One evening my daughter began to vomit and had constant diarrhea. I had called her GI doctor, who told me to keep an eye on her and give her extra fluids. I went to work the next day, and by that evening I could tell she was beginning to become dehydrated. Her doctor assured me she would be fine and that I didn’t need to take her to the hospital. Around midnight, I noticed a very prominent blue vein on her chest, which led me to believe her chest was swollen. I took her to the emergency room. Tests were done and they did not believe it was serious. They admitted her for observation, they believed she would just need fluids and would be back to herself. A few hours later, her blood work came back and doctors rushed in and informed me that she appeared to be in organ failure. They took her for a STAT CT scan. After the scan, they told me she appeared to have a very bad infection in her intestines because they were extremely swollen, pressing against her organs, which is why her blood worked showed she was in organ failure. The doctors that we had seen several times before, began telling me how good of a mother I was and that I did everything right, but that was going to be the last time I saw her alive. They told me she was going back for emergency surgery, and would most likely code. They gave her no chance of surviving the surgery. I remember that moment so clearly. I had been thinking things were finally looking up, and there we were in the same position we were in just a year before, doctors telling me to tell her goodbye. Her doctor said, “she’s fighting so hard”. I went to her bedside, kissed her forehead and told her that she didn’t have to fight anymore, that it was okay for her to go and leave all of this pain. I remember praying, asking God to please keep her if she codes again. I knew what the consequences would be if she coded again. I wanted to keep her on earth with me, but I knew that God would do what was best for her, not what was best for me at that moment. I had to do that on my knees because they would keep buckling as I would get lightheaded.
My daughter spent several hours in surgery. Her surgery team had to come from home, as it was a weekend. By that time, several family members and friends had arrived to sit with me as I waited. I spent the entire time praying. I had to fight back thoughts of leaving the hospital with an empty car seat. I sang worship songs in my head. We prayed out loud. I remember praying “God, I trust you. I know that you will do what’s best for my daughter. I trust Your will for her life. She is your daughter, she is not mine. I pray for Your will to be done today”.
We were the only ones in the waiting room. I cried, I felt peace, then I would cry again. I experienced so many emotions. Her surgeon came out after a few hours. I was honestly expecting him to say something about how they did all they could, but she didn’t make it. What he said shocked me. He said “we were able to cut a small piece out of her intestines that was dead, and it wasn’t as bad as we saw on the first scan. We cut an opening in her stomach and now her intestines are outside of her body in a silo to allow the swelling to hopefully go down. She is alive, but is in very critical condition and still may not survive this.”
A few hours later, we were able to walk over to the pediatric intensive care unit. I remember feeling a joy come over me as I walked over surrounded by people who cared for us. I thought to myself “she’s alive! what?! I can not believe she pulled through this! Thank you, Lord!” I was trying to prepare myself for what I was going to see. I walked into the room and saw my daughter’s insides on the outside of her body. I had no idea that was even possible. She spent a week completely sedated on life support when the doctor came in and told me once again that she had gotten another infection and they were taking her for surgery where she had a 10 percent chance of surviving. He explained to me how most babies who are completely healthy otherwise don’t survive something like this, so she had almost no chance of surviving in the state she was in. I could not stop crying. I kept telling myself “stop crying Sierra, God has brought her through this several times, why would this time be any different?” She made it through and came out better than she went in. They were able to put some of her intestines back inside of her body although her stomach was still open. It was a wake-up call for me. I realized the doctors could tell me what they thought would happen, but the ultimate decision of whether she would live or die, was up to God.
My daughter was in the PICU on life support for an entire month. I stayed by her side as much as I could. I slept in a chair next to her bed almost every night. I had people come to sit with her so I could go to work because I still had bills to pay as the only provider. It was a struggle. She continued getting better. She stayed in the hospital for 89 days. After many ups and downs, she was discharged. I remember feeling such freedom walking out of that hospital. My daughter survived. I survived. We persevered and we were finally free. After that long of a hospital stay, we had to start over with her medications and private duty nursing care. It was such a stressful time. I was still trying to work in the middle of all the chaos as well. Things finally began to settle down. I thought back to how I was complaining three months before about having to stay at home all of the time because of my daughter. I had a new perspective. It took me not being able to go home for three months to realize how blessed I was.
I can look back now at my journey and see all of the many blessings in the middle of my trials. The trials I lived through have completely changed my life for the better. I still struggle daily, and continue to go through trials, but they get easier to handle. My experiences have grown me in a way that only they could accomplish. My faith has grown through all of this and I am so thankful. When I was down to nothing, God was up to something. I couldn’t see that in the moment, but every single time I could look back and see it after the trial was over. Do I wish things were different sometimes? Do I have bad days where I become exhausted and cry? Do I get down when I see other toddlers who are doing so much more than my daughter? Yes. When I do, I pray, I write about it, and I give it to God. He lifts the weight from my shoulders, puts a peace in my heart that only He can give, and holds me until I’m done crying. Without God, I couldn’t handle this. He is my strength, my refuge, my hope, my peace, and He will continue to carry me through this journey I am on.
My girls and I before the injury, and then a photo that was taken recently.
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**This story originally appeared on the Single Mommin’ It blog. Used with permission.