My daughter, Camila “Millie” Rose was a happy, healthy, energetic ray of sunshine. She had a donut party for her fifth birthday on September 14, 2019. She rarely got sick. She loved dancing, singing, art, and had recently started taking tennis lessons with her sister and best friend, Nora (7). Her other best friend was my husband, Patricio – her papi. Patricio is an amazing stay-at-home dad who had taken care of Millie since birth. And I was the lucky mom of two amazing daughters who I loved with a fierceness I never thought possible.
On October 24th, I arrived home late from a work trip. Millie had a fever, but was otherwise okay. I took off work the next morning to stay home and snuggle her. That night she threw up but then seemed to feel better. Saturday morning, Patricio took her to urgent care. They said it was just a virus, and we just needed to wait it out.
Through the day, Millie was a little lethargic, but seemed to have her normal upbeat attitude. Her fever went down. I monitored her through that night. She started complaining of pains in her body. I tried to massage her and noticed she was cold. I put an extra blanket on. She started coughing. I asked her to see if she could take a deep breath. She could. I started worrying about sepsis but I thought I was overreacting. We had just been to urgent care after all. I took her to the ER around 6am on Sunday morning. Millie was dead just three hours later.
I told the medical personnel right away that I was worried about sepsis or meningitis. They took her back right away and started tests and antibiotics very quickly. She barely noticed when they pricked her finger. But she joked with the nurses. She bravely offered her arms for the IV to be inserted, which took multiple tries. When Papi called to check on her, she told him “I love you so much, Papi.” Those would be the last words she ever said to him.
As we were waiting on a life flight to Children’s Hospital, Millie kept complaining she was thirsty. She said her “belly bell” hurt. I asked her to show me where. And she seized. When they shuffled me out of the room, I felt my life falling apart.
For 45 minutes they did CPR. I hear several times “no cardiac activity.” And the doctor said “I have to call it.” All these details – these last brutal moments of such a beautiful life – are forever seared in my memory. I stroked my baby’s hair, held her hand, and kissed her for the last time.
An autopsy confirmed sepsis and viral myocarditis.
Leaving the hospital without her was the hardest thing I have ever done. I continuously wonder “what if” we had recognized the signs earlier or we had taken her in sooner?
I share Millie’s story because I still mother her even after her death. I share her death to raise awareness. I share her life so that others may be inspired, and so that she will stay alive in the hearts and minds of many.
I love you, my Sweet Millie Rose. Forever and ever no matter what.