This past July, Cindi Broussard Rust of Sulphur had her first book published, Remembering Spencer: A Mother's Journey from Depression, Despondency and Despair to Victory. It is the story of her journey with God through grief and healing.
On January 19, 1990, Rust had a son, Spencer. On January 21, 1990 she lost him.
"When I began writing the story, I thought that I had finished dealing with the loss of Spencer, but when I pulled out my old journal and read it, it was very difficult because I had shared a lot of raw emotions and hurt," Rust said in an interview with the Southwest Daily News. "I realized then that with the loss of a child, some hurt never goes away. When a mother loses her child, a hole is left in her heart. Much of the hurt stays forever and missing him never changes. What changes is that I can remember him with a smile."
In 1989, Rust was exactly where she wanted to be. She was happily married. She had a college degree under her belt and a job she loved teaching deaf children. And she had just found out that she was pregnant.
"My pregnancy had started like that of many first-time moms," Rust writes. "We were so excited. My high school sweetheart and I had been married for five years. We had always said we'd have a baby after five years and here we were pregnant. Everything was perfect! At least it seemed that way until I was about seven months pregnant."
Rust writes that during a routine ultrasound the technician appeared concerned and left to consult with the radiologist.
"Something wasn't right," she said. "We soon found out that our baby had an omphalocoele. As explained to us, it is like a sac outside of the baby's abdomen."
The doctor told the couple that most of the time something else was involved, like a heart condition or chromosome imbalance. So testing continued.
"Instantly, I felt my family going into protective mode," Rust writes. "Plans that had been made began to subtly change. The baby bed wasn't ordered. I was encouraged not to prepare the baby's room. And since I was put on complete bed rest, I could not do these things for myself."
Over the next several weeks, a series of test were performed, the results of which were deemed normal. And as more tests came back normal, Rust's worry lessened.
"Time after time I saw it as confirmation that God's healing power would heal my baby," she writes. "I grew up in an Assembly of God church where the moving of the Holy Spirit and the healing hand of God was seen on a regular basis. I knew that My God and would heal my baby. Why else had He specifically called me out of a crowd for a special prayer? Each time the test came back normal the doctor did not give us any more hope than he had before the test, but I knew deep in my heart that all would be o.k."
Page 2 of 2 - But things were far from being okay. On Friday, Jan. 15, 1990, Rust went into labor and was sent via Learjet to specialists in New Orleans, where local doctors felt she had the best chance of a successful delivery.
Though her contractions appeared to be under control, her water broke suddenly on Jan. 19 and Spencer Joseph Ardoin was born at 10:26 p.m. weighing 3 pounds 14 ounces and measuring 17½ inches long.
"He was taken immediately to NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), but I was able to see him briefly before they rushed him away," she writes. "The doctor at delivery was ecstatic to see that the omphalocoele was not as big as they had anticipated. Again, I had a renewed sense of hope. My son was going to show them. He was going to be a miracle!
"It wasn't until the next day that I could go visit him because he was on a different floor. He was awake, and I was able to see his beautiful, big, brown eyes," writes Rust.
But later that night, Spencer began having trouble breathing. During an operation to address that, doctors found a diaphragmatic hernia.
"His diaphragm was not formed right and it allowed some of his intestines to extend into his chest cavity causing one of his lungs to not form correctly and the other to be hypo plastic," she writes. "In short, he wouldn't be able to breathe on his own."
Rust was told her son was not expected to live.
"While I lay in bed with this horrible news, the only thing I could think of was Psalm 23. Never had that scripture had such meaning to me. Never had I truly understood what the 'valley of the shadow of death' meant, but instantly I knew. Those moments felt like an eternity while I waited for someone to bring me to my son. How I wished I could run to him!"
Rust, her husband and her parents all took turns holding the baby that night.
"One of the walls in the NICU was made of windows facing the east," writes Rust. "It was as the sun was coming up on that Sunday morning that we told God, 'Into thy hands we place him, O Lord.' Shortly after, he died in my arms."
Rust's book continues from this point through today. Her telling of her journey is punctuated with scripture, excerpts from sermons and her own inner dialogue. It is a story of courage and a testament to a mother's love for her child and a woman's love for God.
Remembering Spencer: A Mother's Journey from Depression, Despondency and Despair to Victory is published by Tate Publishing and Enterprise LLC and is available through tatepublishing.com as a paperback or electronic book. For more information visit the Remembering Spencer on Facebook.