Last Saturday was our daughter, Lilly's 40 days but actually if she was not born early then, that day would have been her actual due date, her actual birth date. Although Lilly lived a short life, she has played a very important role in our lives - not just my life and my husband's but as well as those people who are around us. She was instrumental in unifying us and making our relationships more solid. She also made our faith stronger despite all the doubts that we had at first. Now, I can truly believe that our little angel on Earth has become God's little angel in Heaven. To remember her short life, I have decided to finally write about her humble beginnings...
On December 4, 2010, my husband, Jeff and I got married. We had a simple wedding which wasn't really perfect and complete for at that time, my father and I had a misunderstanding which led us to be driven apart. He did not attend my wedding and he has not spoken to me ever since. We used to live with my husband's mother and his older brother in Novaliches, Quezon City. We moved out last October 2011 and started a new life together in an apartment in Pasig last November 2011. Life was hard because we had to do things by ourselves. We had to pay for everything on our own. It was an adjustment time for us but we were able to cope somehow. At the start of 2012, I started worrying because I kept on having longer periods of bleeding even when I was not supposed to have menstruation yet. Due to these prolonged periods of bleeding, I had to find a good OB to know what was going on. I feared the worse. My husband and I have been trying to have children but our hopes kept on getting crushed. After seeing my aunt's OB, I was given some kind of medicine to regulate my period. At that time of hardship, my father and I finally made peace with each other.
April came. My birthday and my husband's birthday came. We both wished for the same thing - to become parents soon. God finally heard our prayers and when July came, my period was delayed. I waited for two weeks after that in order to test if I was really pregnant or not. When I found out I was, I surprised my husband by waking him up in the wee hours of that Saturday morning. Sadly, the timing wasn't that right. I was just a new employee in the company that I was working for while my husband didn't have a job and was trying to find a new one. Little Lilly was an unplanned baby. She was our bundle of joy and our little surprise. I should have known that the first three months of pregnancy were crucial and the three months prior to her being conceived should have been more planned as well. I was naive and by the time we came to the OB for my first check up, I was already 2 months pregnant. Sadly, we should have come sooner and we should have planned for her in order to avoid what was going to happen after that.
The months that came were both hard and easy. I had an easy pregnancy. No cravings. No morning sickness. No nausea. No vomiting. I did have UTI though which I hoped would leave me alone during my pregnancy but unfortunately, stayed. Meanwhile, I continued to work hard while my husband continued to have no luck in getting a professional job but somehow was still able to get work from home. We had savings but we knew they were not enough. We worried for my pregnancy and also for the day that I would give birth. I was always tired. When I went home, I fell asleep right away. I worked from 5 AM - 2 PM. I woke up at 3 AM everyday. My husband had to do almost all the household chores. It was a trying time for both of us. Little did we know that things would become harder for us in the months to come.
We found out of Lilly's condition during my 5th month when I had an ultrasound. Because my OB wanted to make sure of it, we continued to have them until my 7th month. Usually, parents who had ultrasounds would come out happy, with tears of joy. But all we had were sad faces and tears of concern and sadness. We feared the worst for our child. By this time, we did not care for the gender of our child. We only cared for the safety of our child and how she would survive and would she live to be with us for long. As if the Lord was really testing us and our family, this was also the time when my mother's mother got sick. She was eventually admitted to a hospital and was in the ICU for two weeks. She died just last January this year. Definitely not a good start for this year. At that time, I left my job and we moved to my parents' home in Antipolo. Somehow I felt like we should have moved earlier than that. I was restless and worried. I know my husband was too. We kept on praying to the Lord for our baby's safety. At this time too, I was given a strict folic diet. Folic overload with both the food that I eat and the medicines that I intake. All of us were hopeful that somehow that would help our baby inside of me.
During the months that she was inside me, I often talked to her. When I first realized she was kicking, punching and moving inside of me, I was overjoyed. Despite the hardships that came in the last parts of my pregnancy, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in this world. I had a hard time breathing and had a hard time sleeping. It was hard for me to move and I had bleeding on my 7th month which was stopped through medication and bed rest. On my 8th month, I had bleeding once again. My OB gave me the same medicine and was asked to get nothing but bed rest as well. I thought that would work but sadly, it did not. At 2 AM on February 23, I woke up only find out that I was bleeding heavily which was not a good sign if you are pregnant. I woke my mom and my husband so that they could bring me to the hospital, St. Anthony Medical Center in Marikina. We were not prepared for anything. My husband brought a bag filled with my clothes and all the things that I might need if in case asked about my pregnancy. We expected that I would be admitted but that was it. I sent messages to my OB about my condition which she took seriously. She called me and said she would see me afterwards.
