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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Risk (05/17/12)

TITLE: God Defines Miracles
By Leola Ogle


We’re a motley group - family members as diverse as night and day. Some are pastors, some have piercings and tattoos, but drawn together by love. We squeeze into a tiny area like the cliché “sardines in a can.” Despite several waiting areas, we’re in the room just before you enter the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. There’s a glass wall with a nurses’ station on one side, and glass doors that open to the actual NICU.
There’s also a large shiny metal tub for scrubbing hands before entering NICU.

We gather at the appointed time, but the surgeon is late. We pace, glance at our watches, make light-hearted attempts at mundane conversations. Staff gather behind the glass wall conversing, words we can’t hear, they cast compassionate glances in our direction.

Through the glass doors, the first incubator you encounter is Angel’s. This is her second surgery in her short month of life. During pregnancy, tests revealed my daughter’s baby had Down Syndrome and a defective heart. Termination of the pregnancy had been hinted, but not blatantly recommended.

Abortion wasn’t an option. This baby was never viewed as anything but a gift from God.

Down Syndrome is the least concern for my granddaughter, Angel. Her heart condition is more severe than anticipated. She’s also undergone surgery for a blocked intestine. Her tiny body retained fluid, causing her to bloat. She looks pitiful!

The month filled with anguish and prayers as Angel’s condition deteriorated. Medication hasn’t worked. Surgery has been scheduled to insert an intravenous access to start dialysis. It’s a last attempt to save her life. We’ve been told the risk is high for Angel in her fragile condition. We choose the procedure, desperate to keep her with us.

Because she’s so fragile, she can’t be moved for surgery. Surgery will be performed in NICU. Less critical babies are moved to other rooms. Parents whisk past us, unable to meet our eyes.

A young doctor enters the room, smiles, shakes hands, introduces himself. He’s the dialysis specialist. He’s upbeat, positive, optimistic. We watch as he examines Angel, studies her chart. He doesn’t seem as optimistic as he exits the area.

A nurse steps in to tell us the surgeon has been delayed in another surgery. Her eyes are kind, her voice gentle as she asks if she can get us anything.

Concern mingled with sadness fills the atmosphere. We all cope differently. Some mumble prayers, some softly weep, others make nonsensical remarks and jokes, some hug and cling. We are family! We care.

The surgeon arrives in hospital scrubs, a mask dangling around his neck. His exhaustion is evident. “Who are the parents?” he asks, his eyes sweeping over us.

“We are.” Geoff and Denise say.

“Do you have other children?” He appears detached, lost in thought. An odd question, we think.

“I have four, he has five. Angel’s our baby together.” Denise’s voice is full of emotion.

“My suggestion is to go home, love your children. Your baby’s been through too much. This procedure is too risky with no guarantee of success. Think about it. Sometimes the most merciful thing is to just let them go.” His words cut deep.

I cringe, biting my lip. I want to scream, cry or both. Geoff and Denise look around the room, their eyes begging for answers or merely support.

There’s no discussion, for it has all been discussed and decided before we arrived. “If there’s a slim chance it’ll help Angel, we have to at least try. If we don’t, we’ll always wonder.” Denise and Geoff speak together, their hands clasp in unity.

The surgeon’s sigh resonates in the stillness. “I promise I’ll do my best.”

We move as one entity as close to the glass doors as possible. Preparations made, the surgeon begins, surrounded by nurses we’ve come to know and love. Was it minutes? Hours? Periodically eyes look up to meet ours with sadness and compassion. A collective shudder moves through us as bloody gauze drops to the floor.

Finally the surgeon stands erect, drops his mask and looks in our direction. We hold our breath as he removes his blood covered gloves.

He steps through the door, his weary eyes full of tender compassion. He embraces Geoff and Denise, his head shaking in sorrow. “I’m so, so sorry. I couldn’t get a vein. I tried several times. I tried.”

Angel’s fragile heart had enough. God defines miracles. For Angel, it was going home to heaven.

**True story dedicated to the amazing doctors, nurses and staff at Phoenix Children’s Hospital who made this journey with us.

