Ashley Shirley has received her fair share of sad news as a parent. She was told her 2-month-old baby girl was blind after visiting a retina specialist.
For most parents this would be a devastating blow, but this family’s faith has endured a much longer journey of unfortunate circumstances when it comes to their baby, Jocelyn.
During Shirley’s pregnancy, she and her husband received news that their daughter had a lethal birth defect. Doctors told them that her chance of surviving outside the womb was virtually impossible.
The diagnosis included improper growth, femur bones that were bowed, a small chest cavity, as well as a missing portion of her brain (the corpus callosum).
Jocelyn was also diagnosed with skeletal dysplasia, which is otherwise known as “dwarfism.”
The devastating diagnosis from doctors continued.
“As she continued to grow, they said it would keep progressing, getting worse and worse,” Shirley said. “Around 32 or 33 weeks, they started noticing just how small her chest cavity was—more red flags that it would be lethal.”
The Shirleys were told their baby would most likely die.
“Every week, I would go back, and they would look and say the same thing. They didn’t know what to expect, but by the looks of it, they couldn’t even say whether she’d come out breathing,” Shirley said.
Instead of planning for a happy arrival for her newborn baby, Shirley began to plan for every mother’s worst nightmare—her baby’s funeral.
“I finally got up the nerve to contact a funeral home,” she said. “I wanted to have her transported back to family in Cincinnati. I had to make some seriously hard phone calls to prepare—we were praying for the best, trusting God, but also had to prepare ourselves for the worst.”
At 37 weeks pregnant the Shirleys anticipated the worst, but prayed for a miracle.
“I was super nervous,” she recalled. “I almost passed out twice because I was so anxious. All I can remember is my husband holding my hand. He laid his forehead on mine, and we were praying. All I could do was plead with God to let her come out screaming, breathing. It felt like an eternity. It was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.”
Jocelyn proved doctors wrong, entering the world with a loud scream. They were stunned when she was born alive with normal health.
“Our doctor kept saying, ‘Where did we go wrong? Did we miss something?’ I know all people are not Believers, but I just say she’s a miracle of God. I saw with my own eyes what doctors saw. Yes, she has minor problems—but she’s alive,” Shirley said.
Shirley says that her faith is what got her through.
“Coming from someone who has had to walk through that, there’s not really words you can give someone. I think people deal differently, so I just think you have to live in the moment, get through the moment,” she shared. “You can’t worry about tomorrow—just get through that moment … until you have to face what’s really happening.”
“I don’t know that I could have gotten through it without my faith,” she said.
JESUS LOVES ME!
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