Week 14 ~ September 20, 2005
(First and foremost, to my brave Bostonian college roomie... Happy Birthday Bree! Here's wishes for 25 more years of happily denying access, insane economics-related math, that you'll never be revisited by a certain monster we once fended off so bravely with a mere stick back in the days of old, and that someday your bust will once again outshine mine. Ah, college...)
Well, this has certainly been an unexpected week. This past weekend, Aaron and I were in the middle of one of our little unpacking/cleaning squabbles, when his sister called and told him that their grandmother had died. Not only was this an obvious shock to Aaron, but to me as well, as I didn't even know he had a grandmother. (Well, obviously, I knew he had to have grandparents somewhere, it's just that he's not close to his family, and anyone outside of his mother and sisters, he doesn't talk about much - very strange for me in contrast to my super tight family.) Aaron, understandably, has been very upset, to a worrisome degree. He sits by himself, and won't talk for long periods of time. It's been very upsetting, because I feel completely in the dark, without his giving me any sort of an explanation as to who she was to him, what there relationship was like, why he's so shaken up, etc. Monday night, in an attempt to get him off the couch and cheer him up a little bit, I suggested we run to Corleone's for steak sandwiches, and pick up the next set of episodes of Lost (genius) from Blockbuster. He agreed, reluctantly, and we got in the car and headed out. Then, maybe 50 feet from our front door, we were hit full speed by another car.
Just as I was entering the intersection by our house, I looked to my left, saw a red car heading towards us, and thought, "She's not going to stop." Mid-intersection, I tried to curve out towards my right a bit, and allow for more room between us to try and avoid a collision. I don't remember seeing her car anywhere near mine and I don't remember seeing her hit me. What I DO remember is the loud SMACK of her car into mine, and I remember stopping at the other end of the intersection, facing the direction I had just come from, and looking up at my light to make sure that it was green. The first thing I did was to ask Aaron if I had indeed had the green, and that it was her who had ran the light. He told me that it had absolutely been the other driver's fault, and then, knowing that, I felt free to completely freak out.
I was sitting behind the wheel, still buckled in, car still running, lights still on, hyperventilating and hysterically weeping (with good reason this time). Aaron, very practical, was talking calmly to me, coaxing me to turn off the car, breathe, calm down, etc. There we these two giantess, blonde construction worker women that had been working on the intersection and saw the crash. They ran over to me, and through my (I suddenly realized) completely shattered window, asked if I was all right. Feeling terrified, but generally all right physically, I told them what I thought was the most important thing: I'm pregnant. The scene after that is fairly ridiculous in my mind (well, it is NOW, but wasn't so funny at the time), with these enormous, tough women rushing around like maniacs in their orange vests, hard hats and tattoos, stopping traffic, and shouting on walkie-talkies, "SHE'S PREGNANT! PREGNANT!" thereby announcing it to anyone in Greeley who might not know yet of my impending motherhood. I was still sitting in my seat, reached into my purse, and found my phone and called my parents. I briefly talked to my mom, explained to her what had happened, and asked them to come and help us. I was just getting off the phone when the ambulance arrived and a nurse came to assess me. She didn't want to attempt to open my door, what with the shattered window, and the various loose debris, so she asked if I was ok to climb through the passenger side door. I undid my belt, and awkwardly climbed through to the other side of the car, then shakily stepped out. They rushed me to the ambulance to do several check-ups on my person. A lot of it was pretty standard, like you'd see on TV, checking my neck and back for anything broken, having me wiggle my toes and open and close my fists. Outwardly, I was fine, a few scrapes here and there, and feeling sore where the seatbelt hit, so I opted not to ride in the ambulance to the hospital (a measly two blocks away) in favour of staying to help with police reports, etc. The paramedics suggested that my best route would be to call my OB-GYN and schedule a check-up for the baby the next day, as there was nothing they could really do from there to help, other than check for the obvious abdominal pain and bleeding. Aaron helped me to climb out of the ambulance, and we walked back over to the car to talk with police. The girl who had hit us was standing on the corner, sobbing, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," over and over again. I felt really sorry for her, as I could only imagine the sick feeling you'd getting knowing that you've hit someone, and then finding out that you've hit a pregnant woman on top of everything else. My parents showed up, which was an emotional relief, to have someone else there to lean on besides poor, shaken Aaron. We hugged, and then the tears started all over again, because, standing in front of my car, we could see just how bad it was.
