Friday, July 22, 2011

Unlike Abraham

Unlike Abraham, when my daughter was born prematurely, and it appeared we would lose her, I waged a desperate fight for her survival.  I argued with the doctors  when they refused to stop my labor, repeatedly emphasizing it was too early. They just as vehemently disagreed, stating the baby was too big to be premature and my dates had to be wrong.

My dates were right, and my daughter was born with underdeveloped lungs, unable to breathe on her own, and was whisked away to an incubator before I could see or touch her. A pediatrician was called in to access her condition. He determined she was at least five week premature, and her weight (5 lbs 3 oz) was due to excessive water. Within hours Danielle's weight dropped to 4 lbs 3 oz.

The hospital was not equipped to handle a preemie in that much distress and an ambulance was requested from the closest neo-natal center, seventy miles away. The specialized van was equipped with a huge metal incubator and was staffed with a respiratory specialist and a neo-natal nurse.  Acutely aware I had yet to touch or hold her, I watched the team place Danielle inside the incubator, hook up all the tubes and wires, close the lid and wheel her away. I wanted to follow the ambulance, but the doctors insisted I remain in the hospital until the next morning.

It was one of the longest, hardest nights of my life. Fearing my grief would upset the other mothers, I was placed in a private room. I slept sporadically, spending most of the time turned toward the wall, crying.

Ron picked me up early the next morning and we drove the hour and a half through the mountains to the neo-natal center. The doctors wanted a consultation before we could see Danielle and we were ushered into one of the small offices.  While waiting for the doctor, Ron and I held hands and prayed.

The news was grim. "Your daughter has a fifty-fifty chance of survival. I wouldn't even give that much if she were a boy. For some reason, girls fight harder to survive than boys. However, as she is already on 100% oxygen, there is no place to go if her body cannot absorb enough oxygen, and in addition,  we only have a seventy-two hour window before we risk  irreversible brain damage."

Ron and I were too stunned to respond.

Intuitively the doctor did not press us.  "Now, if you will follow me, I will take you to your daughter."


Studies had proved babies fought harder when aware of their parents' presence, and the nurse encouraged us to touch her and speak to her. I didn't need much encouragement, and I gently picked up her tiny hand. In response to my voice and touch, Danielle grasped my finger with amazing strength. I looked up at the nurse.

She smiled, "Of course she knows your voice."

Ron and I stayed at her bedside until the nurses insisted we leave.  It was another long, agonizing night, sleepless  and filled with worry.

At first light, I crawled from bed and fell to my knees. I begged and pleaded with God to spare Danielle's life, finally letting go and placing her in His hands, after realizing I really had no other choice. 

Three days lataer, the nurses greeted us with the announcement Danielle had been removed from 100% oxygen levels down to only 20%  - and she had incurred no brain damage. She continued to improve daily and a week later, when the oxygen hood was not needed as much, we were allowed to hold her for the first time.

She continued to improve until finally, after a total of fourteen days,  we brought her home. Danielle weighed 4 lbs 11 oz and was eighteen inches long. She still had a few residual physical problems, normal for preemies, but she gradually grew out of them and by three months of age Danielle was a healthy, growing little girl. 

This experience only deepened the mystery of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac.  I could not fathom how Abraham could concede his son's life so easily. It was St. Paul who finally gave me an answer to Abraham's great faith in Hebrews 11:17-19:

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered Isaac: and he that had received the promises, offered up his only begotten son; To whom it was said: In Isaac shall thy seed be called. Accounting that God is able to raise up even the dead.

So, the root of Abraham's faith was his trust in an all powerful God who would never fail to fulfill a promise, even if it meant raising the dead. No wonder Abraham is called the Father of all Nations.

Coming to my present situation, I don't think it was coincidental that Genesis 22: 16-18, the story of Abraham and Isaac, was in my morning devotions. God wanted me to remember Abraham's example of faith, and remind me of how He has rewarded my faith during my own difficult trials. I am not to live in fear, worried and miserable. Instead, I am to step back and watch with wide eyed wonder as He directly intercedes on my behalf, and I know for certain it will be  nothing short of miraculous.

23 comments:

  1. Yes and Amen...Abraham held onto the promise, which gave him the courage to let go.

    Oh the story on your daughter is precious, my husband weighed just over 4 pounds and we have now witnessed two nieces that came into the world six and eight weeks early...they both are just great today, after weeks of hospital stay.

    Blessings as God continues to speak to you personally through this journey you are on and continuing to recount His past faithfulness.

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  2. You are right, Janette. Abraham did stand on God's promise and that was what gave him such great faith. Four pounds is a tiny infant, I can't imagine one two pounds as some of the more premature preemies weigh. Glad to know your nieces survived, as well as your husband! And thank you for reiterating that God will indeed guide me and strengthen me. Blessings to you and your family as you continue on your own journey.

