By: Shirley Vasquez
While pregnant, we received the news that our baby had a life-threatening condition, congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). We were frequently asked to consider termination and told our baby might have no quality of life. We were handed a pamphlet that ended with how to make our only hours with him "painless." Yet pain had already taken such a toll on our family.
I watched my husband, our rock, break down. I remember drifting into a pit of sorrow at the thought of having to plan my son's funeral before I even had the chance to plan his shower. I was crushed, devastated, confused, exhausted, and terrified, and I felt my heart shatter. In that moment, God appeared in a way only He knows how to do. He was firm and unwavering. Mid-sob, he slowed my breathing, held me, and said, “I'm always here.”
Preparing for the Unimaginable
After confirming that our baby had CDH, I was just as firm with my OB and told her we would continue our pregnancy. We were given all the details and we tried to prepare for the unimaginable. I became a medical expert in my son's diagnosis, learning medical verbiage and terms far beyond my understanding. At the time, I didn’t know how I continued, but I now know it was God who gave me strength and intelligence.
Leading up to our son’s birth, the odds were stacked against us. He had a 20% life expectancy. Every exam before his birth came back inconclusive, just vague results telling us his case was mild to moderate. When our son was born, he was intubated right away, stabilized, and then able to undergo his surgery four days after his birth.
There are few ways to prepare your heart to see the most fragile precious human fight for their life. I already struggle with anxiety, and I was terrified I would spiral when I saw him connected to ventilators, IV poles full of medication, and a million monitors tracking different aspects of his well-being... But God shifted it for me. There was no fear. Instead, I was so grateful for each piece of medical equipment and so grateful for each of our angel nurses that operated them and monitored our little man.
Being Prayed For and Praying For Others
The weight of the NICU is one of the heaviest things I have ever experienced. During those days, Praying Through Ministries prayed for us, and through their online community, we were able to pray for others. I have an entry in my son's journal where I marveled at how amazing God is to have complete strangers saying my son's name and lifting him in prayer.
To the parents coping with difficult news, I'm so sorry. I wish I could make the heavy cloud that looms over your joy vanish. How often the enemy attempts to steal our joy from us! I do not pretend to know your exact ache or pain, but I can tell you with all certainty about HIS love! He will give you strength! He will hold you.
Shirley is a mother to a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) survivor and NICU/PICU graduate.