Had the girl hit just a foot closer to the front of my car, the likelihood that the baby and I would have been very much not OK would be pretty huge. Luckily, she hit more towards the driver's side back door. The impact had smashed the door in about a foot, completely buckling it back out at the top and bottom. The force radiated out towards the front and back of my car, denting in my driver's door so that it couldn't be opened, completely shattering the window, and loosening all the paneling on the inside of the door so that it flew at me during the crash (I found it in my lap!) The hood, which is the furthest part of the car from the damage, is also buckled up, evidence of just how much force there actually was in the impact. And the most surprising to me, when we were unloading my trunk, I found several metal lithography plates I had stored in there bent up around the edge. Upon investigating, we found damage on the inside of the trunk, when there didn't appear to be any on the outside. Basically, it was like a bomb had gone off in the infrastructure of my car's frame. It was so impressive an impact that, the next day, I found a metal tube of lipstick and my hard glasses case, both of which had been in my purse, setting between me and the door, smashed in (don't worry - the glasses and the lipstick themselves are OK). The girl's car looked like any of those cars you see on crash safety test films - the front end was completely smashed in as though it had hit a wall (insert safety dummies telling you to buckle up here).
We were there in that intersection for over an hour, filling out police reports, talking to everyone, making statements, etc. Worst of all was that I was completely starving, now that it was well past my dinnertime. I had the ominous task of trying to balance being scared to death, while still trying to be sane enough to tell everyone the information they needed as accurately as I could, without throwing up all over everyone because I really needed something to eat! Finally, the police dispersed, they towed away our non-drivable cars, and everyone was free to leave. We walked the short distance back to the house, and my parents drove their parked car around to meet us. Being calm and rational and wonderful as they are, they told us to go inside, get phone calls to work, doctors, etc. out of the way, and they would go and pick us up dinner and the movie we had originally planned to rent. Aaron and I both called in to work, leaving message that we wouldn't be in the next day, then called my doctor to schedule an appointment for the next morning. My parents arrived back with an enormous bucket of fried chicken, a pot pie, and huge containers of mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits (apparently in our case, trauma makes us really, really hungry), our DVD, and a container of Fudge Brownie ice cream to boot. We all hugged once again, they left, and then Aaron and I settled down on our couch, watching Lost, and every few minutes looking at each other and shaking our heads in shock/dismay/disbelief and other such emotions. We went to bed that night, exhausted, with our phones right next to us ready to start early the next morning with doctors, insurance, etc.
The next day was just as long and frustrating at the night before. We went to the doctor first thing, but as it turned out, my OB was out in surgery, and the only thing they could do for me at my clinic was check for heart tones. It was there, strong as ever, but still, considering the bruises starting across my belly, and the good smashing it had taken from the seatbelt, I was still worried. I called around to several different physicians to see if anyone could get me in to check out not only the baby, but my neck and back for whiplash, but the answer I kept getting was exactly what I didn't want to hear: go to the ER. Finally, it was the only option I had, and so I went. The ER was the only place with all the machines needed available and at-hand to do a full check-up. So I went and sat in the waiting room for an eternity, then I sat around on a gurney in a little gown for an eternity, waiting for attention. Sporadically, over the course of several hours, people came in and questioned me, gave me x-rays and then an ultrasound. The x-rays were tricky, because we had to double shield my baby with those protective sheets, and could only do them on my neck and not all over. The ultrasound was wonderful, though, made it all worthwhile. Up to this point, we hadn't had one yet, so this was the first time I'd seen the baby. Little Squirt was there, whole and happy, sucking his/her thumb. Then, when he/she caught on that we were watching him/her, he/she stopped the sucking, and flailed her arms and legs in displeasure. Cantankerous little thing! The doctor printed out a picture for me, which unfortunately wasn't nearly as clear as watching on screen was, and Squirt looks more like a monkey/dog/duck than a crabby little baby. Still, it's our first baby picture, awww.