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  3. Ceci, I can imagine how agonizing it must have been for you. I had to leave our daughter in the hospital for a few days while I went. And that was nothing compared to your situation.

    My niece was a premie, two months early, I think. It's been over 30 years so I don't remember. She just got married last month. I remember my sister and our mom stroking that teensy (3 lb.?) body. She is awesome today!

    You've had a life-full, haven't you? Bless your heart!

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  4. This made me cry. It's similar to my son's birth--he weighed over 7lbs. so we're not sure why he could not breathe on his own. I didn't hold him until he was three days old. He's now given me three precious grandchildren. I had to surrender him to God's will (and I still do!). Thanks for sharing your story.

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  5. Oh, Lynn, at least I got to bring her home. There were other parents not so lucky. And though I've had my share of trials, God has been there every single step of the way. I am very glad you only had to leave your daughter a few days, even that shatters your heart.

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  6. Sheila, that is odd for him to have such difficulties at that birth weight. So glad, however he thrived and has now graced you with grandchildren. We lost my brother at three months to what the doctors know know was SIDS. We have no guarantees in this life, except that God will be with us through all things.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this post. What a beautiful way to show how Abraham's story is relevant today.

    I can only imagine how terrifying those first several days were.

    Beautiful, beautiful post.

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  8. Thank you and bless you for sharing this testimony. God is indeed faithful in His promises -- you can stand on His promises!

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  9. Callie, thank you for your kind words. I have often thought of Abraham as I faced my own challenges. His faith is awe inspiring.

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  10. Judith, you are right, we can stand on His promises. Sometimes I get confused as to which are promises and which are only my own desires. With prayer and discernment, it usually gets sorted out. If only I would not sweat the stuff in between, life would be a little less stressful. Thank you for stopping in and commenting.

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  11. A beautiful testimony. Surely our tests involving our children are the most difficult.

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  12. I agree, Marcia. It is easier for us to suffer hardships or illness than it is to watch our children suffer, and yet we cannot always protect them. Thank you for stopping in and taking the time not only to read, but to comment as well.

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  13. http://revrjmspenofpurpose.blogspot.comJuly 23, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    I had to read this story through tears, and yes, I saw a rainbow as I continued to read.
    "Praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works among the children of men!"
    I am a miracle! Ran over by a car when I was three-years-old. I suffered severe brain damage. Doctors said, If I lived I would never walk and be severely mentally retarted.
    But thank God for the power of prayer! God had another plan for my life. Today I preach this gospel, and I witness the'Hand of God' change lives!
    Thank you for this beautiful testimony!

    Rick

    My testimony is on my blog should you care to read it.

    Blessings!

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  14. Thank you, Rick. You have a powerful testimony. We both can be thankful of God's intervention in our lives. Thank you for reading and commenting. I am heading over now to read your blog.

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  15. What an amazing post, Cecilia. You completely captured everything about a mother's heart--a will to fight against seemingly insurmountable odds and a fierce maternal love that nothing can diminish. Thank you for taking me on this journey.

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  16. Thank you for stopping in reading and commenting, Jolina. We all have had hard journeys, as your own posts have shown. God has been our strength and our comfort as well as our Guide.

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  17. What an amazing story of God's Grace and a mother's love. This brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing this.

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  18. What a testimony to the faithfulness of God......Being a mother, I can just feel what you must have gone through with your precious daughter.....

    Aren't we blessed that we have God's Word to guide us through the hard spots in our journey.....and the faith of great men and women who walked with God....?

    You are such an inspiration to all of us....

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  19. Donna Lynn, thanks for taking the time to stop in, read and comment. At least my story had a happy ending. I still think of an pray for those whose story ends differently. We must believe that through all things, God will bring good to those who believe.

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  20. Donna Lynn, thanks for taking the time to stop in, read and comment. At least my story had a happy ending. I still think of an pray for those whose story ends differently. We must believe that through all things, God will bring good to those who believe.

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  21. Nancy, you are so right, the great men and women of the Bible and of our Christian heritage give us examples of how faith can overcome anything this world throws at us. It doesn't mean they or we didn't/won't suffer, after all if the there wasn't a great trial, there wouldn't be a great story, but at least we don't go through it alone. God really is there every step of the way. Thank you for stopping in.

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  22. Thank you for sharing the beautiful and inspiring post! You have a special miracle there, and as often happens when we let go and give things over to God, miracles do happen. My niece was born at 2 pounds 2 ounces. My sister had great faith and that niece is now a healthy young woman.

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  23. Connie, I am always glad to hear of another miracle story. Two pounds is very tiny. I can barely imagine. My daughter was very small at four pounds. I am glad she is now a healthy young woman.

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