On June 16, 2003, I took a home pregnancy test. To my surprise, it was positive. On June 17th, the hospital confirmed that test. We were definitely pregnant and we couldn’t have been more surprised or more excited. We were going to have another baby to add to our already precious family. The pregnancy went along just fine. Our baby decided to lay sideways in my stomach for most of the pregnancy. By December, he/she (we didn’t want to know the gender) had turned to get ready for its appearance into the world.
On January 1, 2004, Joseph Xavier was born. Our New Years Day baby was 7 1/2 weeks early and just as healthy as he could be. He weighed 4 lbs. 8 1/2 ozs. He was 17 inches long and born at 10:42 p.m. Everything went well. For three weeks, Joseph stayed at the hospital growing and getting even stronger. He just had to show them doctors that he could take his bottle without any problems and put on some weight. We visited every day to tend to our sweet Joseph. We bathed him on bath day, fed him his bottle feedings, read scripture to him, and held him. We let Joseph know how much we loved him and gave him all the encouragement he needed to succeed in what he needed to do to come home.
His brothers and sister stayed at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house while we tended to Joseph. It was a trying time for us as a family but God gave us the strength to get through. Finally, on January 22nd, our beautiful Joseph got to come home. What a glorious day! It was so wonderful to finally have him home. Our lives were able, to some extent, to return to normal. The kids were so excited to have their baby brother home. They all had something special they did with or for him: read to him, sing to him and rock him to sleep. No one could get enough of tending to him. It was fun watching him take his baths in the kitchen sink. (He was tiny still.) And they way he would stare at you when you talked to him. Everything about him grabbed your attention and heart. He was just so easy going and happy. How blessed we were to have been able to love him with all our hearts.
Then, on February 22nd, Joseph had to be put into the hospital. About a week earlier, he had developed a cough. Nothing major at that time. He had a doctor’s appointment two days after he started coughing so we mentioned it to his doctor. He listened to him and said it wasn’t anything to worry about but just to watch it. Two days later, it sounded more congested so we took him again. The doctor ruled it as bronchialitis and put him nebulizer treatments. They didn’t admit him then because his oxygen level was doing good. We took him home and began those nebulizer treatments as needed. We even made arrangements with the neighborhood fire department to come and check his oxygen levels for us at least once a day. We needed to be sure he was getting enough oxygen and to confirm that the neb treatments were working.
By Sunday afternoon, our Joseph did not look right. He was pale and sleepy. But he was still eating at that time. We decided to take him in to urgent care for further examination. Upon arrival, they were very concerned because his oxygen levels were low. So, they started him on oxygen right away. Then, they were concerned he might have RSV and so decided to admit him into the hospital to be treated for that. We waited 6 hours for a room since the hospitals were all full with other sick babies. Finally, they made room for Joseph. We were even able to stay with him in the room. They kept him on oxygen and neb treatments plus they tested him for RSV.
Early Tuesday morning, after he had nursed, his heart rate began to rise. This was not good. Then, they came in and wanted to do another x-ray of his chest and check him out more thoroughly. Turns out he tested negative for RSV and positive for pneumonia. Also, his white blood cell count was at 64,000. 10,000 is normal range. Joseph was a very sick little boy. They were very concerned over his oxygen level and needed to intubate him right away. I held him once more while we waited for them to get everything ready then they whisked him away to a room in PICU. How much I wanted to go with him but they wouldn’t let me. The doctors wanted to get him settled first. The next 45 minutes were so long.
Daddy was not there (yet) when this was all happening because he still had to do his paper route job. I was keeping daddy up to date on everything, calling every time something happened. He was hurrying to finish his route so he could get to the hospital and be with me and Joseph. By the time he showed up, I had packed up our stuff from the room we were in and was waiting in the PICU waiting room. I had not yet seen Joseph since they took him.
Right as Daddy arrived, the nurse came to get us to go and see Joseph. I was not prepared for what I saw. My son was sedated, with a tube down his throat to help him breathe, and a few different IVs coming out of his little body. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, a very high white blood cell count, and things did not look good for him. The doctor reminded us often that he was a very sick little boy. But still no one knew what was making him so ill.
They continued to treat him with several different antibiotics, ran test after test, and still had no clue what was making him so sick. Our doctor plus the other doctors treating him continued to research for answers and nothing came up to help our Joseph. By Friday, his chances of survival did not look any better but worse. They were in the middle of trying to revive him for the second time when God told me in my heart to let him go. I heard His words so clearly. It was like someone was standing there telling me face to face. So, I turned to my husband and said “We need to let him go. This is enough.” Those were the hardest words I’ve ever had to say.
We agreed that no more intensive treatment was to be administered to our son. That we would just let his body do its thing and when it reached the point that he was near leaving us that we would like him disconnected from the machines and placed in my arms. So, at about 9:20 p.m., Joseph was wrapped in his baby blanket then in a quilt and placed in my arms. Oh, to hold him again was what I had missed the most that week. From the moment he was intubated I could only touch him but not hold him. And now…he was in my arms for one last time. Daddy, his brothers, and his sister were all there as we sang to him “Tell Me Why” then talked to him and loved on him. It was that evening that our doctor suspected he might have came down with Pertussis, also known as whooping cough. But even with a possible diagnosis, they couldn’t save his life. The disease had destroyed his lungs. Joseph went home to be with the Lord that night while surrounded by his family and in my arms.