I left the hospital late in the afternoon with paperwork documenting my whiplash, lumbar strain, and (this was hilarious) a sheet stating that I had an existing pregnancy, and what I should do to seek care for it. Aaron wasn't home, so I called him up and he answered from Corleone's, where he had gone for a quick beer, and to order us tacos for dinner. I met him there, dragged him outside to the back entryway, so we could have some privacy, and I showed him the picture of the baby. Watching his face as he looked at it and started to understand that this was our child was the most intense, surreal moment of my life. It was literally every emotion you would expect at a moment like this, but all smashed up together into one look. Then we started laughing like madmen, because, well, what else can you do when you're so emotionally bogged down, and then there's this one incredibly beautiful thing that outshines all the rest of it? Finally, we recovered ourselves sufficiently, looked at the baby again, and Aaron asked, "Jenn... why does our baby look like a duck?" Aargh.
Since that one fantastic moment, there's been more ugly drama. We've been dealing with insurance companies (hell in and of itself) only to discover that the girl who hit us is now denying responsibility, and her insurance is refusing to compensate us for anything at this point. Aaron and I are both completely stupefied, literally at a loss for words, trying to understand how they can possibly be trying to pull this crap off. Not only did this girl blatantly blow through her red light and slam into us at full speed, but there were witnesses, the police arrived shortly after it happened and took statements from all of us, the girl received several tickets stating her fault in the accident whereas we received none, and she confessed to everything to boot! Unfortunately, her insurance company is taking her side on the matter, despite not having even bothered to order the police report yet. The girl herself has refused to answer any calls from my insurance company to give a statement - basically, no one on her end is being helpful in any way. In the end, what we had to do was file a claim against my own insurance, so that we could get things in motion as fast as we could. My car is totaled, and we're driving a rental car that my parents are covering for us. We have no savings right now (we just moved!) and waiting for her insurance to finally accept responsibility and get a check over to us was not an option. So now whatever settlement we get from my insurance is going to be less my $500 deductible, which is a huge amount to us - that's a down-payment on a new car! The good news is, once they DO accept liability, we're going to have the opportunity to bleed them dry...
Whereas Aaron and I had been initially very concerned for the girl who hit us, and wanted to make things as easy as possible, we have now adopted a No Mercy standpoint. We've saved everything, every scrap of paper, documenting anything and everything we've had to pay out because of this accident. Not only will they have to pay us for my car itself, but we will also demand reimbursement for the rental car, my ER visit, lost wages, and visits to my massage therapist to help with the whiplash trauma in my neck. On top of all that, the nice lady at my insurance company has informed me that we are entitled to go after a Pain and Suffering settlement. This would cover compensation for not only our physical injuries, but also emotional. Har har, they don't know what pain and suffering is until the day they try and take on a crazy pregnant lady.
Meanwhile, back in normal life, we're continuing on. Shopping for a car is another task near the top of my Things I Absolutely Hate To Do list (up there with vacuuming and talking to insurance people). I found a sweet little used SUV that I loved, and thought was perfect, but everyone else nixed it completely, so, to my great dismay, the search continues. If anyone has a newer model, excellent condition, mid-sized car or small SUV, clean and with a good safety rating that they are willing to sell to me for the whole 6 odd dollars I have left in my purse right now, please feel free to contact me ASAP!