The doctor’s words were succinct: “Lauren, you’re staying here for a while. We must get your blood pressure down. Your life and your baby’s life are both at risk. You could go into labor at any moment.”
Lauren’s hand went to her mouth. Her eyes betrayed a fear that I’d never seen there before. Her faith was so strong; I didn’t think anything could shake her.
I gripped her hand tightly to mask my own trembling. My other hand pressed tightly to my chest to keep my own heart beating as it was supposed to. This just couldn’t be happening. I looked at my wife lying in the hospital bed—she was only 22 years old.
The doctor rambled off a whole list of things she should do and shouldn’t do. The sedative he prescribed soon caused her to drift into a restful sleep. I watched her for a long while before reticently going home.
One phrase kept bouncing around in my head, “fifty percent.” Lauren’s pregnancy was 25 weeks along; the probability of our baby’s surviving was “fifty percent”. I felt so helpless. Bitterly, I thought about pulling a coin out of my pocket, flipping it high in the air to see whether Haley Grace would live or not.
Driving home was a blur and probably not a smart thing to do. All the way I pleaded with God to give our little girl a chance--and to give Lauren courage and peace.
Up to now, my prayers had always been pretty simple. Thank you for this day. Thank you for this food. But now my spirit grieved to God in desperate choking sobs.
I called family and friends asking them to pray for both Lauren and Haley Grace and specifically to pray for “28 weeks”. The doctor had said if the pregnancy could reach 28 weeks, the probability of survival jumped to 93 percent.
Lauren’s folks were on the prayer chain at church. I’d never thought much about that before, but now it was comforting to know that at this very moment, the word was spreading. People I knew and more that I didn’t were even now praying for Lauren and the baby.
I sat numbly in front of the computer and as hours went by, I surfed to every website I could think of that had a place for prayer requests and posted our need. At some point I dozed off right there at the computer.
When I awoke, feeling not at all rested, I found that dozens of e-mail messages had filled my inbox during the night. These were messages from people I had never met, from all over the country and a few from other countries as well all wanting to offer encouragement and prayers
Rubbing my temples, I prayed for Lauren and the baby. We hadn’t been married long, but she was the light of my life; my world would be very dark and empty without her. We wanted to raise a family and grow old together. Now the dream just seemed flickering and unsure.
Over the next two weeks, hundreds upon hundreds of e-mails flooded in. People around the world were praying for Lauren and Haley Grace. One man wrote an entire prayer for us which I printed out and prayed faithfully every day. I’ll probably never meet him, but he touched our lives. I have never seen such an abundant outpouring of genuine sympathy and caring.
The doctor didn’t think Lauren could hold off for more than 48 hours, but sixteen days later, she gave birth at 27 weeks and 4 days. Haley Grace was 1 pound 7 ounces; I could hold this tiny little person in just one of my hands.
Lauren was fine and relieved to come home; Haley Grace is still in the hospital but she’s doing well and has grown to two pounds.
One day when she’s older, I am going to show her a wonderful scrap book. I’ve printed out every one of those e-mails. I want her to see how people all over the world prayed for her.
Lauren and I visit Haley at the hospital every day. We have met many others who are going through this same valley of despair. We give them the encouragement and comfort that people so freely gave to us. We hold their hands and pray with them.
Haley Grace is already making a difference in this world.
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