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.