In honor of my daughter’s 2nd birthday today, I wanted to share this story:
Let’s start from the beginning. What I thought was going to be the best year of my life ended up being the worst. 2016 started with me getting ready to live my dream of traveling the world. I had just been offered a position as a flight attendant. Of the 100 applicants who were at the open interview for the position, I was one of nine selected to do the job. I felt so blessed and highly favored.
As I was starting to believe that things couldn’t get any better, three weeks before leaving for flight attendant training my then fiance’ finally proposed that we spend the rest of our lives together. I was ecstatic. Life was good. Nothing that anyone could have told me would have prepared me for what was to come in the following months.
Shortly before graduating from FA training I noticed that I wasn’t feeling well. I was feeling nauseous and more fatigue than usual. At first I wrote my symptoms off as side effects from training since it was so stressful. Flight attendant training was intense. People most often visualize flight attendants as simply serving peanuts and beverages, but there was so much more to it. We were literally being trained to save lives if the situation should ever occur while 3,000 feet in the sky. No sleep, early mornings, 12 hour days, and no days off wasn’t even the half of the struggle. However, I made it through and I was so proud. But back to the nausea. As it turned out, I wasn’t able to place blame on FA training. Two weeks before graduation I found out that I was pregnant.
The moment I found out I was pregnant was surreal. I’m not going to lie and say I was happy because I wasn’t at first. I was shocked, terrified and even ashamed. All I could do was cry. During that time I was practicing celibacy, but obviously I stumbled. Now my struggle was brought into the light for everyone to see. So many thoughts ran through my head. How could I be a flight attendant with a baby? What would people think of me since I always promoted the message of marriage before babies? How could I be so stupid? Becoming a mother just wasn’t something that I even considered would be a possibility in 2016. So shortly after FA graduation I headed home to figure out what I was going to do with the next few months of my life.
I had every intent of returning back to my new career in the skies. I thought I could make it work but shortly after returning home, the effects of pregnancy started to kick in and I developed a condition called Hypermesis Gravidarum. For those who don’t know, it’s a sever condition of morning sickness that few women get while pregnant. For me, symptoms included vomiting 20+ times a day, not being able to keep any food in my stomach after consumption, and frequent trips to the ER to get IV’s to combat dehydration. There was no way I would be able to do my job as a flight attendant in that condition, and being I was too new to go on a leave, I decided to resign.
Pregnancy only got worse for me. Not only was I beyond sick, but about 4 months into my pregnancy I started to receive negative reports at my doctors visits. Based on blood work results and ultra sounds, I heard everything from “Your daughter may have a disability”, to “Your daughter might not make it”. It seemed that there was something new at every appointment and all I wanted to know was why this was happening to me. It got to the point where doctors were pressuring me to have an abortion. Time after time they asked if I wanted to give up on my daughter, but there was no way I could do that. I had never been so scared in my life, but I drew the conclusion that maybe God was just testing my faith. So I teamed up with other faith based individuals and vowed that I would no longer be effected by the negative reports from doctors. My God was bigger than any abnormality on a scan and I believed he was going to prove all of those doctors wrong.
Shianne Anaya Hercules was born early in the morning hours on July 6th, 2016. She was born premature at 29 weeks and weighed one pound. It wasn’t the delivery I always saw on tv where the mother was in labor for hours, then the next thing you know a baby is born, he/she crys, everyone celebrates, and finally the mother gets to hold the being she’s been carrying in her womb for the last nine months. Nope. I was admitted into the high risk maternity unit the day before her birth. I had an ultra sound that day and Shianne’s heartbeat was irregular so I was on 24 hour monitoring in case an emergency delivery was needed. Sure enough, at almost 5 in the morning I was awaken from my sleep in my hospital bed and was told that I needed to have an emergency c-section otherwise my daughter wouldn’t make it out of my womb. So they prepped my mother, then fiance’, and I for delivery. I was terrified. I knew she was coming way too early and the doctors kept reminding me that she might not make it past delivery. But she did. I remember it happening in slow motion. After delivery, I saw my beautiful tiny baby in the doctors arm for just a moment before she was whisked away, incubated, and put into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my life and I couldn’t believe that she came from me. I would have done anything to have been able to hold her. I had no plans of becoming a mother that year, but once I met her I knew she was meant to be mine. No words could ever explain the love that a person feels for their own children. It’s a love so strong and unbreakable. Something I never felt before. Its cliche’ but its real. Life finally had meaning. I had a purpose, and it was to be the best mom that I could ever be to this new life.
The next month was nothing short of a roller coaster. Shianne was born with a hole in her heart and under-developed lungs. She was hooked up to so many machines in the NICU and even though she had overcome all other obstacles so far, doctors were not confident that she was ever going to make it out of NICU. In fact, they made sure to remind me of this everyday. At first their words would break me down. I hated trying to envision life without the precious little girl I had just brought into the world. However, no matter what they said, I had to keep the faith for Shianne. If no one else was going to believe in her survival, I had to. I served a miracle working God so of course he was going to heal Shianne. I just had to believe. All things are possible through God.
Day by day, things started to look up for Shianne. Although there were still complications, she was eating the breast milk that I pumped for her, gaining weight and becoming more gorgeous than ever. It was a rough start but after about the first three weeks her health started taking a turn for the better. The doctors were impressed with the progress she was making and finally began to discuss plans of Shianne coming home. She was needing less support from the machines and seemed to be on track to becoming healthy. My prayers along with the prayers of friends and family were working.
