I knew my life was forever changed the moment I delivered my 4th child. When the doctor announced “It’s a girl” my heart was filled with unexplainable joy. She followed an oldest sister and then two brothers into the word and I immediately couldn’t wait to play dress-up again, curl her hair, and go shopping! Then… in an instant everything changed. We still had not heard her cry and I was starting to worry. I then asked the NICU team if she was okay and right then I heard a sweet little cry coming from her warm little bed. I immediately felt better. Then, I heard a nurse who was working on her say to me, “She’s fine, but . . . she has a little sack at the bottom of her spine.” My heart sank. Out of my mouth came the words, “like spina bifida?”
I am a registered nurse and to this day I still think it’s so crazy I remembered what the birth defect spina bifida was at a time like that. I had studied Spina Bifida very briefly in nursing school, but not enough to remember it in a stressful situation.
The nurse followed up by saying they really couldn’t say what it was and that they needed to take her back to the NICU to be checked by at neonatologist. Meanwhile, I could tell by the look on the nurse’s face that she was worried and that things were not good. I had been in her position before; the nurse on the other side of the delivery room “pretending” everything was okay so as not to scare the life out of the parents. I knew.
My doctor immediately said whatever the problem was it didn’t look too severe and that we would have to wait and see. The nurse wrapped my little new bundle in a warm blanket and brought her over to me. She was a beautiful little girl with just enough hair on her head to tell she was going to be a spunky little red head. I got to hold and kiss her for only about one minute. I cried. I told her that I loved her. Then she was taken from my arms. My sweet husband looked so scared as he followed her and the NICU team out the door.
Then I lost it! After everyone was gone (except for my mom who was there for the delivery) and the room was silent, the tears came. I was in total shock. I had gone from labor, to complete elation in finding out she was a girl, to total fear all in a matter of a few short minutes. Right then my mom came and stood right next to the bed, held my hand and said something I will never forget. She leaned right down next to me and she said, “She came to this earth just like she was supposed to.” I immediately felt a sense of peace. Not peace that everything would be alright, but peace that God had a plan for my little lady.
A little while later my husband came back into the room with tears in his eyes. He said in a soft voice that she did indeed have the birth defect spina bifida and that she would need to be transported by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital within the next hour. He had known a girl with spina bifida while growing up and she was in a wheelchair her entire life. He was one scared daddy and I was in a total daze. We knew that we didn’t want to send her away to the children’s hospital without a name. We decided on Grace. It was a perfect fit. We needed God’s grace to help us through whatever trials we would face with her.
Since that morning almost 9 years ago my life is different. We have had many miracles enter our lives because of our sweet Grace. I’m sure as time goes on you will hear more about our amazing, vibrant, red-headed lady but for now this is my message. Our little Gracie came to the earth just like she was supposed to; just as God intended. I could not take her birth defect away nor could I place the blame on myself for how she was born. I have to trust that God has a plan for her and for me. God has given me the strength to be a mother to this special little girl. I have had to rely on Him and His grace as I have watched my daughter go through multiple surgeries, pain, infections, and many tears. Sometimes the hardest part of all this is trying to answer the question she asks of “Why would God give her such a hard thing in her life?”. Our Savior Jesus Christ knows the pain of my daughter both mentally and physically and he knows the pain that I feel as a mother trying to care for her. He has felt Gracie’s pain, knows her fears, and understands my daughter more completely than I ever will. He is perfectly aware of the burden I carry as her mom and the burden she carries every day because He has already experienced those feelings through His Atonement. Many times I have prayed for strength, comfort, understanding, and opportunities for my daughter. Those prayers have been and will continually be answered by a loving Heavenly Father as he sees fit.
One of those prayers has been answered. The story of the answered prayer was recently shared in the November issue of The Friend. You can find the article here