Amelia Grace

Amelia means “hard-working” and Grace, “the grace of God.” We’ve always felt that this was to be her name, but now even more so are declaring over our little Amelia Grace to be strong, courageous and hard-working as she is covered by the grace of God.

So much has happened since I was last able to write… I’ll try to recap the rest of the first week of Amelia’s life the best I can. Friday was probably the scariest day. Friday morning she was more jaundiced & starting to get little red spots, she also hadn’t wanted to eat during the night and after 5 days on antibiotic was still dependent on the oxygen (which should not be if the only issue was the pneumonia). The doctor came in while we were with Amelia during visiting hours & shared her concern & that she wanted to start doing more tests to find out what was going on & why things instead of moving forward were getting worse. After she left, we both started to cry… partly just finally a release of all the emotions from the week. With tears we finally got back to the house & as Grandma Gwen fixed us some lunch, we shut ourselves in the bedroom & cried out to the Lord for our little girl’s life.

We regained strength & went back with positive hearts for afternoon visiting hours. After spending some time with Amelia we were informed that her platelet count was low & she needed a platelet transfusion. Leo started making calls to family & brothers & sisters in Christ in Jarabacoa for possible donors to come & he himself went to be tested. Elizabeth stayed a little longer with Amelia & had to leave because there was a Pediatrician-Hemotologist coming in to test some of Amelia’s blood. Elizabeth waited in the hallway outside of the NICU for that doctor to draw the blood, go examine it & come back. Everything in her normal blood work had been coming back fine, but this doctor discovered that in addition to the pneumonia Amelia has neonatal sepsis (a blood infection), which is what was causing the continued breathing problems, change in her coloring, very low platelet count, very low white blood cell count (many times newborns with infections will have a very low WBC count instead of it going up when they’re sick). She was stable, and her antibiotic was going to be changed to treat this infection as well as the pneumonia, but the immediate need was for a platelet donor because if she would start to bleed she would not be able to stop on her own. Her platelet count should have been above 20,000 & it was at 6,000. By 6pm or so, brothers & sisters started to show up to see who could donate. Because she is so small, one adult donor was enough for what she needed for various doses.

Little did we know how difficult it would be to find a donor. The old school process for platelet donation is simply donating the blood & then having a machine separate out the platelets. This process is not used often now, at least when there is another option, because there is higher risk for contamination, especially not something that we wanted for our 6 day old daughter. A candidate for donation first had to have protruding, thick and straight veins & then those possible candidates had two vials of blood drawn & the machine would do tests on the blood (a long process as the machine can only handle one blood sample at a time). Once a donor is found it is then about an hour long process of having blood drawn out of the vein, the blood goes through a machine (kind of like dialisis) which separates out the platelets & then the blood is reinjected back into the donor in a different point of the same vein (henceforth the need for the person to have long, straight & prominent veins). Leo’s blood was rejected because of a trace in his blood from a previous vaccination. Over 75 brothers & sisters in Christ (most from Jarabacoa & some from Santiago who showed up when out of desperation we called a few believers who are barely acquaintances for them to pray) showed up willing to donate their platelets for our little girl who was needing a miracle. Only a couple of those had veins that were possibilities & none of them their blood was in condition.

Around 2am the ER security guard wanted to see if he could donate. His veins were a possibility & his blood was good. They started the process but his veins couldn’t take it. The over 20 brothers & sisters in the entranceway to the ER started to pray. Elizabeth fell to her knees on the pavement as did many others & we desperately cried out to the Lord placing all trust in Him. A sister led us all in prayer, praying specifically that God would bring the donor right in front of us. Then Elizabeth started singing a song in Spanish that had been echoing through her heart that night & people on their knees, others with their arms raised high, the song says:

“Give me your eternal peace, give me the gift to wait & hope, help me to trust in You because in my own strength I no longer can. You are our sustainment, You our Creator, and you have the last Word!”

Little did we know what God had already been doing all night. It was probably about 4am by this point & the group of 20 or so who had been rejected piled into vehicles to head back to Jarabacoa to continue to look for possible donors (having a clearer idea of what kind of veins to look for first of all). The grandmas, Leo & Elizabeth & another friend, Eudis, were who were left. We were sitting outside with Eudis, confident that God was going to do something, definitely sensing His presence & the presence of angels (for example someone just sitting on a motorcycle outside of the ER with nothing better to do playing loud Christian music on his cell phone). It was at this point that one of the guys from the front desk of the ER strolled out & began to talk with Leo & Eudis. Eudis told him to take off his sweater & let him see his veins. They were perfect. “You are the person we are looking for; you are the person that we need!” He was willing & the tests of his blood began. He passed! At about 5:30am Leo went in with this young man, Nathaniel, to begin the process. It was a partial success! During the procedure his blood pressure dropped very low & he got pretty sick, was taken to the ER & given 2 IV’s, but what he donated was enough to give the first dose to Amelia! As he was recovering in the ER he told Leo that the whole night he had been willing, but scared as he had never really been sick, exposed to needles, etc. He had seen people flooding in all night to see if they could donate & said that when the security guard stepped forward within him he felt like it was supposed to be him but he continued to stay silent. When the attempt did not work with the security guard & we were on the ground crying out to the Lord he said that he was completely covered with goosebumps and at one point he looked down to see that he had started to write his name on the form himself, signing up as a donor without knowing what he was doing. He still didn’t go out to talk with Leo & Eudis to volunteer himself, but rather out of curiosity. Nonetheless, he was willing & helped get our sick little girl the first dose of platelets that she needed around 8am.

