When Cristina Renteria’s son Atlas Alexander was born eight and a half weeks early towards the end of November 2018, it was not the first time she’d had a son born in November. Almost exactly one year previously, her first child, another son, was born early and sadly did not make it home. It’s no surprise that when the eleventh month rolls around each year, Cristina finds herself full of emotions.
Within 12 hours of his birth, Atlas began having seizures. He was soon diagnosed with sepsis, meningitis and a brain bleed. Cristina was told that her second son was not likely to make it home either.
Miraculously, he began to stabilize although he had sustained brain damage from the meningitis. And, after a couple of weeks, his seizures were under control.
Cristina stayed at the Ronald McDonald House and was by Atlas’s isolette in the NICU every day. She paid attention. She watched the nurses and learned how to take care of her son. After a few weeks, she successfully advocated to bring her son home. She was told that he would probably live a few weeks or perhaps months. A social worker helped connect her with DDD and referred her to Raising Special Kids. DDD provided therapies for Atlas and Raising Special Kids provided Cristina with a parent-to-parent connection. “I have a big family but no one knew what I was going through. But the parent I spoke with understood exactly where I was coming from. She had gone through many of the same things I had and heard the same bad news about her own child yet she was optimistic and helped me be, too.”
Cristina has been a parent leader for Raising Special Kids and has helped other parents through some rough times too. She likes to share her assessment with the families she helps that Raising Special Kids is like the Google for parents of kids with special needs. She’s always found answers when she calls our office with a question and if one’s not readily available, our staff researches the answer and gets back to her.
Atlas turned two years old last November and his current prognosis is much different. It’s no longer thought that his condition is degenerative. Cristina shared, “I was told to expect the worst of the worst so I did. But cautiously and quietly I hoped for the best. After a while, I realized every day with Atlas is a miracle. He defies the odds by not only simply surviving but by thriving and doing things that I was told would be impossible!”