and haunting. While we may never kill the demons, we can at least disarm them. Best of luck to you and your amazingly strong daughter.

  88. On August 19th, 2010 at 11:33 pm EmmaLee Says:

    Such wise words, Gamanda. they never go away, but they don’t have the power they once did.

  89. On August 18th, 2010 at 3:44 pm daisybv2 Says:


    That was amazing… really well done I am crying over here. I too have nighmares about my tragic delivery and a baby with a non-beating heart.

    Hugs to you and your family your band of pranksters will always be here πŸ™‚

  90. On August 18th, 2010 at 3:50 pm Leah Says:

    Such a wonderfully written piece. I was practically dry heaving with you! Hugs to you and your sweet family!

  91. On August 18th, 2010 at 3:56 pm The Sweetest Says:

    After therapy today, my eyes are all dried up, and although my tears won’t change the challenge you are facing right now, I hope it helps for you to know how many of us are thinking of you, sending you strength, and hoping for the best outcomes. Hang in there.

  92. On August 18th, 2010 at 4:06 pm Kristin Says:

    Oh Becky, I know I can’t be there in person but imagine me there with you. I would walk those halls and wait with you. I am with you in spirit my friend.

  93. On August 18th, 2010 at 4:15 pm Andygirl Says:

    you’re a warrior. *hugs*

  94. On August 18th, 2010 at 4:17 pm Heather Says:

    There’s so much in here that I can relate too. My daughter was in PICU for a month. It was so incredibly hard to see her with all those tubes and lines coming out of her tiny little body. To have to watch the doctors and specialists poke and prod her constantly. To be torn between being a mother to my older, healthy children and not wanting to leave my infant in the care of strangers with so many frightening and painful things happening to her. Thank you for sharing and luck and strength to you and yours.

  95. On August 18th, 2010 at 5:05 pm ScienceGeek Says:

    Oh… I’m crying at work. Thank god nobody else is in the office yet.

    I don’t know if this will help, but that hospital is also the place where men and women with skill and compassion put your little girl back together again. Where they will keep putting her back together again. At my wedding, my father said the scariest times of his life was taking me to hospital after yet another asthma attack. This happened, like some vicious clockwork, four times a year for, god, over a decade. Every time, he or my mother, driving to the hospital, making me talk and sing through lungs that were already playing a terrible wheezing symphony, because they’ll never be able to forget the time I slipped from consciousness on the way to the hospital, almost slipped from them completely. All the drugs and the drips and the masks and the other children who didn’t get treatment in time. I never noticed, but now, I can’t even fathom how terrified they must have been.

    And it’s not just the specialists that your little warrior with the halo of curls is packing. She’s got her amazing mother with the artiliery of words. Her father, her brothers. Those friends who loved you and stayed by your side. And a whole fucking army of Pranksters. And everything Amelia has, you have too. You walk those corridors at night, Becky, but you don’t walk them alone.

  96. On August 18th, 2010 at 5:57 pm Cait Says:

    Oh. I’m so sorry you have to go back there – BUT – you, and Amelia, made it out before safely and you will again. I know that doesn’t help much. I can barely imagine going through what you’ve been through. Terrifying beyond words. I have my own nightmares of reality and know I’d dry-heave too. Once you go back though, you’ve made it through again.

    Beautiful, beautiful post. I wish I could be more coherent to express what I’m trying to but… you know. Take care.

  97. On August 18th, 2010 at 6:39 pm Tr8ce Says:

    Hugs, and tears. Breathtaking, beautiful post. It’s gonna be hard, but you will be there for her an do it all over again if you have to. You have the strength for it because you have to, for her, your beautiful daughter.

