No small miracle
By John & Beverly McCurdy
When we learned that the Lord had blessed our family with another child, we prayed for a miracle. Never having carried a child to term without maternal risk, we thought a full-term delivery miraculous. Daniel (8) and Rebecca (6) were each born at 30 weeks, because Beverly's kidneys fail in the latter stages of pregnancy. We also lost five children due to early miscarriage, one of them ectopic.
But on April 23, 1996, Mary Alice McCurdy made her debut, 15 weeks early (at 25 weeks gestation) and weighing only 14 and one-fourth ounces (403 grams), after her Mom spent a month on bed rest. And the Lord showed us the miracle that He had planned.
Mary's early arrival has caused her to have many medical challenges. Among them are respiratory distress (she was on a ventilator for more than 50 days), chronic lung disease, rickets and several infections.
Necrotizing Entercolitis (NEC), an infection of the digestive system usually treated medicinally, caused Mary her greatest and most life-threatening challenge. NEC generally attacks only once. Mary had two bouts with it, each requiring surgery to remove the dead intestines. She lost all but a small portion (30 cm) of her small intestine and her ascending colon. As a result, much of her nutrition is provided via a central IV line. Adaptation and a more normal diet are hopeful for the future.
In addition to the three intestinal surgeries to repair the NEC damage, Mary has had several operations to place and replace her central line. She has also had laser surgery to correct retinopathy of prematurity. To our great joy, those little eyes don't miss anything!
The Lord has sustained her through these surgeries and complications, that she should not have survived. Even her physicians see God's hand in her survival. On many occasions, we have been told that she should not be here and someone must have a plan for her.
We were also shown that the Lord keeps His promise to never leave or forsake us. At each moment when we needed support or comfort, He sent a brother or sister to be with, pray with, feed, baby-sit, and generally help in carrying us through the valley. Sometimes it was even someone whom we had never met before.
Much of the help came from our church family at Trinity PCA in Harrisburg, as well as Morning Star Pregnancy Services, where Beverly is a volunteer. We are grateful for all of the support from cards and letters that have come from the pro-life community in Pennsylvania.
Knowing that our physicians and most of our health care providers are pro-life and are fighting, using all of their resources to save our child's life has been a source of great comfort. This experience has been the most challenging of our lives, and yet our Father has shown us that if we are willing, His name could be glorified even in a newborn intensive care unit.
The Lord has blessed us with a spirit of joy. From the day of her birth, we have been given peace and a resolve to rejoice and be glad until there was reason to grieve.
We also praise the Lord for the little prayer warriors he has made of Daniel and Rebecca. We are constantly amazed by how lovingly they embraced a baby sister, whom they had only seen through an intensive care unit window five times.
We took Mary home November 11, when she weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces. Today we are looking forward to celebrating her first birthday. She weighs more than 11 pounds and is beginning to be weaned from her IV diet.
From a pro-life perspective, we look at lessons of Mary's birth and life. When Beverly's life was threatened, she needed skilled obstetricians, a perinatologist and neonatologists to give both mother and child a chance to continue living, not an abortion that takes three days to complete, risking maternal health and ensuring Mary's death.
We also consider the fight against Clinton's health care rationing plan. When we were fighting that battle, we didn't know that it would be our own child's life on the line. Had Clinton won, and his health care reform plan been implemented, Mary probably would have been denied health care, as Clinton-care denied treatment to infants born weighing less than 500 grams. We shudder to think of the void in our lives without the joys and challenges Mary has given us over the past year.
Mary has already overcome many challenges. She still has many more to overcome or endure. And yet, in looking back, we see only a small portion of how the Lord has already used the life of one very small child. Then we know that she is no small miracle.