For this child I prayed.

My daughter was a preemie. At 4.5 lbs she was by far the tiniest baby I had ever held, but she was among the bigger babies on the block in the NICU. The doctors called her an “easy baby” when they’d round on her, a process that took no more than a few minutes because she really didn’t have too many major challenges. She hadn’t yet figured out that food was delicious (which made me question whether or not she was really my child) and thus had to be fed through a nasogastric tube. And when she did eat she’d occasionally get so into the experience that she’d forget to breathe (which sounds a lot more like me as anyone who has ever seen me go to town on a plate of nachos can attest). She just needed a couple of weeks to catch up, weeks she should have still had on the inside but that were stolen from her by her total lack of patience (another trait she acquired from me).

Now don’t get me wrong, having an “easy” baby doesn’t make living the NICU life any less terrifying. I have yet to experience anything more difficult than the pain of walking away from a hospital after giving birth and leaving my baby behind (and I’ve been through some stuff). But looking around at the other babies, several of whom had 100+ day badges pinned to their cribs, gave me an appreciation for just how easy my little girl was. We were home in under two weeks which means the majority of my sleepless nights in the past 3.5 months (which is just over 100 days) have been spent with her by my bedside rather than in a hospital several miles away.

I got to know some of the other NICU parents during our brief stay, even though COVID restrictions kept us from congregating and chatting in common spaces. The 100+ day parents had clear routines down pat. Moms and Dads would come and go in shifts often working around the needs of other children at home as well as their work schedules, having long ago run out of maternity/paternity leave at their jobs. Their not so easy babies received a lot more attention than mine. Many were recovering from operations or waiting to see if they could gather enough strength in their tiny bodies to undergo another procedure (and another and another and another). I was in awe of the strength each parent had, and couldn’t help but get caught up in their stories as they talked about the challenges their itty bitty babies had already faced in their very short lives.

But there were no parents visiting the little girl in the bed next to my own child’s. She was a baby who was born nearly six weeks ahead of my Logan, but was still only about half her size. I marveled at the tiny hand that would occasionally reach up and seemingly wave at me from inside the isolette. I longed to touch her and ached for her to receive the same loving embraces that the children around her were receiving. It’s not that she wasn’t getting any attention, quite the opposite actually. Unlike my easy baby this little girl was anything but. She had round the clock 1:1 nursing coverage, generally with the most experienced NICU nurse on the shift from what I could gather, so the chair next to her crib was almost never empty. When her alarms would go off, which was often, an entire team would gather to attend to whatever need had arisen. And there were no fewer than four hands on her for every diaper change so that no wire or tube was out of place for any longer than necessary.

I had a lot of time to think in the hours I spent each day holding and rocking my new baby. I wondered why the little girl in the corner was alone (or at least as alone as a baby can be with such amazing and extensive care). I thought about my own struggle to have a child and how long I’d waited to become a mother. I thought about how my little girl was going to grow up without her Dad, how heartbreaking that was for most people to grasp, and yet here was a little girl who was beginning her life without either parent at her side. And I thought about people in my life who were waiting to adopt, who had hoped and prayed for a child of their own, and how they too would ache to see such a sweet tiny soul lying alone in a tiny hospital bed.

Each morning as I walked by her crib I would say hello and good morning, and say a prayer that she would overcome each obstacle that was placed in her way while waiting patiently for whatever parent or parents God had planned for her. Before heading home in the evenings I’d remind both little girls to behave, mind the nurses, and not stay up all night giggling. And then, after kissing my little girl goodnight, I’d smile at the baby girl in the corner and say another silent prayer before leaving both babies behind.

On the day I left the hospital with my little girl in my arms I cried happy tears mixed with a few sad ones as I watched that tiny hand in the corner reach up and wave one last time. It broke my heart not knowing what would become of her. Was she strong enough to fight through all of the challenges that face the world’s tiniest babies? Would she be adopted into a loving home? Would the world be kinder to her as the years went by than it had been in her earliest days of life?

A month or so after our homecoming one of those friends who was waiting to adopt posted on social media that she’d finally gotten the call she had been waiting for. She and her husband were the proud new parents of a beautiful 6 lb baby girl, who just needed to spend a little more time growing in the NICU. My mind immediately went to that little girl in the corner isolette. I was thrilled for the new parents, and for the little girl they were adopting, and their story filled me with hope that the little girl I’d prayed for had found her happily-ever-after story as well.

But as I read the details of their adoption story it all seemed a little too coincidental. The birthdate. The timeline. Sure, she weighed 6 lbs now, but she was already nearing four months old so she had to have been one of those itty bitty little preemies at one point. I didn’t want to pry, but I just had to know and so I sent a message to the new mom asking for a few extra details, and to my surprise and delight, confirmed that the newly adopted baby girl was the same child for whom I had prayed. She was alive. She was growing, more than three times the size she had been the last time I saw her. And she had finally made her way into the loving arms of her parents.

In addition to the prayers for a long, happy life and loving home for this little girl, I had also asked for a sign that she was ok. The worrying part of being a new mom came very naturally to me, so it feels great to no longer worry about whether or not she’ll be cared for. I feel privileged to be able to watch her grow up through the magical lens of social media. And maybe one day I’ll even have the chance to drop Logan off for a sleepover and before heading home remind her to behave, mind Sophia’s mom and dad, and not stay up all night giggling, before saying a silent prayer for both little girls.

“For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28

7 thoughts on “For this child I prayed.

  1. This is amazing: I’ve known Sara since college and was actually the maid of honor in her and Tom’s wedding, and wrote a recommendation letter for them when they first started the adoption process and it’s been a long and difficult wait for them, but Sophia is a perfect match for them and I can’t imagine a more deserving family, so this is an extra special article and she is an extra special miracle…so many prayers answered. I’m glad your little girl is doing well also and it will be really cool if they can meet each other some day. ❤


  2. Julie you are a gifted and special Mom and human. This beautifully written story will be passed on to little Sophia with prayers answered and a happy beginning for all of them. You are beyond incredible and little Logan will also be amazing. Vera Brewer


  3. Julie, your writing gives me goosebumps. From the time I read your resume when you were applying for a park position I have always known you were special and that you had some amazing skills. Being a wife, caretaker, mother are hard jobs and you accomplish them with much aplomb. Love you


  4. What beautiful story. It made my cry because it made me remember when my son was born.James was born 21 years ago on father’s day at only 29 weeks 2 1/2 months early. He weight 3 lbs 2oz and was tiny. He was in the NICU for 6 weeks. Lucky he didn’t have any serious problems just need to learn to suck a bottle and get bigger. I remember the other babies some where so sick , some parents came everyday and some had given up and didn’t come at all. One little boy had be here for months and was eventually going to a home because he would always need constant care. You just cant understand unless you go through it. I’m so glad your daughter is ok and the other little girl found a good home. My son has never really had any problems from being so preemie, you would never looking at him. It makes me grateful everyday and I’m thankful for all the doctors and nurses who cared for him. He truly is my miracle boy


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