It was the year of 1988. My life was going well and my husband, at the time, was doing what he loved, playing golf right behind our home, playing the bond market, and enjoying life with me and our son. My daughter, Jennifer, from a former marriage, was living with us temporarily. Did I mention that it was July? I never know what to expect in that month, you can celebrate the fourth of July, you can go to the lake or the beach, do yard work, or you can have the worst month possible! My husband came home from work and said, “I lost all the money I was trading for the company I work for.” I knew that didn’t sound good but had no idea what ramifications it would have on all of our lives for many years to come.
Jennifer went to Florida with some friends and I continued on with Junior League, church, taking care of my son, cleaning and shopping. I had an uneasy feeling about the future, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly where this feeling was from or why but I knew that Jennifer was pregnant and not married. Jennifer never told me she was pregnant but I knew she was, there were signs … eating a lot of food, gaining some weight, sleeping a lot and she was not working. We had flown her to Texas to an unwed mothers home. She had her boyfriend pick her up and bring her back to Arkansas where we all lived.
Normally I would have taken charge of the situation and offered her some options but we were going through financial difficulties, major changes, and I wanted her at nineteen years of age to make the decision about what to do with the baby. Abortion was not an option for us, as a family, nor for her. Someone that I was close too, recommended a lady who found homes for children. I suggested this person to Jennifer, although, it broke my heart to have to resort to this type of help.
The baby was due in October and that gave Jennifer time to think about what she thought was best for everyone but especially for the baby. My husband’s boss owed us 100,000 dollars and if we could recover that amount we could take care of Jennifer, the baby, and all of our bills that were piling up while thinking about what the heck I could do to help the situation financially and emotionally. I had the church pray, my mother and friends prayed, everyone prayed but nobody could have ever imagined the outcome of all the constant worry and supplications. The lady who found families that wanted to adopt, had located a couple who desperately wanted a baby of their own and were willing to pay for the expenses, the doctors fee, hospital bill, and any other expenses incurred having the child. I was resentful and hurt that we could no longer afford to have any options in this matter and I let Jennifer make the decision. I had a two-year-old son to take care of and no outside job, what could I do?
On August 16, 1988, Jennifer delivered a beautiful baby girl. Jennifer was preoccupied with her decision and I was just believing in a miracle. God would deliver us from this situation and it would all work out for everyone. The adoptive parents were thrilled (I never met them) and the other shoe dropped. The baby was sick, the hospital said she had Beta Strep and because she was premature, she might not live! I had never heard of Beta Strep, what was this terrible disease and how does a baby contract it? My understanding of this disease, from nurses, is that it is similar to strep throat only at the other end. I found that it is preventable and easily treated. Jennifer had care … she had a Christian doctor and she had been in an unwed mothers home in Texas, how could they have not tested for this?
The adoptive parents no longer wanted her … of course not … they bargained for a healthy baby. Jennifer decided to keep her and we named her Faith. There is no sadder place than NICU and I spent every day going there to see Faith and pray for her, we knew that she had to pass more urine in order to get well and we knew that some babies made it through this fight for life. I wanted to hold her so that she could feel the love and caring that I had for her but the nurses would not let me do that. Jennifer made a tape recording of her voice reading Gods word to her and I stumbled and cried through every day. Every night was spent wondering how she was, was she getting any better? Was she cold or hungry? All we could do was wait, hope, and pray that she would live and grow to be whatever God wanted her to be. I waited and slept on the couch every night for any information the hospital had about her condition. On the night of August 21, the phone rang, it was late and I called from the couch to my husband in the next room, “Was that the hospital?” Yes, was all that was said, “Is she gone?” I asked in resignation, “Yes, she’s gone”, and that was all that I hoped I would never hear. I called my pastor and we had a service a few days later, I lost my first and only granddaughter to Beta Strep, they may call it something different now in the 21st century but it took my Faith in more ways than one.
I can still see her little casket and remember my mothers words, “that looks as small as a bread basket.” Faith was four pounds and eleven ounces, not too small for a preemie, she was so pretty, and delicate, with such a rosie little mouth and I wanted her to grow up and live life to the fullest, be it with us or the adoptive parents. Jennifer now has three boys ages fourteen, sixteen and eighteen. I am remarried now and live an hour away from where I lived when we lost Faith. I live in the boonies and I am isolated, miss my son, daughter and grandsons, but most of all I miss the Faith I used to have. I used to tell every pregnant woman I saw or knew to have themselves tested for Beta Strep and some have told me they did and they had it. If, you are pregnant or know someone who is, please remember to have your doctor test for this disease! Faith’s father was a carrier and had another child with Beta Strep but the baby lived and I hope still thriving.