It was July 17, 2009. Temperatures in Texas were north of 100, I was 19 weeks pregnant, and I needed my rest. I heard my cell phone ring in the other room, and silently cursed the person who was interrupting my nap.

The voice on my voicemail made my stomach turn. It was my doctor. He wanted to discuss the previous day's ultrasound. He returned my call within ten minutes and I knew that was a bad sign. Doctors were busy people. They only call if something is wrong.

When I talked to him, the words 'fluid on the brain' and 'borderline' were used. The rest sounded like gibberish to me. He scheduled a

The addition of our fourth baby came as a great joy for our family. The previous July I had a health scare that looked a lot like multiple sclerosis. After a battery of MRIs and doctor's appointments, things looked normal. One year later, I was symptom free and expecting our fourth baby. Our older children were ecstatic to find out that it was a girl.

The level II ultrasound revealed that the fluid on the brain my doctor mentioned was a sign of hydrocephalus. Our fourth baby, Catherine, had Spina Bifida which means that her spine did not close in the early stages of pregnancy.

My husband, Josh, and I were as familiar with the term Spina Bifida as any couple could be. My sister, Becky, had Spina Bifida so we knew firsthand what it was, and knew that it was compatible with life. We knew that children with Spina Bifida typically have paralysis and lack of bladder control.

Catherine's diagnosis was not easy for us to process. But after months of prayer and preparation, we were ready for her to join our family.

On November 15, 2009, Catherine Elizabeth Simmons entered the world. I will never forget how relieved I felt to hear her cry. All of the anxiety that I felt during my pregnancy was gone.

Catherine immediately underwent surgery to close her spine. After five grueling hours, the neurosurgeon came to let us know everything went beautifully. Catherine spent the next nine days recovering in the NICU.

On November 24, Catherine underwent surgery again, this time to relieve her hydrocephalus. The thought of our precious baby having brain surgery was daunting to us, but we knew that it was routine and expected everything to go well.

Catherine did not make it out of surgery. Our worst fears as parents- to lose a child- had come true. The pain was so hard to process that I could not see straight, and my legs felt like lead walking out of the waiting room.

The loss of a child is something you can never prepare for as a parent. Although Catherine's life was short, her nine days of life changed us forever. She permanently altered our perspective on life, refocusing our efforts on heaven and eternity.

Eleven months after we said goodbye to our precious baby, Catherine's little sister, Caroline Grace, entered the world. She has been an absolute joy and has brought healing to our family in ways we never thought possible. Saying 'yes' to life and 'yes' to God's call has never been harder than it was in the year of Catherine's life and the following year of Caroline's birth. But I would not alter one bit of God's plan for our family. God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

 

   

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-The support, information and encouragement provided by the PPFL parents is not meant to take the place of medical advice by a medical professional. Any specific questions about care should be directed to a health care professional familiar with the situation.