So on August 11th, 2016, when I received a call from the doctors office saying that Shianne’s feedings had been stopped and that there was a possibility that she had an infection, I didn’t know what to think. All I knew was that I needed to get back to the hospital right away to be by my daughter’s side. Her doctor said that wasn’t necessary, but there was no way I wasn’t going to show up. Upon arrival, around 11:00pm, I could tell right away by looking at Shianne that something was wrong. My sister and mother were already there. They visited her frequently and informed me that the doctors had just performed CPR on Shianne because her heart beats dropped. Her doctor had not had a chance to call me back yet. At this moment my world was spinning and I couldn’t believe that Shianne was going through this. I was terrified and all I could think was “God, where are you?!”. I got an update from her doctor and she informed me that Shianne did indeed have an infection–something that babies born premature were prone to. They have underdeveloped immune systems which make it hard to combat any type of germs and viruses. I’ll never forget those early morning hours of August 12th, 2016 where I witnessed 5-7 doctors surrounding my daughter, giving her chest compressions and steroids in attempts to get her heart beating again. The infection was taking over and despite all antibiotics giver to her, it wasn’t looking good. They asked me if I wanted to remove her from the machines so that I could hold her for the 1st time before she took her last breaths, but I was in a state of denial. No, I didn’t want them to remove her from any support. I wanted them to keep operating until she was stable again. There was no way God was going to take my daughter from me. I wasn’t giving up and I told them that.
Shianne passed away in the early hours of the morning on August 12th, 2016 from what we found out later was Necrotizing Enterocolitis. She lived to be one month and six days old. To this day, I have never felt so powerless. There she was, my child, losing her life right in front of me and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. For this, I was so upset at God. I didn’t even want to believe in him anymore. For what? I put my whole pregnancy in his hands and had the up most faith despite all of the negative reports I received from man. I did nothing but pray during my pregnancy and still doubled up the prayers once Shianne made it onto this earth. There were hundreds of people praying for Shianne’s healing; from family to friends to churches all over. So many different pastors told me that they felt she was going to make it. Anytime the doctors told me something I didn’t like, I let it go in one ear and out the other because I refused to believe that my God wasn’t big enough to turn around everything they were saying. He was going to work a miracle. I told the doctors this time after time; but there I was on that cold morning with a lifeless daughter in my arms, saying my good-bye’s with no explanation a to why. The doctors were right all along and I looked like a fool because I kept my faith in God regardless of what they said. Or so I thought.
I didn’t know how I was going to go on through life after Shianne died. Between the guilt of being a parent who couldn’t protect my baby from the arms of death, and feeling like I didn’t have God in my corner anymore, it was enough to drive me crazy. I was torn between feelings of God not being real, and God just not caring about me. If God wasn’t real then it’d make more sense as to why my prayers weren’t answered. But if he was real, and he didn’t step in to save my daughter, how could I still serve him? Why would I want to after he left me hanging when I put all of my trust in him? Was this my punishment for getting pregnant before marriage? Angry doesn’t even begin to describe my inner emotions towards God after Shianne left this earth. I found myself comparing my situation to others. I have so many friends who had babies outside of marriage with no remorse and they were completely healthy. Yet, here I am, born and raised in church, had a relationship with God, begged for forgiveness for my fornication and I’m the one who loses a child. I was put through the worst. Why did god allow me to go through this tribulation?
Following Shianne’s death was the darkest time in my life. Sometimes I questioned whether or not life was even worth living anymore so I started to just live like life didn’t matter. The more I thought about the situation, the angrier I got. From losing my position as a flight attendant to being pregnant, to being extremely sick, to mourning the loss of my daughter. It was a lot. I began to binge eat and gained 40 pounds within a span of just a few months. I developed a habit of drinking and also spent nights and weekends trying to party away my pain. I lost faith temporarily. I would still attend church from time to time, but it just wasn’t the same. Now that I look back on it, I think it was more so me being stubborn and not allowing my mind and body to fall into a state of worship. I was mad at God. I was at such a low point, but if I can make it through, anyone can. As much as this situation arose doubts of God’s existence, I knew deep in my heart that he had to be real. So I was honest with God. I told him how I felt and that I was angry. Enough soul searching revealed that rebelling wasn’t the answer and so I decided to come back to him.
One realization that I had shortly before returning back to God’s arms was the fact that so many people serve God when it’s convenient for them. During my pregnancy and while Shianne was in the hospital, I prayed faithfully and never missed a church service. I wanted something from God, and because I expected to get it, I served him. However, as soon as I didn’t get my way with him all bets were off. I had to think about what that said about my relationship with him. Did I exalt him because I believe him to be the creator of the universe and the controller of all things? Or was our relationship based on which prayers he answered?
As I sit here writing this on August 12th, 2017, exactly one year after Shianne’s departure from this earth (I won’t publish this until I’m ready), I still have so many unanswered questions. I’ll never understand why things worked out the way they did in my situation, but I must remember that God promises to have a plan for me. A good one. My daughter’s assignment on earth was fulfilled and she is now in heaven with him. However, I’m still here, so there must be more for me to complete. What the enemy wants to use for bad, God can turn around and use for good. I don’t know very many mothers who have lost children, so when it happened to me there were very few people who could understand what I was going through. Now that I have experienced such tragedy, I am specially equipped to help someone else who may be going through the same thing and that’s what I intend to do. I can turn my ashes to beauty through God almighty.
I’m not saying that I’m over the loss of my daughter. That just won’t happen. Losing a child is something that you NEVER get over. It’s a journey I’ll continue to share with you. You’ll always wonder what things would have been like. You’ll count birthdays and daydream about what milestones they would have overcame at every age. It’ll always be a hard pill to swallow, but there’s always a way to use your pain for good. Learn and be inspired by it. Even though Shianne isn’t here, I’m still the role model that she would have had on earth and I will show her that her mom is strong. Her death is not in vein, and I will continue to use everything that she taught me to help build God’s kingdom until we meet again.