Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Anja, Our Miracle Baby

Ok, I know, I've been absent again. But I have a good reason! Is it ok to use the same reason twice in a row?? It's true, we've been busy celebrating another birthday! See, we don't just have "birthdays" around here... we have what we call "birthday seasons". Birthday seasons can keep you pretty busy for awhile. When you think about what you're celebrating - the LIFE of your precious child! - it kind of seems like there's never a good time to NOT be celebrating! :)

Anja Verity turned 4 this past week. A couple of months before she was born, Philip said to me, completely out-of-the-blue: "If it's a girl, what do you think of  the name Anja Verity? It means Full of Grace and Truth". It was one of those moments where you almost see a sunbeam breaking through and shining on you directly from Heaven. (I said "almost"). "Grace and Truth". One of those "that's IT" moments.  

Anja has been Divinely protected since the very earliest parts of her existence. I had some little scares early on in my pregnancy; just some little signs that something wasn't quite right. Through my whole pregnancy I had a sort of uneasy feeling about the baby. 2 weeks before she was born, my water broke. I waited to go into labor... and waited, and waited. Nothing happened, so I went on with life. People were telling me I needed to go into the hospital and be induced, that once the water broke I needed to have the baby within 24 hours. After a chat with my faithful midwife, I was totally comfortable just waiting. (I mean, as comfortable as you can be when you're hugely pregnant in the middle of summer in Ohio). Then on the 4th of July, right in the middle of our small-town 4th of July celebration at the park, it happened again. Let's just say that put an end to my swinging and teeter-tottering for the day, and totally spoiled my plans for competing in the inflatable boxing ring. 
Reduced to being a bench-warmer with my dad and brother. ;)
It wasn't until a week later, on July 11th, that I actually went into labor. My last labor had been so long and so hard, that I didn't think there was a point to calling the midwife or even waking up Philip as I breathed through contractions every few minutes all night long. Finally at some point in the morning, I woke up Philip and told him what had been going on. The contractions started getting a little harder, so I decided to go ahead and call Joan (our midwife). Having been with me through my last birth, she was also pretty laid-back about getting there. A few hours later she arrived, all of us figuring we still had many hours of work ahead of us. I think I was a little traumatized from my last birth, and I had just been begging God, to please let this one be easier and go quicker. I was dreading transition, hoping that it at least wouldn't last 10 hours like it did with Zarah. After Joan checked me out, I asked her "Do you think I'm almost in transition?" With a big smile on her face, she said, "Oh, Clara - you're past transition!" That was the biggest relief, and when she said it I burst out crying and just praised God. Anyhow, to cut down on the icky details, a few hours of what I would call "gentle labor" later,  Anja made her grand entrance! She had the most wonderful rolls of chub, and a head of dark hair.
As I was lying in bed, just enjoying that wonderful new baby smell and the feeling of your brand new baby lying on top of you instead of inside you, Philip came to me with this verse. "John 1:17. ...Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ." I remember getting goosebumps and praising God for our little Grace and Truth. My midwife over-heard the verse and said, "actually, you can call this baby a miracle baby." She had just finished doing all her final check-ups on everything, and while examining the placenta she had discovered a very rare thing called "velementous insertion of the umbilical cord". The umbilical cord has 3 blood vessels running through it, which are usually bound together and protected by a thick covering. With velementous insertion, that protective layer is not there, and the 3 vessels are separate and exposed. Mine was the especially dangerous kind, where the vessels run completely across from one side of the womb to the other before connecting to the baby. At any point in the pregnancy or labor, if any one of those vessels had broken, the baby would have most likely bled to death, and possibly me, too. This could have been caused by anything like a bump to the belly, a jolt, or even a hard labor. But, the biggest cause of death from velementous insertion is... induced labor by an artificial rupture of the membranes! I was SO GRATEFUL (and still am!) that the Lord had led us to wait on His timing for Anja's birth and not try to rush things! And I was SO grateful that the Lord had given me a gentle birth this time!! He knew just what our baby needed!! Grace and Truth, our Anja Verity, came by Jesus Christ!! 

