God’s Grace in Ryleigh Grace
Ryleigh spending a day with grandma
How This Newborn Beat all the Odds Against Her
When my daughter-in-law called me in tears my first concern was to calm her down. Being in her second trimester of pregnancy with her first child, the last thing she needed was additional stress. Her blood pressure was already a problem as she had been on medication for years and lately we could tell by her snappy behavior she was on edge. Now she was crying her eyes out on the phone, claiming that the sonogram results indicated that Ryleigh Grace, our future granddaughter, had Dandy Walker’s Syndrome as a portion of the brain matter was not clearly defined and could be missing.
After finally reassuring my daughter-in-law that all would be fine I took the time to research this condition and could understand why she was so upset. DWS clearly stated that Ryleigh would not have normal brain function, may not walk or talk, and very likely would suffer mental retardation. Despite all the horror stories about this lesser known condition of newborns, my heart told me our Ryleigh would be free of this concern. I had a gut feeling that this entire situation was due to a law-suit crazy world and a doctor fearful for his reputation who was taking all the precautions…just in case.
Unfortunately, Heather’s blood pressure and constant worry got the best of her despite my continuous affirmations that I felt all was well. She delivered Ryleigh in her 33rd week due to preeclampsia, and our granddaughter weighed a mere 2.9 pounds. She was immediately placed into the NICU (newborn infant care unit) where she stayed for the first three months of her life. Ironically, Ryleigh did not have Dandy Walker Syndrome. But she did suffer a small brain clot during delivery costing her a shunt for life and six surgeries in the next year to follow based on various problems with staph infection, the shunt’s inability to function properly, hernias and her extremely tiny size.
Ryleigh is two years old now and the apple of my eye. She talks, she walks, and she is every grandparent’s dream come true of a beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed gift from God. She is only 16 pounds and clearly will be a tiny child all of her life, but beyond that she has survived the odds of any brain dysfunction despite the many surgeries and the false implications of DWS. She does have delayed motor skills and speech due to her premature birth, but beyond that she is perfect in every way.
Technology is amazing and can do many wondrous things, but there are times like now when knowing less would have been best. Had Heather not had the sonogram and nature had been left to run its course it’s very likely Ryleigh would have been full term and at a more appropriate size for her age now.
I sometimes wonder how the doctors that make these ‘assumptions’ feel later down the road when they discover how so very wrong they were. Particularly when they know a situation could have been vastly improved had they not ‘assumed’ the worst. I lost my first child to military medical malpractice. My situation was diversely different as I was toxemic and lost my son due to doctors in the military who just didn’t care until it was too late and never bothered with tests. It’s quite the variation between the two pregnancies. I suppose to have a doctor take all the precautions at least offers the fetus an opportunity to live despite the possible consequences by over-reacting to the unknowns. When it’s all pared down, quite simply God has the final say-so, doesn’t he?
In the meantime I will cherish Ryleigh forever. I will hold her and cuddle her and feed her and love her and thank God every single day for giving her a chance to be a part of this world. Hopefully she will make a difference in someone’s life down the road and fulfill God’s purpose. She truly has beaten all the odds, and like her name, Ryleigh Grace, she is an example of life’s many unexplained marvels. May her life offer hope to others and assure future moms that when it's least expected miracles occur in the tiniest bundles.
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