God Speaks Through The Storm, Part Two
If you’ve missed any part of this series, click on any post directly below.
Part Two-My Storms in a nutshell
Part Four-More Depression
Part Five-Even More Depression
Part Six-Guest Post, Dan Blanchard
Part Seven-The Last Depression Post
Part Eight-Death of a Child
Part Nine-Death of a Child
Part Ten-Guest Post, Holly Good
Part Eleven-Death of a Child
Part Twelve-Death of a Child
Part Thirteen, Death of a Child
Part Fourteen, Death of a Child
Part Fifteen, Death of a Child
Part Sixteen, Conclusion
I struggled with writing this post, not only because it’s painful to recount these events, but also because between each and every line written here, I could write a complete book about what God was doing…
and for me in any given moment.
So please know that this post is mainly informative, for the purpose of laying a backdrop of the stormy events in my life. I will discuss many of these things in much greater detail as this series progresses.
I realize this post lacks large doses of profound insight. Instead, just consider it a peek into the darkest and most painful places in my heart, as well as your first glimpse of my beautiful son, Noah.
I’m suspecting that many of you have these dark, painful places too. Maybe you’re in the middle of one right now. This is precisely why I’m writing this series. And this is where I give you a great big virtual hug and let you know that I can relate to your storm.
Got your tissues? Here we go…
The countless times you’ve led me through the shadows or carried me above the storm to set me in a safe place—
Help me walk in faith, depending on you.
Those words appeared on my daily calendar October 5, 1997.
But in the two or three days leading up to that Sunday, I was beginning to notice a decrease in fetal movement. My normally active little baby seemed to be slowing down. Despite lots of friends assuring me I was just an overly-anxious first-time mom (doesn’t that make you feel great when people say that to you?), I feared something was terribly wrong.
A trip to labor and delivery that day confirmed my fear. The baby was not OK. And I was not an overly anxious first time mom. In fact, the baby’s heart rate was far below normal and continued to drop steadily over the next few hours. Once the doctor finally arrived, he took immediate action to deliver the baby. Seven minutes, to be exact.
Noah Jon Cooper was born by emergency c-section on October 5, 1997, weighing just 3 lbs, 11 oz.
His APGAR at birth was a whopping “0”. And after fifteen minutes, only a “1.” In layman’s terms, that’s really, really bad.
Noah had suffered severe oxygen deprivation before he was born due to a condition in my placenta called Maternal Floor Infarction. (This was not diagnosed until a year later. At the time, we had no idea what happened to cause the oxygen deprivation). The oxygen deprivation caused a grade-4 brain hemorrhage (also really, really bad) and brain damage to over 70% of his brain.
Seated in a cold conference room one week after Noah’s birth, surrounded by doctors, nurses and two ministers from our church, Jon and I were advised to take Noah off life support. By the doctors’ best estimation, Noah was essentially brain dead. He would never breath on his own, see, hear, suck, swallow, walk, talk or know us as Mom and Dad. If he ever did come home from the hospital, he’d require 24-hour a day nursing care for the rest of his life.
Thanks to the two God-fearing men who attended the meeting with us, we were reminded of all the times God healed in the Scriptures, all the times He did the impossible, all the times He was faithful to answer the prayers of His people. In that same cold hospital conference room, these men prayed with us, encouraged us and built up our faith. By the end of our prayer, we were confident God created Noah’s brain, and therefore, would have no problem healing Noah’s brain.
Against the advice of every doctor and professional in that room, Jon and I decided to leave Noah on life support and pray for a miracle.
Rusty, Rocky, Noah and Me, just moments after that terrible meeting.
People all over the nation began praying for Noah, believing for a full recovery.
And a miracle we received!
The evidence of his healing came just a few days later. As I was standing next to Noah’s little hospital crib, discussing his condition with the doctor, he opened his eyes for the first time. Shortly thereafter, he began responding to touch and sound. A few days after that, he began to suck on a pacifier…and then swallow breast milk.
Noah, a few days before he was released from the hospital.
Finally, he was weaned from his respirator and his oxygen…sending him home only six weeks after he was born, completely healthy!
