Bringing Gabrielle Home
By Dory Nissen
The 700 Club
Christmas 2003 was a happy time for Jeremiah and Rachel Johnson. The long plane ride from California to Nebraska to visit family was well worth it. Rachel was 6 months pregnant with their second child.
Rachel says, “We had a great Christmas. We had a great time. Nothing was wrong at all. I felt great. We felt the plane ride had gone real smooth and we were very excited to be home.”
Their Christmas joy came to an abrupt halt the next day when Rachel went into labor nearly 3 months early.
Rachel remembers, “They did an ultrasound showed there was no amniotic fluid. And at that instant the whole room went into chaos.”
Jeremiah adds, “I walked in, I threw on the scrubs. Boom, I was immediately in the room. They were calling for the individual who would do the section and surgery. I was almost numb at that point because everything was happening so fast.”
Gabrielle faith was born at 29 weeks and 6 days. She only weighed only 3 pounds three ounces.
Rachel recalls, “It was hard to see her. There were so many lights, and so many machines, and so many ivs in every part of her. And I thought, “there’s my baby”, who was supposed to be born and then swaddled and then handed to me. And here she is on a table and we had no idea, no idea what was wrong with her.”
Doctors began battling for Gabrielle’s life. The first step was to test for bleeding on the brain, which could cause physical and mental disabilities.
The plea for prayer went out.
Jeremiah says, “Even though things looked so horribly initially. I never felt like I was going to break down. I just didn’t. I know God was with me and I knew people were praying for me.”
Gabrielle’s brain test came back normal.
Rachel says, “To know that she was ok after all the trauma that she had been through in the womb was a big relief. We just thanked the lord that she had passed her first test if you will. Her first big hurdle had been cleared.”
But Gabrielle’s challenges were far from over. Thousands of miles from home, the Johnsons started down a confusing path of medical jargon, beeping monitors, and endless trips to
The hospital. It wasn’t long before Rachel was overwhelmed.
“I talked to one of my friends and she said you need to rest on the prayers that everyone else is praying”. And I thought “that is so good because we had been strong for everybody else and now it was our turn to just rest and know that God is in control. And people are praying and God’s will was being done.”
Jeremiah recalls, “It really is amazing to see how people respond. I was the one dealing with tragedy and I needed everyone.”
Gabrielle’s next big hurdle was getting off the ventilator. Her doctors wanted to avoid long-term lung problems by weaning her off within the first week. But after three weeks Gabrielle’s oxygen levels still were not high enough to breathe on her own.
Rachel says, “I said “you know what? I’m going to have every I know pray at the same time.” So I called all my friends I knew and sent email to everyone I knew and said, “This girl has got to get off ventilator. I will not accept that she will have asthma and all these things her whole life. I won’t accept that and we are going to pray.”
Families came together, bible studies met, and people called every prayer line available including CBN’s prayer counseling center.
“So we knew that that prayer had been received and that prayer had been heard. And we knew that there were people all over the world praying for our daughter.”
That night, tiny Gabrielle pulled out her ventilator tube. The nurse called Rachel with the news that Gabrielle was breathing on her own.
Jeremiah states, “I believe that night, that moment, was all a result of our prayers and the word of God combining together over her life.”
Nearly two months later, the medical team felt confident the\s could take care of Gabrielle on their own. But on the flight home, Gabrielle stopped breathing.
“I grabbed the flight attendant and I said, “I don’t know if you know CPR but my baby is not breathing. And she looks down at the baby and she went immediately to the intercom and said if there is any medical personnel to please come forward.”
A surgeon and an EMT were on board. In disbelief, Rachel watched them grab an oxygen mask from the overhead compartments and start chest compressions. Then the plane went in for an emergency landing to Reno Nevada.
Rachel says, “Two people had given us scriptures “you will live and not die and declare the wonders of God”. And I spoke that out loud on the airplane “you will live and not die and declare the wonders of God”. I kept saying it over and over. And I said ‘we have not gone through the last two months to come on an airplane and lose her on an airplane!”
Gabrielle was resuscitated and rushed to a nearby hospital. Doctors determined that her medical emergency happened because the oxygen on the plane was thinner than she was used to. A few weeks in Reno and several tests later. Gabrielle came home. Her first Christmas, one day shy of one year old, was another day the Johnson’s thanked God for his faithfulness. And they’ve enjoyed many merry Christmas’s since. Including their first “white Christmas” when the Johnson’s moved from California to Sioux Falls South Dakota. Gabriel continued to grow up with no health problems. And this year, she and Zoe are big sisters to twin brothers as the Johnsons welcome two new members to the Family.
“God is so faithful. And he knows what he’s doing even to us when it’s chaos. God answered every single prayer. He was there every day, and he was so faithful.”
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