Through the Dark Valley
Sep 22, 2019 | by Nancy Newbrough
Fifteen years ago, we began the journey that proved to us and others the faithfulness of God to His children. This journey demonstrated to us that our God is still a miracle-working God. This journey forged in iron forever our belief in the power of prayer!
I had recently changed jobs and had no insurance coverage yet when we discovered I was pregnant. A very good friend in our church, an OB-Gyn doctor, told me to come see him and we would work something out. At our initial visit, the very first thing he did was pray with us. Looking back, God put us in the perfect position to face our future test.
At 26 weeks, my blood pressure started elevating, so I was hospitalized. After running tests, the doctors at Katy Hospital decided that I needed a larger hospital with a better NICU. Unfortunately, a tropical storm was approaching and all Life Flight helicopters were grounded. The medical team did not want me off fetal monitors long enough to be moved by ambulance during morning rush hour. Eventually, a small transport helicopter out of Conroe was diverted to Katy to fly me to Memorial Hermann Southwest. I spent the weekend receiving steroid and surfactant injections to try to increase the baby’s chances at delivery. Most likely I would be on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy.
On Monday morning, new tests showed very little amniotic fluid, and "reverse flow" (blood and nutrients were coming from the baby into me rather than vice versa). The only chance the baby had was outside the womb as he was showing signs of growth restriction. Unfortunately, Memorial Southwest was not prepared for a 26-weeker either, so I was transported (by ambulance this time) to Memorial Hermann in the Medical Center. We arrived at 2 p.m. for a C-section.
During the four hours before the operation, a hospital counselor came to inform us of all of the things that could be wrong with our baby -- including blindness, deafness, and other severe disabilities ... if he even survived past the first 72 hours. The last thing she said was: "I leave you now so you can say goodbye to your son."
At 6:34 p.m., AJ was born weighing only 18 ounces and measuring 10 inches long. His chance of survival was less than 50% at 14 weeks too early!
However, AJ was on the ventilator for only 36 hours! Nevertheless, our hospital journey continued for another 71 days in the NICU. During that time, there was a lot of prayer. Our family stood behind us and we prayed. Our friends stood behind us and we prayed. Our church stood behind us and we prayed. Churches from across the land stood behind us and we all prayed. During those 71 days, AJ did nothing but thrive. A miracle unfolded itself right before our eyes as we watched AJ grow in size and strength.
He was discharged to go home at exactly 4 pounds! The NICU staff told us that there was nothing wrong with him; he was just taking up space in the NICU and could continue to grow at home.
Our journey took us to some dark and difficult places. There were heralds of bad news along the way who tried to make us give up. There were some setbacks that threatened our courage and our faith. But through Christ Jesus within us and through the persistent prayer of the Body of Christ, many of whom we did not even know, we continued our journey. And even though we walked through this dark valley on our journey, God was with us and comforted us.
We were blessed. It was difficult to see the blessings at the time; however, several years later we can look back down the path and at that dark place and we can see the mile markers of blessing that God left for us. We were blessed by our family. We were blessed by our friends. We were blessed by many, many people. But most importantly, we were blessed by a God who loves us!
The world told us that even if AJ survived, he would have serious health conditions and mental disabilities. The world lies! Jesus is the way and the truth! Jesus is life!
On September 27th, we will celebrate AJ’s 15th birthday. AJ has grown to be a healthy, very intelligent and active young man. He started his freshman year of high school this year, is active in theater, and runs on the cross-country team. In 7th grade he was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. This year he will begin working on his project to become an Eagle Scout. Fifteen years later, AJ’s life remains a living testimony to the love of our God! AJ remains a living testimony to the power of prayer!
We are not special. We are not loved any more by God the Father than anyone else. What God did for us, He will do for any of his children. We can live immersed in prayers of thanksgiving to our Father God for His works!
Pray confidently as we do because God works when we pray! The proof is walking among us ... every single day!
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.