Melanie’s story starts out in Dec.
2002.Mindi went to her doctor cuz she had a yeast infrection.While there she was informed she was pregnant.Mindi
was caught totally off guard by this as she was on the Depo shot.Also, as much
as she regrets it now… she was not happy about it.Her and Kevin had been
having some problems (unbeknownst to Kevin).Mindi was having thoughts
of leaving Kevin.(things are better now and they are still together)
Mindi was totally against being pregnant
at first.Then one day Melanie kicked and Mindi’s love for her began.She so hoped it would be a little girl.
On March 19th, we all (Kevin,
Mindi, Richard-Dylan, Kevin’s Mom and Me) went for Mindi’s ultrasound.The
one that would tell us if this was a little boy or girl.We were all so
anticipating this.All of us were allowed in while the ultrasound was being performed
when all of a sudden the girl said it’s a girl then immediately ordered all of us out of there saying something is not
We waited for what seemed like an eternity
and then were called back in.Mindi and Kevin had been told that the baby
might have dwarfism, that her arms and legs were grossly deformed and we were to go immediately to EMS to have them perform more ultrasounds
Mindi decided to ride with me so she could
talk without Kevin around.She was crying, confused and saying she didn’t
want a baby with disabilities.Didn’t know if she was capable and strong
enough for that.I told her the baby might just be a dwarf or midget
and who cared how tall a child is.Mindi is quite little herself.Under 5ft.
We went to EMS
at Riverside.There we heard the
terrible news.The baby had no chance of survival.The dwarfism she had was lethal.If carried to delivery,
she would maybe live a few hours but her lungs would not be formed enough and she would slowly suffocate.Her brother, Jamie, heard about what was happening
and immediately left work and when we walked outside he was there by himself waiting to hug Mindi.Jamie lost his first child and it was really hard for him to come near this hospital.He was expecting his first baby since Chad’s
accident.This now confirmed his fears that we had a curse on us for some
reason.You could see it on his face…. Will something also happen to my
little baby girl due in May?
Mindi was told she had to make a decision
fast, within a couple of days, about aborting the baby or she would have to carry her to full term.Mindi wanted an abortion.She decided she didn’t
want her baby to suffer There were the horror stories of how the baby would
gasp for breath with under formed lungs, that her brain could be compressed due to skull deformity….. Horrible things
As the days went by, the doctors kept changing
their stories.They said Melanie was the smallest of dwarfs they had ever seen.They wanted Mindi to deliver her versus an immediate
abortion, saying that was the only way they could test and determine if it was hereditary or not.I knew they were lying.Amnio would tell them what they wanted.They didn’t want Mindi to carry her full term, they wanted to induce labor now.Mindi and Kevin were at odds.Mindi
wanted an abortion where Melanie would have immediate death and Kevin wanted her whole and to be able to hold her.
I can’t tell you the turmoil that
was going on.Mindi looked like a Zombie.Her eyes were almost swollen shut from crying.She couldn’t sleep,
she was so confused.
She was sent to Norfolk
to have more ultrasounds and was told the baby had to be induced as her head was too big for the other type of abortion.Mindi was being forced into an induced delivery through lies.I knew it.Later our suspicions were confirmed.The doctors only wanted this type of birth so they could autopsy and examine Melanie.
I won’t go into all the different
lies we were told, nor all the stupid crap that was done to Mindi mentally as they tried to convince her this is the way it
must be done.Sadly, Kevin bought into everything they were telling him.
Mindi having no choice submitted to the
inducement.That was a fiasco too.Finally,
she went to Norfolk and was admitted on March 28th.The doctor told her it wouldn’t be long and it would all be over.Another lie.
Mindi was allowed to pick out a little
tiny hand crocheted dress, booties, cap and blanket made by these wonderful old ladies that do this to help Mother’s
that lose their little darlings.Mindi picked a gorgeous all white set.We were told we could buy our own at any local store that sells doll clothes and would
have to find one for a very small doll, but Mindi chose one made from love by these sweet volunteers.It just seemed more appropriate.