  98. On August 18th, 2010 at 7:19 pm Becca Says:

    Oh I’m so sorry! I heap blessings of sunshine and hope on you, Mimi, and the rest of your family. I hope this road is a short one for you! πŸ™‚

  99. On August 18th, 2010 at 7:19 pm Becca Says:

    Oh I’m so sorry! I heap blessings of sunshine and hope on you, Mimi, and the rest of your family. I hope this road is a short one for you! πŸ™‚

  100. On August 18th, 2010 at 8:10 pm katrina Says:

    Once again, so powerful and beautifully written. You are incredibly strong, for going thru this and for writing about it with such passion. And you know that by writing it you are helping a whole bunch of people….making them feel stronger! We also know that when you give something away….it comes back to you a gazillion fold. I guarantee that every person reading this sends you strength and love.

  101. On August 18th, 2010 at 8:24 pm Mer Says:

    Your wonderfully strong daughter and her amazingly brave mother are in my thoughts. I have absolute faith in both of you and know you will conquer this together.

  102. On August 18th, 2010 at 8:25 pm Mandi Bone Says:

    I will be there holding your hand through e-mail. Hugs!

  103. On August 18th, 2010 at 8:26 pm Deanna Says:

    There are a few days in life that delineate everything that came before, and all that will have to happen after. Thank you for taking us with you as you try to navigate everything that came after.

  104. On August 18th, 2010 at 8:44 pm a Says:

    I’m sorry you have to go back there…but your little warrior must not be done teaching those people a lesson.

    (Practically speaking, though, could you just…go somewhere else? I wouldn’t go back.)

  105. On August 18th, 2010 at 8:49 pm Julia Says:

    Big enormous gigantic hugs.

  106. On August 18th, 2010 at 8:50 pm Hockeymandad Says:

    Wow….sending hugs your way.

  107. On August 18th, 2010 at 8:57 pm Kate Says:

    For what it’s worth (and it should worth a lot some day, if not right now), you took something horrible and made it as beautiful as it could be. I will be thinking of you and your daughter.

  108. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:00 pm joann Mannix Says:

    I am sending prayers and blessings and good karma your way. Your princess warrior girl will conquer her latest visit, I know it. So many of us are there in spirit for you, whispering as you walk down that long hall, “Keep on, Keepin’ On. You can do this.”

    I know that before and after life. I know the moments that changed me forever in an ER and a declaration of death. My 66 year old father’s death. Far too young. Far too healthy. Far too shocking. I remember everything about that place and that day and I can rarely go there in my mind, because of how it breaks me every time.

    Stay strong. And know that love will guide you both through this stepping stone, one more hurdle on the way to complete health.

  109. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:10 pm Ann Says:

    Lots of positive thoughts to you and your family. And lots of prayers too.

  110. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:12 pm Neeroc Says:

    I’m so sorry, I wish I could deliver hugs and all the ass-kicking strength you need.

  111. On August 18th, 2010 at 9:16 pm lis Says:

    i can’t even imagine becky.

    no, now that i think of it, i can imagine. and im so sorry that things happened the way that they did. but your warrior girl will keep winning because that is what her mama taught her.

  112. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:15 pm A Mom on Spin Says:

    I know this is of no consolation now, but that was the most beautiful post I have EVER read.

    If you have to go back into that building, do not let the chapel be the thing that scares you away. It may be the very reason you were able to leave triumphant the first time. . .

  113. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:30 pm Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] Says:

    I love you.

  114. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:33 pm ABCfibi Says:

    I am having difficulty typing and finding words through my tears. Your writing and imagining what you are going through has left me speechless. I am not speechless very often. Just know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  115. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:34 pm Maria Says:

    Love you most like this, Becky. True and stark and beautiful.

  116. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:38 pm Ann's Rants Says:


  117. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:39 pm sarah Says:

    love to you and your little girl.

  118. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:40 pm Avasmommy Says:

    oh sweetie. Sending you as much love and hugs as I can muster.

  119. On August 18th, 2010 at 10:53 pm Tasha Says:

    This is so beautifully written and I felt something in the heart parts, it tugged on it HARD. Apart from that, I am at a complete loss for words so let me just give you a hug. You can hug back and squish my boobage.

