Tag Archives: preemie

Into Every Life…The Good (A Hannah Update)


Mother’s Day is one of those mixed emotion days for so many. A day where broken hearts are too often unacknowledged, struggles silenced and ignored. A celebrated day, agonized over by many. As we are talking about blessings this month on Run and Be Still, I wanted to offer you an encouraging story today, one filled with rivers of tears and desperate prayers, but also filled with blessings.

I wanted to share one mother’s journey to this, her very first Mother’s Day as a mom. And what a special day it was…

For this child we prayed and The Lord heard our prayer.

Five months ago, in the wee hours of the morning, when so many people were recovering from their Black Friday Shopping experiences, a young father and mother, my brother and sister-in-law, were being rushed by ambulance to Rainbow Babies Hospital. Only 25 1/2 short weeks into their pregnancy the unthinkable happened and their baby was preparing to make a very grand entrance into this world. After years spent praying for a child, this dream pregnancy had been anything but. Complications included Amniotic Band Syndrome and unrelenting sickness that wasn’t just relegated to the morning. When the doctor announced just days before Thanksgiving that my sister-in-law was already two centimeters dilated and beginning to efface the natural questions you begin begging God for the answers to are “Why?” and “How much more of this can they take?” At this point you think you understand desperate prayer. You pray that God will still redeem this. You pray that the pregnancy can be extended. You pray that the doctors can stop the inevitable. You pray for a miracle…and God didn’t disappoint. He didn’t answer in the way that we necessarily prayed but He did answer! Three days later Hannah arrived, 13 inches long and just 2 lbs 6 oz, she magnified the miracle of life and the mighty and merciful God that we serve. The doctors soon nicknamed her “Little Tiger” for her very evident strength of spirit.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

Plans for good. Not just for Hannah but for her parents, for her mother. But how can phone calls that jolt you from bed at night beckoning you back to the hospital be good? How can watching your child suffer helplessly be good? How can starting everyday knowing the odds are stacked against you be good? How can a breaking mother’s heart be good?

In the last five months, Hannah’s parents have learned medical jargon and terminology that is both technical and confusing. They held their breath every time a machine beeped or an alarm went off, but have learned what to do when it happens. Their lives have been shaken up, tossed around, and then pieced back together to look like something they would never have planned. I am in awe of the strength and grace that they have displayed through every step of this journey. They have been doing the dance of two steps forward and one step back, all the while being pulled ever closer towards God’s promise of rest and protection.

As a parent, as a mother, I understand the fears, and worries that can worm their way into your heart so that you feel at times like your chest is in a vice. And I also understand how it feels when you feel like God hasn’t answered but has instead left you hanging out to dry. I know how it feels when you think God isn’t listening anymore. But God promises plans for good and this is where we find the blessings in the midst of the storm.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them”. (Romans 8:28)

Romans 8:28 isn’t a promise that the bad will go away, or even that you will be protected from the bad. Instead it is a promise that everything in our lives, the good and yes, the bad, will come together for good. You may be asking, how can God take what I am going through and make it good, there is no way that this can end well. You don’t understand the depth of my loss, the magnitude of my hurt. I have been there and I would tell you that when you find yourself at that threshold of helplessness and hopelessness, if you choose to turn to God as your source of comfort and strength, your source of help and hope, you have found the good. If, in your losses you can learn to trust God for everything, you have found the good. The situation may not end immediately but in the very act of turning to God, you have found the good. In leaning on God and allowing His grace to carry you through you have found the good. This is a choice we must make, it is an all-in attitude. We have to understand God’s definition of good…

In Hannah’s short five months she has affected thousands of people. God is working through her story, through her parents, through your prayers. God is showing Himself in unbelievable, unmistakable ways, helping us understand “the good” even in the bad of life.

Today, Hannah is home with her parents. She is completely off of oxygen. She continues to exceed the expectations that the doctors set, making her parents so very thankful and proud. She has the most beautiful dimple and isn’t afraid to use it, her smile will absolutely melt your heart. Every time I hold this sweet little baby in my arms I cannot help but marvel at God’s goodness and mercy and grace. Hannah is a living breathing answer to many, many prayers.

