Monday’s Life Change: Life after loss-Katie’s story

Katie grew up in a Christian home, where going to church and speaking of Jesus was a priority. When she was 14 years old she went to Haiti and it profoundly impacted the course of her life. She fell more and more in love with Jesus, as she looked into the dark eyes of little children who desperately needed him.

After attending college, Katie married her college sweetheart, Michael. Together, they head off to seminary where Michael would study the Bible in preparation to be a pastor and Katie would support them by working as a nurse. Katie says that she and Michael became restless during this time. She hated the job she had been given and wanted to walk away from nursing altogether. Michael began feeling that God was leading in another direction: law school.

Katie realized that she would need to go back to work to support Michael as he took a 180 degree turn in his career path. Her Mother was a Neo-natal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse, so she decided to give that a try. Katie quickly found that “mother knows best”.

“I quickly fell in love with the babies and discovered what I was meant to do.”

Katie and Michael made a big move from Dallas to Albany, New York, where her husband would go to law school and she would continue working as a NICU nurse. She even worked in the same unit as her mother! They were enjoying life and living near family. There was a new career on the horizon and so many possibilities. Then, Katie became pregnant.

The timing wasn’t what they had planned, but Katie was thrilled. She and Michael had wanted to be parents and anxiously awaited the arrival of their first child. On April 23, 2004 Noah Christopher was born. He was “perfect”.

Katie woke the next morning in pain from her c-section the day before. Sitting up is no small feat after this kind of delivery, but holding little Noah in her arms made every ounce of pain worth it. She was in love!

Noah

Pictures were taken with grandparents and with the new parents; the first bath was given and all was well. Noah was the answer to many prayers.

But within 36 hours of his delivery, Noah became very pale and began to spit up small amounts of green bile. He was immediately taken to the NICU where both Katie and her mom worked for evaluation. They found that his hematocrit had dropped from 56 at birth to a current reading of 23. This was indicative of internal bleeding.

Things began to move so fast. Little Noah had a central line put in, an abdominal x-ray and a blood transfusion.  The x-ray led them to evaluate his abdomen further and from those further studies the doctors decided that Noah needed to have emergency exploratory surgery for a suspected intestinal obstruction.

“We signed consents for an ostomy and while of course we were very concerned, I could still cope with all of this. The NICU was a world I was very familiar with and this was all within the realm of what I could handle.”

Before Noah was taken off to surgery, Katie and Michael kissed and hugged and prayed for their sweet boy. He left them alert, sucking on his pacifier and breathing on his own. Within 30 minutes, the surgeon rushed up to their room to give them some heart breaking news: “Noah will not live through this.”

Noah was diagnosed with intestinal malrotation which had caused a volvulus, this basically means that his intestines had twisted and the lack of blood supply had caused his intestines to completely die.

Katie says, “The awful thing about this diagnosis for us was that in most situations, this is not a lethal diagnosis. It’s a birth defect that occurs in the first trimester and some kids with malrotation never experience complications and are never even diagnosed. Most develop symptoms during infancy and are diagnosed by 1 year of age, but if caught in time and surgically corrected, most kids will go on to grow and develop normally after treatment.”

 This was not the case for Noah.

 Katie says:

 “The surgeon gave us five minutes to make one of the hardest decisions of our lives. While there really wasn’t a viable option, the surgeon told us that they could still try to give Noah an ostomy, but because the intestines had twisted so high up, they couldn’t save any of his intestines and he honestly did not think it would work. We didn’t want Noah to suffer needlessly, so he was brought back to the NICU where we had to make the horrible decision to remove life support. He lived for three more precious hours.”

“I know I was naive, but never in my life did I think God would ask that of me. I had always been faithful to him…not perfect by any means, but I truly loved Him and could not understand why a loving God would allow me to hurt so much. While I went through all the normal stages of grief, I found myself getting most stuck in the anger stage.  I was mad at God for making me experience something so horrible when I was just 25 years old. I was mad that so many of my close friends all had normal pregnancies and were now holding their healthy babies. My arms literally ached to hold a baby.”

“I struggled with doubts about whether or not God was even there, but to admit that I didn’t believe in God meant I didn’t believe in heaven and then I would never see my Noah again.  I clearly remember driving in my car a few months after Noah’s death and hearing the song,

Blessed be your name, when the sun’s shining down on me

When the world’s all as it should be, blessed be your name.

