Sometimes when God answers prayers, it’s not the answer we want to hear.
Back in October, I wrote a three-part series called “Chasing a miracle,” which chronicled the inspiring story of Emily Palmer and the fight to save the life of her unborn baby. She and the child, Clayton, defied the odds at every turn. They were turning the impossible into the possible.
The chase was an uphill battle the entire way. Last week, the journey came to an end.
Clayton was born, and died, last Tuesday, Dec. 3.
I asked Emily if she wouldn’t mind telling me what happened so that I could share the information with our readers, many of whom were touched by Emily and Clayton’s story.
She provided the following information via email.
Emily was able to come home to Runaway Bay from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for Thanksgiving. She was scheduled to fly back to Baltimore on the following Monday, but she woke up that morning knowing something was wrong. A trip to the hospital confirmed that she had two infections: one in her kidney and one in her uterus.
The uterine infection was possibly life-threatening for both her and the baby. She moved to Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth so that she would be just across the street from Cook Children’s Hospital.
Emily underwent an emergency C-section after midnight.
“The surgery was horrible,” she wrote. “During the C Section they couldn’t get him out and it was very aggressive. My husband thought that I was going to die. After they pulled him out we got to hear his precious little cry and we thought that everything was going to be OK.”
Because of the surgery, she couldn’t yet see her baby. The NICU doctor told her that “no news is good news” and that she didn’t want to see him in the next hour or so, because that would be very bad.
Emily went back to her room and waited. After two or three hours, the doctor told her that Clayton had been placed on a ventilator, but he was only needing about 25 percent oxygen. It was a good sign.
Finally at about 7 a.m., she got to see Clayton for the first time.
“When my husband and I went to see him, he was stable,” Emily said. “I began to talk to him and tell him to keep fighting and that I loved him so much. When he would hear me he began to move a lot and get stronger. All the machines started showing better numbers.”
She spent a few hours with Clayton before a nurse told her she needed to go back to her room to rest. Emily had just gotten back into her bed when two nurses ran in and told her she needed to get back to the NICU right away.
Emily’s husband, Hunter, quickly wheeled her back down to the room where they had just been, only this time, machines were sounding alarms and doctors were working on her son. She held Clayton’s hand and feet the whole time. Finally, a doctor asked to talk to the parents in private.
It was time to say goodbye, he said.
“We held him while he was hooked up to the machines, and then he died in my arms,” Emily wrote. “My daughters were both able to hold him before he died also and they were so thankful. We were able to have the whole family get to hold him and say goodbye. It was very difficult for me to let him go. The hardest thing I have had to do in my life.
“I feel like part of me died. I am so lost and the only thing I know to do is let Jesus carry me in his arms to get through this. Jesus knew that my son would have struggled and that he could be in a peaceful place.”
Before Clayton died, Emily was able to take photos and even a video of Clayton responding to her voice.
“I know that God gave me that special time with my son,” she wrote.
In a follow-up email, Emily explained that she is not angry at God for her son’s death.
“I am very thankful for God giving me the time with my son that he did, because if I hadn’t endured every infusion (then) I wouldn’t have even had minutes with him,” she wrote.
During the difficult journey to save her son’s life, Emily encountered several doctors who previously didn’t have faith in God. But seeing some of the amazing things that happened, several ended up asking her about her faith. A former co-worker of Emily’s who was following the story gave her life to God.
Even in death, it appears Clayton’s story made quite an impact.
“Even at his funeral people gave their lives to Jesus,” Emily wrote.
On Saturday, Clayton’s brief life was celebrated with family and friends at U-Turn World Ministries in Chico. He will be laid to rest at Eternal Oaks Cemetery this coming Saturday.
Emily and her family did everything they could to give Clayton a chance at life, including pressing doctors to try experimental procedures and flying across the country for weeks of treatment in Baltimore. The medical bills, and now funeral costs, have piled up.
Now its time for others to help make another miracle possible.
A benefit account has been opened in the name of Emily Palmer at Wells Fargo Bank. Deposits can be made at any Wells Fargo location.
In this Christmas season, where we remember the birth of Jesus and ultimately the sacrifice he made, I would encourage those who have been touched by Emily’s story to help her out in this time of need.
It’s not too late to add one more miracle to this incredible story.
Brian Knox is special projects manager for the Messenger.