When I walked into the home of David Silva and Mirna Contreras last spring, a somber mood filled the space. My heart ached as I watched Mirna wipe away tears and recount the heartbreaking story of her daughter, Ruby, who was born at only 22 weeks and 6 days and, at that time, remained in the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Methodist Richardson Medical Center.
Interviewing patients and their families is one of the best parts of my job. It’s the place where I feel like the values behind the work we do here at Methodist Health System really come into play. It’s a chance to join people in their journeys and help them walk with words through one of the biggest challenges of their lives.
I cry with them. I laugh with them. I sometimes give them an avenue of healing — one that will ultimately help others as well. They let me into something personal and sacred, and the privilege of telling that story is one I don’t take lightly.
But for most patients we feature in Shine, their journey is pretty much over. They’ve had their health issue, they’ve been treated, and now they are — pun intended — shining in a healthier, happier life.
For David and Mirna, that wasn’t the case.
They were still hurting and scared but possessed an abundant, tenacious faith that was carrying them through the daily rigors of parenting not only a very sick infant but also a boisterous 6-year-old son, who just couldn’t wait for his little sister to come home. When I asked him what he thought of his little sister, all he said was, “I love her very much.”
I remember thinking, “Ruby is going to be one lucky little girl when she comes home.”
From Sorrow to Joy
On November 10, I returned to the Silva home. After many months in the NICU at Methodist Richardson, followed by surgery at Children’s Medical Center, Ruby had come home October 2.
When Mirna greeted me at the door, she had that “glow” — you know, the one you hear people refer to when describing new mothers. There was not one hint of sadness or hardship in how she carried herself. She led me up to Ruby’s room, decorated in pinks and purples, with stuffed animals and family photos in every corner. She took Ruby, dressed in an adorable violet gingham pinafore, out of her crib and beamed as she showed me her little miracle.
David walked in, and the couple shared with me their experiences in recent months and how grateful they were for their time at Methodist Richardson.
Being Inspired by our Patients
My mind journeyed back to that first conversation months ago. Side-by-side on their living room couch, David and Mirna held hands, comforting each other as they shared their story. David often took over when Mirna couldn’t get through the tears.
I remember knowing in my gut that it was not time to tell their story. The time would come, but it was not then.
Nevertheless, Mirna wanted their story to be shared. I remember the strength in her voice as she shared two things in particular, both relating to her faith.
The first was that she knew she would deliver her child at Methodist Richardson. One day, she and David were driving by the hospital while it was still under construction. She felt deep inside that that is where she’d deliver her next child. Unfortunately, she lost the baby she carried at the time — her second consecutive miscarriage.
However, Methodist Richardson opened — complete with a Level III NICU —in plenty of time for Mirna’s pregnancy with Ruby. The care they needed was there just when they needed it.
The second thing was Mirna knew that this baby would live, even though it would take advanced medical science along with a miracle. This confidence stems from what David and Mirna call a “prophecy” that a fellow church member received one day during worship.
“She told me that my baby is going to be His promise,” Mirna said. “When I heard that, I knew everything is going to be fine, just fine.”
Mirna and David kept these words of comfort private, but they also took them seriously. Not once during their whole journey with Ruby did they doubt that one day they would bring this little girl home, healthy and strong.
“It’s unbelievable how God can speak from other people, how He can tell us what He wants us to do — to trust,” David told me.
Whether you believe in miracles or not, whether you believe in God or not, you can’t question the joy and peace I saw in Mirna’s face, the bond this couple shared as they supported each other through multiple difficult situations, and the beauty and health of the baby they hold in their arms today.
It has been a joy to be a part of telling the story of the Silva family. I invite you to read more in our Spring issue of Shine, coming out in late March. There will even be some adorable photos of Ruby. You won’t want to miss them!
Methodist in the News