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From grief comes resilience

In honor of Pregnancy/Infant Loss Awareness Month, comes a story of both tragedy and resilience from a Clinton native. Sabrina Sumlin, 24, Clinton High School Alumni, gave birth to her second son, Joel Donald Sumlin, on Dec. 17, 2015.

Weighing at 6lbs., 1oz., Joel’s birth was anxiously anticipated in lieu of his mother’s high risk pregnancy.

Sabrina recalls her son’s birth by stating, “I heard him cry and that was all I wanted to hear.”

Though the jitters of becoming a mother again were lingering somewhere in her heart, Sabrina was overwhelmed with concern as the nurses rushed her son away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU); Sabrina and D.J. Sumlin would later learn of their son’s daunting medical condition.

Joel was born with a genetic condition that caused many birth defects; which would ultimately lead to multiple surgeries to correct to sustain his life. One of those birth defects, Esophageal Atresia, would require immediate surgery.

At just one-day-old, Joel received his first surgery to have a G Tube (feeding tube) installed for his nutritional needs; followed by a second and third surgery to correct a birth defect that caused his esophagus and wind pipe to form incorrectly, and his reflux to direct stomach acid up instead of down.

Joel’s fourth and final surgery was to insert a Broviac Catheter to administer his necessary medications.

The Sumlins spent 75 days in the NICU, six short days at home, and six grueling days in the Pediatric ICU with their youngest son before infections from the Broviac insertion led to his passing.

On the anniversary of his third month of his battling life, Joel was escorted by the Clinton City Police Department to where he would be laid to rest at Grandview Memorial Gardens, March 17, 2016.

He was a little more than four-months old.

Though the loss of a child is unbearable and unfathomable, the Sumlins reached to one another through this difficult time and gained great strength from one another.

Sabrina says, “All I wanted was a black-haired, blue-eyed baby and that was exactly what I got. He was perfect.”

Today, the Sumlins are stronger than ever and have coped by keeping Joel’s memory alive through spreading awareness of Infant Loss with their story.

Joel’s big brother, Jaxon, will always remember the brave little soldier that he got to call “Bubba.”

Sabrina honored her son with a poem she had written for Joel’s funeral program.

“This Isn’t Goodbye, Only See You Later”

We asked God for a baby and we got you,

We’re beyond lucky, we know that is true,

A beautiful boy who touched our hearts,

Our hearts that are breaking because we’re so far apart.

Your family will always speak your name,

And we’ll always remember how far you came,

You were so strong, got through so many trials and tests,

But angels came to take you from Mommy’s arms,

And now it’s time to rest.

We weren’t ready to lose you but God needed you there,

Regardless of how hard it will be to bare,

We will smile and celebrate the time that we had,

We love you with all that we have,


Mom and Dad