Real Life Griev­ing the death of a child

New­ly­weds Yvette and Ja­nis Ven­ter were dot­ing over their new­born daugh­ter Mikayla, when her sud­den death turned their whole world up­side down, writes Lynn Wil­liams

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

IT WAS LOVE at first sight for Yvette and Ja­nis from East Lon­don when a mu­tual friend in­tro­duced them in 2011. In Jan­uary 2012 they moved in to­gether and got en­gaged in Fe­bru­ary. By Novem­ber 2012 they tied the knot.

They were over­joyed to learn that they were ex­pect­ing four months later. When the cou­ple learnt that it was a girl they knew they would call her Mikayla.

“The name means gift from God. I had an easy preg­nancy and de­liv­ery. On 19 Septem­ber 2014 she was born.

“She slept in our bed­room and started sleep­ing through the night very early. We had such a won­der­ful time with her,” Yvette re­calls.

The last thing on their minds was the fact that they would have to cope with the sud­den death of their child.

Yet the worst hap­pened. Mikayla died as a re­sult of sud­den in­fant death syn­drome (SIDS), also known as cot death, when she was just 16 weeks old. BE­ING SICK Yvette re­mem­bers Mikayla be­ing con­sti­pated, not fin­ish­ing her bot­tle and cry­ing a lot two weeks be­fore her death. Mikayla was di­ag­nosed with silent re­flux and put on Nex­ium, which helped tem­po­rar­ily.

Dur­ing this time she started day­care on a Wed­nes­day and a Friday. The Ven­ters en­rolled her a week be­fore Yvette was due to go back to work, to give her time to ad­just to her new en­vi­ron­ment.

FATE­FUL PHONE CALL On 9 Jan­uary 2015 Mikayla went to day­care. She was 16 weeks old at the time. Yvette and one of her friends went to a spa to cel­e­brate her friend’s birth­day. The pair just ar­rived home from the spa when the phone rang.

“It was the owner of the day­care. She told me to come be­cause Mikayla had turned blue. Panic-stricken, I had no idea what was go­ing on. I phoned Ja­nis. My friend and I jumped into the car and rushed to the hospi­tal.”

At the hospi­tal Yvette learnt that Mikayla was on her way in an am­bu­lance. She did not have a pulse. Con­cerned, the fam­ily started to gather.

“This was the long­est day of our lives. A med­i­cal team did CPR on her for three hours and man­aged to get her heart beat­ing again. She was trans­ferred to NICU,” says Yvette.

DEV­AS­TAT­ING NEWS Mikayla had not been in NICU for very long when the cou­ple were told “it was over”. “In that very mo­ment it felt like we had died as well. How do you now leave the hospi­tal with empty hands? Heart­bro­ken, dev­as­tated and trau­ma­tised, they had no idea how they would move for­ward.

CAUSE OF DEATH Yvette and Ja­nis were in­formed that Mikayla died of cot death. They opted not to do an au­topsy and ac­cepted it as such, but later Yvette bat­tled to come to terms with the fact that a healthy child could just stop breath­ing for no rea­son.

“I did a lot of re­search. I could not find much, ex­cept for re­search that shows that ba­bies might have low lev­els of sero­tonin in their brains. The sero­tonin con­trols their sleep, breath­ing and heart­beat. I had to make peace with it. It was not un­til much later, and dur­ing a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence, that things started to make more sense.”

PICK­ING UP THE PIECES The cou­ple re­ceived coun­selling from the priest who was at the hospi­tal the day Mikayla died. After­wards they at­tended a work­shop called Jour­ney of Heal­ing Grace, pre­sented by a li­censed psy­chol­o­gist who had also lost a child.

“These ses­sions truly helped us. It is very true that a per­son can only re­ally un­der­stand what you are go­ing through if they have been through a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence them­selves.” BUN­DLE OF JOY When Mikayla died the cou­ple knew that they wanted an­other child. Not to fill the void that she left in their lives, but to have an­other child to love and call their own.

