“It all started with two little pink lines and an abundance of feelings and emotions. My husband and I were ecstatic and hopeful yet at the same time we were terribly scared and nervous. We knew our lives were about to change forever but we had no idea how much they were actually going to change. As my pregnancy progressed, we found out we were expecting a baby girl, and my heart grew. We picked out the cutest little pink outfits covered with frills and sparkles. We decorated her nursery with lots of pink and the cutest elephants we could possibly find. Then we agreed on a name, our little girl would be named Ajla (eye-la) Joy.
Time continued to drag on and the anticipation of meeting our girl grew tremendously. Everything seemed to be going perfectly until I hit 30 weeks. I had an appointment with my OB and we had decided to do an ultrasound just to make sure she was growing right on track. I will never forget the silence that grew as the ultrasound tech continued to look around. I just knew something wasn’t right. The ultrasound tech told us to hold on a minute and left the room. I looked over at my husband and told him something is wrong as my eyes began to tear up. A few seconds later the tech and another woman walk in and proceed to tell me that my baby isn’t growing and that I need to meet with my OB right away. At that point, I couldn’t control the tears and they came flooding. When I met with my OB she informed me that my placenta was not delivering nutrients like it should and that my daughter was not growing. I would have to check into the hospital immediately. I remember asking if I could at least go home and pack a bag but much to my dismay, the answer was no.
On we went to the hospital in the next building over. Fear overcame me and I no longer was the excited mother anxiously awaiting my child’s arrival, but instead I was a nervous wreck with the worst possible thoughts running through my head wondering if my child would even survive until birth. After being checked in and having additional scans and monitoring, it was decided I would stay in the hospital until it was absolutely necessary to deliver her. Time passed slowly and each and every day I worried about my little girl. Almost 30 days later, it was decided it was no longer safe for her to stay inside my growing tummy and a C-section was scheduled.
At 8:06 a.m. on May 7th, 2017, my gorgeous daughter was born just weighing in at 3lb 6oz. I remember being on the operating table just waiting to hear a cry. I longed to hear her first cry to know she was okay, but it didn’t come. They whisked her away to the isollete surrounded by nurses, and my mother followed. I kept yelling at her to tell me what was going on and no one was telling me anything. I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t hear her and I was frozen on the table. Finally, my mom turns around and says, ‘she’s okay! She’s okay!’ Those words filled my heart fuller than I could possibly imagine. I came to find out that she wasn’t breathing when she was born so my mom didn’t want to say anything until they got her breathing. They let me kiss her forward and took her straight to the place we would call home for the next 80 days, also known as the NICU. After I left the operating room and had finished in the post op room, they took me to go see her. I had never seen a baby so beautiful and so small. As I looked her over, up and down, from head to toe, I realized she had SIX toes. They were the cutest toes I had ever seen in my entire life and after that moment, I realized that she was going to be special. I know most parents say their children are special but I knew in my heart Ajla was going to be extra special somehow.
At first everything seemed to be going well and our daughter was progressing. But then we started to hit bumps in the road. She needed a G-tube, a feeding tube inserted into her tummy, because she couldn’t eat by mouth without liquid getting into her lungs. We were told it would be a simple procedure and that it was a pretty common surgery. I thought after she had her G-tube, everything would be great and we would be able to go home. Boy was I wrong.
They took her down for surgery and me and my husband anxiously waited in the waiting room. We were given a number to check to see the status of her procedure and we sat right next to the board. I kept looking at the board and finding her number but it kept saying she was in prep instead of in surgery. Time went on and I had a gut feeling something wasn’t right. I went up to the counter to ask if there was any update and the lady at the desk made some calls to figure out what was happening. A few moments later, she comes to me and says they didn’t do the surgery and that I needed to go back to the NICU to have a consult with the surgeons. I swear the elevator felt like it took a lifetime. I kept hitting the button to the second floor hoping it would somehow magically make the elevator go faster.
As soon as we got to the conference room we heard something no parent wants to hear. We learned they had a hard time intubating our daughter which led to her needing CPR. My poor baby girl had her chest squeezed over and over again to the point where they broke her ribs. They finally got her intubated but refused to do the surgery because of how much stress was put on her body. So there she sat, in critical condition in the NICU. Going from one of the healthiest babies, to the sickest and most severe in the unit. My heart was shattered. It was so hard to look at my innocent child being intubated and hooked up to IVs and monitors. It was heartbreaking to see my husband cry because nothing ever made him cry the way this did.
For 3 weeks she sat in critical condition. I couldn’t hold her, I couldn’t move her. All I could do was read to her, so I promised her that I would read to her every single day and I did. I read ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ for 21 days straight to the point where I now have the words memorized.