The inducement was started.You won’t believe this but they use seaweed leaves. ????Anyways,
the doctor that wanted a live birth started the procedure then promptly left.At
first, Mindi had this really cool nurse that kept our spirits up.Sadly, she
went off duty and the nightmare began.No one would come check on Mindi,
not even when we called because she needed to be unhooked from the monitors to go to the bathroom.I unhooked her and took her.A nurse finally popped
her head in and said she would be back to hook up the monitors.Well, two hours
passed and no one came.I went down the hall to the nurses desk and asked
if someone would hook her up and talk to her cuz she didn’t know what was going on.
The head nurse looked at the monitor and
I told her not to bother cuz the monitor hadn’t been hooked up yet.I apologized
for interrupting their break.One lovely nurse told me she was from another floor,
but to not apologize as this was my daughter and I was only inquiring out of a motherly concern.
The head nurse showed up finally and hooked
Mindi back up.We asked if a doctor or someone could come to explain what was
going on cuzit had been hours and Mindi didn’t know what or when to expect
Next the guard came in and told us
we would all have to leave.Apparently the head nurse got mad because I had asked
them to come hook Mindi back up.Then all hell broke loose.Kevin, his Mom, Me, Mindi’s best friend Bonnie, and 8 month pregnant Shannon were there.Now before, we had been told that it was okay under the circumstances that we could all stay
with Mindi.The first nice nurse had even brought us more chairs.We were on the maternity ward, but were in a room all the way down a back hall. We weren't disturbing anyone.
Mindi went into a mad frantic.She started screaming at the guard.That
she was leaving. She started pulling off the shit she was all hooked up to.I thought Kevin was gonna punch the guard.We explained to the guard what was happening.He kept saying he was only
doing his job, but thought that what he was being asked to do was wrong and for us to call the patient representative.We did and also called Mindi’s liaison from EMS.It was finally decided and we were allowed to stay.
The head nurse poked her head through the
door when the guard and patient rep was there.Mindi came up off that bed and
told them to get that bitch out of her room and she didn’t want to see her face ever again.
I know all this sounds like my Mindi
is an uncaring and total bitch.She’s
really not.She is the most giving and loving person you will ever know.She has a temper and doesn’t take crap from anyone, but with her hormones all
messed up, the grief she was going through and no one telling her what was going on or could be expected, she was totally
Finally we were allowed to stay and
they sent a young doctor in that told her she would probably be in labor for many, many more hours before anything happened.Not what she was told
before and she was getting more scared and agitated by the minute.We recited what the original doctor had told us and how every 4 hours Mindi would be given more of the inducement
meds.Nope, doctor had left no such orders.We could see now that Mindi would be there all night at the least.
A little nurse came in that looked
like she was scared of us.No telling what the head nurse had told her.She finally came to see that we were all nice people and really started to warm up
Finally about the next morning, Mindi looked at me and said Mom something is not right.Something is coming out.I said do you want me to look.Sounds silly I know, but I had made a pact with Mindi that if she didn’t
look at her deformed baby … I wouldn’t either.Mindi was so
afraid her baby would look like a monster and that is how she would always remember her.
Well, I looked and there was something
coming out.I didn’t know what it was.Just this tiny red thing.Then
omg, I saw a little teensy foot move.Like she was telling me “It’s
me Gammaw”.She was coming out butt first.Kevin buzzed the nurse’s station for help.No
one came.Then they yelled down the hall and the last little nurse (who now was
off duty) came running with a student aid.She sent the aid flying for a doctor.The nurse and I held Melanie up so she wouldn’t snap her neck coming out.We waited and waited and no damn doctor or anyone came to help.Finally the nurse said we have to do this and we pushed Mindi’s legs back and coaxed her to
push.The nurse was so gentle with tiny little Melanie, though I saw fear
in her eyes.You could tell she had never done something like this before.Melanie finally came and was curled in a little ball that laid in the Nurse's hand.We still waited for a doctor to come cut the cord, but none came.The nurse cut the cord.
