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Christopher Rene Puentes
by Magdalena Puentes
I was doing well with my pregnancy until my sixth month when I started developing all kinds of complications that turned into pre-eclampsia. I started developing really bad headaches and stomachaches, nosebleeds, protein in my urine, blurred vision, high blood pressure etc, all the side affects of pre-eclampsia (Toxemia). My doctor hospitalized me then transferred me to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, which deals with high-risk pregnancies. My major organs started to shut down, especially my kidneys and liver. It was a matter of either delivering Christopher at 25 weeks and hoping he made it to save my life or else losing us both. I was very close to dying and the only way the doctors know at this time of saving the mother is delivering the baby.

Christopher lived for 3 days then passed away gently in my arms.

They had woken me up at 5 am that morning to tell me my baby was dying. I really had no idea that there was a chance that he could die. I was never informed. My husband was, but since I was in such critical condition after the emergency c-section (my blood pressure remained at 240/145) that everyone felt it was better I not know he only had a 50% chance of surviving. I really believed in my heart I would be taking him home.

The doctors wheeled me into NICU and a team of doctors and nurses were frantically working on my tiny 1 lb 3 oz beautiful baby boy, with their fingers, massaging his chest because he was in cardiac arrest and had a brain hemorrhage. I asked them if all this was helping him and they said no, they were just keeping him alive for my husband and I. I asked them to stop and disconnect him, which they did, then they handed him to me. His mouth went from a frown to a smile and his rigid body completely relaxed. The nurses couldn't believe it. They asked me if they could kiss him goodbye. With tears streaming down their faces, they got on their knees and kissed my baby as I held him to my chest in my wheelchair. He was bleeding from his nose but was still alive. They kept checking his heart as I held him, to see if he had passed away yet but he actually waited till his daddy got to the hospital before he finally passed away.

I can't tell you all I was feeling because I have never experienced ANYTHING like this in my entire life. I did not know what pain was till now. No one could possibly prepare for a loss of a child. If it wasn't for the hospital staff, I don't know what we would have done. I am sooo grateful to them.

They took us to a room, (Christopher, my husband and my 20 year old daughter from a previous marriage) and we all took turns holding our baby. We were then taken to another room where we bathed him gently and dressed him then wrapped him in a tiny blanket. The Chaplin came and spoke to us. That helped tremendously. We were then taken back to my room where all of my family came and we spent the whole day all holding him and crying our hearts out. A lot of pictures were taken of us holding Christopher, which now I am extremely grateful for.

Christopher was cremated a couple of days later and we have his ashes in a beautiful box in our home, on top of a hope chest of Christopher's that is filled with all of his things from the hospital and some toys. I still filled out a baby book for him and a photo album, which sits on his hope chest. Every now and then I might find something that I like to add to his collection on this hope chest, like angels, or a miniature Winnie the pooh stuffed animal. This helps me with the grieving process and my husband appreciates it too. My daughter Christina (20) made her brother several things including quilts, stuffed animals etc. and they also cover his hope chest. (I have another daughter Jessica (17) who deals with his passing by not talking about it. She just holds it in) I still have his bassinet in the family room filled with dozens of stuffed animals I had collected for him during my pregnancy. This is something we have not wanted to move. We enjoy passing by it everyday. Whatever works in helping us get through our grief, we do.

Our families have been a tremendous help. I loved watching them hold Christopher. I swear, as the day passed in the hospital with us all nestled in my room around Christopher, his face had the biggest smile on it. The nurses would come in to check on me and would be surprised to see him smiling. It was very hard to believe that he had passed away. He looked as if though he was happily sleeping in our arms, so content.

I am trying again to get pregnant. We just started trying this past month. I hope to God it happens soon. I ache to hold a baby in my arms again. I know another baby could never replace Christopher and I wouldn't want it too. But still I ache for a baby. We were so prepared for him.

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