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This article has been read 918 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/24/12
This is a heart-wrenching story. Knowing that it is true presses the thought that many parents right this second are enduring a similar crisis. I used to work in OB> I loved it because most of the time it is the happiest place in the hospital. However when it is sad, it is the saddest place in the hospital. Thank you for the courage to share your story. I believe it will help many who are grieving a similar experience.
Millicent Njue05/25/12
God loved the baby more. Times that is all there is to say. I feel your pain. Thanks for sharing.
C D Swanson 05/26/12
I am so humbled that you chose to share this tender and painful story with us.

My heart broke reading this...And, for all parents in a similar situation.

She is a beautiful Angel for sure in God's kingdom where she will greet you one day.

Thank you for this sobering story.

May God Bless you all~
Sandra Renee Hicks 05/26/12
Hi -

Thank you for sharing this precious piece. It's heart stirring indeed.

Glory to our Lord for His thoughts and ways that are higher than ours. Surely, your grandchild is in the best place.

Praise GOD that He comforts like no other.
Edmond Ng 05/28/12
Thank you for sharing this. May these words you have penned help you find a certain amount of release in loving memory of one who is now safe in the hands of our Lord.
Noel Mitaxa 05/29/12
I am amazed that you have packed so much into a 750 limit without once becoming superficial or glib. The depth and brevity of your work resonates with integrity, and I pray your family will radiate God's peace in spite of the questions that will always try to dislodge it.
Hiram Claudio05/31/12
Congratulations on taking 1st place in Level 3 and ... 1st place overall! So proud of you!
Margaret Kearley 05/31/12
I too would like to thank you for sharing your heartbreak and your story. I am sure it brought tears to many eyes. I particularly love how you are able to share the glimpses of God's loving kindness in such a tragic situation - the oneness of such different family members, the doctor's willingness to try, his eyes full of compassion, his hug and his tender words. May you continue to know His miracles. Congratulations on this so well deserved 1st place.
PamFord Davis 05/31/12
Congratulations on your winning entry. Your win is cheered by angels in heaven, in recognition of all you, your family, and caring hospital staff did to prolong the life of God's gift.

Keep Winging His Words...
Carol Penhorwood 05/31/12
This touched me on so many levels. Beautiful, heart wrenching writing that will move all who read it. And I could actually feel the love, unity, and anxiety of the family in your words. You are a gifted writer used by God. I too want to thank you for sharing such a personal story. May God continue to comfort each one.
Dannie Hawley 05/31/12
Thank you so much for the blessing you've given us in sharing this story. You did an excellent job of writing. I was a NICU nurse so identified with your hospital staff in this situation. Congrats on, not only the first place win in the category, but also in being in the first place position on the E.C. list! Cheering for you in the Best of the Best!
Laura Hawbaker05/31/12
Congratulations! Good story, very well written. There certainly are different types of healing. Angel was truly healed!
Jan Christiansen05/31/12
With tears in my eyes, I tell you that this story is not only well written, it is a testimony to God, to Angel and to family. However we may be shaped, family comes together to form a giant heart when circumstances call for support.
Leola Ogle 05/31/12
Thanks so much for the kind words. I was humbled and blessed by placing 1st in Level 3 and EC - cried a little, danced a happy dance a little. Although this happened 8 years ago, writing it brought back all the emotions. Limited to 750 words wasn't enough to convey how this drew our family closer or the lives that were touched by Angel's brief stay on earth. My in-laws gave their hearts to the Lord through praying for Angel. A hospital nurse, and others came to Angel's funeral and heard the gospel for the first time, presented by my minister sons-in-law. EVERY LIFE HAS A PURPOSE, no matter how brief!
C D Swanson 05/31/12
Congratulations! God Bless~
Genia Gilbert05/31/12
Congratulations on your wonderful entry placing #1 overall.. Well deserved!
Gail Burks05/31/12
An inspiration to so many. Thank you for sharing your family's awesome testimony. God strengthens and encourages us in ways beyond our finite thoughts.

Congratulations and so well deserved. An outstanding story.
Noel Mitaxa 06/01/12
Congratulations on your win - so well-deserved. Great work.
Theresa Santy 06/01/12
Thank you for sharing this story, so tender and moving. You did an amazing job with this piece. Simply beautiful.