On 22 May 2011, when I was 34 weeks pregnant with our second child, I began experiencing symptoms of what I assumed to be asthma. I wasn’t too concerned as I have been known to get asthma over the years and particularly as the weather cools down. I went to church, and came home in the afternoon to lie down as I was beginning to feel quite sick. After a sleep I went to the doctors and was told I had a mild chest infection and to get some antibiotics in the morning. At approximately 1.00am I woke up, barely able to breathe. I woke my husband Tim and asked him to call an ambulance. In the hospital I started to realise that whatever was wrong was REALLY wrong, and if the doctors didn’t work it out quickly, I knew I would die. After some x-rays the doctors discovered I had pneumonia and a hole in my right lung. I was intubated and put in an induced coma. My condition continued to deteriorate rapidly and they did more tests. I was put on life support with a central line to get medication straight to my heart. My lung was drained through a tube in my side and because of the inability of my lungs to process oxygen properly I got blood poisoning and later required a blood transfusion. My husband and family were told to prepare themselves as the likelihood of both me AND our baby surviving was very slim, and at least one of us would probably die. Shortly after that, my lung collapsed.
My family had set about getting people to pray. There was even a 24hr prayer meeting held in Papua New Guinea for us! Our church, WorshipCentre Christian Church along with Triumph International Ministries, also prayed that we would both be healed and would live.
Previous to this, about seven weeks into the pregnancy, I felt the Lord tell me to name the baby Eva. I didn’t even have a confirmation that she was a girl yet, but I knew she was Eva. I looked up the meaning of the name; it means LIFE. We began to call her by name at 19 weeks pregnant (as soon as her gender was confirmed). My family were encouraged by this and began to declare life over her while we were in the hospital.
Two days after my initial symptoms and after being on life support for about 36 hours, test results confirmed that I also had H1N1 (Swine Flu), Influenza A, and Adenovirus. Remember that I was also 34 weeks pregnant, so my body was under extreme pressure. With these results in, doctors confirmed that an emergency caesarean would be necessary if either of us was to have even a hope of surviving.
When our precious Eva was delivered she was not breathing, and she didn’t breathe for 10 minutes. Just as the doctors were about ready to give up on her, they had success and she began to breathe with the aid of ventilation. She remained on life support for 15 hours. Then they sent her to another hospital for brain scans as they believed she was brain dead. Everyone continued to pray and by the time she arrived at the other hospital, an hour’s drive away, she was moving around. Her new doctor decided that brain scans would not be necessary!
When Eva was just over a day old, I woke up from the coma. I was no longer pregnant, my baby was in another hospital in a different city, and I felt like I’d been run over by a bus.
My mum and husband explained to me what had happened and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I desperately wanted to see and touch my baby girl but did not get that privilege until she was one week old and able to be transferred back to me.
Miraculously, we had both survived and I was sent home from hospital less than two weeks after admission, with Eva following just under a week later. Even the doctors knew that God had done a miracle.
I knew that I should have been happy, my baby was alive and I was alive, but all I felt was an intense ache inside of me. When we took Eva home from the hospital we were warned of a LONG list of things that might go wrong with her health as a result of what she had been through. I was scared for her. I was also very scared that because we had been separated at the time of her birth for a week, we wouldn’t bond the way I had bonded so beautifully with my first daughter Shalome. And I was scared that the bond that I did have with my very sensitive Shalome would be somewhat tarnished after such a traumatic ordeal that she was really too young to understand.
I cried for weeks and weeks, but only when no one was looking. I didn’t want people to think I was ungrateful for the amazing result we had, I truly was, but on the inside I just felt heavy.
After a while I decided I would go and get some counselling. I knew I was suffering from depression and I didn't want to be a depressed mum. The psychologist confirmed what we already knew, but wasn’t overly concerned due to the trauma of the experience.
Then, one Sunday while I was sitting in church, I got it! My God doesn’t half do things, He always finishes the job! (It seems fairly obvious now but I guess you have to put yourself in my shoes.)
My God is not going to half heal us, bring us off our death beds, only to live an unfulfilled and sick life. He didn’t tell me to name her Eva so that she would live, but with cerebral palsy. He didn’t bring me back from the brink of death, so I could live a life where my children didn’t know my love for them. From that moment, I knew we would be okay, that we could do this.
As I am writing this, my very healthy 10 month old Eva is sitting on my lap, having a big old chat! Her doctors have been amazed by her miraculous outcome and are now treating her as any other baby born under normal circumstances. I am so thankful to God for what He has done for my family. I am so grateful for His love for us. When the medical standard said that at least one of us (if not both) would probably die, God had His own standard. His standard for His children is that we would live and not die, that we would prosper and be in health, and that it would be well with us.