Oh how beautiful Melanie was!She had perfect little baby features.Perfect
little head, nose, mouth and even a dimple in her chin.The only thing that was
different about her from another baby is her arms and legs were dwarfed.She
had beautifully formed hands, feet, toes and fingers.Just short little arms
and legs.And no, her head was not large at all like the doctors said it
was.She was perfectly proportioned.All
the lies they told us.I can’t even begin to list them all.One though that really made Mindi do this was that her head would be so large at a normal birth that
it would have collapsed down, grossly disfiguring her looks and would squeeze her brain causing great pain.
Eventually a doctor came.Yep the first year resident doc from the night before.Hospitals
always send them to take the shit cuz they are the lowest on the totem pole.We
were nice to him though, cuz we knew he was their scape goat.
Well, Melanie was weighed and cleaned up
and the nurse (still off duty) with loving hands dressed her in the little crocheted outfit.The smallest they had but still too big for Melanie.
We spent hours taking turns holding
Melanie.They didn’t do anything to try to maintain her life.We knew that before we went.So she was allowed to stay with
us the whole time.You couldn’t tell if she was alive except by looking
at her bare chest and seeing her heartbeat through the thin layer of skin.She
weighed 7.8 ounces and only 8 inches long.Can you believe something
that small can have such a will to live that her heart continued to beat for a little over 4 hours.Once in a while you heard a teensy squeal.So
low we weren’t even sure if it was her or our imaginations.
Later she was baptized and they used
a small sea shell to hold the baptismal water.
The doctor that had first administered
the procedure and one of them that only wanted a full body for autopsy came in later that day and walked up to Mindi while
she was holding her dead baby in her arms and said (you aren’t gonna believe
this) “Congratulations”.Yep, that’s what he told her.I stared at him in disbelief as did Mindi and Kevin.Then the doctor kind of stumbled for words and left.Never even apologizing for his blunder.Goes to show you how much he cared
or even remembered who Mindi was.
That afternoon (sorry, timeline is
all jumbled in my head I was so tired and stressed), a little old lady came in.I
say little because she was a dwarf.She was a doctor and researcher from King’s
Daughter’s hospital and she asked Mindi if she could look at Melanie.Mindi
said of course.The little lady undressed Melanie with such tenderness and in
low tones that we could not make out. she spoke to little Melanie in sweet whispers the whole time she examinedher.It was the saddest thing to see.You would have thought this lady with her deformities was Melanie’s kindred spirit.The woman looked as if she was unaware of us and that her and Melanie were sharing a special secret.Hard to explain, but it was like an angelic experience.
Poor Mindi had such a rough time of it.Her placenta didn’t release and around
that afternoon a woman doctor came in and spent almost two hours digging, scraping, pulling trying to get it all.Mindi wasn’t released till late that night.We
kept little Melanie with us till Mindi was discharged.
And that dear Shannon.She stayed there all night
and the next day with Mindi.She was so huge carrying Rylee.I was so worried about her, but she wanted to be there as Jamie couldn’t bring himself to come
back over to Norfolk /King’s Daughter’s where Chad
had died. Yet he must have called a thousand times.He was so ashamed of and
guilty for his weakness, but we all understood what he too was going through.
Mindi had already scheduled a baby
shower for Shannon and Jamie before all this happened.Invitations
were already sent.It was to be the next day.She refused to cancel it, but did allow us to move it to Shannon’s house.Mindi didn’t come, but I was instructed to come to her house the minute it was over and tell
her everything about it and what all Shannon had received.I
Mindi had gone all out for Shannon’s
shower.All sorts of beautiful baby clothes and special meaning gifts.There were all the decorations she had bought for it too.Mindi
must have spent a small fortune on all of it.She wanted it to be the best
for her brother’s little girl.
