I was coasting through life, pretty comfortably, when suddenly I experienced something no mother should have to go through. I came out on the other side only due to God’s amazing grace. I would not be here today physically or able to share this with you, if it weren’t for my Savior who has given me the strength and peace to go on.

I am not a natural writer.  English was my least favorite subject in school, and to make things worse, I wasn’t good at it either.  So that is why I can say today that I can write only because God has given me the ability to do so, to communicate to others my story and provide encouragement.

One other thing I want to say before I tell you my entire story is that I have a blog entitled, Beauty From Ashes.  And I chose that title because I am determined for beauty to come out of my ashes. I will not give in to my struggles and crumble, but allow beauty to come out of them and for them to be used for good, not evil.

It was July 4th weekend, 2008. Lucas and I had 2 beautiful boys, Aiden, 3, and Brady, 15 months. We had a fun-packed weekend…up at the lake for the 4th, to Pennsylvania visiting family on the 5th, church on Sunday and more fun at the lake.

The following Monday, Vacation Bible School began and Brady came down with something that day. I thought at first it could be teething, because he had a low grade fever and was cranky. But the next morning, his fever was higher and he threw up, so I was definitely not going to make it to VBS…we all stayed home.

The next day, Lucas was working from home and told me that he would watch Brady so Aiden and I to go out and have some fun. So we headed to the mall (that sounds like fun to me!).

In the meantime, Lucas’s father had a mini-heart attack (no permanent damage), and he was still in the hospital coming home later that day (Wednesday). I remember saying to myself in the car on the way home from the mall, “Wow, I’m glad God knows how much we can handle because this week is rough, and I don’t think I could handle any more.”

I had no idea what was ahead. Also, the week prior, I had a song that kept playing in my head, and I seemed to hear a lot on the radio: “Bring the Rain” by Mercy Me.

When I got home, Lucas said that maybe we should take Brady to the doctor because he had been extremely lethargic. So we all took him to the pediatrician. I was worried about dehydration, as well as the fever.

The doctor said we could either get IV fluids at the ER or go home try to get him to drink more. I decided I wanted to take him then to the ER so that we could fix the issue and be home by nighttime.

So off we went. We handed over Aiden in the parking lot to my in-laws as they were leaving the hospital and they took him home. We waited and waited in that ER with Brady, and watched as the fluids were not perking him up at all. We were all stumped: a little 15-month-old laying there and not caring about all the needles going into him was a little disturbing.

The last test they did to try and figure it out was a spinal tap, which clearly showed infection. They determined he had a form of meningitis. They admitted us to the pediatric ICU with strong doses of IV antibiotics. That night, we didn’t get much sleep. Lucas and I traded off sleeping in the room with Brady and sleeping in the Ronald McDonald room, which we were blessed to have.

He was diagnosed with a rare form of bacterial meningitis: HIB meningitis. This kind is what children are vaccinated against, so why did our little Brady get this? Well with further research, they found out he had some sort of immunodeficiency in which he did not create antibodies to this vaccine . So the doctor told us we would be staying in the hospital for at least two weeks, to ensure he got enough antibiotics.

Things were all right for a day or two and then it got hard to shower, eat and stay there all the time. However, we were both dedicated to loving our little boy and getting him better. Lucas even worked there full-time. He never left the hospital to work; it was amazing to have his support there. I kind of felt like I was in my own bubble and the world was going on around me.

For me, time had stopped.

So we stayed there for the length that was required and finally by the end of the stay our little boy was smiling a little bit again and eating a little. We went way backwards developmentally, from running at home, before he got sick, to not being able to sit on his own anymore.

So we were preparing for a long road ahead with therapists and needing a specialist to find out more about this immunodeficiency and what long-term care that would require. We were so happy to be going home. We had an amazing support system, between family, friends and church.

Things were going pretty well at home. It was nice to have Aiden back (I missed him so much and felt guilty for not being with him). We went home on a Monday, and by Wednesday, Brady got a little crankier.

It was bath time that night so Lucas and I went up to get the kids ready. It was then that we noticed Brady’s leg shaking. We called the pediatrician. He said it’s probably a localized seizure and to go back to the ER so they can check him out and make sure everything is fine.

So we went back to ER. I felt so sick to my stomach that whole time, and Brady threw up the whole way back to the hospital. Were we really going back, or was I imagining things? I wanted to stay home. We waited and they did more tests. The doctors weren’t seeing much wrong. However, things spiraled down from there; Brady ended up seizing non-stop and was readmitted to the PICU.

They began CPR on him as soon as he got up to the floor, and Lucas and I moved into a private room, while they worked on him.

We waited an hour or so until we received gut-wrenching news. Brady was not going to make it. He was on a breathing machine, and his brain activity was next to nothing. I didn’t not even know how to compose myself, as you can imagine. It’s even weird to write all this down; in a way, I am re-living the events.

We were thankful to have our in-laws there with us, and my parents were on their way as fast as they could. We prayed and read the Bible through many tears and sobs all night long. We also went in to be with him a few times, to pray with him through tears and sing “Jesus loves me” one last time.

I will never forget the last time I touched his sweet little hands and stared at them, hoping to never forget what they looked like; and I still remember them to this day. Our little Brady Isaiah went to be with Jesus a little before 6 am July 24th, 2008 (his 16 month birthday). That was the day my heart broke.

I don’t want to end this on such a sad note…so I want to include some of the scriptures we clung to those few days after this tragic event.

Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there, the LORD gave and LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Isaiah 40:31, “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Mark 10:14, “…”Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

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Kate VanDerPloog

I am 27 years old, and have had 3 beautiful boys, Aiden, Brady and Walker. I live in northern NJ with my family and am a stay-at-home mom as well as an RN who works occasionally. We lost our 16-month-old son Brady on July 24, 2008 after he lost the battle with meningitis following two weeks in the hospital.

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