  120. On August 19th, 2010 at 12:02 am Tasha Says:

    A robot? Me? Only if robots can be moms whose vajingos get ripped trying to deliver humans into the world. πŸ™‚

  121. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:16 pm Lessons in Life and Light Says:

    Becky…I don’t know what’s going on…but I’m scared for you and I’m worried. Will be emailing/texting you tomorrow.

    Love you.

  122. On August 18th, 2010 at 11:48 pm thenextmartha Says:

    This was such an intimate look into your life. Thank you for sharing it. It just leaves me heavy with sadness and with no words. You and your family are amazing. Know that.

  123. On August 19th, 2010 at 12:08 am linlah Says:


  124. On August 19th, 2010 at 12:09 am Ms.V Says:

    Holy shit. You are my homegirl. Go kick some ass…whatever it is.

  125. On August 19th, 2010 at 2:52 am tracy Says:

    I just…don’t know what to say.

    hugs to you & your sweetheart.

  126. On August 19th, 2010 at 2:54 am Ami Says:

    I’m not sure I would have ever thought to call the trauma my loved one has gone through PTSD if it wasn’t for you being brave enough to announce your diagnosis but it has helped SO MUCH to understand that PTSD isn’t just for war heros. And its helped to work through it to know a name and have a place to start. I’m so sorry you’re hurting but I am so grateful you have shared b/c its helping my heart to heal.

    God bless you. Thank you. *hugs*

  127. On August 19th, 2010 at 6:54 am Frannie C Says:

    You are so amazing. If I was closer you would be getting a great big boobie hug right now.
    Keep writing brutally and raw, it will help you and others.
    Luv ya xxx

  128. On August 19th, 2010 at 7:20 am Julie Says:

    Ummm saying this with all the love in the world..but have you ever heard of PTSD??? This is not something that just affects soldiers…anyone recovering from a tramatic event can suffer with this. Please talk…get help…we love you!!!!

  129. On August 19th, 2010 at 7:31 am Trista Says:

    Oh, Becky. The images and impressions and memories that a place can have can be powerfully overwhelming – I wish you strength in dealing with a return to that place, and to overcome new hurdles placed in your family’s path. I know how you feel, although on a lesser scale – the hospital where I delivered my daughter and where she spent time in the NICU is likely where I’ll deliver my second child, and although they provide a superior standard of care there’s part of me that feels like going back to that place is begging for something to go wrong again. I was looking up some information on the hospital last week and came across a picture of the very NICU room that my daughter was in – in fact I could see the incubator in the spot where she was located, and just like that, a grainy black-and-white picture on the internet undid me.
    You’ve probably already seen this, but the aftershocks of a NICU experience are common:

  130. On August 19th, 2010 at 7:57 am Anne Says:

    Oh, Becky. I’m sending all the strength and hugs I have your way.

  131. On August 19th, 2010 at 8:40 am Denise Says:

    My heart aches for you and your Pranksters who have shared in the comments. I am sending all the love, good thoughts and good vibes I can. You are very strong but remember us Pranksters are here for you and your beautiful little girl when you need us.

  132. On August 19th, 2010 at 9:15 am Aimee Says:

    My comment was eaten up into the internet world! opps!

    I’m new around here, so I did lots of reading and sobbing this morning for a good hour. You are one strong women with one strong baby. The picture of you holding her when you were home but still didn’t know what was wrong with her made my heart burst. I could just see in your eyes the massive pain you were in and I just wanted to hug you. If I read this before meeting you at BlogHer I probably would have been that asshole who brings it all up and starts crying when we first meet.

    I hope that your mind replaces those hallways with roads of great things and moments you have with your daughter. That the man upstairs recognizes homegirl has had her fair share and gives you a well needed break.

    Big ol internet hugs to you my new friend!

  133. On August 19th, 2010 at 9:51 am sam {temptingmama} Says:

    I love you. I hate that you live with this everyday.

