“This is a story that revealed the Father’s goodness to us all:
My baby belly was small and I was just beginning to show. I was halfway through this pregnancy, at only 21 weeks when my water bag broke. I didn’t even know that was something that happened, let alone what it actually meant. So, when the Dr. brought back the test results on the fluid, and spoke the most horrifying words we will never forget: “it tested positive as the amniotic fluid,” the room around us shrank. We shook, wailed, and cried out, because this meant our baby was probably going to die. He or she (we opted out of finding out the gender) was too little at that gestation to survive, and even if he or she stayed in my womb with no water, the doctors provided terrifying statistics and probabilities. When the doctors left the room, it was just us three. It was quiet. But the fear was screaming in our ears, and it was right then we chose faith, because we serve a good God. What was meant to destroy us would be covered, protected, and rescued by the good, good Father.
All night we prayed, we pleaded, we sang out, cried, and desperation surrounded us. We clung to the Lord’s promises that He would never leave us or forsake us, that he would lead us into a place of safety, that he would fight for us. And so, when the attending doctor came in the next morning with our options being termination to save my life or waiting it out, we chose life, chose to have faith. I was told at 21 weeks that our baby wasn’t viable and the only way to guarantee against infection or sepsis in my body would be to “terminate the pregnancy.” But NO. Going home and waiting until 23 weeks (viability), was my other option and along with this option came ALL the statistics. The risk of mortality. The risk of extreme underdeveloped lungs. The risk of brain bleeds. The risk of cerebral palsy. The risk that he would not take his first breath. The risk that my body would go into septic shock and die. This second option, although risky and scary and full of unknowns, was the only option. And God hushed the risks. He shut the mouth of fear and trembling. He covered my body with his hands, protecting us. Because no matter what the outcome, we knew that this was bigger than us.
So, we were sent home at 21 weeks in hopes that my body would stay pregnant until at least 23 weeks. 23 weeks is the point at which the doctors could try to help save our baby, but until that gestation it was next to impossible. For those 2 weeks at home, we rested and the army of family sustained us. My parents and sister cancelled their lives and cooked, cleaned, and played with our two older children so I could stay pregnant. We received emails, texts, phone calls, and messages reaching for us, standing with us in this beginning part of our journey. We taped verses, encouraging words, and life above our dining table, and called it our wall of hope. Because we desperately needed hope. We cried a lot, and although we leaned into the Father, our flesh was terrified.
And the day came. March 11. 2 weeks after my water broke. It was already a miracle. The doctors had told us that 90% of women deliver within the first 7 days after the water bag breaking. It had been 14 days, I was still leaking, but our baby was alive. I was admitted to Kapiolani Antepartum Unit 323 – I will never forget it (it was the corner room and had a beautiful view of the Central Union Church steeple and the famous green parrots that swooped in every evening by the hundreds). I would be there until 34 weeks or until I delivered. I would be there for two and a half months. Or that was the hope.
When we arrived at the hospital and they assessed with ultrasound, I found it to be painful and that was not a good sign. A snowball of experts and actions were taken to rule out as best they could, an infection. Infection and Satan were the enemy. I remember them telling me that they didn’t want to do the amniocentesis because although it would give us more information about my pain, the likeliness of an infection would go up dramatically. They had their hands all over my belly, their eyes were fixed on my reaction as they felt and as they turned to look at each other, the panic ensued. Steve and I held our hands tight, watching the ultrasound for signs of life, and hoping my pain would somehow subside. The team surrounded me and then decided to bring in the Attending Doctor. I was holding it together on the outside, but on the inside, I was panicking. I thought, “would I have this baby today?” This would be only the first day of viability. I just got there! I remember being rolled into the Labor and Delivery room, and that’s where we waited for the news. We waited to hear what the head honcho would say about the pain, if she thought I had an infection, if I needed to deliver immediately. And I remember she walked in with laser focus. Everyone who had touched my belly for the last hour had caused me to flinch in pain and arch off the table. And then her hands. She pressed low on my pelvis. There was nothing. NO pain. The pain was gone. She said, “I’m not convinced that we need the amnio. Let’s keep a close eye on her.” Those words out of her mouth opened the floodgates. The miracle that was just performed before our very eyes sent a shock wave through our being, and as Steve and I fell into each other’s arms, this verse echoed in our ears:
“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” Isaiah 41:10
He will keep a firm grip. So, we held tight to that, continuing to pray against infection, and that with decreased fluid, that the baby would somehow thrive in a miraculous way.
