Angelica N’s Story

My husband and I had spent nights with our son while he was in the NICU, March 21st, my husband ran to the room I was resting in and told me I needed to hurry. I was confused, I felt the adrenaline hit and we both ran back to the NICU. We got to his room and saw nurses and doctors surrounding our son, resuscitate him. I remember feeling empty and numb. I couldn’t speak, cry, move… I was in shock. They managed to get him “stable”, then his NICU specialist came to speak with us. All I remember hearing was something along the lines of “he more than likely will not come back if we have to do that again. It’s time to make a decision”…

My husband and I decided we wanted to get pregnant in May 2021 a month before we got married in June. I got off birth control, quit smoking and drinking, and started to monitor cycles. It didn’t take long, we found out we were pregnant near the end of August, I was probably around 4 weeks when I started to notice changes in my body. My husband and I were so excited. We immediately started talking baby names, themes, everything baby related. We eagerly waiting for the 9-week ultrasound and the look on my husband’s face when we saw our baby on the screen was priceless. 

I had what I would call a fairly “normal” pregnancy. I attended all my appointments and was consistently told our baby was very healthy. At 17 weeks we found out we were having a boy. My husband and I decided to name him Ronald (Ronnie) Luis, after both my grandfathers. We shared the news with the family and friends. Everyone was very excited and no one could wait for Baby Navarro to join us. 

February 21st was the best and scariest day of my life. At 29 weeks, my beautiful boy was born, unexpectedly. I was working remote at home and my water broke. The doctors couldn’t explain why it happened, in fact, some didn’t believe me until I was in the ER. My husband was at work and I didn’t feel comfortable driving myself, so I waited. He was able to get out early and we went straight to the ER. I was checked in quick and hooked up to check on my baby. At first we were told I would be hospitalized and they would try to hold off labor until week 34… the next thing I see is nurses running towards me, poking me with needles, turning me over and one of them said “You’re going to have this baby now”. I started to panic and cry. My husband was trying to figure out what was happening and then they told us our babies heart rate dropped and they were not able to get it back up. I was sent for an emergency C-section. I don’t remember much after because they completely sedated me after the epidural failed. My beautiful boy was born at 8:03PM, weighing two pounds, 14 ounces and measured 15 inches long. 

I woke up in a room the next morning, Feb 22nd, my husband right by my side… all I wanted to do was see my baby. I was told by the nurse on staff that I wouldn’t get to see him until later in the afternoon. My son was immediately taken to the NICU, but I was assured that he was the “healthiest” 29 weeker. My husband showed me the photos he took and I impatiently waited 17 hours until I got to meet my boy. He was beautiful. I cried. They let me softly touch him. It was the best day of my life. I was so happy. Little did I know what was yet to come.

My son would live in the NICU for the next couple weeks. It was the most difficult time of our lives. I wanted to be there 24/7, but I also needed rest and to recover. My husband and I visited as much as we could, he unfortunately had to go back to work and I was not cleared to drive, so some days our time was limited. The NICU itself is such a scary place. I can still hear the beeping of the machines and the air flowing through the ventilator. 

I am not going to go into the details of each day, but each day was a different fight. To quickly summarize, my son went into acute kidney failure, which led to complications with other organs. Our team of doctors were incredible. They tried the impossible. I suggested they try dialysis and the team reached out to nephrology that same day. They informed us that dialysis on a preterm baby was rare and they do not even create the equipment for babies that small. At this point, there was no other options for my son, they didn’t think he would make it beyond the first week of life. I begged them, crying to at least try and they did. It was a rough start, but the dialysis did begin to show improvements. My son fought and refused to give up. He had so much will power and strength. We knew we were taking a risk, but we did not ever imagine that we would die. No one wants to imagine that. 

March 21st, 2022 was the worst day of our lives. Two days’ prior the dialysis stopped working and they were not able to restart it. My sweet baby boy quickly declined. I still had hope that the team would be able to get things going again, but when they had to resuscitate him 3 times… my husband and I decided we could no longer do this to him. Although he continued to fight, both his lungs collapsed, he was on 100% breathing support, his body was retaining so much fluid, and his organs began to fail. That day, we made the most difficult choice we could make, but as parents I believe we did the best thing we could for our boy. At first, the guilt ate me alive. It nearly killed me. My son passed away peacefully in my arms, surrounded by family and love.  

At first, the pain seemed unbearable. The grief was consuming me. I wanted to die and be with my baby. I felt/feel a mix of emotions from sad, anger, guilt, jealousy and more. I found every way to blame myself and shame my body for not being able to protect him. Often those thoughts still come, but I have learned how to manage these intrusive thoughts. My body was still going through post-partum… but I didn’t have my baby. I don’t even have the words to describe that kind of pain. Through therapy, the online grief community and my family, I have been able to learn to live with my grief. I describe it as a friendship. The more I talk about it, the more I share my baby, the more I continue his memory, the more I heal. The grief will never go away or be gone, the pain will always linger and even on a happy day, the sadness is still there, but life does continue and I have to keep going. 

My husband and I plan to give Ronnie a brother/sister in the future. 

Ronnie, you will forever be in our hearts. We will continue to tell your story and keep your memory alive. You are no longer physically with us, but your energy will always remain on this Earth. You show me how beautiful life is every day. Daddy and I talk about you all the time. We love you so much. We are so proud to be your parents. You are forever my son. 

Photo of Angelica holding her son, Ronnie.

Angelica is sitting in a tree with the rainbow skirt flowing in front of her.

Angelica is sitting on a rock wall holding the rainbow skirt flowing in front of her.

Angelica is sitting on flight of stairs with the rainbow skirt flowing down the steps in front of her.

Angelica standing with the rainbow skirt flowing on both sides of her.

Angelica standing with the rainbow skirt flowing on both sides of her.

Photos taken by Al Herrera.

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