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  • Stories of Survival and Hope: When You Lose A Child

    Surviving the unexpected death of her baby, this mom shares life lessons she learned from her experience.
    by Tina Santiago-Rodriguez .
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    Thankful for the pain
    My hysterectomy took so long because of the profuse bleeding. I kept waking up in the middle of the operation and asking for additional anaesthesia because I felt so much pain.

    Finally, the anaesthesiologist said that she was going to put me to sleep. I don't know how long I was under but once again I woke up because of the pain.

    I asked to be put to sleep again. This time, a nurse spoke up and said that my operation was over and that she was only cleaning me up. She said I couldn’t be given any more anaesthesia.

    As I lay there on the operating table, enduring the pain, observing the nurses cleaning up my blood on the floor, it suddenly hit me: I had woken up! I was alive! There I learned to be thankful for the pain because it was that pain that proved that I'm still alive!

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    The need for life-giving milk
    After sleeping for a night, my focus was totally turned to my small baby who needed my breastmilk and so much care. It was frustrating because I couldn't see my son immediately.

    We had to wait more than a day for my OB to allow me to get up from the bed to visit him in the NICU. A fellow homeschool mommy who lived just a few doors down from the hospital came to visit. I was finally allowed to see my baby.

    It was heartbreaking and a joy at the same time. I could see him but I could hardly touch him. But the important thing was that he was alive.

    The neonatologist stressed the importance of giving my baby only my breastmilk. I set off to work immediately, pumping my breasts every two hours to stimulate them to produce the needed milk. Thank God I had so much!

    It didn't matter that I was tired, it didn't matter that I was still recovering from a major operation. Nothing mattered except giving my baby my life-giving milk.

    After five days, I was sent home. Zac had to be left behind in the NICU. I was heartbroken, thinking I couldn’t even give my baby the feeling of his mother’s warmth. He would have to stay alone in his incubator for another month or two, depending on how fast he would grow.
     
    My mother insisted that I stay home and recover for at least a week before I visited Zac in the hospital. Though it was against my wishes, my husband and mom’s orders for me to recover prevailed.

    My husband was the one who went to the hospital every day to visit our baby and bring him my breastmilk. I literally became a milk-making machine. I was obsessed with producing as much milk as I could so that it could be fed to my baby.

    After a week, I finally went to visit my son. I was on a ‘roller coaster’ of emotions: happy to be there with my son, then sad to leave him behind when I had to go home.

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    Bringing home Zac
    Little by little, my son grew and responded to the milk and the supplements given by the doctor. He was gaining weight every day. After a month in the ICU, the doctor said we could take him home.

    I was speechless and afraid. I didn't want to take him home yet because he was still very, very small.

    We were able to take care of Zac at home for three weeks. Though we were very happy to have him at home with us, I was always worried for him.

    A horrible turn of events
    Zac had been losing weight since the first visit to his pedia. On the third week, I told my husband that there was something wrong with him. I didn’t really know what, but my maternal instincts were telling me to take him to the hospital immediately.

    When we brought him to the hospital, they said he had sepsis — an infection of the blood — and was very sick. He was already gasping for breath when the doctor saw him. They took him away from me and the next time I saw him, he was intubated and had needles all over his body for his medicines and blood transfusions.

    After five excruciating days in the ICU, our baby boy died.

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    Dealing with the loss
    I couldn't understand why it happened. I looked for someone to blame but ultimately blamed myself for his death.

    I asked all sorts of questions. What if we had gone to another hospital? What if we had never taken him home in the first place. What if... what if... so many what ifs.

    I cried all the time. But when I saw my other kids mourning in grief, I had to park my own emotions to comfort them. But even after months that Zac had gone, I would cry uncontrollably, and nothing could comfort me.

    Seeking… and finding (again) the Lord
    Through all that happened, I sought the Lord. I sought to understand His will, who He is and His plan for all of us.

    I know that I came to a point where I really had to accept the sovereignty of God in this. He is the Giver of Life and He is also the Taker of Life.

    Because of this, I was angry most of all with God. In my prayers, I railed at Him, screamed in sorrow, begged Him to help me understand, demanded for Him to answer my why's. Why did He allow this? Why did my son suffer? Why are my children suffering now?

    Out of this experience, I was able to accept that God is Sovereign and He has a plan for all of us — and that includes the pain in our lives. I learned that Only by the grace of God is it possible to live a happy life after mourning the death of my son.

    Allowing ourselves to mourn is really what enables us to move on. My sister, a psychotherapist, said that many people who don't ‘attend to’ their mourning, almost never recover from the death of their loved ones. So, as a whole family, we always take time off during Zac's birthday and death anniversary, just to think of him.

    Losing Zac was a truly heartbreaking experience for us, but we continue to take comfort in the knowledge that he is in a far better place now — with our Father in Heaven.

    Michelle is a business owner and the blogger behind BeyondSilverAndGold.com. She and her husband, Dale, have 4 kids: Bethany 18, Naomi 15, Faith, 9, Joshua, 6, and 1 more kid — Zachary Daniel — waiting for them in Heaven.

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    Photo by Steve White via flickr creative commons

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