Finally after recovering, 80 days later, she came home and we thought the tough journey was finally over. But unfortunately, I was wrong again. After spending a few AMAZING weeks at home, we noticed her breathing was off and ended up rushing her to the ER. Then the real journey began.
After 3 hospital stays, multiple codes, and lots of tears, we finally we landed in the PICU with our daughter needing a trach. Her airways were just too narrow for her to breathe properly and without a trach, she would continue to suffer. When I made the decision to proceed with the trach I thought it was going to save her life. I thought I was finally going to be able to stop my daughter’s suffering. I couldn’t bear seeing her struggle to breathe every single moment of every single day. The most basic of human functions caused my daughter suffering and it shattered my heart and soul.
Unfortunately, what we thought would be a blessing, ended up causing more issues than it was supposed to. The day she got her trach, she ended up needing CPR again. Again I had to see my daughter’s bruised chest and see tears falling from her eyes. I remember thinking, ‘Why God? Why does she continue to have to suffer so much? She’s innocent. She’s only 6 months old!’ Two days went by and she seemed to be doing a bit better. The next day was Thanksgiving so my husband and I decided to go home for the night to get a good night’s rest for the following day. I wish I never had gone home. Around 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving we received a call from the hospital and I knew something was terribly wrong. There shouldn’t be a reason for them calling so early in the morning. I answered the phone in a panic to hear someone say my daughter was coding and they had been doing CPR for a while and that I should get to the hospital right away. I threw on whatever clothes were next to me, as did my husband and we rushed to our car. I will forever have that drive engraved into my mind.
As we sped through town, going way faster than I should admit, we arrived and were escorted to our daughter’s room. Instantly I saw so many people surrounding my daughter and watched as they tried to revive her. One of the staff in the room motioned for me to come in. The doctor looked at me and said, ‘I am sorry. There is nothing else we can do,’ and called time of death. 2:47 a.m. I remember saying over and over again, ‘please don’t stop, please don’t stop, please don’t stop,’ begging for them to continue, begging for them to save her, but they couldn’t.
They brought in a pink polka dot blanket and placed her and the blanket into my arms and that was it. I held her so tight and cried more tears than I had ever cried before. Our families arrived and we had to say our goodbyes. We spent a few hours with her but it got to the point where I couldn’t stand to see her body changing so I asked if I could take her down to the morgue because I didn’t want to leave her until I absolutely had to. I remember my husband I walking with her in a body bag down to the morgue with two nurses. We got to the door and that goodbye will forever be the hardest goodbye I ever had to give. The nurses turned to us with tears down their faces and hugged us. After that we walked out of the hospital, childless, empty, and broken.
I would never wish this pain on anyone else. We as parents are supposed to outlive our children. We are supposed to watch them grow up and hit all their milestones. But the second a child is ripped away from us, we not only lose them, but we lose what should have been. We lose the future with them that we thought we’d have. Ajla was the bravest, strongest, most courageous girl I knew. She brought me immense joy and brought me more happiness than anything on this planet ever has. For now, I find comfort in knowing that she is no longer suffering and that one day we will be united. One day we will be together again, and my heart will be full once more. For now, I will continue to share her story and continue to share the light that she brought into this world because I never want her to be forgotten and I want her memory to live on forever.
After Ajla passed away, we were completely empty and felt like we had this huge void in our lives. Each day that passed, my arms ached for a little one to hold and my heart yearned to be able to love again. Because of this, my husband and I sat down and decided we wanted to try for another child. At first, thoughts of guilt flooded through my mind. How could I possibly want to bring another child into this world so soon after losing my daughter? I had posted these feelings in an online support group and I received the best advice. Someone told me that another child will never replace the one we lost, it just helps to fill an empty void. They said there will always be a part of us that is still empty, but our loved ones would want to see us happy. After hearing that, I knew they were right. I knew my Ajla would want to see us try to be happy and as whole as possible, so we started trying for another little one 5 months after our loss.
We were very fortunate to get pregnant right away and now I am currently 26 weeks with our rainbow baby. This whole pregnancy has been filled with fear that something is going to go wrong. Fear that history is going to repeat itself. But if our loss taught us anything, it’s that whatever is going to happen is going to happen and living in fear won’t do anything but cause us additional unneeded stress. So for now we are learning to cherish each and every moment we have with our little rainbow because whether we have a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or a lifetime with this child we know that ‘it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.'”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Taylor Badzic, 22, of Boise, Idaho. Do you have a similar grief journey? We’d like to hear your story, for other parents to know they are not alone. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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