“She’s alive!” the doctor announced, his voice filled with the same relief that Kathryn Rossi felt. But no first cry echoed through the delivery room. “I need a breathing tube!” the doctor shouted.
As her baby disappeared behind a wall of doctors and nurses, Kathryn and her husband, Robert, clasped hands. Please, the couple prayed, our baby needs a miracle.
Kathryn and Robert had been overjoyed when they learned they were expecting their fourth child. Their three older children were just as thrilled. “I feel like I’ve won a million dollars!” nine-year-old Anna exclaimed as Maria, six, and Thomas, four, beamed.
Yet, as blessed as she felt, Kathryn also felt achy and exhausted. Then, at twenty weeks, a routine blood test to check for chromosomal defects came back abnormal. Her doctor ordered an amniocentesis. Helpless and scared, Kathryn turned to prayer. “Watch over my baby,” she prayed. Then, calling upon the saint noted for her love of children, she pleaded, “St. Therese, I need your help…”
Immediately, Kathryn felt calm. And the night before the test, Kathryn felt reassured that St. Therese had sent roses as a sign that her prayers would be answered. To Robert, it was just a fluke. The case of entirely white paper towels they had bought did not have entirely white rolls after all. The roll Kathryn opened had roses on it. Tears sprang to her eyes. “They say when St. Therese hears a prayer, she sends a rose to let you know,” she said.
Yet, the amnio results were not what they had hoped for. “There is a problem with the placenta,” the doctor began,
explaining that it was not delivering the proper nutrients to the baby. There was no way Kathryn could carry the baby to term. They would wait as long as possible, but the doctor cautioned that most babies with this condition were born too small to survive.
“No!” Kathryn sobbed. She longed to believe it would turn out all right, but there was nobody to tell her so. Between ultrasounds, Kathryn would lie in bed, searching for some sign that her baby was still OK. Meanwhile, family and friends began sending flowers and cards. And though Kathryn had not told the story of St. Therese and the roses to anyone but Robert, in every bouquet, on every card, there was a rose. Even the ceramic angel her mother-in-law gave her was holding a rose—a surprise to even Robert’s mom since the box had showed the angel’s hands empty.
Could it be? Kathryn dared to wonder. Is God sending a message through St. Therese, letting us know our baby will live? But as Kathryn lay in the delivery room while doctors fought to save her baby, it looked doubtful. Any infant born at just 25 weeks would be dangerously tiny. But at fourteen ounces, Kathryn’s baby was even worse off. She was only half the size she should be at that stage. And her lungs were so underdeveloped, she could not even cry, much less breathe.
“She’s here,” the doctor said. “That’s a miracle in itself.”
“Yes,” Kathryn said. “We’ve come this far.” Then she announced: “I’d like to name her Theresa Rose.” “It’s perfect,” Robert agreed.
But the doctor had grim news. “She’s got a tough fight ahead,” he said, ticking off a myriad of serious medical problems. Her chances of surviving were a mere five percent, and that was assuming she survived surgery.
“Surgery?” Kathryn asked. She learned that as soon as little Theresa Rose was stable, they would need to close a major vessel in her heart.
Just thinking about them opening her baby’s tiny chest was unbearable. Kathryn placed a statue of St. Therese beside her. “You’ve brought her this far,” Kathryn prayed, “Please, see her through the rest of the way.”
On the day of the surgery, Kathryn tucked a picture of the saint in a nurse’s pocket. “Her guardian angel,” she explained to the nurse.
At two weeks old, Theresa Rose was the smallest baby the surgeon had ever performed this procedure on. It seemed impossible. But after the surgery, he announced, “She did great!”
There would be more surgeries to remove fluid from Theresa Rose’s brain and to prevent her retinas from detaching. Looking at her daughter, Kathryn worried, “How much more can her little body take?” But then her eyes fell on the statue of St. Therese. “I really believe in my heart that you’re hearing my prayers,” Kathryn wept. “All the roses I’ve gotten…it’s no coincidence. Please, God,” Kathryn begged, “let me know I’m right.”
The next morning, the doctor was shaking his head in astonishment. “I don’t believe it!” he cried. “All of Theresa Rose’s vital signs show marked improvement. There’s just no explanation,” he marveled. But there was one, Kathryn knew. Looking at the statue of St. Therese, she closed her eyes and breathed: “Thank you.”
With every day, Theresa Rose grew stronger. Finally, after four and a half months the doctor announced, “You can take your daughter home.”
“Here’s your million dollars,” Kathryn cried, handing Anna, Maria, and Thomas their baby sister.
Over the coming months, Theresa Rose bloomed just like her name. Today, about to turn four, she’s a happy, healthy little girl. Watching Theresa Rose giggle and play with her big sisters and brother, Kathryn’s eyes fill with tears. “Her name says it all,” she sighs. “Theresa Rose is a miracle.”
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This story was written by Elise McKeown Skolnick as part the 101 stories in Amazing Grace for Mothers.
For more inspiration check out my latest books: What Would Monica Do? and Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Other books include: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the best-selling Amazing Grace Series.
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