Mom Shares Heartbreaking Photo of the Moment Her Baby Died as an Important Reminder to Parents

Taraann Michelle Goodney

Taraann Michelle Goodney
Taraann Michelle Goodney

When Taraan Michelle Goodney lost her son, Dalton, over the summer, it was the tragic conclusion to a months-long battle with a debilitating illness. The mom from Universal City, Texas, had fought hard for her son to get properly diagnosed in January, and when his doctors finally revealed to her that the then-4-month-old had both leukemia and pneumonia, she was devastated. Now, Goodney is sharing the final snapshot she took with her little boy in hopes her story can serve as a reminder to parents to cherish every moment they have with their kids.

  • Speaking with CafeMom, Goodney says she first noticed her son was sick right after New Years.

    Taraan Michelle Goodney
    Taraan Michelle Goodney

    Dalton was the first child for Goodney and her second husband, and because they both had kids from previous marriages, they agreed Dalton would be their last. "I got my tubes removed with my C-section with Dalton," Goodney explains.

    Dalton was born on September 5, 2018, but in early 2019, he had an incident that worried his mother. Goodney and her husband, who coach cheerleading and football, respectively, for their kids' sports teams, and had attended a cheer and football banquet when Dalton suddenly vomited all over the floor.

    "I set up appointments that following Monday and when I took him in to see his pediatrician, she said it was just a viral infection," the mom recalls. "But to come in the next day due to his breathing being a concern."

    Dalton was born with laryngomalacia -- a congenital softening of the voice box tissue that is common in infants, according to the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania -- and Goodney was trying to figure out if the vomiting was a symptom of his condition.

    "I explained to the pediatrician about the vomiting," she now says. "But he had a history of acid reflex and aspiration. I also told her how he hasn’t peed or kept anything down."

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  • Dalton's weight started to fluctuate rapidly and bruises began blossoming across his back.

    Taraan Michelle Goodney
    Taraan Michelle Goodney

    Goodney knew that something was seriously wrong. After her initial visit with Dalton's doctors, she came in for a follow-up visit the next day, and learned her son had gained a pound overnight.

    "I told her how he had been really colic-y and his stomach was bloated," she recalls. "She prescribed gas drops and was happy he hadn’t lost weight. We were sent home."

    But the next day, Dalton still wasn't eating, and the sudden bruising alarmed her.

    "Being in the medical field I knew my son wasn’t right," says the mom, who had worked as a certified medical assistant for Health Texas Medical Group, but left her job as Dalton's medical issues escalated. "I sent my husband to take our son to Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital and I told him not to leave there without a X-ray and ultrasound of his belly."

    But only an X-ray was performed, she now shares. Dalton was given Tylenol to treat his fever and discharged with a diagnosis of colic and constipation. 

  • The next day, Goodney took her son to a separate follow-up appointment for his laryngomalacia, noting that his belly had grown bigger and he was pale.

    Taraan Michelle Goodney
    Taraan Michelle Goodney

    "I knew my child wasn’t all right," Goodney shares. "His vital signs were all off, his belly was swollen like a balloon, and he still had a fever."

    The otorhinolaryngologist she had taken Dalton to was also concerned, and immediately called the ER before sending them over.

    Once there, the family was immediately taken into an exam room, where Dalton's doctors noticed on an X-ray that his liver was enlarged.

    "They did blood work, an ultrasound, and another X-ray," Goodney remembers. "One hour after walking through those ER doors [on January 22] I was told my 4-month-old son had leukemia and pneumonia."

  • The next day, doctors attempted to do a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, but when they rolled Dalton to his side, his lung collapsed.

    Taraan Michelle Goodney
    Taraan Michelle Goodney

    Once Dalton was returned to his mother, he was already on a respirator, and then an oscillator. 

    Then, things went from bad to worse.

    "Next thing I knew, my son had not only acute myeloid leukemia, pneumonia, and enlarged liver," Goodney says. "[But] he was in kidney failure, respiratory failure, had a collapsed lung, septic shock, enlarged spleen, and tumor lysis syndrome."

    In a rush to save his life, doctors placed Dalton on kidney dialysis, as well as a life-support machine known as ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), which acts as an artificial lung.

    Dalton fought hard to get off the respirator and in the coming months would travel back and forth to the hospital, enduring four rounds of chemotherapy.

  • As difficult as the entire journey was, it all seemed worth by the end of April, when he was finally declared cancer-free.

    But then came a setback. 

    On May 13, Dalton was admitted to the hospital for a bone marrow transplant, and entered surgery 10 days later.

    "Days after, my sweet boy had to be put back on a ventilator due to mucositis," Goodney continues, referring to when cancer treatments break down the cells of the gastrointestinal tract. 

    He was quickly moved back on the oscillator and placed on kidney dialysis, as well as a peritoneal dialysis drain, his mother says. But in the process, he also faced many complications, which he ultimately couldn't overcome. 

    On June 27, 2019, Dalton died.

  • Now, Goodney is sharing a gut-wrenching photo from the day Dalton died, to remind parents to always hold their kids close.

    Goodney tells us the photo was taken at the exact moment that Dalton was taken off the oscillator and passed away peacefully in her arms.

    "Your complaints about your baby tossing in bed, is another mama’s wish that her baby was still laying next to her," Goodney captioned her Facebook post, which has been shared over 42,000 times so far. "Your complaints about your baby waking up early is another mama’s wish that she had a reason to get out of bed. Remember to hold your baby extra tight, because some of us mamas can’t."

    Speaking with CafeMom, Goodney admits that she wrote the post in a deep moment of pain.

    "It just hurts, I’m in so much pain," she says. "Sometimes I’m out and about and I see a baby that resembles him. What’s worse is I got my tubes removed, so without IVF, which is thousands of dollars, I don’t get my rainbow baby. I don’t get to look into my grandchildren's eyes one day and see my husband and I."

    And while many people have responded positively to Goodney's post, she does say that she's had a few people who thought she was trying to "make some parents look bad." 

    "I have no intentions to make anyone angry," she clarifies. "I’m just a mother who lost her son." 

    "I never got to see my son crawl, walk, I never got to hear his first words," she adds. "I’m just trying to stay as happy as I can for our kids that are still alive."

    Despite those who may have taken offense to Goodney's message, there were plenty of others who took it to heart -- and thanked her for it.

    "I don't know you, but your post was shared and as I read it, your words made me feel bad for complaining about my kids," one woman said. "Thank you for helping me to open my eyes to my babies and how much I'm grateful for them. Thank you and prayers for your family and especially for your little one."