The statistics, the meetings with neonatologists, the experts, and the research was the battle we were facing. It was facts and the fear that surrounded them vs. the faith we clung to. It was Fear vs. love. The fear was sometimes overwhelming and often times it slipped between the words of the nurse or a friend or even sometimes while I prayed. The job of the enemy in that time was to steal, kill and destroy and he used every avenue possible to creep in. But it was Jesus. It was Jesus. It was Jesus. He rescued us. He covered and sustained and held us. And deep down in our spirits we knew that the victory was going to belong to Jesus, that no matter our expectations or hopes or pleas, that this belonged to Him. There was nothing we could physically do, we had to just wait and it was in the waiting where He met us.
I had waited for this day. It was a comprehensive ultrasound. Not just to check position or fluid, but size and development. This was the ultrasound I was looking forward to. I was on a high, believing with all my heart that my water bag refilled with water, and resealed. I remember seeing my medical team making their rounds, about to enter another patients room, and I gave them a HUGE thumbs up in anticipation for this moment. I walked down to Triage 7 where the ultrasound tech was setting up her machine, and as I laid down (for what seemed like the millionth time), this tech seemed different. She was all business, and I was high on hope. Those worlds collided fiercely in that tiny room that day. She spent a solid 45 minutes staring at her screen as she slid the ultrasound wand all around my barely showing baby belly, and all I wanted was a sign that baby was okay. But, she was not going to give. I tried small talk, I tried to lean forward to catch a glimpse in the most awkwardly obvious way without actually telling her to turn the screen, I tried asking her direct about what she was seeing. But she gave nothing. And as little like the entrance into that room, I stepped out and followed the nurse back to my room. I was supposed to wait to hear from the Dr. about the findings, but I couldn’t wait. So, I paged and I paged and I paged the nurse. She was so gracious (they all were), and spoke the little that they knew to me.
They said: his head measured small, his stomach was small, his lungs looked severely underdeveloped, his femur was short, and his predicted weight at that point at 26 weeks (4 days before his birth) was 1lb. 13 oz. When I heard those unofficial findings, I immediately called my husband and my mom. I needed someone there when the official conversation happened. My mom could hear the seriousness in my voice over the phone and came immediately. Then the Dr. walked in. He confirmed all of those findings and said, “it is not good news, and we will need to do regular ultrasounds to make sure he is still okay inside.” Just then, Yanah, a friend of our family walked in with some gifts for me. It could have been a massive intrusion, but in reality, it was a gift from God. She sat quietly as the Dr. and I finished our conversation, witnessing the whole thing. Then he walked out and as soon as he closed the door, I began to weep. It was cathartic and deep and the groans were from my innermost soul to the Father. I was crying out, “how can this be?! How could you bring us this far and then this!?” My body shook and my eyes closed as if that would somehow shut out the terror that engulfed me. Then, our friend and my mom laid hands on my tummy. Yanah spoke words of wisdom and clarity and life over my womb, crying over my womb, and the spirit of God washed over and cleansed a brokenness that previously overwhelmed. These were the days of hope one moment, despair the next, and then hope once more.
And then the morning came, and that was the time, the victory that was about to be won.
After a morning of intense measures to deliver our sweet baby, after the magnesium drip, the antibiotics, the steroids, the medications, the monitoring, the emergency C-section, the army of medical staff, and the code I had heard for 5 weeks being called to MY OR: Resus team to OR A Able:
OUR SON WAS DELIVERED. OUR SAMUEL WAS HERE.
Just as Hannah desperately called out to God for her Samuel, we did the same for ours. I laid there on the operating table and all I could think was “he’s alive.” And, really, I didn’t have any information other than that. Steve was desperately circling the Intensive Care team as a slew of doctors and support surrounded his 2lb 2.2oz body, begging as best he could with only his eyes for any information, anything that could tell him our son was going to be okay, that he was going to make it. He didn’t want to interrupt the care, because frankly it was lifesaving, so he just kept circling. He saw his chest collapsed, his tiny body covered in a warming plastic, tubes down his throat, and hands all over him. And then, he made eye-contact with a team member. The doctor mouthed: “he’s okay, we had to go.” So, he ran over to my side, as I was still being sewn up, and said hurry look they are taking him to the NICU. I rolled my head to the left, lifting it and because I knew he may die if they kept him there much longer, I pretended that I could see him so they could get him the care he needed. But, all I saw was the isolette. I did not see my son that night, my tiny micropremie son, Samuel.
Steve was with him, I was recovering. Through that first night, Steve was with him throughout, and I called multiple times to check if he was okay. I never knew what they would say. I was so out of it, but I could call, and that was what I did. But, the next morning Steve rolled me down to see him in the NICU. I have never in my life seen a baby that tiny. He was the size of Steve’s hand, and although I was terrified to touch him because I didn’t want to hurt his tiny body, I held his sweet hand. His whole hand barely wrapped around my finger, and his whole body crunched up around my hand; reaching, drawing me closer. And for four days that was as close as we got. And on the 4th day. That was the day I held him. His primary nurse was an angel and although protocol challenged her decision to let me hold such a fragile baby, she knew it was needed; that it was right. The room instantly changed. The alarms were silenced, the voices muffled, the chaos suspended for that moment. It was the grace of God. The love that was stored up for this child was altogether offered to him in that moment. His chest and cheek against my chest, all his machines and tubes attached, and he weighed nothing and he weighed everything at the same time. He was the kept promise God gave to our hearts and we for the first time physically embraced it.
