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My Angel, Chrislyn

by Brandi Clark

In March of 1994 I discovered I was pregnant. My husband Chris and I were thrilled that our daughter Briclyn would have a sibling. Briclyn was very happy when we told her she would be a big sister; we really built up her excitement as time went on. On November 28, 1994 I went to my Ob/Gyn. I was 4 centimeters dilated, my doctor decided to induce the next morning. I remember walking into the waiting room and telling Chris we would be at the hospital tomorrow morning. We were so excited, neither one of us slept much that night. Briclyn went to her grandma's house after we told her that tomorrow her sister would be here.

November 29, 1994. My labor progressed quickly and at 11:03 am Chrislyn Rae Clark entered this world. She was a nice size-8 Lbs., 3 oz. She was a beautiful baby. Chris brought her to me and she looked at me with an amazed look in her blue eyes. I said to Chris, "She looks just like Briclyn, only Chrislyn has more hair!" After about 15 minutes Chris went with Chrislyn and the nurse to the nursery to get cleaned up. I can remember thinking I couldn't wait to get to my room so I could see my two daughters and have their pictures taken together for the first time. It unfortunately was never to happen.

Chris came back to the room with a very serious look. As soon as Chrislyn got to the nursery she started having problems. The doctor told Chris it looked like a heart defect. It was devastating. I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. Later that evening she was transported to Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans. We left for New Orleans about 3 or 4 hours later. The doctors there told us about the things that were wrong. She had transposition of the great vessels and a ventricular septal defect. We had hope though because surgery could fix that. Unknown to us, and the doctors at that time, she had an infection creeping up on her little body: sepsis. When Chrislyn was 2 days old they put her on ECMO. She was on that for 5 days and did terrific on it. She was stable almost all the time, something of a miracle to us. During that time the doctors discovered that one of her heart valves was bi-cuspid instead of tri-cuspid. Artificial valves are not made small enough for babies her size. We would just have to wait. On December 14, 1994, she was doing terrible. She had emergency surgery. She was stable after surgery. Her kidneys started to fail after a few days. As a result of that she was very swollen, her weight increased to about 12 pounds in a matter of days.

December 22, 1994. My baby was not going to make it. We got the phone call that no one wants to get. I watched for four hours while they injected medicine to raise her blood pressure into her IV about every 3 or 4 minutes. I watched the machines monitoring her blood pressure show an increase in the numbers then fall. Towards the end it didn't move at all. My baby was tired of fighting. The doctors suggested taking her machines off. Chris and I thought for a few minutes and he agreed with me that it was time. I told the doctors that we would agree to take the machines off: I get to hold Chrislyn while she left this world so she would know what it felt like to be held. They put us in a room, and Chrislyn's cardiologist brought her to me. I can remember thinking that she would turn around and be ready to fight a little bit more once I held her. But, she was so tired of fighting, and I didn't want my baby girl to suffer anymore if she didn't want to. Chris held her for a while and it devastated me to see my strong husband completely beaten up.

Christmas was a blur. We were burying Chrislyn the next day. It was a small private funeral. Just a small portion of family. My brother and Chris carried her small casket to her grave and they each put a flower on her casket. It hurt so much that I would never see my daughter again. Briclyn was so excited to show everyone that came her baby sister, she had no concept of death. It broke my heart when she said, "Mommy, they are closing the box with my sister in it."

As time passes it gets better. I still miss her a lot, and I cry often. It will never go away, I will always think about what could have been. Chris and I had decided right away to have another baby as soon as possible. I got pregnant after about 4 months. Briclyn and Chrislyn's baby brother was born on December 29, 1995. He is such a blessing to have, I know Chrislyn is watching over him and all of us with a smile on her beautiful face. Chrislyn knows that one day her Mommy will hold her in heaven.

Having another baby so soon might not be the right answer for everyone, but for Chris, Briclyn, and I it was the best thing we could have done. Chrislyn will always have a special place in our hearts. She will always be my angel.

Brandi Clark

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