find myself especially thankful today. Nine years ago, we were blessed beyond belief by the (very early) birth of our ninth child, Josiah.
He was born 13 weeks early, and given only a 30% chance to live. Praise God, he is a healthy and vibrant young man as I write today.
At 20 weeks in my pregnancy with Josiah I had a routine untrasound which, to our great surprise, showed a number of very concerning problems with our dear little guy.
We didn't know it at that time, but he actually had two ureters leading from each kidney to his bladder. Only one of those ureters actually attached to his bladder, so the urine produced and sent into the ureter on each side which didn't attach to his bladder simply backed up, causing him to have an extremely distended abdomen. As you can imagine, this resulted in significant damage to his little kidneys.
In order to try to save his kidneys from further damage, the neonatal specalists preformed a procedure every week or so which was basically an amnioencentisis. Guided by sonogram the doctors used a very intimidating long needle to remove the urine which was backing up in his ureters.
What a trial this was~ the doctors telling me how very, very grim his prognosis was. Not only did they give him only a 30% chance to live, but also told me that is was quite likely that he had additional genetic problems that could be life-threatening. In a word, I was encouraged to "terminate" the pregnancy.
Tom and I made it clear that choosing to end a life which the Lord had ordained was not an option.
We eagerly sought prayers from friends and were blessed beyond belief by the outpourning of love that we experienced.
Tom and I have almost always waited until the end of our pregnancies to name each new little baby, but this time we decided that this special little boy needed his name then, so we could pray for him by name. We both sought the Lord and were convinced that his name should be Josiah. Only after we chose the name did we discover that it meant "the Lord heals."
At that time we really did not know if he would live or not, but I was comforted to learn the meaning of his name, assured that the Lord would heal him. I was confident that the Lord could heal him now but also knew that it might not be until he reached heaven that his little body would be made perfect.
On Thanksgiving, nine years ago, I went into labor, 13 weeks prematurely. (This was most likely caused by a uterine infection which developed a day after having our little Josiah's ureters drained as mentioned above.)
Here we are on that Thanksgiving day, just hours before I had to make an emergency trip to the hospital.
When I arrived at the hospital, the nurses wouldn't believe that I was really in labor. (You would think that having delived eight babies at that time might have counted for something!) While Tom and I were incredibly frustrated by the nurses' lack of response, in hindsight I can see that what at the time seemed like a disaster, God used for His best purposes.
Once Josiah was born, specalists were able to surgically intervene in ways that simply weren't possible before he was born. I truly believe that if he had gone to term he would have had no kidney function left at all.
He spent quite a few weeks in the NICU at our fabulous local children's hospital. Oh the grace that the Lord poured out on our family during that time! It was then that I really saw the body of Christ in action in ways that I had never experienced before. Numerous meals were brought in to our family and we were the recipients of untold numbers of prayers.
I vividly remember how hard those days were. Thankfully, Tom was able to take some family medical leave time off to be with the children so I could spend the days at the hospital with Josiah. Each morning I would hug everyone goodbye (at that time Joshua was only 13 months old!) and leave to drive downtown so I could be with tiny Josiah, crying to leave the children all day. And each evening I would have to leave dear little Josiah alone in his little NICU bassinette to head home. Then I would cry to leave him! Oh how my heart was torn!
Here was our family that December, Josiah still in the hospital, posing for our annual family photo.
Isn't a preemie yawn adorable?
And here we are today, nine blessed years later. I know that it is in those times of intense stretching and pain that we are able to experience God's faithfulness in ways that we never could have imagined before. Each difficulty that the Lord allows me to walk through gives me greater and greater confidence in His deep, deep love and care for me.