When we got to the hospital, I was asked a couple of questions as I calmly filled out the form in front of me. My husband was worried as he wept while speaking to our then unborn child. Before being admitted, I needed to have a needle inserted in one of my veins for my dextrose. I was never a fan of blood or needles but at that time, I had to endure the pain and be calm about it. After five failed attempts, the nurse finally got the right vein to put it in. Apparently, my veins were too small and were hard to find which is why they took a lot of time putting the needle through it. I was rushed to the emergency room. I was hooked with oxygen and at the same time, something to monitor my vitals as well as our unborn child. The cramps continued despite the medicine which was not a good sign. I continued to pray that hopefully, things will turn out well. Come morning, my OB came. She said I need to stay there for the night which is why my husband had to stay in the ward while waiting for me. The next morning after eating my breakfast, the OB arrived again. I was supposed to be transferred to the ward as my vitals were okay. Sadly, the cramps continued and my baby's heart rate wasn't doing so well. At that time, I was confused and scared. Scared for not myself but for the baby inside of me. The pain and the horror was simply beginning and I was bracing myself for it. I had to. Not just for me but mostly for her, my little Lilly.
My husband was called into the room and it was then that my OB announced that I would be having an emergency C section. My husband went pale with the news but knew he had to inform my mom about it. My OB did not want the operation to happen but it needed to be done to save not just the baby but me as well. I couldn't help but worry as tears fell down my face but I steeled myself as I knew I needed to be strong for her and for me. My husband said he was inside the chapel the whole time they were preparing for my operation. He worried for me and Lilly as I was while I was being rushed to the operating room. I was transferred into the operating table. I was shaved and was asked to be in a fetal position while the anesthesiologist used an injection to put anesthesia through my spine. I felt a sharp stab of pain as the anesthesia took away my feelings. I felt numb from my legs until the numbness crawled all over my body. I was paralyzed. My rosary which was around my neck the whole time was removed and was wrapped around my hands. The doctors were ready. I knew I had to start praying then.
I knew they were trying to sedate me. I couldn't feel a thing but they wanted me to stay calm. At 11:51 AM, I heard a cry inside the room. It was the cry of my little girl. She was then placed near me by the pediatrician. She was so tiny but beautiful. We all thought the worst for her especially after the ultrasound. We knew of her condition which was Arnold Chiari Malformation II: Hydrocaephalus and Spina Bifida. She had fluid in her head and had a growth in her back. We were all surprised to see her outside of my womb. She did not have a big head and the growth on her back wasn't that big. It was a miracle. Once she was out, I was relieved and happy. Tears started to fall down my cheeks. I was overjoyed. I made something in this world. It was the best feeling ever. But my battle wasn't done yet. I found out I was a bleeder because of what my OB said. I have lost so much blood during the operation and they had to hurry to stitch me up. At first, my OB thought I would lose my uterus because she said it was into so much stress. My baby did that to it only because it wanted to go out too soon and also probably because it was getting too big for it. Good thing, my OB fought for me to keep it.
Once the stitching up was done, I was placed in the recovery room. I did not sleep the whole time I was in the operating room and in the recovery room despite the sedatives. After two hours, I was moved to the ward where I saw my husband and my mother waiting for me. I was still numb when a binder was placed in my belly in order to support my stitch. I was asked to sleep then and I did but only after they saw our little baby. I did care much for the pain I felt. I was elated to find out that Lilly was born. We named her Lilliana Rozen Camille. Lilly was her nickname. She was born premature, 8 months. Her weight was 2.1 kgs. She looked exactly like her Daddy. I could not ask for more. But then again, we all know the sad truth. Lilly had a condition which had to be dealt with. We met her neurosurgeon and spoke of the options. The fluid in her head needed to be drained out of her using a shunt. While the growth in her back needs to be removed and to have corrective surgery. The downside though is that Lilly will not grow up normal. She will have special needs. We accepted that. The question was will she make it. The pediatrician said they need to keep her vitals stable first in order to know the right time for our child to have it. We accepted that and were happy with it.
Lilly got a CT scan in order to know about her condition. My mom used to work in the radiology department of a hospital in Oman. She knew the results right away. My mom did not tell me the gravity of that condition which I only found out afterwards. We were told that Lilly was compatible with life and that she would live. We held on to that promise and we were filled with hope that the surgery would be a success. Many people visited me while I was in the hospital. Many people prayed for my speedy recovery and of course for Lilly's healing. I was blessed and was happy to have them there. I am sure Lilly was too. I stayed in the hospital for 5 days and during my 4th day, I visited Lilly and decided to collect some milk from my breasts which was going to be fed to my baby inside the incubator through a tube which will deliver the milk to her mouth. I spoke to Lilly then and even touched her. The nurse gave me tips on breastfeeding and in pumping milk. The other nurse told me how to take care of Lilly especially when it comes to handling her. Tips which I later found out I could not use. The next day before leaving the hospital, I went to her again and promised her that I would visit her again next time. Unfortunately, my condition wasn't so good. It was hard to move by myself. My stitch was healing but it wasn't going to heal fast enough. I was dependent to my husband the whole time and even need to wear adult diapers to make things easier for me.