When I think back on that night, I remember how strong my children were, including Joseph. Joseph amazed the hospital staff in the PICU at how hard he fought to live. I believe God gave him the strength to fight until they had a diagnosis. Our other children had hearts full of wisdom that reminded me of God’s sovereignty. Our oldest child said it best. While I was standing beside Joseph, telling him it was okay to stop fighting, reminding him that I loved him so very much, my oldest child leaned in and said to me “Mom, this is a win-win situation.” I looked at him and said “What do you mean?” He said “If Joseph gets better, he gets to come home. If he doesn’t, he gets to go Home.”
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. “ (Psalm 30:5)
“I will turn their mourning into gladness. I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” (Jeremiah 31:13)
“You [disease] intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
Scripture To Comfort
I am a Christian. The Bible for me has been instrumental in getting me through this difficult time. I cannot imagine how I could do it without God’s Word to comfort me. I still experience rough days and need His strength to carry me on. I want to encourage you as well. These scripture verses will help you see what a good God we serve. May you find comfort in His arms just as our babies have found joy there.
When you experience the loss of an infant, you are left with lots of questions. Most of them being “why.” How could this happen
to my baby? I asked the very same question many times. It is, no doubt, one of the most difficult experiences a parent can ever go through. But I have found that having a relationship with God makes all the difference. It doesn’t erase the grief but it does
help you cope with it. I want to share some scriptures with you that have helped me during this season of deep sadness and loss.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
The God I serve
Exodus 8:10 – He is merciful.
Deuteronomy 32:4 – He is faithful.
Deuteronomy 32:39 – He is sovereign.
Psalm 46:1 – He is my strength.
Nehemiah 9:17 – He is forgiving.
John 3:16 – He loves his children.
1 John 4 :16 – He is love.
Revelation 4:8 – He is holy.
Hebrews 13:8 – He is never changing.
God’s word is comforting.
2 Chronicles 16:9
Romans 8:28, 29b
1 Peter 5:10
1 Thessalonians 5:18
2 Corinthians 12:9
2 Corinthians 4:8,9
Our family song sung to Joseph the day he died and at his funeral. At his funeral, all immediate family sung to him surrounding
him as he lay in his (closed) casket.
“Tell Me Why”
Tell me why the stars do shine.
Tell me why the ivy twines.
Tell me why the ocean’s blue.
And I will tell you just why I love you.
Because God made the stars to shine.
Because God made the ivy twine.
Because God made the ocean blue
That’s why I tell you just why I love you.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16)
Immunizations Are Important!
Joseph’s life continues to save others spiritually and physically. We continue to see God using his life experience to reach others. One of the important things to come out of this was our calling to make parents more aware of immunizations and their importance. Our Joseph was not yet old enough to be immunized and the awful disease called Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, took his precious life. There is an immunization to protect your child from Pertussis as well as other dreadful diseases like, Diptheria, Tetanus, and Polio to name a few. All of which there is NO known CURE.
Please consult with your pediatrician to find out more about immunizations and how you can protect your child. Love them, protect them.
NM Immunization Coalition This site has great information on the importance of immunizing your children.
My son’s life brought me joy. His suffering was not in vain. The Lord is sovereign and had a plan. His time with us was a gift and we miss him so much, our hearts ache. But I do believe that God’s purpose for Joseph’s life was to first, glorify Himself, second, to put us on a path to educate others about this awful disease that can take a baby’s life quickly. Pertussis, whooping cough, is not curable. But it is preventable. In 2004, our son was the first baby to die from Pertussis in our state. A month later, another 2 month old baby died from the same disease. In 2010, in California, 10 infants died from Pertussis. That’s too many lives gone. I believe the Lord provided a way for us to keep this disease at bay. There was a time when it was eradicated. Its my heart’s desire to see it eradicated again so it cannot harm anyone else or take anymore lives. So, I ask you, look into the TDaP. Ask your pediatrician about it for your child. Ask your doctor about it for yourself and adult loved ones. Be educated! Help eradicated this awful disease.
NOTE: If you are against immunizations, I respect your choice. (My prayer truly is that you will see the sovereign face of God in Joseph’s story most importantly.) Keep in mind this page is not written to begin a discussion about who is right and who is wrong concerning immunizations so please refrain from sharing unkind comments. Our family is to answer to the one true God only and to faithfully follow the purpose He has called us to…period! If you want to discuss it, you can email me privately. Thank you.
If you have walked in my shoes…having suffered the loss of an infant while in the womb, during delivery or after the birth….and need to talk…you can email at naomi[dot]wjim[at]gmail.com.
Remember God is still good even when things seem so bad. Lean on Him.