“Sweet Grace” will live in our hearts forever

Guest post by Sharia Brent, a mom of three who experienced the loss of her infant daughter. She received services from Capital Area Healthy Start, an organization available to help every mom and baby before and after birth for any situation. This post is presented in recognition of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month.

Sharia with Serena in the hospital

I was ecstatic the day I learned my husband and I were having a baby girl. I had always imagined having my son first and then my daughter, and on March 5, 2008, it seemed as if I had written my own life story.

All of those emotions came to a screeching halt when I learned soon after that my daughter would be born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, a condition that allows organs from the abdomen to move into the chest.

Confused, afraid and disturbed had taken over being happy. How could this happen? I was taking my prenatal vitamins. I was drinking my eight to 10 glasses of water and even tried to eat my two to three servings of fruits and vegetables a day.


For the next four months my husband and I prayed and educated ourselves on her condition.  On June 28, 2008 our daughter, Serena Grace “Sweet Grace” Brent was born. Doctors immediately whisked her away, allowing me to see only a glimpse of her. I missed a kiss, her cry, her touch.

For 29 days I walked through the doors of Shands Hospital singing and reading to her, whispering “I love you” in her ear. My hopeful eyes looked into her brave soul, praying that she would get better.

On July 27, 2008, we lost our “Sweet Grace” to complications surrounding her condition.  She took her last breath in my arms, the arms that never had a chance to hold her until that moment.

Devastated, empty and heartbroken, I tried to fight off depression and grief. My husband and I had experienced a tragedy. Our lives were affected, our marriage was tested.  But we fought and prayed because we knew that Serena’s memories would live through our love.

We are thankful for the bereavement services we received through Capital Area Healthy Start. They really made a difference in keeping our family strong. I am also thankful for the relationship between Healthy Start and the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review (FIMR). Their monthly meetings that review every infant death case to try to address any contributing factors and prevent tragedies in the future are a blessing for families and the community.

Sharia with her husband and two children

Today we have two healthy children, but not a day goes by that we don’t think about Serena. She lives in our hearts forever.

Healthy Start offers prenatal help to all pregnant moms. Services include childbirth classes, in-home support services, breastfeeding classes, parenting support, bereavement counseling and much more. Healthy Start is for every mom and baby and there is no charge for services. Just say “Yes,” when asked if you want to give your baby a Healthy Start.

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