From my front row seat

Monday, December 1, 2014

My favorite Blue Monarch Christmas story...

My journey with Blue Monarch has been filled with wonderful memories as well as some painful bumps along the way.  When God asked me to take this on, I had no idea what I was getting into.  And when I think back, my expectations were so remarkably low.  I just had NO idea…

This couldn’t have been clearer to me than when I witnessed the birth of our first Blue Monarch baby.  It was 2003 and our program was brand new.  As an artist with no social work background, I was just figuring things out as we went along.  One of our first residents showed up pregnant.  She hid it well because we didn’t know she was pregnant until her water broke.  And that was quite a surprise. 

Chrystal was way too early to be going into labor so she was rushed to the hospital for thirty days of bed rest.  During this time I frequently traveled to Chattanooga to visit her, bringing lots of reading material and trying to structure some kind of productive program for her under the circumstances. 

One thing I noticed was that this young mother was beginning to develop a personal relationship with God – which seemed pretty remarkable considering she was alone in her room much of the time, confined to the bed with very little to keep her busy.

Short of the thirty days, she called me one day and said, “Miss Susan, you’ve got to get here.  I have to have an emergency c-section!”  (It’s always seemed a little sad to me that I’m often the one in the delivery room when you’d assume a close family member would take that special place of honor.) 

So I got suited up for the c-section, completely shocked that they allowed ordinary people off the streets to witness this dramatic surgery.  But when they lifted her baby out, I was horrified because he looked like a little dead bird.  He was black from the knees down and looked completely lifeless.  Fortunately the mother was not able to see what I saw.  They immediately whisked him away and we returned to Chrystal's room to wait for news.  We waited…and waited…and waited.  Three painful hours went by and not one person could tell us anything about the baby.  Things didn’t look good.

Finally the doctor entered the room and said, “We’ve tried everything to save your baby but we’re not going to be able to.  So if you want to see him alive, you only have a few minutes left.”

As you can imagine, our world turned upside down in a split second.  Chrystal was extremely upset, and the entire NICU cleared out so we could visit her baby in his last moments in privacy.  This time he looked like a dead bird in a box hooked up to a million wires.  He was pitiful and tiny and lifeless. 

The doctor pointed to a gauge overhead and said, “You see this number?  This measures his blood oxygen level and should be over 90.  But as you can see, it’s only 20.”

After an understandable emotional breakdown, Chrystal decided to go back to her room because she didn’t want to watch him die.  But it didn’t seem right to leave him alone so I stayed with him.  It was quite surreal because Christmas carols were quietly playing in the background with Christmas only a few days away. 

I watched the dreaded number continue to drop from 20…to 16… to 11…  And then it occurred to me that we needed to be praying for this baby.  So I got on the phone, called my daughter in the middle of the night, and asked her to call all her friends and start praying for this baby.

Even though I had grown up in the church, I had heard about “the power of prayer” until it no longer meant anything to me.  I couldn’t imagine how it could possibly make a difference at this point, but it seemed like the thing to do so I sat there next to the baby and prayed.  I prayed hard.

Afraid of what I might see, I eventually peeked at the gauge and much to my surprise, the number had begun to rise.  It was back up to 20.  I kept watching it – and I saw that number gradually climb all the way to up to over 90 again!  It was truly unbelievable.

The nurses ran over to me and couldn’t believe what they saw.  They quickly fetched the doctor and when he rushed over he looked at me and demanded, “What did you do?!” 

“I really don’t know.  We just have a lot of folks praying for this baby.”

“Well, that’s one helluva prayer team you people have!  I’ve never seen anything like this!”

Trenton remained in the hospital for several weeks since he was so premature, but for that entire time everyone referred to him as “The Christmas Miracle Baby.”

Which brings me to this story.

We recently had a very special reunion at Blue Monarch when we brought together six of the children who lived at Blue Monarch our first year in 2003.  I had the wonderful privilege of telling Trenton about the day he was born – nearly eleven years ago.  The rest of the day he went around telling everyone, “Did you know I was a Christmas Miracle Baby?” 

When this precious boy survived and it was such a miracle to witness, I decided right then and there if that’s all we ever accomplished at Blue Monarch – it would still be worth it!  Anything after that would just be icing on the cake.

And guess what – there has been LOTS of icing on the cake since then.  Come visit me again here to see what I mean.

To watch Trenton as he hears the story for the first time, click the video below or click here:    
Susan tells Trenton about the day he was born...