I will never forget walking into the hospital after Hannah’s mom was finally able to hold her, days after she was born, and what her words to me were. “I finally feel like a mom.” I thought my heart would break. The journey to this first Mother’s Day, that began so very long ago, has not been an easy one. It was celebrated today with Hannah’s dedication to the Lord. Her first public outing, her formal debut, a celebration of life, a testament to God. I can’t think of anything more fitting and on behalf of Hannah’s entire family let me just say thank you for your prayers. They have carried all of us here.

If you are looking for the good today I hope that this story will encourage you and I hope that you would begin to see some of God’s goodness even in the bad. I will leave you with Max Lucado’s words.

“You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless, it won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. Don’t be foolish or naive, but don’t despair either. With God’s help, you’ll get through this.”

We interrupt this Christmas celebration to bring you back to reality…

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.  Let your heart light.  From now on our troubles will be out of sight.

Stop!  Time out! Someone forgot to notify our troubles that it is Christmas and that because of this nostalgic song and the season that we find ourselves in, they are supposed to magically disappear.
Today, I want to introduce you to someone who interrupted our holiday preparations.  Our tiny Hannah. This sweet little baby made her entrance into this world one week ago at 26 weeks into my sister-in-law’s pregnancy.  At only 13 inches long and just 2 lbs 6 oz, she magnifies the miracle of life and the mighty and merciful God that we serve.  The doctors have nicknamed her “Little Tiger” for her already evident strength of spirit.  After years spent praying for a child, this dream pregnancy had been anything but.  The first trimester was spent battling nausea and vomiting.  Then came a terrifying diagnosis of Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS) that brought all of us to our knees. ABS occurs when the fetus becomes entangled in fibrous string-like amniotic bands in the womb, restricting blood flow and affecting the baby’s development, causing anything from limb amputation and cleft palate, to club feet, or miscarriage.  Two weeks ago, during a bi-weekly ABS ultrasound it was discovered that Hannah’s mom was two centimeters dilated and beginning to efface.  The doctors did what they could to prevent labor and prepare and protect the baby but four days later Hannah’s mom’s water broke and after being rushed to one of the leading neonatal hospitals in the country Hannah made her appearance in this world.  And in joyful praise, Hannah is perfect.  The ABS didn’t affect her at all, and may very well have saved her life because of the increased monitoring.  Hannah’s story has only just begun but God’s merciful hand of protection on her is increasingly evident. In an answer to prayer and a display of God’s power,  Hannah spent only 14 hours on  the ventilator and has since been breathing on her own.  Every day is a milestone with challenges and questions, victories and sometimes set backs but there is no doubt that her little life is already bringing God glory.  God is already using her in a very mighty way!

Seeing Hannah lying in the NICU, hooked to machines beeping and monitoring, you can’t help but be overcome.  She has captured my heart while at the same time  pricking it in a way I never thought I would have known.  Looking at her tiny, fragile body, I can’t help but think of my own son, delivered at 32 weeks, who never had the opportunity at life.  The mix of emotions over the last week has been tumultuous.  I only share this insight as an explanation of the lens through which I share Hannah’s story.  I have had difficult moments claiming that “it is well with my soul” this week, with unrest billowing and rolling, always just under the surface, for these young parents, waiting and watching and holding their breath, afraid for the very life of their sweet little baby, not knowing what the next hour, let alone day is going to bring.  Having been on the other side of this story my heart is in anguish, knowing too well all that they fear, but finding comfort in the confidence of our God, who is holding all of this together.

So, I come back to the words of the song above, let your heart be light.  This is after all, the season for joy. The season for a plastic smile and a shiny veneer of holiday cheer.  But what happens when you find yourself picking up the pieces of your dreams, having to revert to Plan B before you even knew you needed a Plan B.  This is when real life interrupts the idealist version of Christmas.

This week, through Hannah’s story,  I want to share with you another picture of Christmas.  A picture of peace and hope, comfort and joy, in the midst of real life, delivered into a manger on that first Christmas.  These promises fulfilled through the birth of a tiny baby.

She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'” (Matthew 1:23)

In the meantime and in the days going forward, will you join me in praying for “Little Tiger” Hannah and her parents and doctors?20131208-211411.jpg
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. (Psalm 107:28-30)