The next few months were exciting and exhausting as we adjusted to our new life as parents. We joyfully shared Noah’s testimony with anyone who would listen. At this point, I was certain God’s purpose in that particular trial was to build our faith so we could pray for other critically ill children. I was more than ready to accept that calling, and spent many hours on the phone and in prayer at church with other parents of sick children. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do than spread the gospel through the healing of my son…It was an amazing and wonderful time.
My favorite pic of us, just a few weeks after Noah came home.
In June of 1998 when Noah was about 8 ½ months old, Noah and I planned to fly to Ohio to spend time with our family while my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Jon was going to join us a few days later and spend some vacation time there, as well.
In the days leading up to that trip, I noticed Noah was not quite himself. A little lethargic. Very irritable. But I knew the stress of the trip could be wearing on him, since premature babies are very sensitive to over-stimulation. I went ahead with our plans anyway, excited for our family to see how much Noah had grown and eager to celebrate this anniversary milestone with my parents.
Daddy and Noah, a few days before the trip.
When we arrived in Ohio, Noah got progressively worse—not wanting to eat, not wanting to play or smile, groaning in his sleep—so I took him to the emergency room the following morning. After a quick assessment, they assured me he was just dehydrated (he had terrible reflux—normal for a preemie), and would bounce back after he received a saline IV.
When he didn’t bounce back, they began running test after test trying to determine the cause of Noah’s illness—meningitis, bacterial infection, viral infection—all of which came back negative.
Over the course of the next five days, Noah’s condition worsened significantly. No one knew what was wrong, so no one knew how to treat him. They suspected it was probably just a result of the brain damage, but no one could figure out why it took so long to manifest.
With each passing day, more specialists were examining him and leaving the room baffled.
With each passing day, they were having a harder time keeping him stable.
With each passing day, our prayers intensified, as we realized that something was terribly wrong.…
On June 30th 1998, Jon and I sat next to our precious baby, as he rapidly deteriorated. And then the unthinkable… surrounded by our family and friends, Jon and I said goodbye to our sweet, sweet baby Noah.
We held him, kissed him a hundred times, sang to him all his favorite songs, and promised him we’d see him again in Heaven.
(Tissue break! :):):):))
One month later, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, Rebekah. I will definitely talk about this more in a later post, but let me say right here that God’s mercy in giving me another baby during this time is something I thank Him for every single day. Every. Single. Day.
When I was about 20 weeks pregnant with Rebekah, we received the long-awaited results of Noah’s autopsy. Firstly, we were devastated to have a name for the condition in my placenta (Maternal Floor Infarction). This rare condition is known to occur in all subsequent pregnancies.
Secondly, and equally devastating, we learned that Noah died from a genetic disorder, completely unrelated to his birth trauma or the Maternal Floor Infarction, called LCHAD (Long-Chain 3 Hydroxyacyl CoA Dehydrogense). Because it was genetic, it meant that Rebekah had a 25% chance of having the same disorder and a 50% chance of being a carrier of the gene mutation.
Now we were faced with two life-threatening disorders in our current pregnancy. Both of them so rare, that no one knew quite what to do with me or my baby. (In fact, the chances of one person having both of these disorders turns out to be about one in one million.)
And, as if it could get any worse, only a few short weeks after receiving that terrible news, I found myself again on a plane to Ohio to bury my mother (with whom I was extremely close and talked to almost every single day), who died suddenly after surgery on her carotid artery.
My Mom holding Noah at Christmas–I was so mad at her for insisting on coming the minute we flew into town. I was exhausted. Now, looking back, this is only one of a handful of pictures I have of them together.
And last, but not least, two years later, I began what would turn out to be a seven-year battle with Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent Type.
I cannot stand a story with a sad ending, so hang on for just another minute.
The great news is Rebekah was born full term, does not have LCHAD and is not even a carrier of the gene mutation! She will be 10 years old in a few weeks.
We have gone on to adopt two of the most precious and beautiful children in the entire world.
I know, because I traveled pretty far to get one of them!
And lastly and most recently, through therapy, medication and God’s divine leading, I have been completely free from depression for almost a year now.
In the upcoming weeks, I’m going to unpack some of these dark, stormy times and tell you the profound ways the Lord spoke to me in the midst of them. I will expound upon the ways God drew me into deeper intimacy and revealed things about His character that I never would have known apart from these trials. I will show you some of the ugly things the Lord purged from me while I was in the fire. But mostly, I will glorify God, not only for sustaining me, but for using each and every one of these painful circumstances for my ultimate good.
