To understand the full measure of God’s sovereign plan and the amazing blessing that Audrey was, we need to start at the beginning. In May of 2017 I found out I was pregnant. When I told Justin we celebrated and rejoiced together, full of joy and excitement. Before we knew if we were having a boy or a girl we were trying to pick our top names. I thought of Audrey and instantly fell in love with the name. I knew that if we had a girl that would be her name. The meaning of Audrey is “noble strength” we wanted to give our child a first name that had a strong meaning and to me Audrey was perfect. When we got to 20 weeks we were getting ready to find out the sex of the baby, we were both almost certain that the baby was going to be a boy, but surprise! She was a girl! Looking back now this was the start of God reminding us that He has a plan that can be much different from our own. As we continued to prepare for our baby girl we were filled with happiness and excitement like any expecting parents. We were blessed with a perfectly healthy pregnancy. I would feel her kick and move almost all day long—she was so active. Justin decided that we could not officially pick her name until we met her; so we had a list of our top names, but I knew she was Audrey— I would even call her it sometimes or slyly drop it in conversation to see if Justin would notice. As we started to approach the due date I was certain she would come a week early, but again, God had a different plan and we made it all the way to 42 weeks.
At 42 weeks we decided to induce, we really didn’t want to— we wanted her to come naturally, but for some reason I felt like we should. I was admitted into the hospital on Monday night February 12th, 2018. I had to spend the night in the hospital as they gave me medication to prepare for the induction. Early Tuesday morning the 13th, my water broke and a few hours later they started me on Pitocin. By Tuesday night I was getting contractions that lasted through the night. We were up all night with me having painful contractions and Justin helping me. Come Wednesday morning, the 14th, we were exhausted, and my body was already trying to push even though I was only 3 centimeters dilated and nowhere near delivery. We had made a birth plan and we had specifically said “no epidural.” But again, God had a different plan, I felt that God was pushing me to get it, so I did and I am so thankful I did, I was able to sleep and get rest for a little bit and it helped prepare me for what was to come. A few hours later I began to have a fever—possibly from an amniotic infection—and the baby started to show signs of distress, so they gave me antibiotics and extra oxygen and monitored her closely. A few hours later my fever was still there but I was feeling better, baby’s heartrate was looking better, and I was finally almost at complete dilation. It was time to push and my body was ready. The midwife and nurses said I still had awhile but my body had different plans. I was able to push her out within 27 minutes! Audrey was born at 8:44PM on Valentine’s Day, weighing 10-lbs, 9-oz and measuring 21 inches long—and once again God surprised us when everyone thought for sure she would be a small baby like I was.
God had a different plan.
When she came out she wasn’t breathing and there was no heartbeat— she was dead. The NICU team had literally just made it in the room when I pushed her out and thanks to their fast work and the grace of God they were able to get her heart beating again. However, she still couldn’t breathe on her own. Sometime during delivery Audrey had breathed in meconium that filled her lungs. When they were about to take her up to the NICU they asked us for her name; seeing her finally move and open her eyes after being stillborn and unmoving for 20 minutes, we knew she needed a name that embodied that strength God had given her. Justin looked at me and with a huge smile and tears in his eyes he said, “lets name her Audrey.” They took her up to the NICU and Justin went with them while the midwife and nurses took care of me. By the time I made it to the NICU they had her on a ventilator and she was stable. However, they decided that she needed to be transferred to a different hospital where they could use a special cooling-mat that would cool her body down to 33-degrees Celsius to slow her metabolism such that it would help prevent any possible further injury to her brain, which they suspected she may have suffered from oxygen deprivation.
The ambulance ride caused her to go back into an unstable state and once they got her to the hospital the doctor told Justin it wasn’t looking like she was going to make it. Audrey’s blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels in her blood were dangerously low as her heart and lungs struggled to properly function. But God had a different plan for her, and within 20 minutes of that conversation, Audrey was stabilized.
I was able to get discharged early from where I delivered Audrey and we rushed me over to the NICU. Between Justin, me, our moms, and two of our sisters, Audrey was almost never alone. We always had someone in the room praying with her, singing to her, reading Bible verses to her, or just holding her precious little hands. Because of Audrey’s critical condition she always had at least one nurse in the room with her— sometimes two— and a constant flow of doctors and specialists coming in and out. All who came by would see us praying over her and encouraging her. At one point Audrey’s oxygen saturation levels were dropping back down to unstable levels again and we were in there praying for her. As we prayed over her, the monitors hooked up to her showed us real signs of improvement, and our nurse said to us, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it. It’s working.”
Audrey began to start many breaths on her own without the machine and she stayed responsive to us when we touched her and especially when we prayed over her. Thursday and Friday were mostly a blur of us spending time with Audrey and having our families come and help take care of us and be with her. Audrey continued to fight hard to survive despite all the doctors said she had against her. Thursday night one of Audrey’s doctors even said she was “the sickest baby in Seattle”, but we didn’t care because we knew that we have a God who can do anything and who already brought our little girl back from the dead.
Lord blessed be Your name.
