© Copyright 2002 by Pamela Kinnaird
I was in a hurry and way behind as is my habit of late. I'd taken my son to the store to try and find a birthday cake for his sister that was turning five tomorrow. It was after ten at night and I was feeling inadequate as a mother for not being able to find the time to have baked her a cake in the first place. After all, wasn't that one of the reasons I was a stay at home Mom? To take care of the little things, to bake those homemade cookies, to kiss those owies and make them better; to be there for my children. I had managed to bake chocolate chip cookies today while eight children swirled around me, but had forgotten that I should have baked a cake instead. I couldn't do it tomorrow, as I had to take my youngest to Children's Hospital for yet another physical therapy appointment. There simply weren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needed to be done. I was grateful that I had a bit of money in my pocket from watching four extra children today so I could buy some cake and ice cream for the party.
My mind was full of what I needed to finish for the party the next day when I saw her walking ahead of me to the check out counter. Her walk was all too familiar to me. The way she held her arm close to her body and her hand clenched, her leg dragging just a bit. I smiled at her and she tentatively smiled back at me, and then put her meager purchases down on the conveyor belt. The checker rang up her sale. Four dollars and some change. Watching her count out quarters, dimes, pennies and coming up two dollars short was hard for me. I'd seen her walk. I knew, at least in my heart, what a hard time she may have had in her life.
She backed away from the checker in embarrassment at not being able to come up with enough to buy a little bit of food. She ducked her head, barely glancing at me and mumbling for me to go ahead. I pulled some money out of my pocket and handed it to the cashier, letting him know that I would make up the difference. Her eyes widened as she looked at me in surprise. She held out her good hand, clenched mine and said thank you ma'am. Thank you so much. I told her she was very welcome.
She looked at my purchases on the conveyor belt. It was obvious by the Mini Mouse cake and ice cream that I was throwing a birthday party. She asked me if I was and I said yes, my daughter was turning five tomorrow. She smiled and said that she had a four-year-old daughter and then patting her tummy said that she had another one on the way. I smiled and congratulated her. She told me that she would pay me back the money if she saw me in the store again. I told her not to worry about it, that it was a gift. She thanked me again and limped away.
My eyes welled up as I watched this young woman walk away from me. I was seeing my own two year old in twenty years. Arm held close to her body, hand clenched, right foot dragging a little. I wanted to run after her and ask her if it had happened to her too. Had she had a stroke in the womb? Had she had a stroke as a child? Was it hard for her to get along in the world, to tie her own shoes, get through the taunts of children as she went through school, date, find a loving mate. Was she happy? Was she ok with the way she was? Did her Mom still have the same ache in her heart that I have in mine watching her child struggle within a body damaged so early in life? Maybe the next time I see her I will be strong enough to ask her the questions tugging at my heart and soul. And then maybe I will introduce her to a two year old that walks as she does.
I've given birth to four extraordinary children. Of course the fact that they are mine in no way makes my opinion biased, does it? Each of their births was unique and each child brought their own little personalities into our world, expanding our circle of love. Each birth was a leap of faith for my family and each experience was an exercise in love, but my fourth baby was a one in a million baby: literally.
Throughout my pregnancy with Ashley I had a feeling that something wasn't quite as it should be. The still small voice that whispers to your heart was fervently whispering to mine and telling me that this child was special. Through the years I've learned to listen to that voice, it brought me to my husband of fifteen years, it has taught me right from wrong and I know that it comes from the Lord. By listening to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit I have been blessed in many ways. When I fail to listen is when my life seems to go awry. This time I was being told in my mind and in my heart that there was something wrong with the tiny angel I carried within me. This time I listened.
I was seven months into a fairly uneventful pregnancy when I suddenly knew in my heart that something wasn't right. Whatever was wrong, it was serious. Not knowing what it was exactly, but with the whisperings of the Spirit, a Mother's intuition, and an increasing sense of apprehension, I phoned my Doctor. Telling her that I felt something was wrong with my baby, she told me come right in.
As I was lying on the examining table having an ultra sound I asked the Doctor if a baby could have a seizure in the womb. She informed me that yes, it probably could happen, but it would be rare. Well, if there was something rare and unusual, it was going to happen to me, so I told her that I believed my little girl had suffered a seizure. Thankfully she knew me enough to trust my instincts. I'd felt a strange movement in my womb two days previously and then had felt nothing since. Nothing but dread as the Spirit whispered to my heart that my child was in danger.
After ascertaining that my baby had a heart beat, she sent me over to the hospital for more tests. I knew all about these tests, having suffered two miscarriages and severe complications during the pregnancy with my third child. Clutching the hand of my sweet husband, I silently prayed that my baby would be all right.
Even to my untrained eye I could tell that there was something seriously wrong during the ultra sound exam. My infant appeared to be lifeless, floating in the amniotic fluid. There was no movement whatsoever. At one point the Ultrasound Technician pressed the wand more fiercely into my abdomen and I heard her whisper under her breath, "Oh baby, please move a little." She never did. Through my tears I prayed even harder for the life of my baby.
As I was being wheeled back down to the Maternity ward, the OB on call came running out from behind the nurses' desk yelling, "Your baby is dying and we don't know why! You're going back up so I can see the test for myself." Sobbing, I was quickly whisked back up to the examining room where the lengthy exam was repeated.
While I was being examined my sister called the hospital and my husband told her to call my parents and to come right away. They arrived in record time to find me back in my room, standing up and walking around. I'd been told that they needed to do a crash c-section on me to save my baby's life. Since I knew that I would be in bed for quite a while after this operation, I wanted to walk around as long as possible. It also helped calm my nerves down a bit. My parents finally prevailed upon me to return to my bed. What I hadn't been told was that this emergency operation was putting my life at risk as well, and my family was more than a little concerned.
My Mother was crying and my Father suggested that I have a priesthood blessing. I'd never anticipated the words of a blessing more than I did that afternoon in that hospital room. My sister closed my hospital room door and pulled the privacy curtain around my bed. Then my husband anointed me and my Father placed his hands on my head and gave the blessing, pausing several times as the Spirit gave him the words to pronounce. He told me that the Lord knew what I was going through and that my baby would be born alive and would live. This child would be a blessing unto our entire family. The room seemed to be filled with the spirit of the Lord and we were overcome with gratitude, knowing that the Lord was aware of the yearnings of our hearts for this tiny infant I carried.
As they wheeled me into the operating room, my sister gave me one last hug and I whispered in her ear that if my little girl didn't make it, to hold her for me and to tell her that her Mommy loved her. I knew I would be unconscious and unable to know what had occurred for several hours. Sobbing, she held on to me and promised that she would do as I'd asked. Then my Father leaned over me, looked deeply into my eyes and said, "Honey, didn't you listen to the blessing? All will be well, I promise you that everything will be all right." I felt at peace.
In the three years since Ashley's premature birth, Dad has delighted in asking me over and over again, "You didn't believe me, did you? I told you she would live." And he was right.
Ashley had suffered more than just a seizure in the womb; she'd had a stroke. The Doctors told us that her prognosis was unknown. She might not walk, she might not talk, and she might not have a normal life. They didn't take into account the power of a priesthood blessing and the faith of my Father.
Ashley walks with the aid of a brace, but she walks. At three years of age she has the vocabulary an eight year-old might envy and she has indeed been a blessing to our entire family. She's also a living breathing testimony to all who see her of the importance of listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and what power the faith of a Father can draw upon. And one day, perhaps soon, I will introduce her to my friend from the store.
by The Preservation Foundation.
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