If you know someone who is suffering a loss or battling depression, please consider sending them my way. I think they will love you for it.
Coming up on God Speaks Today
You amaze me, dear lady. What a story….When you tell me God is good, and God is faithful, I BELIEVE IT. You know of what, of WHOM you speak!
Noah is indeed a beautiful little boy. Thanks for sharing him with us.
You are a blessing!
As someone who has battled depression for about 5 years now, but only late last year got up the nerve to finally discuss it with my doctor, I am very excited to have stumbled across your blog! I am doing much better now that I’ve accepted medication and I’m praying that God will provide a way to be glorified through my struggles! Thank you for sharing!
beautiful. I so look forward to learning more from you. I don’t really have a lot of words….
thanks so much for sharing. 🙂
*blows nose* 🙂
I love you even more now. What an amazing testimony. I love how willing you are to share, hopeful f helping someone else. I can’t wait to see what wisdom you have learned and see the journey your faith took through these trials, as all I have ever know is the beautiful Sandy on the other side of all that. More and more I am sure God brought us together for a reason.
Sweet sister-in-Christ, I applaud your great courage in sharing this story from your heart. You are a blessing to me…
Thank you for being so vulnerable, so open to sharing, so brave. Your struggles touch me. It’s in the darkness that the Light shines the most brightly, huh? I’ve learned this by traveling in the dark through many long nights myself.
Noah was such a beautiful boy. Thank you so very much for sharing him here.
Sandy, that is an amazing post, I love how the Lord works in our lives, I may share some of the times He has spoken to me….what an encouragement He has been to me in dark times.
I don’t know how some people make it through life without knowing Him, for me it would be like life without air…suffocating and uncomfortable. I rely on Him for everything and I pray about everything. How wonderful it is to know Noah is with Him and you will see him again, thank you for the encouraging posts. I am going through a raging storm but the Lord is my shelter.
Oh, Sandy. Noah was such a little sweetie pie.
You are such an example to me in so many ways and I love you to bits.
You were right about the Kleenex! I cannot imagine the heaviness you must have carried in your heart. It is truly amazing how you weathered those storms and are free (or on the road to freedom) from that place. Praise God!
I know I’ve told you many times before, but you completely amaze me. Noah is gorgeous in every way. Thank you for introducing him to all of us. You are a woman with unbelievable strength, courage, and faith!
I have never lost a child, but my pregnancies were “high risk”. I has a stroke with Noah at 35 weeks. I had left sided weakness that last 5 days, but I soon recovered and he was born healthy.
When I got pregnant with Avery they tested me for 3 different blood disorders (thinking that I only had 1 of them). Turns out I have all 3 – which worsen when your pregnant. All three disorders do the same thing, they thicken your blood causing blood clots (which is why I had the stroke with Noah).
So, in order for me and Avery, who was growing inside me, to be safe I took 27 pills a day, and had to give myself two injections in my belly a day. I also saw 2 doctors twice a week for stress test and updates.
With prayers and support we got through it and Avery was born healthy, and I made it through safe and sound too. I was instructed to not have anymore children because the more children I have the higher chance I have of having a major heart attack or severe stroke.
My children have a 50% chance of having my same disorders and will be tested around 10 years of age.
It’s nothing compared to what you went through, but it brought me closer in my relationship with God. I’m thankful for it all happening, because my children saved my life. I would have never known about my disorders if it wasn’t for them, and most likely would have suffered a major stroke or heart attack without any warning.
I’m so looking forward to your series and thank you so much for opening your heart to us!
Wow. I have no words.
Hugs and blessings, and thanks for allowing God to use you to bless others.
you blessed me on my blog and you have now really really blessed me on your blog!!!!!!! thank you friend – i am a new follower!!! much love, Leigh
Oh Sandy. I just can’t even imagine…I can’t even fathom all this. Your strength and courage in deciding to share it all with us is nothing short of amazing.
The pictures of sweet Noah are precious, Sandy. I’m so glad you included them. They just reached right out and grabbed me.