    Is this why you tweeted that you passed out at the hospital the other day. *sigh*

    You’re amazingly strong, Becky.

  134. On August 19th, 2010 at 11:14 am Dawne Strehl Says:

    Warm hugs and love from me.

  135. On August 19th, 2010 at 11:30 am Emily R Says:

    Sending you all the love I’ve got.

  136. On August 19th, 2010 at 1:05 pm Pinks Mom Says:

    Thank you for this post. My daughter had a undetected NTD and I heard the horrible “There is something wrong with your baby” followed by the devistating “We don’t know what”. It turned out that it took 3 neurosurgoens and 6 months to get answers that she has one of those fun 1/10,000 NTD’s. She had surgery at 10 months and spent 5 days in the hospital and now we just watch and wait. She is 2 and I still wait. You have articulated my feelings in a way I never could. For me it is a never ending feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop, while fighting to live in the present so we don’t miss the good moments while waiting for the bad.

  137. On August 19th, 2010 at 1:47 pm Suniverse Says:

    I am sending all good thoughts to you.

  138. On August 19th, 2010 at 2:52 pm Brooke Says:

    My heart is broken along with yours. I’m so sorry that those memories continue to haunt you. Love and hugs to you and the Princess of the Bells.

  139. On August 19th, 2010 at 4:26 pm Tammy Says:

    Beautiful, beautiful post. Comfort and peace to you, Aunt Becky.

  140. On August 19th, 2010 at 4:30 pm Mrs. Call Me Crazy (Your Vodka Angel) Says:

    You are an amazing woman. My prayers are with your family.

  141. On August 19th, 2010 at 5:22 pm Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation Says:

    What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing this. You and your family are in my thoughts. {{HUGS}}

  142. On August 19th, 2010 at 5:56 pm Jackie Says:

    Heart wrenching & inspirational at the same time. Your daughter is lucky to have such an amazing momma.

  143. On August 19th, 2010 at 6:04 pm Krissa Says:

    Aw, Becky! I am so sorry you are having to bear this. You and your baby, girl, as well.
    I am sending prayers up for you and she.

  144. On August 19th, 2010 at 6:26 pm BecZhang Says:

    I am so sorry that you are going through this. Your strength is amazing.

  145. On August 19th, 2010 at 7:31 pm mumma boo Says:

    Amazing and achingly beautiful. Love you, Becks, and sweet Amelia, too.

  146. On August 19th, 2010 at 9:13 pm Ms. Moon Says:

    You know you have PTSD, right?
    And Becky- I never do this, but I just want to say that in loving your daughter, your brave, amazing, miracle of a daughter, you will learn to accept what is and that will be another amazing miracle. Not “accept” as in not do anything about this problem, but accept as in you will learn what must and can be done and go from there and she will always be your brave, amazing, miracle of a daughter. And she will continue to astonish you.

  147. On August 19th, 2010 at 11:26 pm andrea Says:

    I’m so sorry you had to go thru this. It’s not fair. No one should have to with any child. And to have to stay with one and let the others go, that just adds to it.

    You have many fans on your site wishing you heartfelt support. I hope you can feel the love.


  148. On August 20th, 2010 at 12:01 am Cassie Says:

    I’m so sad that this has to be the first post of yours that I ever read, but I am so so so happy to find out that things are better. I’m amazed everyday by how scary/hard/raw this experience of motherhood is. I’m in awe of your strength and your ability to reach out and share this with your readers. Its harrowing, to see this deeply into someone else’s despair. My heart and prayers go out to you. I’m sorry that I cried the first time I ever read your blog, but know that it marks you as a beautiful writer and that I’ll be checking back in on you every chance I get.

  149. On August 20th, 2010 at 12:14 am Lippy Says:

    Just catching up on posts after being out of town. This post leaves me speechless. So beautiful, my thoughts are with you, I wish I could do something to help.

