As Night Moves celebrates 35 years this September, we want to take a moment and introduce one of the members of our original race committee and his family. John Umpleby has been involved with Night Moves since its inception in 1980. In 2012, John’s daughter, Audrey, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Sophia Penn. Here is their story told by John’s wife, Sue.
A Grandma’s Story…
My daughter, Audrey’s pregnancy had been normal, and uncomplicated. But, when Sophia arrived, I found myself everywhere I’d prayed not to be, standing helplessly beside her, watching every breath she took and praying frantically that it wasn’t her last.
Audrey’s OB/GYN said that mother and baby looked “perfect” the day before Audrey went into labor. Yet, the next 26 days proved to be a living nightmare. After a long day of labor, Audrey was settled into her room, until I leaned over to kiss her forehead and felt the heat of her feverish skin touch my lips. Soon it was determined that the stress of the fever had caused the baby to pass the meconium in utero. Suddenly, the doctor was rushed in, Audrey, crying and scared, was being prepped for a C-Section. Marcus, Sophia’s dad, was holding Audrey’s hand and trying to listen to instructions. I stood speechless, with a knot in my stomach. Mother, dad and soon to be Sophia were rushed out the door to a surgical unit.
I went to the chapel to pray. When I returned from the chapel, I saw the faces of my family and a few close friends gathered around Marcus, who relayed the news. Sophie was in the NICU. She had meconium aspiration syndrome. Audrey hadn’t even been able to hold her. My heart broke for my daughter and my infant granddaughter.
Nothing prepared us for the fear that would become constant for the days to come. Nothing prepared us for these words, “she’s not responding. There’s nothing more we can do for her here. We have to get her to Children’s immediately.” It was gut-wrenching pain to watch Audrey be handed Sophia’s blanket and cap as that barely 12 hour old baby was skillfully loaded into an ambulance with her daddy, Marcus, and taken to Children’s Hospital.
“She is the sickest child in Children’s Hospital,” the doctor whispered. The long list of risks and possible complications was explained to Audrey. Through tear-flooded eyes, we watched as a team of some 30 medical practitioners spilled out of the doors of the isolation room in the NICU. We watched, and waited, and prayed as machinery was rolled in. We watched and waited and prayed as Sophia’s 8 pound body was stinted, attached, checked, and monitored.
We listened as the huge team of doctors gathered outside her room baffled that after two days, she hadn’t made more progress.
Exasperated doctors tried a second “breathing” machine with different tubing but with no positive effect. The third time the machine failed, the decision was made to let her try to breathe on her own.
I stood beside her, taking every breath with her, transfixed by the fluorescent green numbers flashing on the monitor. Mesmerized, like I’d never seen anything like it, when in reality, it was all I’d seen for days.
“How long?” The respiratory therapist asked once again.”
She made it 5 minutes…10 minutes…15 minutes. The remaining 26 days in the NICU were a roller coaster ride that ended with the joy of seeing my granddaughter released from the hospital.
I still wear a copper bracelet on my wrist that my friend brought to the hospital in those first desperate days. It says, “expect miracles,” and here is the miracle….I have a little two year old granddaughter, named Sophia, who twirls that bracelet around and around my wrist and asks, “Nana, why’s you wears that?” Because of you, little miracle, because of you.