I’m really looking forward to learning more about how God spoke to you through all this. Again, thank you so much for sharing.
I’ve got some crazy respect for you, girl.
Blessings and Love,
Thanks for sharing the heart breaking storm you went through with little Noah, such a beautiful little boy. Praise God for the faith and advice of your two friends, and that God gave you all that extra time with him. And the way in which God sustained you, and helped you through those seven years – and I know, that seven years would have felt like seventy.
My wife and I lost our first little one due to an ectopic pregnancy. We were so crushed when the hospital told us afterwards that my wife had something wrong with her womb which meant that any further attempts to get pregnant from her remaining tube would mostly likely result in an ectopic as well. After months of no hope, a dear friend, the minister who married us, counselled us and encouraged us with Joshua 1:5-9. To cut the story short, God gave us a gift of faith, and we now have a 11 year old daughter and 4 year old son.
I know God will use your testimony through your blog to touch the lives of others who are in that dark place, and help guide them to wholeness again.
And thanks also for your feedback on my blog – I think our diary’s must have been pressed from the same printing press. On 27 March 1990, while severly depressed, I also wrote those exact same words to God, “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME! Are You trying to force me to come to You? Well, what do You think I’ve been doing on my knees for the past three months!” And you are right, recovery from depression is a serious issue, and as it can be treated, we need to give it our full attention. Being whole again, after that nightmare, I compare to looking out a window to see a sunny, blue sky after an endless black storm.
God surely smiled the day that you were born. So many lives are touched by your transparency and willingness to let Him use you. Thank you!
Oh Sandy, I’m so sorry for all the pain you’ve endured. Faith in the Truth of His Word gets you through. One day you will see Noah again and he’ll be perfect. I know what it is to lose a mother but to have it so close to the time of Noah’s death is overwhelming.
I’ve suffered with depression which has typically been situational. Most times I’m fine but when circumstances get overwhelming I struggle with this too. That’s also another reason why I intentionally try to keep up my exercise because it helps me to feel better.
Sandy, thank you for being so transparent and honest in your writing. I’m sure this wasn’t easy to do as you are usually so upbeat and funny. But I also understand that too. I think the Lord brought us together for a reason, friend.
I love you girl!
Sandy . . . my heart beats faster as it awaits more of your story . . . as God continues to unfold His great love through your testimony. I pray your heart heals a little more with each old ‘pain’ you choose to share with us. May the salve of His mercy bring healing to your wounds . . . and may the Lord shower you with kisses in a way that only He can do.
God bless you my friend! You are beautiful inside and out. 🙂
Thank you for your willingness to be so authentic and transparant. I don't know that there is a greater gift to give your readers. Your willingness to tell us about your journey with God in such a personal way is such a blessing to all of us.
My husband and I went through 3 miscarraiges. Every miscarraige was due to a placental defect/autoimmune disorder that I have. I was so depressed and grief-filled that God was the only one who could put me back together. The guilt was unbelievable.
All that to say, your post took me back to the hours of my greatest need for God. It's good to go back and remember how I felt and how amazing God is. Thank you for reminding me. It's easy to lose sight of that.
Have a great weekend!
Yes… the tissue box came in handy when I read this heartfelt message.
The picture with your mother and son brought me to tears!! I know she is with your son in heaven <3 I admire your strength and faithfulness in precious Jesus.
I've battled depression my whole life, recently a doctor diagnosed me with "Borderline Personality Disorder" when I was twenty (2 years ago) so I have an idea about your emotional turmoil.
You inspire me and thank you for sharing a chapter from your life. Bless you for that!
Peter Stone directed me over here, and WOW, I’m so glad I came. Your vulnerability in sharing your heartbreak and depression are a precious, precious jewel from the Lord. So many people need to hear how God is with us in the midst of suffering. And depression. And discouragement. I’ve had all 3 my whole life, and the Lord, my Papa, has been present throughout it all. Without Him, it would’ve been impossible to live through.
I just gotta gotta add you to my blogroll, I hope you don’t mind. I know many will be encouraged by your authenticity and willingness to show His beauty through the battle scars.
Even though you shared this story with me in person, I couldn’t help but read every word. God is using your journey to touch the lives of others. Thank you for sharing.
I came back by from your Holly post that I read earlier. And now I am sitting here all teary.
