37: Twenty-Six-Ounce Miracle

37: Twenty-Six-Ounce Miracle

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

Twenty-Six-Ounce Miracle

We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.

~Oswald Chambers

I can still see the hands on the clock: 1:05 a.m. on August 21, 1996. Why was the telephone ringing? I didn’t wake up readily but Nancy was already halfway to the kitchen telephone. It was our son-in-law. “Mom, it’s Brian. I have to take Elaine to the hospital. Can you come and stay with Jamie?”

Nancy was out the door and across Albuquerque in record time. What was wrong? Elaine’s first pregnancy and delivery with Jamie were perfectly normal and this pregnancy had been normal too, until now. Why the emergency call?

With no notice and no preparation, Elaine had an emergency C-section at twenty-five weeks, versus the normal forty weeks. Fortunately, Elaine was in the best neonatal intensive care unit hospital in the region. Naturally she was devastated and depressed by what happened, but she was alive and physically well.

The baby was anything but normal. Survival was unlikely. One pound, ten ounces. 739 grams. Was pulling the plug a possible necessity? If the baby did live, it would face a long list of very likely serious problems common to preemies.

Blindness? Brain? Lungs? Joints? Infections? Heart? Blood? The baby had six of those seven common major problems. And it was so terribly tiny.

After the baby survived twenty-four hours Elaine said, “Brian, we haven’t even discussed names. I can’t think at all now, but the baby should have a name. Please name her.” We could now attach our fervent prayers to her by name—Kimberly Diane.

Was it right or realistic to expect God to intervene in what appeared to be an essentially hopeless cause? We prayed for God’s loving presence and support for Kimberly, for her parents and for the extended family. We prayed for God’s will to be done.

Five days after her birth, Kimberly had lost twenty-three percent of her birth weight. She wasn’t blind, but she had retinopathy and her eyes were fused closed. Both conditions resolved themselves without surgery. She had grade 1 brain hemorrhaging that absorbed itself without treatment. Her lungs were so undeveloped they could not be seen on the first X-ray. With her parents’ written permission, Presbyterian Hospital tried a surfactant drug on this youngest and smallest preemie ever to be so treated. It worked.

At six days Kimberly’s white count shot up, indicating infection and requiring her return to the ventilator. There was an abnormal hole in her heart, which healed by itself. She received eleven transfusions of her Uncle Marshall’s blood, five cc (one teaspoon) each time. The list of her abnormalities and special treatments was seemingly endless.

Kimberly was three weeks old when Elaine was first allowed to hold her. Elaine sat next to the incubator with its “739 grams” label, and fed her. Jamie watched intently and gently touched her little sister’s forehead.

Our church family was wonderfully supportive. Our pastor and friend, Leonard Gillingham, faithfully did the required medical scrubbing, donned the mask and gown and visited Kimberly. He was the grandfather of a preemie and keenly understood the situation. It was comforting to know that his granddaughter had survived, but of much concern that she still had serious problems.

Leonard took it upon himself to keep everyone in our church informed about Kimberly. He preached a special sermon on October 27 about Kimberly and her first two months of life. On November 17, Leonard announced in the worship service, “Tomorrow Kimberly Legan will leave the hospital and come home.” The entire congregation erupted in clapping and cheering.

She did come home the following day at age ninety days, sixteen days before her original due date. She weighed just under four pounds. All was apparently okay, but it was also scary. Only two days earlier Nancy and I attended a special baby CPR class with Kimberly’s parents. The responsibility of what to do in an emergency without the help of trained medical personnel was overwhelming.

Initially an in-home nurse, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist continued to care for Kimberly. She had made amazing progress in the first three months of her life but had a long way to go. And she did!

At age ten and eleven she played Upward Basketball at church better than most of the other girls. In high school, she is on the tennis team. As a junior she is president of her school’s State Championship Show Choir and a nearly straight-A student.

Yes, Kimberly survived. She became a healthy child and a vibrant young woman, just as we had prayed seventeen years earlier. It now appears that normal adulthood is just around the corner.

I’m slow to declare miracles, but it appears that I’m watching a miracle continue to develop right under my nose.

~Dale N. Amend

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