I'd never been in a car accident before that day. Well, that's not completely true. I did hit a tree in my parents' driveway when I was seventeen, but that doesn't really count. I was six months pregnant--and those had been the roughest six months of my life. From about the time I was 5 weeks pregnant, I'd been tossing my cookies anywhere from 6 to 26 times a day. No lie. I'd lost a bunch of weight, then gained a bunch of weight, and spent most of my free time sleeping or seeing doctors.
One month earlier, I'd had my 20-week ultrasound and the doctors told me my baby--my little girl--had an echogenic foci on her heart. I was stunned, and confused, and worried. They explained that her heart was okay, thank goodness, but that this foci (spot) could be indicative of a baby with Down Syndrome. I will never forget that day--how I sobbed in a parking lot, my tears camouflaged by sheets of pouring rain.
The specialist at Maternal Fetal Medicine told me I had 48 hours to decide if I wanted to have an amniocentesis--otherwise I'd be too far along to legally have an abortion. Abortion? The word sliced through me like the cutting wind of a Midwestern blizzard. I'd done my homework though; I knew 1/200 amnios resulted in the death of the fetus. So, yes, I was scared. I was scared because I knew it could be tough and I was brave because I knew I'd never give her up, no matter what.
Four weeks later, after refusing the amnio and all genetic testing, I'd spent the afternoon registering for baby gifts. My BFF went with me and helped me scan all the 500 million things I would need to be a new mommy. I'd forgotten about that doctor and the day I'd cried in the rain--none of it mattered now. Either way, I'd be a mother and I'd love my little girl forever. I was happy.
So I dropped my friend off at her house, then called my mother to chat on my drive home because it was late and I was exhausted. I pulled up to a red light and waited. Mom and I chatted about boring things like the dogs, the horses, the deer meandering around her back yard.
The light turned green.
Mine was the only car at the intersection. I moved my foot from the brake to the gas and gently accelerated, my turn signal blinking in the darkness. My eyes were droopy, but I was alert enough to see him. The teenage boy driving the little black car. He wasn't going to stop.
I slammed on my brakes in the center of the intersection and he hit me from the left. My mother heard me scream from 5 states away, but I'd dropped my cell in the collision. My heart was racing, my hands shook violently as I surrounded my pregnant belly, desperate to protect my baby.
It wasn't long before sirens whirred around me. An EMT helped me into the ambulance. As the blood pressure cuff tightened around my bicep, I heard the words of a nearby police officer.
"He was texting. He said he didn't see the red light. He ran right into her."
One in four accidents is the result of distracted driving. That text message could have cost my daughter her life that night. Nothing on your cell phone--not a status update or an email--is more important than another person's life.
Make it a point. Don't text and drive. Ever.
What I Write
My young adult novels are dark, edgy, and realistic. Although I love paranormal and fantasy books, I prefer to create stories that could really happen (and in many cases, really are happening). For me, the echo of a story set firmly in the real world always haunts me long after I've read the final word. If you like Ellen Hopkins, Jay Asher, and Neal Shusterman, you might like my books, too.