Happy Birthday, Ammah Grace!!

9 years ago...I had gone to bed SO excited...after three days in a hospital bed in Little Rock by myself, Billy and the kids, my parents, and the Cartys were coming to visit the next day.  The dr. had even given permission for me to ride down to the cafeteria in a wheelchair...as long as I wasn't showing any more signs of early labor.  I was more excited than  I'd ever been any Christmas Eve of my life.  

But in the wee hours of that Saturday morning, I began to realize that something wasn't quite right.  At first I was just terribly disappointed that I would be bed-bound for the day's visits, but as the morning wore on, it became obvious that that was a very minor issue in the scheme of things...the much more major one being that I was again in labor, with an infection that was dangerous to me and to the baby.

The rest of that day was utter chaos...wonderful visits with my family and the Cartys in between the drs. first trying to stop labor, and then deciding that it was safer for baby to go ahead and come 10 weeks early than to stay inside any longer.  Finally, the decision was made to do a c-section...stat.  I don't think Kathy has ever forgiven me for the fact that they were probably not even to the car yet when the drs. told us the baby would have to come that evening.:-)  And poor April G...she and John stopped by to visit and ended up in the middle of all the preemie baby/NICU drama...in the middle of her first pregnancy!  NOT what a first-time expectant mom needs, for sure, but they were sweet to stay with my family as they waited for news.

Finally, at 6:00 that evening, in the midst of jarring alarms due to a fire in a nearby part of the hospital, they delivered our tiny girl and whisked her off to the NICU.

The next six weeks were the scariest of our lives up to that point...brain bleeds and spinal taps and fear of life-threatening infections and code blues and ambu bags and scheduling (and then, praise the Lord, cancelling, when the bleed finally began to heal on its own) a consult for brain surgery.  And sitting in the NICU in the midst of all the machines and alarms discussing our tiny girl's prognosis with world-class neonatologists and being faced with the probability of lifelong disability and health issues.

And then came the wonderful day when Amanda and my family came and we buckled our little girl and her monitor into what seemed like an enormous carseat and drove back to Fort Smith.

And from that moment on, our teeny tiny girl was fine.  One by one, all the specialists who were monitoring her signed off with that wonderful word, "normal", and not one of those dire predictions ever came true.

As I remember that day 9 years ago, I marvel that our little girl is growing up SO fast (HOW can it have been 9 years??), but even more, I marvel all over again at God's faithfulness and wonderful work in our not-so-tiny-anymore girl's life and in our family through her.

I also remember the many people...family and friends, our wonderful church family, our homeschool group, and people literally all over the world, many of them strangers, who prayed for Ammah Grace and for our family during that time.  I remember so many who helped in so many ways...without them, we would never have made it through those weeks with Gracie in Little Rock, Billy and the kids in Fort Smith, and me bouncing back and forth like a ping-pong ball...and no matter where I was, feeling like I needed to be somewhere else. I am so thankful for each and every one.

I remember the issues with her name...we weren't quite ready to name her when she made her early entrance into the world.  We had planned for her to have a double name...I had waited to carry on family tradition of a good old southern double name for a long time!...and had mostly settled on Ammah, after my great-grandmother, for the first part, but hadn't decided what the second part would be.  We quickly decided that given the circumstances, Grace was the obvious second name, but I was still a bit apprehensive about one thing.  We have always been very choosy about name meanings, but because Ammah isn't a common name these days, we hadn't been able to track down its meaning yet.

Some time after we were finally settled at home, I began to search in earnest for the meaning of our tiny girl's name.  When I finally found it, I was totally overwhelmed at the ways God works even in the little things.  "Ammah" is actually a Biblical place name meaning, "God's people".  I still get goosebumps typing that after all these years...thinking about the significance that "God's people" had in Ammah Grace's life...the thousands that prayed, and the many who helped us in so many ways during those days.  I am so thankful that God gave us that name as a lifelong reminder to thank Him for the people that He used in her life and in the lives of our family during those days.

I sometimes hesitate to post Ammah Grace's story "one more time".  But on that snowy night just before I left for Little Rock in the ambulance, my friend Kathy shared Psalm 40:1-5 with me, and we clung to those verses throughout the time I was in Little Rock and Ammah Grace was in NICU.  Even before we knew how God was going to work out His plan, I committed that I would share His faithfulness and glory in and through it any time I had the opportunity.  He truly did give us wonders too many to declare, and so we share, and share, and share some more.  Her story is not just her story, or our story...it is the story of our great God and of "His people" that He used in so many ways.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.
Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.
~Psalm 40:1-5

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