Despite all that, I pumped milk which I placed in different feeding bottles for her. I had them frozen and delivered to the hospital. I was overjoyed to find out that she was drinking my milk and as the days passed, her vitals were getting better and she was drinking more of my milk. My mother and my husband continued to visit her at the hospital. My husband cannot touch her since he was not allowed to go inside the nursery. Apparently, only mothers were allowed which bothered him. While I was recovering at home and doing my best to get better to visit her once again, we all prayed for her recovery. The date of her surgery was set. March 11 was that date. We were hopeful despite the news that her transfer to the other hospital kept on being postponed because of the fact that there was no ambulance with an incubator that was available. On March 4, we woke up because Lilly's pedia called. She said that she suffered from two episodes of apnea that morning which was common for premature babies. She had a hard time breathing which was why she needed the help of an oxygen tank for it.
I was alarmed despite the fact that the pedia said it was normal. That day, my husband said I should go visit her since I insisted on going despite not being strong enough yet to go to her. My mother went with me that day because my husband had to stay home since there were people there who needed to fix some things in our home. When I got there, I saw her with the oxygen mask and immediately started crying. I talked to her and prayed for her. When I called her name, she opened her eyes for me. First, one and then two. She was looking at me. Searching for the sound of my voice as I continued to talk to her. I told her she should be strong and that she should do her best to get better soon. I promised her that her father and I would visit her always when she gets better. I told her that we would be together soon. I told her when she gets better, we would take her home soon. I told her how much we miss her and how much we love her. I told her that we pray for her each day and that everyone is waiting for her to go home. She looked at me and kept on nodding as if she knew what I was telling her. She looked at me with her beautiful eyes as if telling me that she wanted to come home with me. That look broke my heart as I broke into tears once again.
On my way home, I felt happy because she moved like she was healthy and she looked happy or at least that is what I thought. That night at 10 PM, her pedia called saying that she was in distress. We immediately broke into tears then. We asked everyone to pray for her. We prayed for her. My mother rushed into the hospital then, leaving us behind. Unfortunately when she got there, our baby was gone. Although I have read the reason of her death, I do not want to explain it anymore. All I know is that she died too soon. Our dreams were shattered when at 11 PM, my mother told us the heart breaking truth. We lost her. She was only 9 days old yet she already made our lives complete. That was March 4. We reached the hospital early the next day. It was already 1 AM then. When we got there, she was cold. Her body was lying there in front of us. She looked peaceful and no longer in pain but we were broken. My mother did a lot of us at this time. After settling the bills at the hospital, that morning, she found a place where her wake could be done.
At first we decided there would be no wake but in the end, we realized that a day to mourn and share her with other people who loved her wouldn't be so bad. Many of my family members visited us so did my husband's family members. Even our friends were there to mourn with us. When I first looked at Lilly inside her wee coffin, I couldn't accept it. I told my OB about Lilly's death and she too was sad for us. She told me that I should be strong and that I should try not to cry too much otherwise, my stitch might bleed and that would be a big problem. The next day came and I knew she would be buried then. Our little angel's body will finally be in its final resting place. My husband and I cried during her last funeral services and when she was buried inside her grave, we did not know what comfort was. The couple of days after her passing were hard to bear. We did not know how we could live another day. We were lost. We found ourselves crying and we were hard to speak to then. But as they always say, life should go on. We just don't know how to.
Even if the 40th day of her passing is over, Lilly will forever be in our hearts. I know now of the mistakes that I made in the past. I am hopeful that when God gives us another child in the future, he/she will not be taken away from us right away. I hope that I would be ready and so will my husband when that happens. Lilly was a baby filled with good and bad surprises. Although she is with the Lord now, I know, we know that she will forever be watching us and listening to us. She knows how much we miss her and love her. She knows of the gap that she has left inside our hearts and most of all, she knows of the tears that we shed for her. She might be a thousand miles away from home but in our hearts, she will stay. Our love for her knows no distance nor bounds. Goodbye Lilliana Rozen Camille P. Teofilo. Goodbye is not forever. I know someday we will see each other again. We will always think of you and talk to you no matter what. Although we will continue to grieve for you, we will do our best not to cry too much anymore. Acceptance is the key I know. Although it is hard, we will try. We have to move on and try harder to have a better life so that in the future, your sibling will stay longer than you did. We will miss you, our beloved angel...
The very first photo of her that I took during my first visit to the NICU when I started to pump milk for her. That was her third or fourth day of being there. I was in tears when I saw her. I touched her. I held her. For a moment, the world stopped spinning. It was like we were trapped in our little bubble. My husband kept watch of us outside. We were so happy she was ours.
This photo was taken in the afternoon of March 4. I did not know that was the last time I would see her alive and breathing. I should have held her again on that day but I didn't because I knew she was fragile and she needed to recover. My husband had regrets of not visiting her on that day too. We both had regrets and we were both feeling guilty but we knew we did what we did for her. Our little angel is now with the Lord. We will love her and miss her forever...