My Most Bitter Sweet Year

By Andrea Rittenour

Photo by Shutterstock

As far back as I can remember I dreamed of growing up, getting married, and having a little girl. My mom and I have always been close, and I always desired the same for my daughter and myself. I was elated when, after having two sons, a daughter was born to me. I could not have been happier.

When my daughter was five weeks old, I laid her down for a nap. She cried for a little while and then finally fell asleep. As the time was approaching for her to nurse, I was in the process of fixing lunch and just needed to finish up a couple of things so I could get my dish in the oven. It was past her feeding time, but since she wasn’t crying, I went ahead and finished up.

After getting the dish in the oven, I headed to the room where my daughter was sleeping. When I entered the room my heart sank as I saw that her face was face down into the mattress. I quickly picked her up and she was limp. Her color was normal so I felt there must be hope.

I ran out to our shop with her in my arms. As I walked through the door, there stood our employee. All I could gasp out of my mouth was “She isn’t breathing.” My husband immediately called 911 while I went into action with CPR.

At that time a GPS could not get anyone to our place so our employee went and met a paramedic and then later the ambulance. She was taken to the nearest hospital and then air lifted to a bigger hospital.

I held together fairly well until after they took her, then I fell apart. Was there something wrong with my milk? Was it wrong to let her cry herself to sleep? Why didn’t I go into the room sooner instead of getting the food in the oven?

At the first hospital we were suspicioned. “We can’t seem to bring her around; it is like she does not want to come back. Is there  something you need to tell us?” When going through something so devastating and then have accusations thrown at me, that made me feel even worse. I never said a word to the doctor about how I was feeling.

Our daughter was then air lifted to another hospital. When we arrived and the doctor met with us, I finally felt safe to break down and share how I was feeling and the questions that I had in my mind. He was a wonderful doctor. He assured me that I had done nothing wrong. That was a blessing for me.

The next few days were agonizing. I remember pleading with God to save my daughter’s life. The very last night we stayed in the hospital, I felt this peace come over me. I thought the peace was God saying that she would live. I was able to sleep that night.

The next evening it was very evident that she would not live. We had to make the decision to unplug her from life support. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life. She was the dream of my life. After unplugging her, we carried her to the operating room where they would take some organs that we were donating to help another child.

The days that followed were very difficult. I had been nursing her and the separation I felt was agonizing. I wondered where God was during all this and what was the peace about that He had given me. I was so confused.

I remember my dad asking me, “Do you believe that God was in the room when she was napping?” I had to answer yes. I knew God had been there. Did it make the pain easier? I can’t say that I know, because God was there with me as I went through this and He did give me peace through it. I can’t imagine going through these kinds of things without Him.

Besides God being beside me, I also had a friend that would call me everyday. She didn’t say a whole lot to me; she just let me talk. I can’t tell you how much that was a help to me. If you know someone  that is going through a painful experience remember to listen. This is such a key point.

The question still remains, “Does the pain ever go away?” No, but time is a healer, although I will always have a spot in my heart missing. The greatest thing is the hope that I have in the second coming of Christ. God’s precious promise, “Little children are borne by holy angels to their mothers’ arms” (Great Controversy, p. 645). I long for this day and I strive to be ready.