An Indiana couple is inspiring people around the world with the faith they have shown in the midst of incredible grief.
Andrew and Mataya Friend had been praying for a sibling for their son, Oakley, for some time. In January 2018, those prayers were finally answered.
“We were so excited about our lil secret and couldn’t wait to tell our family and friends!! We told Oakley and he shared the news with family as he had the biggest surprise for them,” Mataya wrote on Facebook.
“I will never forget the smile it brought to his face with every person he got to tell he was going to be a big brother!”
Just a few months later, they found out that their baby was a girl. The Easter Bunny told Oakley and he was beyond excited; Mataya was excited to not be outnumbered by the guys in the house anymore.
The family began preparing for their newest addition and were counting down the days until her arrival. They decide her name would be Lynnley and Oakley even began calling her “sissy.”
But then the doctor called with concern.
He explained that Andrew and Mataya have the same blood type, but have opposing proteins attached to their blood. Basically, his blood carried antigens while her blood carried antibodies that work to get rid of those antigens.
The doctor wasn’t sure who little Lynnley would inherit her blood from, but if she had opposing proteins than Mataya, Mataya’s body could see Lynnley’s body as a threat and work to attack it.
Just a few days later, Mataya had some blood work done to determine if there would be complications or not. The results were not good.
Doctors quickly came up with an emergency plan and asked Mataya to come in for weekly ultrasounds so they could keep a close eye on everything. If Lynnley became anemic before 32 weeks, they would give her an intrauterine transfusion; if she made it to 32 weeks with no problem, they would induce labor and give her a transfusion in the NICU.
“So we went to our ultrasounds and prayed and prayed we’d make it to week 32 with no problems and it felt like our prayers were being answered each week we went in and Lynnley was active had a perfect heart rate was growing right on track and her blood flow was normal,” she wrote.
When she went in for the week-31 ultrasound, doctors discovered that Lynnley had become anemic. Mataya was devastated and frustrated; they were so close to 32 weeks!
She went to operating room so that her baby could receive the transfusion. The procedure was done within an hour and she was told everything went well.
The next day, however, Mataya felt like something wasn’t right; Lynnley wasn’t as active as she had been. She eventually decided that she needed to go back to the hospital.
Doctors said that everything looked fine, but decided to keep her overnight so they could keep an eye on her and the baby. Later that night, she began having contractions.
Lynnley was in distress and the doctors decided to perform an emergency C-section.
Mataya and Andrew were nervous to have their baby girl so prematurely, but the nurses reassured them that they had successfully delivered babies much smaller.
The surgery went well and little Lynnley looked healthy! “Her color was good she was crying and Andrew got to go over and cut her umbilical cord,” she wrote.
Doctors reassured the parents that she was doing well, but they wanted to take her to NICU since she was so little. As soon as Mataya was finished with recovery, they would take them upstairs to see their new daughter.
They celebrated with friends and family and started talking about how many bows her full head of hair could hold.
But then a doctor came in and delivered earth-shattering news: Lynnley had gone into septic shock and it didn’t look like she would recover. They think she contracted sepsis from the transfusion.
Mataya and Andrew were absolutely heartbroken. They were able to spend the last few moments with their daughter before she passed, but Mataya describes watching her baby being wheeled out of the room for the final time as “the single most difficult thing I have ever done in my life.”
Mataya told Liftable that they have since leaned heavily on their faith, as well as their family, friends and church family for support as they grieve their precious little girl.
“What keeps us going is knowing that God is with us and that there are people out there that still need us to be who we are,” she told Liftable. “One of those (people) being our son Oakley, and the faith that one day we will have the chance to help him be a big brother again.”
Even in the midst of incredible grief, Mataya hopes that their story can provide encouragement and hope to others going through a similar situation.
She told Liftable, “We just ask that (people who hear their daughter’s story) think of their family and hold each other a little tighter each day and share Lynnley’s story so that maybe it will help others in some way.”
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