A Miracle Preemie: Fighting The Odds

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It was Tuesday, May 17, 1983; the day my pregnancy turned 27 weeks gestation.  The day started like every other Tuesday, getting my oldest son ready for school, grocery shopping, preparing meals for the day, and cleaning the house for Bible study small group that evening.   

I had been battling a pretty bad cold for several days so I took a nap cuddling with my son.  When I woke from my nap I felt a warm, wet sensation and immediately knew something was wrong.

I phoned my midwife and she told me to go to the hospital right away.  Within a half hour of getting to the hospital I was being admitted to the hospital with Premature Rupture of Membranes and Placenta Previa.  I was ordered to complete bedrest until childbirth which meant I couldn’t even get up to shower or use the bathroom facilities. 

The Odds

The physician in charge of my care in the Emergency Room tried to prepare me for what was to come by telling me that 5% of the babies in this situation are ‘live births’.  It was explained to me that once the membrane ruptures the protection for the baby has been compromised and the baby’s health and survival are at risk. 

I was filled with all sorts of emotions and very concerned about the well-being of my unborn child.  I felt overwhelmed with the news that was coming at me and felt like my world had just been turned upside down.  I was scared that I was going to lose this baby I loved with all my heart or she would suffer medical conditions if she survived.

It was a time that the medical community was trying something new in these situations.  Previous protocol was to deliver the baby right away because baby was safer outside of Mom than inside, but they were starting to allow the pregnancy to continue until Mom went into labor or if Mom shows signs of infection.

Taking a Risk

The lungs are usually the last of the main organs to develop during gestation, which is a concern for prematurely born babies. At that time, the medical field had developed a new procedure that was an injection of medicine that helps develop the lungs in unborn babies at risk of premature birth.  The drug was not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration so I had to sign a waiver giving my permission for the injection.  Subsequent amniocentesis test were done to determine lung functioning. Today, this medicine is approved and is commonly used to help develop unborn babies lungs at risk of premature birth. 

On two separate occasions during my hospital stay I was hemorrhaging because of the Placenta Previa. Both occasions the bleeding stopped before I needed any transfusions. A transfusion was a worry at that time because the AIDS epidemic was raging and there was no screening of that disease in the blood donations.   

I consistently battled worry by reminding myself that my Heavenly Father knew every hair on my head, that He loved my unborn daughter more than I did, and that He was bigger than anything I was facing.  Looking back, I could not have faced this challenge without my faith and my church community.  Everyone I knew was praying.

The Birth

 Christina, just days old in the incubator.

Christina, just days old in the incubator.

After 3 weeks and 2 days of hospitalization my body showed signs of infection and labor started.  Our baby was born on June 9th, a healthy 3 lb. 9 ½ oz. premie at 30 weeks gestation.  We named her Christina. She was instantly placed on oxygen because of medical protocol and throughout the night the nurses decreased the levels to see how she would cope without the oxygen supply.  She amazed the Dr. and was completely off oxygen by 7:00 am the following day.

The nurses said that they were putting Christina in the ‘fat farm’ because the only thing she needed to do was gain weight. Five weeks later, July 15, 1983 weighing 4 lbs., 14 oz. Christina was released from the hospital with no complication whatsoever and was free to come home. Truly a miracle!

Financial Struggle

We did not have health insurance at the time of Christina’s birth and incurred $32,000 in medical bills (which is equivalent to about $80,000 today).  In 1983 our annual wage was roughly $16,000 a year.  I wasn’t sure how we were going to pay the medical bills but, I continued to pray and believe that God was in control.  

Our church and small group continued to pray for Christina’s health and our financial situation.  They also took a donation for our medical bills.

 Christina at 7 months

Christina at 7 months

A couple months after Christina was home I was watching the show ‘The 700 Club’ and during their prayer time one of the hosts said that she believed that there was a family who had just incurred a large amount of debt due to circumstances beyond their control and God wanted them to know that He was going to take care of the bills.  I called the show, explained our situation, and they prayed for me.

A Financial Miracle

Every month we would receive a bill from the hospital and the amount owed kept going down and the bill was stamped ‘Do not pay this bill. This is not your final bill’.  I would call the hospital for an explanation and the response was always the same: “Don’t pay your bill until you get a final bill”.  When Christina was about 6 months old the bills stopped coming.  I called the hospital and they said there was no balance due. And to this day, almost 35 years later, we don't know how those bills were paid. It was another miracle!

When I share this story with others I call it my "Isaiah 43:2" story because we passed through the rivers and walked through the fire and did not get swept away or burned.

 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
— Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

Note: This story is about Christina, who is one of the founders of Parental Legacy, as told by her Mom, Julie. 

 Julie & Christina at 1 year

Julie & Christina at 1 year

Julie is a Mom to 4 and a Grandma to 9 and counting. She resides in Prior Lake, MN with her Aussie husband and a cuddly guard dog, Rocky. She is a business owner and financial controller. In her spare time she loves to quilt, travel, and spend time with her grandchildren. 2 of her 4 children were born premature without any complications, despite the odds.