A year later, once again in the middle of a stifling Ohio summer day, one of Philip's clients was showing a horse at the state fair. We were all there for the day. I pretty much spent the day pushing Zarah and Anja around in our big double stroller, trying to find ways to keep them cool. I noticed Anja was acting really listless, quietly dozing off and on and just being kind of quiet. I figured she'd just had a long day and was worn out from the heat and all the commotion. On our way home late that afternoon, my family called and invited us to meet them at a restaurant in town for dinner. At that point we thought Anja seemed fine, so we pulled into a Planet Smoothie parking lot to turn around and head to meet my family. That's when we heard horrible gagging, choking sounds coming from the back seat. Philip and I both whipped around to see Anja's little body jerking uncontrollably, her tongue hanging out of her mouth and her eyes rolling back in her head. It was the most frightening thing I've ever seen. I gasped, "She's having a seizure!!!" For a moment I felt frozen, neither of us knew what to do. I kept thinking she would just stop, I knew heat-induced seizures happened in little kids sometimes, but I also knew they only lasted like a minute or so. But she wasn't stopping. Philip called 911, and I frantically got her out of her carseat and held her and cried, "Anja! Anja! Mama's here, Anja! Mama's got you! Mama loves you!" It was the most desperate, panicky feeling, to just not be able to MAKE HER STOP! But then, I was actually afraid of what would happen when she stopped. I didn't know if she was aware of what was going on, if she could hear us, if she was afraid... Philip and I were both crying out to God, asking him to make the seizure stop, to protect Anja. Poor 2-year-old Zarah was in the backseat asking over and over, "What's Anja doing?? What's wrong with Anja??" Philip called a friend of ours who is a nurse and asked her if there was anything we could do to stop the seizure. She told us to get Anja cooled down as much as we could, so we stripped her down and had the air conditioning blowing in the truck. It seemed like it took hours, but finally the ambulance arrived. By that time Anja's face was blue, and I really thought I was watching her die. We jumped out of the truck and ran to meet them when we saw them pull in. At first the paramedics seemed annoyingly relaxed. I think they probably dealt with a lot of heat-induced seizures in kids with the fair going on and the weather being so hot. Then they caught sight of Anja and it was like they flipped into high gear. They started shouting things to each other that I didn't understand as they rushed Anja into the ambulance and shouted to me, "Come on, Mama!" as they threw me in with her. Almost instantly, sirens were blaring and we were flying through downtown rush-hour traffic.I remember at one point realizing that I didn't even have shoes on. My flip flops were back in the truck. As was poor Philip, who was left behind without even being told where they were taking his precious baby! He tried desperately to follow us, but between the frantic tears blurring his vision and the traffic, he couldn't keep up. He was finally able to get ahold of his dad, a firefighter and paramedic, who told Philip where they most likely would be taking Anja. Philip headed that way, terrified of what he was going to find when he got there.

Meanwhile, in the ambulance, the paramedic got Anja on oxygen, and ever-so-slowly a little pink began to replace the blue in her face. He was so sweet and kind, and really tried to be reassuring. Finally he said, "Hear that noise, Mama?" Then I noticed this weird, distant-sounding little noise... almost like a quiet, tiny siren. I asked him "What is that??" He smiled and said, "believe it or not, that's a good sound. That's your baby trying to cry." From that time on, Anja very slowly came out of the seizure. For the next couple of hours at the hospital, she was still unable to move much but her eyes. She looked around with these big, terrified eyes, and just cried and cried and cried. Her arms were clenched  by her side and her body was rigid. Eventually she calmed down, and finally she was able to relax her poor little body. They ran some tests to make sure there was nothing seriously wrong, and they didn't find anything more than a slight fever. Both mine and Philip's parents came to the hospital, along with my wonderful brother and sister-in-law, who were some of Anja's very favorite people. It was so good to have family there with us! After a very long night, we went home and slept (with one eye open). 

We later found out that most fever-induced seizures in children last around a minute, and then stop on their own. Very rarely, though, one will carry on longer and won't stop without oxygen or a certain kind of shot being given. These kind can result in brain damage or death. When Anja's seizure started, Philip checked the clock and made a mental note of the time. From the time it started to the time the ambulance got there, it was almost 20 minutes, and she didn't stop until several minutes later, after she had the oxygen on. Once again, we praised God for His protection of our Anja!!!

Wow, that ended up being a LOT longer than I meant it to! The point of it all is... We PRAISE GOD for Anja's LIFE, and we think it's reason to celebrate EVERY day!!! :) And have cake every day!!! (ok... every other day?) 

Anja loves babies!!! Cousin Rory is one of her favorites :)

So now Anja's 4, and she's a beautiful (she looks like her Papa!), wacky, witty, sweet, loving, fun, bright girl! She is best friends with her 2 sisters, and they think she's the funniest, most clever person there is. For her birthday season, she is now on day 3 of wearing her Princess tutu all day long. Usually they're only allowed to wear their tutus if the day's work is done and we're not going outside, so this is a very special thing. ;) She also requested to ride her horse, so last night all 3 girls got to ride their horses. We still have more celebrating to do, because 2 of her uncles were out-of-town for her first, mini, unofficial birthday party, and she still hasn't had the peach frozen yogurt that she requested. Oh well, more celebrating is fine by me! Our next birthday isn't until Philip's in November, so we have to squeeze as much out of this one as we can. ;)

Anja and Papa
Anja and her best friends :)


  1. Okay, so now that I've actually read it, I'm really, truly crying! Like my throat is closed up and even if my life depended on it, I would not be able to talk right now!
    Thank you for the reminder of how faithful our Lord has been and continues to be in our lives. (Of course, a reminder closer to the time I'm planning on being down there would've been better, since the next couple of months are going to be torture because I want to hold my babies NOW! Speaking of which, I guess I can't call them that anymore...) :(
    I love and miss you all more than I can say!!!

  2. Thank you for putting all this in writing, Clara! I had forgotten (or perhaps had never heard) some of the details you shared here. What a gracious, awesome God we serve! I'm praising Him with you for the wonderful gift He's given you in each of your children. Love you all!


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