On Friday the doctors were continually telling us how bad her condition was. It was disheartening but we continued to have faith in God. Friday afternoon I started having chest pains and shortness of breath, so I was admitted to the ER because they were worried about a blood clot. As I waited for a CAT scan my mom received a text from my sister saying things weren’t looking good. Then Justin texted me asking me to get up to the NICU as soon as possible. My mom and I started praying profusely and asking the nurses that if they prayed to please pray. They had just gotten ready for me to take the CAT scan, so they rushed me over quickly to do it and then they were going to let me go up to the NICU. As they were loading me back onto the gurney after the scan we heard over the speakers for a “code” in the NICU. I knew that was Audrey and my heart stopped. They thankfully rushed me upstairs and I made it to the room where I found it full of doctors and nurses and Justin and my sister standing over her. She was alive but it wasn’t looking good. They asked us if we wanted to hold her and I didn’t realize it was because they had done all they could do for her. Once they explained that they really couldn’t do anything else for her, I sat down and let them put her in my arms. I got to hold my baby for the first time then, as she was covered with wires and tubes. As we held her, Justin and I were praying, asking God for a miracle and praising Him for Audrey. We begged and trusted God that He could still come through and save her in a way that would amaze all of us; but we also acknowledged Audrey as His and committed her into His care. The Chaplain came in and asked if we wanted to baptize her, and we did. After she was baptized we sang “Arms of Love” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” right there in the room filled with doctors and nurses. We continued to pray and tell Audrey we loved her and that God was with her. We acknowledged that Audrey’s condition was not a mistake, and that God had made her perfectly just the way He had planned. Justin read Psalm 139: 13-18, personalizing it to Audrey:
For you created Audrey’s inmost being; you knit Audrey together in her mother’s womb.14 We praise You because Audrey is fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, we know that full well.15 Audrey’s frame was not hidden from You, when she was made in the secret place, when she was woven together in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw her unformed body; all the days ordained for Audrey were written in Your book before one of them came to be.17 How precious to us are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!18 Were we to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when we awake, we are still with you.
We continued to pray and praise God singing “How Great Thou Art”. After a short while Justin and I saw that her chest stopped moving. We realized then that she was up in the arms of our Heavenly Father looking down on us. We continued to praise God thanking him for the time we had with Audrey. Finally, the doctor came in to officially pronounce that she was dead. He gave us a hug and said, “I’m sorry, just some bad luck”. Justin then looked him straight in the face and said, “No, it was God’s plan.” They left us alone and Justin dropped to his knees on the floor crying and then he looked up to God and thanked Him for our little girl and the time we had with her. The nurse came in and started to remove all of the cords and tubes, then we were finally able to see her sweet face, unobstructed by tape and tubes. She looked just like me. They took her and removed the sensors they had attached all over her head from monitoring her brain for seizures. Once they cleaned her up we finally got to see that she had beautiful auburn hair! We got her dressed in a gown and wrapped in a blanket and then we carried her over to what they call the “angel room” where our family waited. We sat in there and held our baby and our family cried with us and kissed her head. My aunt had a pink bow that we put on her head. As we held her, Justin and I sang “Blessed Be Your Name”, because God gave us Audrey and He took her away, but our hearts were choosing to say “Lord blessed be your name.”
In the 47 hours we had with Audrey, she showed more strength than we had ever seen possible. God used her to teach us how to fully and completely put our trust in Him. Her life taught us that God has a sovereign plan that is much greater than ours. Through Audrey, God taught us to not be afraid to let others see our love and faith in God and to be more open and vocal about our faith and hope in Him. We learned the power of prayer and the power of the fellowship of Christ’s church and of unity in family. Audrey fulfilled her purpose here on Earth in just 47 hours and then God took her to spend eternity worshiping Him, singing praises and dancing in Heaven. She can no longer feel pain and the cold that she felt here on Earth. As her parents we couldn’t ask for a better life than that, and we couldn’t be prouder of our little girl.
Memories and moments in our life are gifts from God.
Sometimes I think of all the moments that I wanted to have with her and didn’t get: like loading her in her car seat and taking her home from the hospital as a family or cuddling her in my arms and rocking her in the rocking chair in her nursery. However, those moments were never ours— memories and moments in our life are gifts from God. We were blessed with incredible moments and strong memories that were filled with so much beauty and brought so much glory and movement to the Kingdom of God.
Our pastor once told us a story of a Father who bought his little daughter a bag of Skittles in the store check-out line when she pleaded with him for some. In the car ride home, the Father smiled as he watched her in the mirror enjoying the Skittles he had bought for her. Then the father reached back his hand and asked if the little girl would give him one of the Skittles. Despite the fact that they came from the father, the little girl held them back, thinking they were only hers! Though our pastor was making a point about our monetary blessings from God, the truth is the same: EVERY good and perfect gift is from God. Audrey was our little Skittle from our Heavenly Father that we enjoyed the enormous blessing of but have committed back to God.
The morning after Audrey passed, Justin was reading his Bible and as he looked for another verse he came across John 16:20-23:
“20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
He continues to show us that we are not alone, that He is here with us comforting us.
Everyday God has revealed to us more of how Audrey’s time here did so much work for the glory of God, and He continues to show us that we are not alone, that He is here with us comforting us. He is slowly revealing to us how this has always been in His intricate plan.
The Sunday following Audrey’s death we went to church, we figured that if she was up in Heaven praising God with all His saints then why shouldn’t we. It was hard but as we sang “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” God gave me the realization that He sacrificed His one and only Son so that my daughter could be in Heaven with Him and that is such an amazing blessing and incredible hope.