When I got to Mindi’s after the shower.Kevin toldme that Mindi had been walking
the floors waiting for me to come.She had been crying and God how pale she was,
but she was so anxious to know if the shower went well.She was afraid since
Melanie died the day before and that she, Shannon and Jamie share many of the same friends and the fact that many had had
no sleep in days, that the turn out would not be good.She didn’t
need to worry.Everyone showed up and the ones that were too upset to come, did
stop by and left presents.Most all of them came not just for Shannon and
Jamie, but because Mindi had poured her heart and soul into this very special shower.It would have broken her heart if it did not turn out well.
had her autopsy on Monday and her body was released for cremation.Mindi, Kevin,
Bea (Kevin’s Mom) and I went to a number of places to find the perfect tiny urn.They wanted a small fortune for it.Why do they do that when it is for a child.They do offer free ones and
free services for babies, but Mindi wanted everything to be just right.The free
services are in just an ordinary room and the free urns wouldn’t meet the cemeteries requirements for strength and an
additional vault type thing would have to be bought.She decided that she would
forgo the free and her and Kevin would pay and plan the services together.She
chose a beautiful white square marble urn.Looks like a child’s playing
block with the same little cherub girl squatting down kissing a beautiful little
bird as the funeral flyers I had made up that she loved so well.Funeral
arrangements were finally all made.A burial plot was chosen in the baby section
of the same Cemetery that Chad is buried at.
Mindi wanted music played at the
funeral so I made a cd with lots of beautiful songs on it and she selected the ones that she and Kevin liked and I made the
final cds for Melanie’s service.
This is the music Kevin and Mindi selected.
Prior To The Service)
the Rainbow - Selena
Am Your Angel
The Arms Of An Angel
Believe I Can Fly
Beneath My Wings
8 -14(First seven songs repeat)
(Play during service)
1.Baby Of Mine- play at the beginning of the service
2.Hush Little Baby play after Kevin reads his poem
3.A Kiss From A Rose- play at the end of the service
This is Melanie’s Flyer
Melanie Jordan Harrell
March 29, 2003 - March 29, 2003
One of God’s Littlest Angels
Rest in Peace
Melanie had a beautiful service.Poems
were read.It opened with “Baby of Mine”
Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, Dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine
From your head down to your toes
You're not much, goodness knows
But you're so precious to me
Sweet as can be, baby of mine
Hush little Baby was played after Kevin
read a poem he wrote for Melanie.
There was a graveside service too
that more poems were read.It was a very short service and beautifully done.
When I started to leave the funeral home,
the director stopped me and asked if I would mind making them a copy of the music cd used.They said they don’t seem to have the appropriate music for children and young people and they would truly love
to have a copy.I made them a copy and took it to them several days later.
Several months later after looking
and looking, Mindi finally found a beautiful headstone for Melanie’s grave.
This story doesn’t end here.Even after the horrid way Mindi was treated at the Hospital (like she was deliberately
killing her own baby) the autopsy results showed Melanie didn’t have what the doctors thought she had.After a couple of months with no word on the autopsy, we finally made them send us a copy.Then the fight to know what she did actually have began.All
that talk of having to have and autopsy to determine if it was hereditary or not was so much bull.Now more tests were needed and they didn’t think they had enough tissue samples or blood left from
Melanie or if it was still viable for testing as it had been too long.Damn,
they are the ones that kept putting us off when we were trying so hard to find out the results.
Finally, samples were sent to Washington,
D.C. for testing.Melanie still had a lethal
form of Dwarfism but it was not the common one that they first thought it was.Thankfully
it is not hereditary, but Mindi says she will never have another baby anyways so the point is mute.
If ever you know someone that has
to go through something like this.Please, please do not be judgmental.Some people are so cruel.Why didn’t
Mindi carry her to full term and what she did was a Sin in God’s eyes.How
hurtful those words are to her.Mindi and I might be the only ones that
know the horror and torture that went through her mind during all this.She is
so thankful now that she had the opportunity to hold her baby girl.She blames
herself a lot though, cuz at first she wasn’t happy about being pregnant and then the thoughts about not wanting a baby
with disabilities. These are demons she has committed to live with.Kind of a self punishment.