The grandmas & Elizabeth were taken back to the house to shower & regroup before morning visiting hours & Leo waited for Nathaniel & gave him a ride home. We headed back to the hospital for 10am visiting hours. Amelia was still stable, but not much notable change after the first transfusion. We also then found out that because the first donor had gotten so sick & the process wasn’t able to be completed, we needed to find another donor. As we waited for the doctor, Leo began to make calls again & brothers & sisters in Jarabacoa, Santiago, even in Santo Domingo, La Vega & San Francisco de Macoris, started to look specifically for strong healthy males with thick & straight veins. Still thanking the Lord for what he had done the night before, we started to pray that today the donor that we needed would be one of the first people to walk in the door. Saturday about 25 people (knowing the specifics for the veins) came. Very few of them were rejected for their veins, and the blood of one of the first four to arrive, from our church in Jarabacoa, passed the tests!!! Ideally she would receive the platelets every 12 hours, but because of the busyness in the ER, etc. Amelia received the platelets at about 9:30pm. By that time we had just arrived to the house, ready to rest, peaceful & trusting in the Lord. The phone rang & it was Amelia’s pediatrician. She wanted to share the good news that the NICU nurses had called her to tell her that Amelia reacted positively almost immediately after receiving this transfusion. Her color changed & she pinked up, she started being more active, crying with more strength & looking for food! Praise the Lord!!!

Sunday when we saw her it was a night & day difference in her appearance! Her belly was slightly distended, filled up with gases, and so the doctor upped her glucose through the IV & stopped feeding until her belly went down. They did x-rays none the less of her chest & abdomen to confirm that there were no other issues in her intestinal tract & it was proved to be just gas. Her lungs also looked clearer than they had been. Praise the Lord!!! Her platelet count is now up from 6,000 to 14,000 & this afternoon/evening (Monday) they were going to repeat the platelet transfusion as well as again tomorrow. We’re praying for it to be well above 20,000 by the next time they check. Today the source of her blood infection was found to be bacterial, tests are being run as they seek to find exactly what bacteria so that the antibiotic most effective for that bacteria may be used.

We know that this is not just a physical battle for Amelia, but a spiritual war. Our battle is not against flesh & blood. But in the midst of it all, we have received many words & believe beyond a doubt that God knows what He’s doing. In her doctor’s words, “God is not crazy!” We know that the presence of the Lord & His angels are with our little girl when we can’t be with her and that the Lord is singing over her & giving her the strength to fight. It’s not just the medicine & science, Jehovah Rapha, the Lord her Physician, the Lord her Healer, is doing a miraculous work in her little body! He has also used these first days of her life to reveal Himself to many others (nurses, parents in the waiting rooms, people in the ER & only He knows who else), unify His body, strengthen our faith & risk-taking & we are priviledged to witness God at work!

Where things are at right now… our little girl is still pretty sick, needing her platelet count to continue to go up, fighting the infection in her lungs & the infection in her blood & still needing the oxygen. Her veins are pretty beat up from having her platelet count so low, over a week of IV’s & being poked & prodded so many times. Praise the Lord she’s eating again with a healthy appetite (they started her back on mama’s milk this morning (Monday)). Elizabeth is doing well & no one can believe she had abdominal surgery just over a week ago. This morning she saw her OB-GYN & got her stitches taken out.

God is with us & working all around us! We are so thankful for what we know are the hundreds of you, if not thousands who have been praying for Amelia Grace! We choose to not grow weary but to draw closer to Him & continue to believe & pray until we see the good work that He has begun in our daughter’s body completed. Please pray specifically for: her platelet count to continue to rise to above 20,000, the pneumonia to be completely healed, the blood infection to be healed, that she will no longer be dependent on the little bit of oxygen that she is needing, for healing in her skin & veins from all the pricks, that there be no other complications, and overall that our little sweetheart be completely healed & that we can all rejoice SOON in taking her home! Thank you again for standing with us in this battle in prayer & encouragement! May God be glorified!!!

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