  150. On August 20th, 2010 at 1:02 am Kelley @ Magnetoboldtoo Says:

    Love you, beautiful. With the heat of a bajillion suns.

  151. On August 20th, 2010 at 1:45 am luna Says:

    this is so vivid with rich aching memory.
    wishing you all well as you overcome this next challenge.

  152. On August 20th, 2010 at 1:53 am MannyRee Says:

    This is amazing writing. (((hugs)))

  153. On August 20th, 2010 at 2:41 am ZDub Says:

    Much love to you all.

    Love, love, love.

  154. On August 20th, 2010 at 7:21 am Emily Says:

    Oh Aunt Becky, we’ve only been friends not only a week and I want to hug you. This is so beautifully written. I think one day you will be glad you have this memories – it certainly will make you stronger. Sending prayers and strength to you and your little ones. Take care.

  155. On August 20th, 2010 at 8:33 pm Allison @ Alli 'n Son Says:

    Seriously, I feel like I’m right there. That this happened to my baby. And it’s breaking my heart.

    This is my first time to your blog, but I will be back. Often.

  156. On August 20th, 2010 at 9:04 pm Fave Links Says:

    […] is the most powerful post I’ve read all week. It’s long, but so worth it. All That You Can’t Leave Behind by Mommy Wants Vodka. {Thank you to @ChloeJB from In These Small Moments for sending this post my […]

  157. On August 21st, 2010 at 8:20 pm Painted Maypole Says:

    praying for a good outcome, and peace for your soul

  158. On August 22nd, 2010 at 9:05 pm Caron Says:

    I read this shortly after you posted it and couldn’t think of anything to say that would have expressed the way it made me feel. Awe, I guess.

    But I should have said something. Because you rock.

  159. On August 23rd, 2010 at 1:40 pm Maryline Says:

    Becky, Nichole @ In These Small Moments was so right, this is one heck of a post.
    I hope time will heal your pain and that your family will grow stronger over, and over, again.

    I’m sending you all the support one can get over a flimsy wireless connection. But don’t let it undermine the value of a new reader already addicted to your blog.

    Take good care of yourself.

  160. On August 27th, 2010 at 2:57 am Al_Pal Says:

    I say, Holy Fuck, girlfriend. I didn’t know.

    HUGE *HUGS* for you.

    Beautiful writing.

  161. On August 27th, 2010 at 9:03 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Thank you. Just…thank you.

  162. On September 7th, 2010 at 9:16 am Kendra Says:

    So beautiful, so heart-wrenching. I wish I could do more than offer a hug and an ear and a heart that cares, but I have those.

  163. On June 6th, 2011 at 4:35 pm Kristine Says:

    I rarely like to say “I get it” because everyone’s journey is so different. But, I get this post. I feel this post. I have buildings like that. Buildings that are like time portals to horrible moments. Much love AB. xo

  164. On July 1st, 2011 at 1:40 pm Marta Says:

    Wow, sigh. Those are the only two things that come to mind. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

  165. On May 19th, 2012 at 2:48 pm Maggie Says:

    AB, I don’t know how I missed this but just came across it from your Twitter link. Even though I know this story has a happy ending, I sat here and wept. For you, for Mimi, for all the Pranksters who commented and for each and every one of us who is hurting in some way. I’m not a mother and it takes an awful lot to make me cry, but this…this is raw and heartfelt and bittersweet and beautiful. You are a fantastic writer and a wonderful mother, I’m so sorry you had to go through this and so unspeakably glad that things worked out ok. I love your writing when it makes me laugh, but even more when it makes me cry. Thank you so much for this. Huge hugs xx

  166. On October 24th, 2012 at 10:06 am The Lies We Tell Ourselves - Mommy Wants Vodka Says:

    […] I first confessed my shame at having post-traumatic stress disorder (this post) it spurned an idea that had been rattling around my own brain for a long time – putting […]

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