Last night my children and I watched The Nativity Story, a beautifully done movie depicting the events leading up to the birth of Christ. The idea was to give them a better understanding and almost first-hand view of why we celebrate Christmas and the importance of God in our lives.
There was one part that was difficult for us all to watch (though there was no graphic violence shown), the part of the story about King Herod's murder of all male children under the age of two. Herod had ordered this because prophets had described the coming of a new king, and because of his fear of being overthrown. My seven-year-old daughter Grace (whom was called on occasion "The Little Prophet" by a couple of members of our church in Indianapolis for her comments on various biblical subjects) had much to say after the movie:
"People should be loved and cared for, and babies should be loved very much. People should not be hated. They have to be loved very much. We have to love each other, not be mean to each other. They have to be respectful and very nice to people, and especially God. They need to love the children."
For those who don't know Gracie's history, she is a miracle child in every sense of the word. Doctors told me to abort her, that because of medication they'd prescribed during my first trimester carrying her, she would likely not make it through the pregnancy. Even if she did actually make it to birth, they said, she would have severe deformities at the very least. I was told she would have poor quality of life, and that I would have a special needs child. They told me the chances of her being "normal" were slim to none.
I prayed. One night her name popped into my head, along with the quiet assurance, "She is a girl, and her name is Grace." Even though the baby's gender had not yet been determined, I knew with all my heart that my baby girl would be fine. Doctors wanted a large number of tests done, but I denied them to do anything invasive. Even though several ultrasounds found nothing wrong physically, they said that breathing problems and cognitive deformities were impossible to avoid - but I was having a girl.
I went into labor at five months along and was placed on medication to stop contractions and steroids to help develop her tiny lungs. I was again told there was little likelihood of her survival. Grace held on and remained strong.
Three-and-a-half weeks before my due date, Grace decided she was ready. With a room full of NICU staff and lots of equipment, doctors told me to prepare for the worst. They told me to be prepared, because she would have to be placed on a respirator. They said she would be in the NICU for at least two weeks and my contact with her would be limited until she developed enough to breathe on her own.
On on June 12, 2003, Grace Kaye Elise (meaning "grace sweet and pure") was born perfect and healthy. Her APGAR scores were all nines and tens, she squawked just enough to let them know she was alive, and she nursed immediately. Grace rarely cried and was a happy, inquisitive and very intelligent baby. At all of her appointments with the pediatrician, she continually shocked them with her progress and verbal skills.
Gracie is a brilliant, strong-willed, confident little girl with a beautiful voice, and who has memorized and sings everything from Mozart and Beethoven to Taylor Swift and Colbie Callait. She wants to be a ballerina and singer, and maybe a doctor, too. She is full of wisdom and compassion.