I have always noticed your sweet and joy filled comments over at Lysa’s….having no idea all of the pain that you have faced. Truly God has obviously carried you through and done amazing things in your life.
I am so sorry for the loss of your precious little Noah, but so grateful you are allowing God to use you as a vessel for His hope and love and joy.
Blessings! It is so nice to “meet” you.
Blessings Sandy…I'm not very far into your journey, as you can see but I have been here almost 3 hours and 14 people later…I'm still here. I know I visited you back in April from Peter's blog after just discovering his amazing story & now here I am mesmerized in another blog of a GREAT WRITER!
I'm so sorry that I am coming to know you through this long suffering story and the aMazing miracle of Noah. Now I thought that Kayleigh's story was a Miracle but this is a wonderful testimony to Noah & his life as well as to God speaking to you!
I am so blessed to have these 3 hours here, holding on to your every word & the hope & faith that you have! I came here today to read your prayer & scripture for Kayleigh, who I just met through praying for her & the Freeman's on line also via Sita's Sanctum blog…(don't know if you know each other or not but I know she linked to here). It is an honor to read how God is ministering & touching others through your words & heartache.
I'm so glad that you have your other children in your life. I certainly know that it's not the same as having Noah still there for he will never be replaced, but that is how God watches out for us & helps our healing along. I'm thankful that you chose not to leave this on a sad(tissue) note but brought us through this storm
and rollercoaster ride at least on a happier note. I get very emotionally involved with journeys,
I guess. But I appreciate that you weigh each part you share and clearly are spirit led.
I bookmarked you back when you were nominated in the Top 100 CWO. Now I realize that they were extremely kind to include me because my writing pales in comparison and when I write, I don't get readers. I am totally impressed beyond words
with your insights & transparency, the knowing just how to tell & how much & what! I marvel at your words, even when you are sharing the dark, painful times. You were coherent & specific in purpose & delivery. I wish I was a publisher.
So, at this point, I only have one question (if you wouldn't mind):
Are you putting this series or any of what you call "series" into a book? I truly believe that this is a book waiting to be shared & read.
They seem like chapters being layed out by the Spirit as you work through & walk out your faith & healing from depression & death of a child in this case…but both bring us to that dark place where only Jesus can break through & rescue & heal us step by step!
You are well on your way. I consider this a honor & privilege
to share your journey.
Oh,…I guess I lied…not intentionally…I have another question: since this happened back in the 90s, why are your posts a current series and it looks like still in progress? (if you don't mind sharing) It causes me to wonder that you are just working this through or able to write about it now…after being here so long, you would have thought I'd have checked when you started your blog, but I didn't…I saw that you had other excellent series that I read a few when I needed a break from your heart wrenching journey. Yet it is all so intricately woven. I respect you and graciously thank you for sharing your journey. Though I have not grieved the loss of my own child, I have grieved many losses: death is never easy.
Death of anything…My mom & dad & youngest brother have passed into eternity & many others but there are other deaths(besides physical
death) that impacts your life the same. Thank you for your heart & your writings but mostly YOU! You are an aMazing mom & child of Our King! May you be blessed to further
bless us with your journey! Thanks!
[Now you can tell why I don't comment after each post I've read.]
If you send me your e-mail address, I will respond to you personally.
What a generous…wonderful…um…don’t have words for it…comment!
It deserves a response.
Unsure how I missed reading this before but the Lord led me here now. I was deeply moved through your experience of grace and compassion; heartache and God’s divine love and mercy. Noah is beautiful and I pray God’s arms remain around you and your hubby until you are reunited with him in heaven.
I love you.
P.S. Do you know Cindy who lost her 16 yr old son Joshua about 6 years ago? I think she’d tremendously be encouraged by you.
Thanks for sharing your story. I am going through a storm right now. I just stumbled across your blog and I believe God revealed it to me. I gave birth to identical twin girls in August. I had a routine ultrasound at 34 weeks and the doctor informed me that baby “b” did not have a heartbeat. We did an emergency c section. It was such a bittersweet moment. Josie was born healthy 4 lbs. 14 oz. She screamed so loud and we cried tears of joy. A minute later, Gracie was born, the room was silent. The cord was wrapped around her neck. We buried Gracie a few days later. I am struggling every day. I am very depressed. I am so thankful to have Josie, but I am so devasted that I lost Gracie. God is faithful! I do not understand all of his ways! But I will continue to trust him and hopefully I will see the “big” picture one day.
