I was raised in a family were my parents were never married. Even though my parents were never married, they worked together in raising me. Besides the fact that my parents lived in different homes nothing was different from what was considered to be a "normal" family. My mother lived in Philadelphia while my father lived in the suburbs. In order to give me a better life, I went to school in the suburbs from 3rd grade through 12th grade.
Growing up, my parents and family kept my father's health issues from me because they knew how close we were and if I thought anything was wrong it would devastate me. My father would always say, "I won't be around forever". I found out quickly how serious his heart problem was when I was in 11th grade. I can still see his face as he woke me up and told me to call an ambulance because he was having a heart attack. At that moment I realized that what my father had been telling me over the past couple of years could now come true. Thankfully, I was able to have him for 7 more years.
Two months after I graduated from college my worst fears became reality. After being in the hospital for a year my father received the news that they had a heart for him. Five days after his heart transplant my father passed away on his 65th birthday. When my father passed away a large part of me went with him. I was daddy's little girl and now that he wasn't here how would I make it? I still had my mom and she was a huge part of my life, but now something major was missing. As a PK (preachers' kid) I knew that I should not question God, but this was the worst thing that had ever happened in my life. It took three years in a deep depression and questioning God for me to make a decision to change. I realized that my dad had prepared me for this time and he would not want me to be depressed and not live my life. So from that moment on I decided to live my life again.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 14 years later my Faith and strength would be tested again. Two years after marrying the man of my dreams we decided to start a family. After two miscarriages in 7 months I almost felt like we would never have a family. My heart was broken once again. My doctor sent me to a fertility doctor to see if they could assist us with starting a family. After several tests the doctor told us to try one more time before we moved on to other options. We did just that and found out we were pregnant. Although I was nervous I knew deep down in my heart that this was another Blessing and God had our little one.
26 weeks into the pregnancy our world was turned upside down. As I lay in the hospital room I prayed to God that this was not real, but I couldn't wake up and make it stop. I kept saying to myself that everything would be fine and our little one would stay put until the end of the pregnancy. This dream quickly diminished as the day went on and my contractions continued. The doctors all came in and told us what would happen with a baby that was born 13 weeks early. Still to this day I don't remember anything that they said because it seemed as though they were talking in another language. My husband appeared to be cool but when I looked into his eyes I could see that he was just as scared as I was. How could this be happening?
After being in the hospital for 21 hours I gave birth to a 2 lb 4 oz baby boy. They took him into the next room the second he was born. My husband went to check on him to see how he was and to also find out whether he was a boy or girl because we didn't know. After a few minutes they rolled him next to me and I had less than a minute to tell him how much I loved him. When he heard my voice he attempted to open up his eyes, but only one opened. I felt numb all over and the tears would not stop. He looked at me like “mom, I will be fine.” Why was my Faith being tested again? What had I done in life that was so bad for something like this to happen?
I always wanted to be a mother and I never imagined that something like this would happen to me. I heard about babies being born early and some were fine and others had health problems or did not make it at all. I could not take heartbreak in my life again. God would have to give me major strength because I had nothing left. For 83 long days we went back and forth to the hospital. I went twice a day because I worked a few blocks from the hospital. I went back to work two weeks after giving birth so that I could save my time for when he came home. Our little fighter went through several blood transfusions, PDA surgery, feeding tubes, oxygen machines, bilirubin levels, IV's, etc. The list goes on and on. He also stopped breathing three times and was assisted by the nurses to start breathing again.
I was released from the hospital two days after his birth. I remember that feeling of heartbreak as I left the hospital without my baby boy. I remember seeing other mother's released with their babies and the anger that built up inside of me. Instead of screaming all I could do was cry. I did not get to hold my little guy for four days. Talking to him through two small holes in his incubator was hell on earth. Then I finally got a chance to hold him and have skin-to-skin contact. It was at that moment when our breathing became one and I realized that although it would be rough, our little guy let me know again that he was going to fight. During this time I have never prayed so hard and so much for something to happen. Not only did I have to pray for our little guy but I also had to pray for my husband. The strong man of God broke and he also needed my help. My Faith became stronger even though the road was rough. God proved to us that he was a miracle worker if we would only trust him. We knew nothing else but to trust God.
As our son gained more strength I found myself praying not only for him but the entire NICU. I realized that every family in the NICU had something in common… sick babies. When a baby was released it was a celebration and another prayer answered. I realized that this situation was not just about me but so many other people. It caused me to step out of my comfort zone because I am an introvert. My Faith is the strongest that it has ever been. I met amazing mothers, doctors and nurses at Pennsylvania Hospital.
I hope that my story will encourage other women who may be going through any situation where you have doubt. I was able to get through all of my situations by placing my trust in God. The families that I met in the NICU have helped me tremendously. Although I am quiet and keep to myself they played a big part in getting me through our journey. I consider them my family and will never be able to repay them for how they touched my life.
My son is now a healthy, energetic and happy 2 year old who blows my mind every day. He is the reason I will never give up on my dreams!
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