“Four months after she passed away we learnt that I was preg­nant. We were both happy and scared. Scared with ev­ery scan and ter­ri­fied around ev­ery cor­ner. It was a very stress­ful preg­nancy.

“In Novem­ber 2015, a month be­fore my due date, I started hav­ing con­trac­tions and had a ter­ri­ble bout of flu. Luck­ily the doc­tors man­aged to stop the con­trac­tions and I was put on bed rest,” says Yvette. On 28 De­cem­ber 2015 lit­tle Jano (mean­ing God is mer­ci­ful) was born.

Yvette says the worry crept back in when Jano was ten days old and he de­vel­oped jaun­dice. “He was ad­mit­ted to the same pae­di­atric ward, just down the hall from where Mikayla died. To make mat­ters worse, it was around a year after her death. Dur­ing that time I hardly slept. I was so scared we would lose our son too.”

RE­FLUX Jano de­vel­oped re­flux when he was a month old. Yvette says even though he showed all the signs (like strug­gling to drink his bot­tle), her pae­di­a­tri­cian re­fused to be­lieve her. Night-times were es­pe­cially tough be­cause he cried un­con­trol­lably and noth­ing could set­tle him down. At the age of three months his re­flux got worse.

A nurse ad­vised Yvette to put Jano on a neb­u­liser be­fore ev­ery feed. This, cou­pled with their de­ci­sion to start him on Nex­ium, of­fered some re­lief.

“At four months old and dur­ing a trip to the gro­cery store one day Ja­nis no­ticed that Jano was blue above his eyes and around his mouth. We went to the emer­gency room. Jano was ad­mit­ted with ap­noea, but this did not sound right to me. It was very scary leav­ing him in the ICU.

“The fol­low­ing day a dif­fer­ent doc­tor di­ag­nosed him with pneu­mo­nia. She said it was caused by the re­flux be­cause the milk had gone into his lungs. Putting him on the neb­u­liser had made mat­ters worse.”

Ex­ten­sive tests con­firmed that Jano had re­flux. He was pre­scribed medicine, had to be kept up straight for 30 min­utes after a feed – and he al­ways sleeps with a mon­i­tor.

A MOTHER’S IN­TU­ITION While Jano was in hospi­tal Yvette won­dered if there could be a link be­tween re­flux and cot death. She pon­dered whether milk could end up in a baby’s lungs when re­flux hap­pens, caus­ing them to as­pi­rate when they sleep. In her mind she is con­vinced that this is what hap­pened to Mikayla.

MOV­ING ON The cou­ple has since learnt how to cope in some ways with their or­deal. They are happy and re­as­sured that Jano is a healthy baby. They take the time out to cel­e­brate Mikayla’s “An­gelver­sary” ev­ery year and ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery sec­ond they are given to­gether as a fam­ily.

“We can re­ally just thank God for bless­ing us dur­ing the good times and dur­ing times of trou­ble,” say the Ven­ters. YB

by One­hope R157 As chil­dren grow, they be­come more cu­ri­ous and start ask­ing ques­tions such as, “Why is the sky blue?” and, “Who is God?” An­swer­ing such ques­tions can be quite chal­leng­ing. In part­ner­ship with You Ver­sion, One­hope has pro­vided scrip­ture con­tent to cre­ate the Bible App for Kids, along with a book. This book out­lines ma­jor sto­ries of the Bible, jour­ney­ing kids right from the be­gin­ning, from ques­tions about how the earth was formed, “how sins came about, and why God gave up his beloved son,” right to the very end. If you’re plan­ning on bring­ing your kids up the Chris­tian way, or if they’re in­quis­i­tive enough to want to know, this book will give them some an­swers. (Down­load the app on the Ap­ple app store, Google Play and Ama­zon.)

New life: The cou­ple learnt that they were ex­pect­ing again four months after Mikayla passed away.

Jano is a happy and healthy baby who has brought joy to their lives.

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