Meg: At 1:20am on Thursday, July 27, 2017, I gave birth to our youngest daughter. She was 16 weeks premature.
Up until the morning of July 26th, my pregnancy had been uncomplicated, so it was a surprise to wake up one morning knowing that something wasn’t quite right. We called my doctor and then went immediately to the hospital.
Later that day, an exam and ultrasound revealed that my cervix was dilated to 3 cm and the bag of waters was bulging through the gap. The whisked me onto an ambulance to send me to a hospital equipped to handle extreme prematurity.
They tried all day to keep me pregnant, but were unsuccessful and though I wasn’t having typical contractions, my body had continued to dilate necessitating the delivery of our 24 week-old baby.
A nurse later told me that it was incredible to experience: that the room was quiet, and in her words, “it was as though the stars aligned” to bring something so chaotic under control in that moment. I delivered her naturally, without contractions to help along the process. She was born “en caul,” which means that she was born with her bag of waters intact around her. When they ruptured on the outside of my body, she let out three tiny, but robust, wails before being intubated and whisked away to the NICU. She was 1 lb. 6.9 oz. and 12.2 inches long.
She followed the typical micro-preemie pattern and had a decent first 24 hours: the “honeymoon” period. They encouraged us to spend a lot of time with her as there were no guarantees. We couldn’t touch her in the first 24 hours; she was too fragile, her skin so thin you could see her organs.
On Friday, it seemed that no amount of oxygen was helping her. Our next step was to move her from the traditional ventilator to an oscillator, which would move oxygen through her body using sound waves. Making the switch would increase her risk of sustaining brain bleeds, but we felt strongly that we were not supposed to give up on her yet.
That evening, her CBC revealed a drastic drop in her red blood cells indicating that she had most likely sustained a severe brain bleed. This news ushered in a tomb-like feeling in my heart and when I went to bed that night, I sobbed and cried out to the Lord for five hours.
In the morning, though sleep had failed me, God was still good. My brain was foggy and words failed me, but God brought me hope and comfort through songs he had imprinted on my heart. One of those songs was “The Reason for the World.”
Though I was devastated, God lifted my head with the reminder that He would use whatever was coming next for our good and His glory. He also knew what it was like to see his own Son die. He knew our grief and so much more. The reason for everything we were going through was to draw us closer to Him regardless of the outcome.
The next four months were a rollercoaster. At 38 weeks, an MRI revealed the damage done by those early brain bleeds. We could have been devastated all over again, but we kept leaning into the faithfulness of a God who had not left us or forsaken us and was even then in the process of doing amazing things.
We didn’t know if she would walk or talk. She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 8 months adjusted. She is now 2 1/2 years old, can walk independently in small spaces, though she tires quickly and falls a lot. She also has recently begun to sing (and talk) more and more since receiving a feeding tube back in November to help provide more consistent nutrition, since she struggles with eating by mouth.
We often joke that music must be her thing because of having been sustained by sound waves when she was tiny, but it doesn’t seem to be too far from the truth. There is nothing more joyful in all the world than hearing her little voice lift in song. What a precious reminder of God’s faithfulness to us.
He has done great things through her life already, using the struggle of those early days to draw my own mother to know Him. He has used the common ground of the NICU and prematurity to give us a ministry to others going through the same thing through care packages, prayer, and conversation. I can’t imagine how different life would be had God not walked us through that valley and held us fast as we went.