Cynthia Anne Harrell was born on October 30, 1985, at Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. The second of our six children, Cyndy endured several physical complications, most of which started early in her life. When I first found out I was pregnant with Cyndy, I actually was expecting twins, although I didn’t know it at the time until I was 10 weeks along. Cyndy’s twin was lost about ten weeks into my pregnancy, when complications arise and the doctor couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound. As the doctor was about to perform the D&C, he checked to see if any fetal tissue remained by ultrasound before doing the surgery. While doing the ultrasound, the nurses found Cyndy’s little heart beating ever so strong. This was absolutely the hand of God, having the doctor to check me one last time before surgery, had he not looked, we would not have known Cyndy was waiting to be born. The doctor ordered me to stay in bed until the bleeding had stopped entirely. While I was greatly saddened by the loss of one baby, I eagerly awaited the birth of my dearest Cyndy, and I was grateful that she had survived thus far.
The day I went into labor with Cyndy, caused Mark to be stranded at work, since I had driven him there earlier in the day and added to the crises that we only had one car. I had to go to the hospital alone with Mark Jr. in an ambulance until my father-in-law was able to bring my husband to be with me. When they arrived at the hospital, my father-in-law offered to take our son home, and the doctors told Mark he had plenty of time to see them to the car. However, Cyndy had other ideas. By the time, Mark returned to my room, I was well into labor, at that my labor was nearly over. In fact, he walked in the room finding the nurse on top of me, relieved that he had come in time to see the birth of our daughter!
Cyndy came into this world at 5:59pm weighing six pounds, and she was eighteen and a quarter inches long. She had a head full of curly hair that was just gorgeous. She had these big blue eyes that spoke volumes. She was so beautiful that she looked like a Heavenly angel.
Despite a fast delivery, Cyndy had a very traumatic birth. In fact, my labor was so brief; I didn’t know I was in labor, until I was almost ready to deliver. Cyndy was six weeks premature, and once the doctors determined she was in a breach position, they had to turn her around for delivery. Her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, and her heart was abnormally enlarged, which resulted in breathing complications immediately after she was delivered. Cyndy spent her first weeks in intensive care, fighting for her life. She also had some problems with jaundice, but she was finally allowed to come home after about two weeks at the hospital.
In spite of her medical problems, we loved having our baby girl home. Cyndy had beautiful, curly dark brown hair and blue eyes that nobody could resist. She was a very friendly baby who had an angelic smile—an absolute delight! You parents know what it is like to hold a newborn baby. For Mark and me, she was our first baby girl, and she was so beautiful and precious!
I remember when Cyndy was around three weeks old, we had gone to the mall, and she was in her carrier against my chest. She was so petite that she drew crowds around us. She had such an angelic look that people just had to see her. People were grabbing me to peek at her and would remark on how beautiful of a baby was.
My husband Mark remembers the experience of first meeting Cyndy:
“The opportunity to hold our second baby, our first daughter Cynthia Anne Harrell, was a feeling that nobody could imagine but a father with his new daughter. There was an instant bond between us. This was our girl, and I could see all the love Cyndy had in her. Later in life, I could see this love come spilling out to all who met her. God took the love between Him and us, and rolled it into a very pretty girl who was His servant and our daughter.”
Cyndy was just a tiny bundle, a miracle of life, God’s creation, and a little person with her whole life ahead of her.
I had hoped that Cyndy would want to bake cookies, sew clothes, and do the typical mother-daughter things. I loved dressing her up in frilly dresses and putting her hair in pigtails when she was little. I remember the dreams and hopes I had for Cyndy: that she would grow up healthy and happy and have her own family someday. A newborn baby has potential, and as a parent, you cannot help but want the perfect life for your tiny child. Mark remembers anticipating the joy of having the rest of his life to protect, hold, love, and see Cyndy grow up into a woman. We could not have known then that God had other plans for her, and He would give us only eleven blessed years with her here on earth.
I think back to that beautiful baby girl, watching her grow over the months. I remember her first smile after a feeding, and her early morning coos. She thought my sister Cathy’s doll was funny, and Cathy would tease her with the doll just to hear her big belly laugh. When Cathy would walk away, Cyndy would start to cry, so, of course, Cathy had to come back to play some more.
Cyndy kept me busy all day. She got to the point where she did not like to lie on her back, and if I put her on the floor on a blanket, she would roll over on her belly and push up on her arms. If I had only known that I would have eleven short years with her, how I would have done things differently! To me, Cyndy seemed like a normal baby, and I treated her as such until she was six months old. I never dreamed that we would endure the hardships of her mental retardation, much less losing her to death at such a young age.
While looking in her baby book, I found a couple letters that I had written to her when she was first born.
Nov. 13, 1985
As I write this letter, you have turned two weeks old today. God sure answered my prayers when He gave me you. You sure have been a blessing to me. I cannot wait until you are old enough for me to bake cookies with you at Christmas and teach you how to sew. Cyndy, you and your momma are going to have a great time.
Love, your mom
July 16, 1986
I write you at this time to tell you I really love you. You have gone through a lot for a baby so young. You almost did not pull through that night back in May. I do not know what I would have done without you. Now you are eight and a half months old. I pray every day that the medications you are taking for your seizures will stop you from having any more. It hurts me every time you go through one. At times, I was afraid I was going to lose you. I thank God for the miracle of you surviving the first time you seizured.
Love, your mom
We as parents do not always realize that we are stewards of God’s children, and that they belong not to us, but to Him. God has every right to receive them unto Himself in His perfect timing. God’s Word tells us in Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” It is easy to forget that our children belong first and foremost to God when they are called home at an early age. We should love our children and surrender them to the God who is the Lord and Creator of everything. In His mercy and kindness, God so graciously gives us a very special gift in our children, and for that, we give Him eternal thanks.
Thank you, Lord, for our children. Please help us to remember that they are on loan to us, and You give the gift of life as an undeserved blessing from heaven. Help us to remember that in Your goodness, You can take our children at any time, and we are to enjoy them; knowing that any day could be our last day with them. Give us the grace to trust in the perfection of Your plan for our life and theirs. Thank you for the gift of children; give us the true faith of a child that we might walk more closely with You.
In Christ, Amen.