When a young mother went to pick up her daughter from the babysitter, her little one appeared exhausted. As the sitter carried her to the car, the mom jokingly asked, “Is she breathing?” Then, she placed her hands on her child’s chest — and completely lost it.
Sierra Greenlee was excited to pick up her daughter Arya after the two had spent a week apart while her little girl was with her dad. As Sierra headed to the babysitter’s house after work, the young mom anticipated hearing all about Arya’s week and planned to take her little one for a bite to eat. She was so eager for snuggles and playtime, but instead, she’d soon be rushing to the hospital with her lifeless daughter.
As the babysitter carried Arya to the car, Sierra’s daughter appeared “completely knocked out” after a “hard day.” Jokingly, Sierra asked if Arya was breathing. Then, she put her hand on Arya’s little chest. “I felt no movement,” Sierra recalled. “I completely freaked out. I couldn’t finish a thought. I knew I needed to get her back inside and start CPR. I was so mad and terrified. I was yelling at everyone who got in my way or tried to say something.”
Sierra ran inside, laid Arya down, and began CPR on her limp little body. Sierra knew she needed to remain calm, but she couldn’t. “I was yelling at my babysitter and trying to think about doing chest compressions and breathing and freaking out the entire time,” she admitted. After what seemed like an eternity, EMS arrived and took over, trying desperately to bring Arya back as Sierra called family, paced, cried, and prayed.
“At times I felt like an outsider watching this awful event unfold,” Sierra recalled. “I had always had these nightmares but it was never supposed to happen, not to me. It was the most surreal moments in my life,” she added. Arya was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital. As Sierra followed behind the emergency vehicle, the worst thoughts flooded her head.
“I thought of the fact that the last time I had seen my baby awake she was begging me not to go to work and I went anyway,” Sierra admitted. “I was thinking about what it would mean for me if she was gone. I thought of what it would be like to plan my child’s funeral and all the things we would miss out on. I prayed to God that if only he would spare my baby I would do whatever he wanted.”
When Sierra arrived at the hospital, she was lead into a small room off of the waiting room, where the staff began asking her questions. Sierra thought it was a good sign, believing this meant Arya was going to be admitted. Then, a doctor came in and said the words no mother ever wants to hear. “We did everything we could but unfortunately we were unable to revive her and she did not survive,” he said, forever changing Sierra’s entire world.
“That one little sentence devastated my entire being,” Sierra said. “It was like my heart had stopped too. I was an empty shell. The shock was overwhelming. When they took me to her little lifeless body laying on that big hospital bed I lost it. I wanted to hold her and lay with her. They let me. I held her as the heat slowly left her body and her skin became cold to the touch. If I wasn’t holding her I was running my hands through her little hair. Singing her favorite song.”
Sierra’s grief was only compounded when the staff returned to tell her that they had run some tests and already discovered Arya’s cause of death: undiagnosed Type 1 Diabetes. “Her blood sugar level was in the 500’s,” Sierra explained. Because her blood sugar had become so high, Arya slipped into a coma and her body gave out.
“I could not comprehend this information. How could my baby have Diabetes? She had went to her wellness check up only the week before and they told me she was healthy. How could she have died from a disease that I know thousands of people manage?” Sierra asked. The answers to those questions didn’t bring her any comfort.
Without symptoms or a family history of the disease, as was the case for Arya, small children simply aren’t tested for Diabetes, Sierra later learned. And, the signs and symptoms are often missed, she realized. “The signs for Diabetes in toddlers are they drink a lot, pee a lot and are tired … These signs are easily missed and overlooked because most toddlers do these things,” Sierra explained.
“The test is a simple blood sugar test that you have to request at their wellness check-up,” Sierra wrote in a Facebook post, hoping to educate others so no one else has to suffer the unimaginable and preventable loss that she did. “I beg you to ask your child’s doctor to test for it. I beg you to become aware of the signs and symptoms of childhood Diabetes,” she pleaded.
“Share this post and story with everyone because no parent should ever have to hear the words, ‘I’m sorry, but unfortunately, she did not survive,'” Sierra Greenlee urged. Admitting that she’s been accused of using Arya’s story to “get attention,” she wrote, “That is exactly what I am doing, getting attention for childhood diabetes.” The last time she posted her story, the grieving mother said, “It helped save the lives of 13 children. Let’s make it more.”