Little Girl Births Unstoppable Faith for Parents
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“During the last five minutes of my labor and delivery was when I noticed something was wrong because their faces said it all. And they kept saying, 'Her heart's dropping, her heart rate's dropping, what are we going to do?'" Emily recalled.
In 2019, Emily Wise and her husband, Bruce, were expecting their daughter, Riley. It was a normal, healthy pregnancy. “We had no indications that there would be any issues or complications,” she said. “We weren't expecting anything besides having that healthy baby in our arms.”
On the day of her delivery, however, things turned horribly wrong. “They had to use a vacuum to deliver her because they said, ‘We have to get her out now!’" Emily recalled. “And my heart was just racing.”
During the delivery, Riley was deprived of oxygen. “They put her on my chest and right away they took her away and she wasn't crying and she looked sort of gray,” Emily added. “And they started putting a breathing tube in her. And that's when my heart just sank.”
Bruce, her husband remembered, “The tradition where you get to cut the umbilical cord and everything, I didn't get to do that. And I knew something was going on.”
Riley was diagnosed with H.I.E.-- hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. “I was just devastated,” said Emily. “I didn't know if she was going to live or die. I just saw her get intubated and I knew that that was bad. Then they came back in the room and said she's had a brain injury and we need to take her to Children's for a cooling protocol."
Bruce said, “I was in shock at the time. I didn't quite understand what was going on. I didn't have time to register it. So I immediately jumped into the ambulance and accompanied Riley to Nationwide Children's Hospital."
“We were left not knowing how this would affect her. It's a very wide--it could be mild. It could be severe,” Emily said. “She could have cerebral palsy or just maybe she's at 10 times more risk for autism."
“They explained some of the risks that she might encounter so I didn’t have a lot of time to register the severity or understand it,” Bruce said. “I took some time to research it and it was pretty alarming.”
Emily also said, “They told us that her eyes weren't responding to light as they should and that can show a cognitive delay. And that's when I really started praying, ‘God, please let her mind be okay.’”
Although Emily considered herself a social Christian at the time, she began praying and crying out to God. One day she was channel surfing when something caught her eye. “I turned on the TV, and just randomly flipping the channels, here's CBN," Emily said. “And they said at the end, you can call in for prayer. There was no solution to a brain injury. What could I do? But here was this show saying, 'God can help you.' And it really lifted me up. It gave me that little bit of hope I needed at the time.”
“Everybody told us that she's okay, that she's okay, everything's fine. And all the data and the doctors, they were telling us otherwise,” Bruce remembered. “So we kind of felt like we were very alone for a while.”
Emily began calling the prayer partners at CBN on a regular basis. “They helped me learn how to pray actually,” she said. “And their prayer partners said prayers with me. And they were the nicest, honest, just beautiful prayers that we prayed for my daughter together. One time on the phone, talking to one of the prayer partners, I could feel this presence overcome me. And it was just like this strengthening and peace. At that moment I knew her body was going to be okay.”
The couple began attending First Baptist Church in Grove City, Ohio. Emily said, “Pastor Dave, he was really just instrumental in every Sunday when I felt so hopeless. His message felt like it just spoke right to what we were going through, our situation, because he just kept talking about the power of prayer. He kept saying, be persistent and God is big enough. There's no problem that God cannot fix for you.”
Pastor Dave Earley recalled, “They responded for an opportunity to come and receive prayer. I remember they came down on my left and they wanted us to pray for baby Riley and it was one of those days when you're praying and you know God's going to answer.”
On Easter Sunday that year, Emily gave her life to Christ. “I started feeling like, ‘Ok I can give this to God and see what He can do with it.’ And that's what I did. I raised my hand at the end of service and I committed my life to God and accepted Jesus. And then after that, I really felt like things started moving even more so. I felt like my prayers were starting to get answered. I could see her eyes start to shift and she was making some eye contact with me.”
Over the coming weeks and months, Riley’s condition improved rapidly, which shocked the medical staff. “We took her back to physical therapy and she hit all her goals way faster than they ever imagined. She went from being behind to advanced for her age, and they discharged her. We took her to the eye doctors, and they said, 'Hey, it looks like her eyes are right where they should be.’ And I said, ‘Praise God. She can see!'"
By her second birthday, she was testing normal in nearly every area. Bruce said. “Primarily, when I got to see her in play groups with other children, she acted like them. She didn't have any limitations. She looked just like the rest of them. And I knew that something was up there. I knew it was God's hand.”
Today Riley is a normal, active, four-year-old. Bruce and Emily say this experience had a profound effect on them. “I can never deny the power of prayer,” she added. “I would always just say pray and pray more, and just keep trusting God.”
Bruce added, “This primarily changed me to be a better leader for my family, to have faith in God, that He's got a plan for us.”
Pastor Earley added, “When I see Riley come in on Sunday smiling, and she's such a healthy, vibrant, happy little girl, it just brings great joy to my heart. We have a God who loves children and a God who hears and answers the prayer of His people.”
“Psalms 34:4--I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all of my fears. His Word is true,” Emily said. “Because He saw me through all the bad things I thought would happen to my daughter and He healed her.”
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