I had some friends from the ebay discussion
boards that knew about all this while it was happening.Some that had been through
similar experiences emailed me and warned me not to be too open about the decision Mindi was having to make.They had been crucified by people for making similar decisions.What the hell is wrong with people?How can anyone judge another when
they have not ever been faced with having to make this type ofheart wrenching
Not long after Melanie died, I was
reading a message board about dwarfism and a young Mother’s post caught my eye.She had just been told her baby boy that was due in June had the same thing as Melanie.This poor girls post was crying out.She was scared and didn’t know
what was happening or what she could do.No one answered her.I emailed her and told her about Melanie.Not everything,
just enough to let her know we could understand her feelings and that we would be here for her if she needed us.Well, she emailed back and for months we shared our sadness and joys of the babies.She was too far along in her pregnancy and delivered her little boy almost full term.Let me tell you, she had a rough time.Not only are
the babies in distress as they grow but it causes many difficulties with the mother as well.Her little Andrew was born and died unable to breathe within thirty minutes.One thing she shares with Mindi… both their babies were born alive and therefore were issued Birth Certificates.Babies born dead are not.Sounds
small, but a Birth Certificate gives these grieving Mothers something tangible they can hold onto.Shows the whole world their little one did exist.
Mindi read every one of Amy’s
emails and would pass things along for me to tell Amy.After Andrew was born
she sent Amy and her 3 yr old daughter matching bracelets each with a little boy charm inscribed with Andrew’s full
name and birth date.
Mindi has so many scrapbooks full
of Melanie mementos.You probably wonder how she could fill so many for a child
that only lived a few hours.Well, she saved every email, card, ultrasound photo,
poem, funeral notice, everything at all that was a part of Melanie’s short life.She has Melanie’s hospital bracelet too.Though Melanie never got
to wear it cuz even the smallest ones were way too big, but it did lay with her in the little bassinette at the hospital.She even got to keep the baptismal shell.Amazing
what things you will hold onto that touched your loved one.
Mindi and I did go back to Norfolk
General and voiced an official complaint.The lady in charge was very nice and
even she had to admit that nothing was handled appropriately during Mindi’s ordeal.She said they had already had a discussion about the incident with the head nurse and about the way no one attended
to Mindi while she was there at the Hospital.She acknowledged also that, though
she couldn’t get into the EMS doctor’s behavior, she felt we were lied to about the babies head being to big and
other things for the soul purpose of them having Melanie to study and autopsy.EMS or EVMS stands for Eastern (VA) MedicalSchool.It didn’t really do much good, but she did say that hopefully our
complaint will keep any other Mother from going through what Mindi did.
We also got copies of every hospital note
and test result we could.The story they told was unbelievable.Things documented that they supposedly told Mindi that were never said.Dates and times in the chart when they examined Mindi and checked her vitals etc. while in the Hospital
that never happened.Unbelievable, but I had worked for years at the VeteransHospital and was very much aware of documentation to cover your ass.I was well aware too of the EMS agenda.How
they liked to study things as they were a teaching school.Always trying
to drum up autopsies for them to practice on.
All is behind us now, but I wonder
what others are put through these types of horrors.And I see people say “that
can’t be true, doctors and nurses won’t act that way” well they did and they do.Thank God most are caring people and should be recognized as they have a job I could not do, but
there are some that are judgmental, too use to seeing the bad and become immune to it and some that just don’t give
Happy ending Kind of!!!Baby Rylee presented herself about 5 weeks later.Mindi of
course came to witness the birth.Several hours after she had gone back to work
I called her.She had been locked in her office crying every since she
had left the Hospital but she didn’t want me to tell Jamie that.She said she wanted Jamie to have the Happiest of Days that day.She had been so strong at the Hospital though I knew her heart was breaking.Of course Jamie saw me on the phone to Mindi and knew what she was doing.He said “Mom, I understand.God I know what she
is going through right now!”
One Additional Note: The Hospital padded the bill and had nursery
care, nursery charges (Melanie was never in the Nursery), delivery charges ... you name it and they added it.
Mindi disputed the bill and told them she would see them in court if the bill wasn't corrected to reflect the actual
care her and Melanie received or rather the lack of care they received. The bill was adjusted to Mindi's satisfaction.