I remember coming home after sitting with Samuel for several hours, and I laid on my couch and my mother-in-law asked me how I was doing, how I was feeling. And you must know, I am a worrier, I have always struggled with fear and anxiety, and oddly enough that just wasn’t going on for me in that moment. I remember responding to her question: “I look at him and I know he is in a danger, but I have peace. It is like he is resting and God is hovering, God is working his body to function, and he is just waiting, growing, and letting God do his fighting.” I remember people referring to him as “a fighter,” (which he most certainly was) but in my heart, I felt the pull of the opposite. He wasn’t fighting, he was resting. God was fighting for him. Yes, he held strong, yes, he defied odds, and yes, he fought for life, but as I watched him throughout his NICU stay, I would watch his eyes barely open to meet mine and gently say, “I’m being fought FOR, I am the son of the rescuer, and HE is the one that is rescuing me.” Even our tiny 2lb son was being used to minister to our hearts. His need was great and yet he still gave.
He was born needing 100% life support and every day he required less and less. Every day, they tested him, they sought out his strength, his ability to handle breathing on his own. There were many scary moments, where he would suddenly need more oxygen, or his alarms would go off, or we would receive phone calls or voicemails giving us information about what his needs at the time were. The day had come when his oxygen would be removed, and he would be taken downstairs where the more stable “feeder, grower” patients got transferred to. It was a graduation day of sorts, not from the NICU, but from the more intensive intensive care unit (if that even makes sense). I was recording the whole process. This was the moment that I had watched so many of our fellow NICU parents beam with their own babies going through the same thing. They removed the tubes, and his beautiful face was clear and visible in its entirety. It was a big to do, where the nurses rallied around and gawked and congratulated us and the baby. We got downstairs, and I sat there for what seemed like all night, and I just stared at this beautiful tube-less face, and thought, “now you just have to grow, love bug.” I went home, tucked tight into bed, beaming from ear to ear and then, the phone call. He only lasted about 6 hours, and then they brought him back upstairs, back on oxygen, tubes taped back on his face. That phone call devastated us. The light at the end of the tunnel went from bright to dark once again. Hope to devastation.
Some days, I cried from sunrise to sunset, at first just from sheer exhaustion, other times from the fear and longing. And there were days, as the road stretched beyond our expectations, the schemes of the enemy infiltrated, whispering lies of abandonment in our ears. But, there were days and moments where the road we were walking felt anointed. There were days where our hope soared, our faith was thick and our prayers were feisty and fierce in victory. The roller coaster of the NICU, of this entire journey, revealed our desperation for the living, breathing God. It revealed our need, our dependence, our hope and anchor for our souls. He saw us, he authored Samuel’s tiny life from the beginning of time, and as he grew within my womb, He was knitting him together in the secret place for HIS glory revealed.
There is zero doubt that this life is an expression of God’s love to not only us as his parents, but to you, the intercessors, the hopers, the onlookers. He is revealing a new sense of who He is and how he cares and how His mighty power can miraculously heal! It is like God continued to knock on our hearts to say, “do you get it, yet? This is not a fluke, this is not just medicine, it is my hand upon you! Trust me always, and when another storm rushes around you, remember how I brought you into to the land of the living!”
Our son is a miracle.
90% of PPROM patients deliver within 7 days: He stayed inside for 7 weeks after rupture: MIRACLE.
The pain at 23 weeks potentially leading to immediate delivery, gone: MIRACLE.
VSD in his heart closed: MIRACLE.
He had a 50% chance of having ROP and blindness and didn’t have it: MIRACLE.
He only had one blood transfusion: MIRACLE.
Rapid decrease of oxygen need: MIRACLE.
Hernia repairs without any need to go back on oxygen support post op: MIRACLE.
No brain bleeds: MIRACLE.
Never suffered infection: MIRACLE
Never suffered NEC: MIRACLE.
Battled long and hard to gain consistent weight, avoiding “failure to thrive”: MIRACLE.
And the list could go on and on.
The battle was long, the road was often steep and arduous, but on June 22, 2016, 147 days after my water broke, and 100 days in the NICU:
Our Samuel Wallace Kaman’o’I’o came home.”
“HE HAS MADE EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IN HIS TIME.” ECCLESIASTES 3:11