Blessed be your name, on the road marked with suffering.

Though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be your name.

You give and take away, but still my heart will choose to say, 

Lord, blessed be your name…”

I knew at that moment, I had a choice to make. I could turn my back on all I said I believed or I could choose to believe God’s promises to be true, despite the pain. It was a long, hard process that required me to repeatedly choose to believe God, but I can honestly say that Noah’s short life changed me and grew my relationship with God more than anything else ever had.”

Katie’s husband, Michael ended up starting law school in August of 2004, just four months after Noah was born, and she went back to work as a nurse.

Katie Initially tried to go back to work in the NICU, but every time she stepped onto the unit, she felt symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The hospital found her another job, but within eight months, Katie knew she had to go back to working in the NICU.

She had a new empathy for the struggles NICU families were going through and as God began to heal her heart, she was able to care for them.

In August of 2005, Katie and Michael were blessed with a healthy baby girl, McKenna, and in March of 2007, Maddie was born. Two months later, Michael finally graduated from law school.

Katie continues to see God’s faithfulness in her life as a wife and mother. While those years were so very painful, Katie feels that God has rooted her faith deeper than ever and she loves opportunities to share all that He’s done. One of those opportunities, which she has jumped into with all her heart is an organization called, “Second Mile Haiti”, which provides for the physical needs of sick and malnourished children while empowering their mothers through health education and small business opportunities.

God has used the pain caused by the loss of her son Noah, to fill Katie’s heart with love for the children of Haiti. His little life is touching so many! I have personally been so touched by Katie’s love for the Lord, despite the pain she’s experienced, that I simply had to share her with you!

 I love the LORD because he hears and answers my prayers.  Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!  Psalm 116:1-2

139If you’d like to watch a short tribute to Noah’s life click here: https://vimeo.com/40867364

About shannalehr

My name is Shanna Lehr. I'm blessed to be the wife of Scott Lehr and mother to Ella, Ava, Janie and Gracie Belle. I love to cook, travel, run, and spend time with my family. My life has been changed by Jesus and I love to share him with others. Stop back often and join the conversation by leaving a comment. I love to hear from you! You can connect with me on Twitter: @ShannaLehr
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9 Responses to Monday’s Life Change: Life after loss-Katie’s story

  1. Aimee Glupker says:

    Katie, I’m so sorry you had to walk though this. I can’t imagine the pain you felt. The song Blessed be Your Name still makes me emotional every time I hear it. I also lost a baby boy, named Jack, and I think of him every time I hear that song. God is good all the time. I’m so glad He turned your tears into joy and blessed you with two beautiful little girls. It was great to “see your face” again in this blog! Take care! Aimee (Nash) Glupker

    • shannalehr says:

      Aim, thanks for sharing that. I still remember and it just breaks my heart!!

    • Katie Gregg says:

      Aimee, I didn’t know you had lost a baby too. Isn’t it amazing how a heartbreaking experience like that instantly bonds you to other moms who have experienced loss? Until this happened to me, even though I worked in the NICU, I had no idea how often things like this happen… Thankful for the peace that comes with knowing where our boys are and the future hope we have of getting to see them again one day.

  2. shannon lowery says:

    Hi Shanna,
    Thanks for sharing this story. I can relate to this story very well with the loss of our son Matthew and the tears stream down my face. God helps us move forward and my faith was strengthened in this journey. I can reflect back with sadness at times but also look at my current gifts and feel blessed with the life that I have.:)
    love Shannon
    ps…this family looks so familiar to me…..

    • shannalehr says:

      Shannon, thanks for reading. I know you understand Katie’s pain well. God has grown you so much through your loss as well. Thanks for being an encouragement to others, friend!!

  3. Hal Miller says:

    Katie, thanks for sharing your story. God is good, even when we don’t see Him!

  4. Sara Edwards says:

    I’m at a total loss for words. Katie, your choice to re-open that pain in order to help others shows strength and healing that proves Christ’s power in front of the world. I do not understand any loss of a child…but I really truly can not understand how God could ask YOU and Michael to make that choice. Thank you for walking us through your healing process. I wish I had more amazing and profound words to say! I”m completely choked up and this is as good as I can do. Thank you, sweet sister, for sharing.

  5. Brad Henry says:

    Reblogged this on The Ultimate Decision Daily Blog and commented:
    What an emotional story of love, faith, hope and then hopelessness but then….

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