There is no greater pain for a parent than the loss of a child. It has been 23 years since a Sulphur mom buried her two-day-old son, Spencer. Cindi Broussard Rust opens up about overcoming the grief, sadness and finding hope while remembering Spencer.
Cindi always wanted to be a mom. When she got the news in 1989 that she was pregnant, she was ecstatic. "Everything was wonderful until we had an ultrasound and that just gave us the bombshell," said Cindi.
It was at the six month ultrasound that Cindi found out her baby was a boy and something life-changing. The doctor's notes from that day are still etched on an old napkin. "You can read here, 50 percent," said Cindi, "I think that's probably the mortality rate."
A sack had formed outside of the baby's abdomen, holding some of his intestines. "The doctor is telling you it doesn't look good," said Cindi, "and you're saying to yourself 'it's going to be fine, it has to be fine, this can't be me, it happens to other people.'"
The final trimester was a whirlwind for Cindi, transferred from Sulphur to a New Orleans hospital with specialists to care for her baby at birth.
On January 19th, 1990, Spencer was born and things were looking up. "The doctor told me that the omphalocele wasn't as big as they had expected, so he was encouraged," said Cindi.
Cindi was too, even though surgery on the Spencer was the next step as doctors discovered he had a diaphragmatic hernia.
The hours that passed then took a terrible turn. "Early that morning I get the call that he's not going to make it through the night," said Cindi.
Cindi, her husband and her mother held Spencer until he stopped breathing. That moment and every other memory with Spencer is penned inside his baby book. "You were in my arms when Jesus and the angels came to bring you home," Cindi read from the words she wrote in Spencer's baby book.
"It's a Boy" balloons, toys and flowers filled the car that Cindi left the hospital in, along with here husband and Spencer, headed to the funeral home instead of the family's home. "We got there and picked out a little blue casket," she said, "and then we had to go to the cemetery, so it was not the way you expect your first day home with your baby."
Then, words aimed at comforting this mother cut even more deeply. "'You're young,,' 'You can have more,' 'It was God's will,' 'He's in a better place,'" Cindi recalled as just some of the many comments made to her after Spencer's death.
Cindi says it was her faith, support and pen and paper that helped her heal. "I journaled and that was probably one of the most important things that I did," she said.
As Cindi wrote to Spencer over the next several months and bitterness began to fall away, she found out she was pregnant with twins - a girl and a boy. "They grew up knowing they had a big brother they had never met," she said, "lots of pictures and stories of him."
Cindi decided to write a book for her kids, Remembering Spencer, and for families who have walked a similar path. "Those that have lost a child, I want them to know that there is hope," said Cindi, "they can remember their baby, remember their child happily. It doesn't have to stay a sad memory."
If you know someone who is facing the loss of a child, Cindi says the best thing to say is "I love you, I'm here for you and I'm praying for you."