Proclaim His Glory! MINISTRIES
Ordinary Lives Transformed by Extraordinary Experiences with God
The Unexpected Journey
By Lisa Weeks as told to Cindy L. Heflin
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Our prayers finally answered, we were excited and hopeful, filled with all the joys expectant parents experience: hearing the heartbeat for the first time, seeing the initial sonogram image, and all the miraculous wonders of being pregnant. We felt truly blessed! Like the road ahead, blue skies and sunshine spanned the horizon before us.
After driving several hours, we stopped for dinner. But, as we traveled on to Asheville, North Carolina, to stay overnight, I began feeling strangely uncomfortable. I’d never been pregnant before, but being an RN, I sensed something wasn’t quite right. An upset stomach and a backache—probably a bladder infection, I thought. We journeyed on.
Once at our hotel, I tried to sleep. Symptoms persisted, then suddenly grew worse. At 2:30 a.m., I was alarmed to discover bleeding and woke John immediately. He calmly helped me back to bed—then fell apart.
The nurse in me took charge. Picking up the phone, I called the front desk. “I think there’s a hospital in town that delivers babies,” the night clerk guessed. Can you imagine our anxiety? We were three hundred miles from home and knew nothing about Asheville, North Carolina. We weren’t even sure there was a hospital in town that delivered babies. These were anxious moments.
The bleeding continued. I wasn’t sure what to think. I’m no OB nurse, but I knew something was wrong—but what? I called the nearest hospital.
“Sounds like a bladder infection,” said the resident on call. “Having any contractions?”
“I’m not sure what contractions are like, but my back hurts and my stomach’s queasy.”
“Come in tonight, or wait until morning—whichever you prefer.”
I hung up the phone. John said, “Let’s go!”
With a map drawn by the desk clerk, John deciphered the route to Mission Memorial Hospital through the dark, unfamiliar city while I laid on the backseat, moaning with ever-increasing pain. Once there, an orderly wheeled me to labor and delivery. Believing I had a bladder infection, they ordered lab tests and waited for the results. Around 4:30 a.m., the doctor decided to do a pelvic exam. I will never forget his exact words.
“My. Oh, my. Oh, my goodness!”
I knew little about obstetrics, but this was probably not a good sign.
“You’re four to five centimeters dilated. And I think I feel the baby’s hands.”
I began crying. I knew four to five centimeters was halfway to delivery. Being only 26 weeks pregnant, I knew this was horrible. My brain went numb. What a terrible situation, I thought. Then it registered. Oh! This is happening to me, and John, and our baby!
John went pale. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
You can’t pass out! You’re the only one in this city or state I know!
The doctor ordered an ultrasound and started IV drugs to stop the labor process. Despite the medications, contractions continued. Intensity increased. Completely unprepared, I had no idea what to expect. We hadn’t even taken childbirth classes yet.
By 6:30 a.m., it was too late.
After receiving a spinal, they prepped me for a C-section. A throng of nurses and specialists assembled. The atmosphere in the delivery room was tense. Terrifying. But John was by my side.
At 7:03 a.m., Katlin Danae arrived, weighing 2 pounds 6 ounces.
We barely caught a glimpse as they whisked our daughter to the neo-natal intensive care unit. John checked on her frequently. He asked the nurse, “On a scale of one-to-ten, ten being the worst child you’ve taken care of, where would Katlin fit in?”
“Eight or nine.”
Our baby was extremely ill.
As soon as I could sit up, John wheeled me to the nursery. Seeing my baby at last, took my breath away. She was perfectly formed and delicate, yet tiny. Fragile. Skin so transparent you could almost see right through it. With tubes, monitors and equipment sustaining her life, it all seemed unreal. I felt a fear of loss, a fear of getting attached—uncertain if she would survive.
But, God was in control.
Mission Memorial Hospital, we soon learned, had the highest-rated neo-natal intensive care unit in the state. Under the expertise of the neonatologist, Katlin was the first infant to benefit from an advanced surfactant treatment, developed to stimulate premature lungs before the first breath of life. Though scared and alone in a strange city, we soon realized God had directed us to Mission Memorial.
My parents arrived the following day. Going through the details was emotional. This was their first grandchild.
“After John called about the baby,” Mama told us, “we phoned the pastor.” Word spread quickly. As family and friends nationwide prayed on our behalf, the panic in my heart subsided and God saturated me with His peace.
Still, I longed to be with Katlin every minute I could. Night and day, John and I sat in the NICU watching over our child, a tiny being attached to IVs, monitors, and a ventilator. We realized many babies born early don’t make it, and many who do aren’t blessed with good health. The journey ahead would require a strength greater than our own.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. I’d learned this Scripture long ago. Now I would learn to rely on it.
