Written by Adam & Cesia Ogle
My wife and I had the privilege of serving God as missionaries in Ghana, West Africa. During our fourth year in Ghana, we were blessed to find out we were expecting our third child. We were so happy and had already chosen the name Audrey for the new baby. When Cesia was 7 months along, we went to a clinic in Ghana for a routine ultrasound. During the ultrasound the technician became very somber, and would not respond to our questions. At the end, he gave me a printed photo of the ultrasound with a picture of Audrey's head. A portion of the picture was circled with a pen and the word Encephalocele was written there by hand. Of course, I questioned the tech, but he was unable to give any information. So we quickly traveled back to our apartment and began researching this condition. Soon we realized our Audrey had a serious and life threatening problem.
We contacted our doctors stateside and they both agreed we needed to get back to America as quickly as possible. This was all on Monday of that week. By Wednesday we were on our way to Accra, Ghana, to then fly to Nashville where our two older children had been born.
Our doctor in Nashville had arranged for us to go straight to the hospital upon our arrival to the US. Family members took our children to their house while Cesia and I went to the hospital. It had been almost 24 hours since we left our home in Kumasi. During the travel, I had the hope that the Ghanaian doctors had misdiagnosed Audrey's condition and we would soon learn all was well with our unborn baby.
At Northcrest Hospital, the ultrasound techs were very nice and kind, but quickly became serious when they saw the images of Audrey. The tech went through the full ultrasound, but was unable to answer our questions about her condition. Soon, the radiologist entered the room; he too went through another ultrasound. At the end of about 3 hours of scanning the images of Audrey, they were ready to inform us of the condition of our baby.
The doctor asked Cesia to step out of the room as he informed me that indeed our daughter had an Encephalocele. He proceeded to show me images of Audrey's head and brain. In the images he identified where her brain was developing both inside and outside of her cranium. He further explained that portions of her body were already beginning to shut down due to the pressure on the spinal column form the malformation. He showed me places on her intestines, kidneys, and skin that were already showing signs that they were not functioning.
Of course, I was devastated by the news, and moments later, when Cesia walked back into the room, she knew from the look on my face that the condition was serious. The doctor told us there was nothing he could do. No procedure he could perform, nothing. He said within the next week or two her heart would stop working and she would pass away.
We sat on a bench in front of the hospital weeping for our daughter. I felt enormous anger at God for putting us in this situation. Dr. Browning, who was our doctor, came to meet us there. He too was weeping as he was a friend of the family and a Christian. Dr. Browning kindly informed us that Northcrest hospital would be unable to handle the medical situation, and we would be transferred to Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville. He said that the doctors at Vanderbilt would recommend terminating the pregnancy due to the low chance of survival for Audrey, the quality of life if she did survive birth, and the health risks to Cesia.
We knew we could never terminate the pregnancy, it was God's will for us and He would choose what He wanted. But the next week, waiting for our appointment at Vanderbilt was filled with doubt and anger and worry. We both pushed away family and friends to be alone and try to understand God's design in this situation. I questioned Him and His will, until Sunday night the following week. We had not attended any services since arriving to the US, but we came in late to a Sunday night service at South Haven Baptist Church. We didn't really know anyone at the church and, of course, because we were late, the usher found us seats on the front row of the church. As we sat down, the choir sang a special about a man standing at heaven's gate. As the saints walked in he cried that he had no part with them, then as the martyrs walked by and lamented the fact he was not among them, then a multitude of sinners ran toward the gates of heaven and the man cried that he was among the sinners saved by grace.
The song deeply touched my heart as I once again realized how good God was to save me...a sinner, and His love for me far exceeded my love for Audrey. That night, Cesia and I prayed truly for the first time for God's will to be done in the life of Audrey. Whatever He chose, we knew would be His doing and it would be good.
The next day we drove to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, expecting to refuse their recommendation to terminate the life of Audrey. The hospital performed another ultrasound to see the progression of Audrey's condition. The tech there said almost nothing as she completed this routine and directed us to wait in the department heads office. As we waited we noticed the awards and degrees lining her office walls proclaiming her accomplishments in the field of prenatal medicine.
When the doctor walked into the room, she pulled behind her a cart with a screen. She was business like as she sat down and without much introduction pronounced that Audrey did not have an Encephalocele . We were taken back by her words and looked at her puzzled as she proceeded to explain that she didn't know what happened, but that Audrey was going to be fine. She then showed the images of Audrey's head and brain. She showed how now, for some reason she could not explain, Audrey's brain was fully developed and properly placed in her cranium.
Cesia and I were overjoyed. As Cesia told the lady that we had a lot of people praying for us, to which the lady replied "well, keep it up, I guess it's working". As she left the office, other doctors and nurses began to come by and see us and ask about Audrey and what had happened. An elderly man rushed into the room, with tears in his eyes he hugged Cesia and said they never called him for good news. He was the neonatal surgeon scheduled to perform the termination. He rejoiced and wept with what God had done in our lives. Many nurses and other doctors came by the room that day to speak with us and share the miracle God chose to perform on our daughter Audrey.
She was born about a month later...on Thanksgiving Day. She does not have perfect health, but she is happy and healthy, fully mentally developed and a beautiful four year old girl. To this day, many people at the hospital know her and call her the miracle baby.