In the first post of our “The Beauty of Blogging” series I shared the story of how blogging became such a huge part of my life. In the first part of that post, I eluded to a family tragedy we experienced eight years ago. In this post, I’d like to delve a little deeper into what we went through in 2010.
Before I start, I want to include a trigger warning. This post includes the story of the loss of a child. If you are sensitive to that kind of thing, it will not hurt my feelings one bit for you to click away to another post. In fact, because I love you, I want you to. 💜
A baby on the way!!
In September of 2009 we were completely surprised to learn that we had a baby on the way! I experienced no symptoms of pregnancy but had a feeling that I needed to take a pregnancy test and sure enough, it showed the two pink lines of a positive result! We were thrilled. We told our kids on our oldest son’s eighth birthday and they could not stop shouting in joy. I went to see my doctor and the standard prenatal care began. We learned that our sweet baby boy was due at the end of May. The pregnancy progressed normally until February 15th of 2010.
What started as a cold became something else entirely . I was unable to keep anything down and had the most horrible migraine. My doctor sent me to the hospital right away. My husband was out of town, so I drove myself. A nurse quickly escorted me to Triage and then admitted me. It wasn’t long before my body succumbed to an unknown virus and I fell into a deep sleep.
At one point I remember waking up to a nurse leaning over my bed anxiously calling my name and asking me to wake up. She informed me that I had a very high fever and asked me several questions. I mumbled my answers and went back to sleep. The next morning my doctor came to see me. He said I was extremely ill but he did not know what I had. I tested negative for the flu and a barrage of other things.
Because they could not determine the cause of my symptoms, we all agreed that preparing our baby for an early delivery was the best option. I was 29 weeks pregnant when I was admitted, so my doctor gave me steroids to help him with his lung development. We began to see a handful of specialists who had extensive knowledge in caring for premature babies. We also began to see several specialists to aid in my care as my health was declining rapidly.
For a solid month I was in a hospital bed having blood drawn daily and meeting with internists, liver, kidney and hematology experts. We talked about a liver transplant, blood transfusions and so many other things. The only firm diagnosis they could give me was Gestational Diabetes. After slightly improving for a few days, I awoke to an awful headache. It wasn’t long before we knew that we couldn’t wait any longer. On March 12, 2010, our youngest child, Isaiah John-Edward Johnson was born. We called him Ike. He was eight weeks premature. Immediately, he went to the NICU .
Not long after his birth, I made a miraculous recovery. I was discharged from the hospital and I spent the next 14 days at Ike’s bedside. The first seven were so hard. His lungs were very very weak and were not responding to treatment as expected. The CPAP machine was not enough to help him breathe. After a few doses of Cirfactin, his breathing began to improve but only slightly. On the seventh day, we experienced another miracle. Not only did he begin gaining weight, his lungs were improving by leaps and bounds and within days he was off of the CPAP machine! Within a matter of days, he was released from the hospital and we were back home, living a normal life with all four of our children.
On June 7th, 2010, I woke up extremely impressed with our little one. He’d slept 6 hours straight! I went to the kitchen and made him a bottle. While it was warming up in the bottle warmer, I went to wake him up. Somehow he’d flipped himself over onto his belly! I rolled him over to discover that he had not slept through the night like I thought. He’d passed away. I began screaming and pacing, unsure of what to do.
Then, as if a switch flipped on in my brain, I grabbed him out of his bed and began administering CPR. I’m not sure how long I did that before I realized I needed to call 911. I ran to my phone only to discover that the battery was dead. I fumbled with the charger, went back to my baby and started CPR again. When my phone finally came on, I called 911. They were there in a matter of minutes and took my son to see if they could help him. One of the first responders stayed with me. She helped me call my husband (he was out of town) and my mother-in-law. Police officers, paramedics, family and close friends soon filled our home. The days following were so chaotic. We buried our baby boy on June 11th in a very private graveside ceremony.
I remember the first year without him was hard but not unbearable. The bliss of shock protected me. It was the second and third year that I didn’t think I’d live through. While grieving our child, my husband lost his job and we lost everything. At one point I went to the pantry to make dinner. We had a couple of cans of Ranch Style beans and some rice. I fed our kids with it, not knowing where their breakfast the next morning would come from. It was such a dark time of my life.
Even during one of the darkest times of my life, God showed up. The night that I fed our kids that beans and rice meal I was devastated. However, the next morning, someone showed up at our house with a trunk full of groceries that overflowed our pantry and fridge! It was incredible. A local radio station heard about our struggles and gave us a check for $5000! Out of the blue, my man was hired by Peterbilt. It’s a crazy story that I’ll let him tell you at another time, but it truly was miraculous. They offered him great pay and even better benefits! We were so excited and so very grateful. It was just the refreshment we needed at that time. We did face more trials later, but we were so thankful for the reprieve.
In all of that I learned that life as a Christian does not exempt me from difficulties. In fact the Bible promises that I will have them. But life as Christian offers the hope that there is someone who loves us unconditionally. While we are not free from battles, we are guaranteed victory in the war. I began to see Christ as a person, a brother, if you will. I began to talk with him. He held me while I cried and comforted me when the grief felt like a knife in my heart. I came to know the tenderness of Christ and it changed my relationship with Him. That’s what the challenges of this life will do, if we let them… They will bring us closer to Him and reveal His true nature.
When our experiences are not good, He is always good. When life bring us to our knees, He meets us there and lifts our chins. Christ does not judge us in our weakest moment. He loves us through it and makes us stronger.
As crazy as it might sound, I am thankful for that period of our lives… not because I want to go through it again… and trust me, I still miss our son every single day. I’m thankful because I got to see the true nature of Christ revealed in such an intimate way. He met me in my deepest need and gave me the strength to move forward. He healed me and continues to do so. I am so blessed.
Y’all here’s the thing, He is no respecter of persons. What He has done and is doing for me, He will do for you. It may not be, look or feel the way we want it to, but we can trust that if we allow Him to have complete control, His way will be the best way.
I want to thank you for reading about our sweet little boy. I know this post is a heavy one.
For those of you facing tragedy right now, please let me encourage you to trust the process and KNOW that if you turn things over to Him, He will do so much good with it. It may hurt for a little while… heck… it may hurt for a long while, but He will heal you and He will make you stronger than you ever thought you could be. There is beauty after this, darlin. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but I promise you, there is.