Like a roller coaster ride in the dark, Katlin’s battle for life had many ups. Downs. Looming uncertainties. On her fourth day of life, she was taken off the ventilator, miraculously able to breath on her own. But other problems developed. Her condition remained unstable. Her weight plunged to l pound 13 ounces. One day the nurses dressed her in the bonnet and gown from a little doll my parents had given her. It was unbelievable.
Day by day, God demonstrated that His grace and power were truly sufficient.
Just before I was released from the hospital, a caring staff member introduced us to a special couple. Bill and Joanne Biddle also had a baby born three months prematurely. He was now a happy, healthy seven-year-old. Blessed abundantly, they’d often prayed for an opportunity to help another couple. What comfort and encouragement we received from their visit!
The following day Joanne returned. “Since you’ll be in Asheville a few months,” she said. “Bill and I want to help.” She invited us to stay in their home—free of charge—until Katlin could leave the hospital. “We’re leaving for vacation,” she continued. “Your parents are welcome to stay with you while we’re gone.”
John and I were dumbfounded. This couple doesn’t even know us, yet they willingly offer their home? Consumed with concern for our baby, we’d given no thought to our long-term plans. And we really couldn’t afford to stay at a hotel for three months. Gratefully, we praised God for meeting our need before we even recognized it!
The Lord continued to lavish His love upon us in unexpected ways. Through our church in Lexington, Kentucky, word of our plight reached several congregations in Asheville. Though strangers in an unfamiliar city, we were soon surrounded by the family of God. Their concern and support left us speechless. Their cards, visits, gifts, food, and prayers encouraged our hearts. “They seem to realize how they’d feel,” John said, “if they were in our shoes.”
Gradually, Katlin’s condition improved. Through a tiny tube in her nose, she began taking my breast milk. Slowly, her weight increased a mere one-half ounce per day. She remained on antibiotics and IVs, but soon graduated to the step-down unit.
After awhile, John needed to return to work in Lexington. Each weekend he made the long trip back. But during the week, the distance of miles and emotions between us was difficult. Both of us were dealing with different challenges. John wanted to be by my side with his strength and support, but couldn’t. Staying in touch by phone each day, he did his best to encourage me. But later admitted, “From one report to the next, I worried: Will this be the setback she doesn’t survive?”
Exhausted and emotionally drained, some days I’d return from the hospital thinking, I can’t go back another day. The Biddle’s always listened, encouraged, and prayed with me, providing much more than a place to stay. Still, at times I felt so alone in my pain. Silent questions lay trapped inside my heart. I realized God had given us this baby and He alone was in control. Her very life, and the course of our future, rested in His omnipotent hands.
Our journey continued…
Along the way, Katlin experienced numerous setbacks. Being unable to do anything but observe—like a spectator on the sidelines—was frustrating. Stressful. With compassion and kindness, the nurses ministered to us as angels in our time of need. Especially Sandy. By sharing her deep faith, she encouraged me often. By virtue of her skill and expertise, she enabled me to focus on being the mom—instead of a nurse concerned about all the technical details. I always felt reassured when my baby was under Sandy’s care.
Slowly, Katlin’s growth continued. God performed an incredible miracle before my very eyes. Watching her develop from a preemie born too soon, into a healthy baby was awesome. Praise God, she suffered no vision loss, hearing problems, brain damage, or other complications common to premature infants. Her body was perfect—just missing the baby fat. Three weeks before her due date, Katlin tipped the scales at five pounds—hefty enough to be released at last!
Overjoyed, John and I praised the Lord for answering our prayers. By His sufficiency and great power, God had met our every need, from the impossible to the insignificant. How awesome and worthy of our adoration He truly is!
John and I were thrilled, and a bit nervous, to finally bring our precious daughter home. Before leaving the hospital, we received thorough instruction on infant CPR and use of the monitor Katlin needed, due to occasional episodes of apnea. The eight-hour trip back to Lexington seemed to take forever. After ten intense weeks out-of-town, I could hardly wait to be at home with my baby. What relief I felt as we turned into the driveway of the cutest Cape Cod on Bob-O-Link Drive! By God’s grace, our unexpected journey had finally come to an end.
A new one was about to begin.
“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise?” Psalm 106:1,2
Heavenly Father, in awe and wonder I proclaim Your incomparable power. You alone are the God Most High! How mighty is Your healing touch. With Your omnipotent hand, You create each living being and sustain Your precious little ones. My joy and gratitude is inexpressible for You have been my refuge and place of safety in the day of my distress. Amen.
Excerpt from Experiencing the Great I Am, by Bryant & Cindy Heflin, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Copyright © 2005, Bryant & Cindy Heflin, All rights reserved
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