“Your baby may not survive the night. So, I will sleep on a couch in the NICU so I can be close to him when he needs me,” the neonatologist said to us.
My husband, Steve, and I glanced at one another. I had just given birth to our son DJ, nearly two months premature. Doctors and nurses immediately whisked him away to the neonatal intensive care unit. NICU is where only the sickest babies go. Although the NICU staff is the most highly skilled, it is not a place you want your child to be. If the neonatologist thought DJ wouldn’t survive the situation was about as bad as it could get.
The doctor stood obviously waiting for our response. When none came he said gently, “Do you understand what I just said?” He received our nod and continued. “Your son will not live to see his first sunrise. Do you understand?” He wasn’t being cruel. His voice was gentle and cracking a bit with emotion from the blow he was delivering. I think he thought we were in a state of shock and not comprehending the circumstances. He wanted to make himself perfectly clear and prepare us as best he could.
“I understand what you’re saying. But that’s not what our God said.” My voice was as gentle as his. But unlike him, I lacked any inflection or hesitation.
The look which crossed the doctor’s face actually made me pity him for a moment. Here he was, with all his medical training, doing the worst possible thing (trying to prepare parents for the death of their newborn) and here we were not responding as we should. Our response was that our unseen, unheard, God said the doctor was wrong. He looked quite desperately between Steve and me as if hoping one of us would come to our senses. It took less than a heartbeat for him to see that Steve agreed 100% with me. With nothing more to say, he turned and left.
As the door closed behind him Steve and I looked at each other and grinned. We knew the doctor thought we were crazy. But we knew what we knew. And what we knew was that we had seen far too many miracles concerning DJ for him to die a few hours after birth. God was doing something well beyond our comprehension and unlike the many trials that would come later. This time God’s word was crystal clear.
The doctor filtered in and out of my hospital room all through the night providing updates. There were a couple of moments that scared the medical staff as DJ seemed to decline only to rally again. He did nothing to improve his status in the NICU except continue to have a live. The only change was his steadfast defiance of his death sentence. The medical staff was at a loss to explain it.
When the sun rose high in the sky on December 8, 1999, the exhausted doctor made his way into our room. I was sitting up in my bed beaming a thousand watt smile at him, for DJ was indeed seeing his first of many sunrises.
The doctor stared at us for a moment as if trying to understand us before he spoke. “Your son is alive. I’m not sure how or how long he will stay that way.” He rubbed his forehead, still trying to shake off his sleep deprivation and lack of understanding. “But for now he is alive.” Despite all his expertise, it was all he could say.
It was enough. Later that day I sat beside my very sick three-pound miracle and had to smile. DJ was a mess. He was wrinkly and angry at being born too soon. There was a tube in every orifice possible. Breathing was a monumental chore for him. The tiny baby who had only the word of God in his favor was making fools of well-educated men. But it wasn’t for naught.
On DJ’s first birthday we received a card from that neonatologist. In the card, he explained that he too was a Christian. He wasn’t aware how far he’d strayed from his faith until DJ was born. The doctor recounted not only that first night and our unshakable faith about what God had said to us but other occasions when DJ declined and we still rejected their prognosis. He informed us that he never expected DJ to go home from the hospital but our faith had him hoping for a miracle.
Once the miracle arrived and DJ went home, the good doctor made a promise to himself. To our surprise, he said he would never again factor out God. No more would he go into a hospital room and pronounce a death sentence over a baby. His patients would know everything his medical training permitted, but he would always allow room for God to work because a tiny infant named DJ taught him to.
What the doctor still doesn’t know is that our faith in the message from God about DJ’s birth wasn’t easily accepted. No, far from it. We had seven months of training, seven months of fear, and seven months of doubt that led us to this beautiful conclusion. And what we didn’t know at that moment, was that this excruciatingly painful Merry-Go-Round of faith was only just beginning.