I stumbled upon your site somewhat late, but I see that you have not closed your comments.
I think every mother must feel for you. You have experienced a mother's worst fears. I know some of what you have been through — of four children and two grandchildren, we have four children with serious birth defects in the family and three of the four were given anywhere from a 0% to 50% chance of survival. At one point, I had to steal my younger son, Doah, from one hospital and flee with him out of state to another hospital to save him and then to a third state to a doctor I found through researching medical journals who could cure him — years later the head of ENT at Children's National Medical Center in DC where we had moved asked to speak to me. He held out his hand and said that he wanted to shake the hand of the mother who had found the only doctor in the entire USA who could have healed her son at the time. Doah is now 30 years old. Our latest journey is with our granddaughter, Nikolina, who was born with OEIS Complex (organs in the wrong place, some missing, and some in pieces — body wide open at birth; essentially she arrived disassembled, and doctors had to reassemble her, leaving many of her organs in the wrong place as long as they were functioning). If that were not enough, we took in a Siberian boy years ago who was dying from spina bifida (treatable in the USA at the time and now the worst problems can be taken care of in utero).
A little book that I found very insightful — and I wonder if you have seen it — is Dale Rogers Evans' Angel Unaware.
Bless you for your great website. It will be a help to many. (It seems that is already has been, judging by the posts.)
You must be very special to God.
Thank you for sharing your pain. What a wonderful faith that shines through your story. I wish I could give you a hug! I am sending to you though all my live in Christ, Leslie.
I stumbled upon your blog during a Google search and want to thank you for the story of your son Noah. I was compelled to read your story because my husband and I lost twin boys in December 1997 at 28 weeks, my birthday is October 5, we have adopted two of our three living children, and my oldest son's birthday is also October 5th. Thank you and may God bless you and your wonderful family!
I'm back…oh my, what a POWERFUL testimony of the faithfulness of our mighty God in your life!
I've never lost a child but I watched my mother grieve for her 18 year old son who was murdered.
I watched her go to court,forgive and move on through so much pain and sorrow because of us.
I buried my mom (who was my very best friend in the WORLD) when I was 29 and the mother of 4 children under the age of 7.
3 years to the day, my father was run over by a speeding car. Then I was the one in court for weeks and having to forgive a man that took my father from me.
Another brother died shortly after of lung cancer in this 30's.
And years later I got the call that my 16 year old had a brain tumor.
We've been through 2 surgeries, chemo and rads.
He is also learning disabled, and on so many meds for a total hormone replacement.
BUT…I have him. I've always feared losing a child because of my mother's experience.
Sorry if this is depressing. It's part of my testimony.
I've never written about it on my blog, only a few friends know it in full.
I've left out many other stories of heart ache and betrayl.
God has been with me every single step of the way!!! Faithful and sure, steady and STRONG.
He is my ROCK.
And I see He is yours! I'm so glad to have met you.
Now,I'll be back to finish your amazing testimony.
My heart broke to read about all you've endured, and I look forward to the day I'll get to meet Noah!!
I'm at a loss for words Sandy! Such a beautiful testimony! Your Noah is such a beautiful, sweet little boy…thank you so much for sharing his life with us.
I'm sorry I just can't say much right now, I'm so overwhelmed.
Just thank you for having the strength to write…you are a blessing to me!
oh my word — you have been through more than most in your life so far… and what an incredible outlook you still have. you are an amazing woman, no doubt about it!!!
I am totally touched by your post. We too have a "medically fragile" child and are scheduled for brain surgery for him very soon. You've been a great encouragement!
It amazes me how you can "know" someone for so long and not Know what is going on with them. I look forward to reading the rest of your blogs and perhaps having a more private convo.
Stacey (k) xoxox
Very inspiring story. Thank you for sharing your story with us. God Bless!
So brave of you to tell that story. It touched me cause I to lost a child, but never got to spend time with him or her. Ihaven’t lost parent yet, but realistically know it’s coming. Thank you and I love you.
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