When I asked Stephany Dailey if she would give me a few moments of her time for an interview, she responded not just with a yes, but also with an invitation to dinner. I wasn't surprised. Since arriving in Nashville to work with G.O.D. International in the fall of 2012, the Daileys have established a reputation as a couple that is quick to serve and eager to share both their table and their hearts with friends. I also knew that there was a joy – a triumph, even, in the possibility of extending an invitation that for the last year simply hasn’t been an option for them. Stephany and Grant were cautious to share their story with me at first; not because they did not want it heard, but because they recognized that their story is indeed special, needing to be told in a particular way, and thoroughly. They started, then, at the very beginning.
The Daileys learned that Steph was pregnant with her second child in early February, 2013. They joyfully announced the pregnancy with a series of comedic instagrams chronicling some very telling cravings. Seven weeks later, Stephany began to experience the symptoms of a miscarriage. She determined after some time not to visit the hospital, but to simply let the miscarriage take its course. Stephany knew from stories that she’d heard and her own experience that doctors could be quick to respond to miscarriages invasively. Not wanting to be pressured to have a D&C (dilation and curretage) procedure, she stayed home. After a few weeks with some extenuating symptoms, Stephany went in to get an ultrasound, just to check up. What she discovered astounded her.
“When I first arrived at my appointment … we went into the ultrasound process expecting a very different outcome. She turned the screen to me and said, "Well, I have some very good news for you. You still have a baby, and it's a boy!" I broke down into tears of sheer joy!
PRAISE the LORD, the giver and preserver of life!! I am so thankful for his nearness, his love, and his compassion.... which also comes through YOU, my family in Christ.” - Stephany, May 15, 2013
Stephany’s praise and thankfulness are reflected here in a post to the G.O.D. Community “socialcast”, a social network similar to facebook that functions as a vehicle for those involved with the organization to communicate, both practically and inspirationally, with one another. For the Daileys, their updates to the community via socialcast became a venue to express faith, seek prayer and support, and give thanks both to God and to their friends for the provision that is available when a group of people seek to live in such a way as to provide for one another’s needs.
One day, just weeks after receiving the news that she was still pregnant, Stephany discovered with alarm that she was leaking amniotic fluid, and no little amount of it. Recognizing this as a potential risk both for her and the baby, Stephany was quickly admitted to the hospital. Doctors there prepared the Daileys for the worst-case scenario, explaining that due to the large amount of amniotic fluid that she was leaking, a miscarriage was highly likely, and the best course of action would be to induce labor, effectively aborting her pregnancy. This was a poignant moment for both Stephany and Grant. Reflecting on the moment, her voice laden with emotion, Stephany remembers: “I just remember hearing them saying this as I listened to the heartbeat of my son, beating so, so strong.”
Grant and Stephany took the night to pray and consider the advice of the doctors. They spoke with Megan Fleeman, a childbirth educator and doula who spent much of this season by Stephany’s side. They consulted with other doulas and childbirth educators whose experience extended beyond the realm of the hospital walls. The next day, Stephany told the doctors she would be going home until she could return to the hospital when she had reached 24 weeks. Because of the legal issue of viability, it would only be at 24 weeks that the hospital could fight for the life of the baby should he arrive early. Legally, if the baby were to be born in the hospital prior to that time, the doctors could not fight to keep him alive.
Although Stephany told the doctors she intended to do everything possible to preserve her baby’s life, she was still told to go home and carry on with life as usual. She explained that life as usual involved chasing around a highly active toddler, but this information produced no change in recommendation. Against the advice of her doctors, Stephany went on strict bed rest. She and Grant appealed to both their community and family for help, and were surrounded by friends who offered meals and child care around the clock.
At 24 weeks, Stephany returned to the hospital where she and the baby could be more closely monitored. Not long after, when the possibility for a uterine infection was discovered, she was immediately prepared for a C-section delivery. On August 14, Simon Hesed was brought into the world, just over 3 months too soon.
“Our boy was born at 8:15 last night. Weighing in at a solid 2lbs 3oz, this little dude is a fighter. He kicked the doctors while they operated, and pushed back against the nurses as they prepped him in NICU. We named him Simon Hesed, testifying to the reality that The Lord "has heard" our cries and prayers, and has responded with "steadfast love" and faithfulness… We know that our God has acted throughout this time to preserve and save, and we know that he has an incredible plan and purpose for this child.” – Grant, August 15, 2013
Tiny Simon Hesed was born at 27 weeks old. When his father reflected on his birth, Grant remembers the insecurity of the moment. “We had no idea how developed he would be, at that point. It was scary.” Upon emerging into the world, Simon was immediately placed on a ventilator and in an incubator. Though his lungs were developed, his chest was concave and he was unable to breathe on his own. His eyes, not yet fully developed, were immediately covered with protective goggles, which also protected them from the UV light that shone on his skin to treat it for jaundice. Stephany would not be able to hold Simon for two weeks. Neither she nor Grant were permitted to touch or stroke Simon’s skin for fear that it would peel off, it was so thin.
Three days after her c-section delivery, Stephany was released from the hospital to go home. Simon would stay in the hospital for 108 days, “catching up” to what would have been his projected due date.
For the Daileys, each of these days would become a test. They dealt with the constant tension of their need to exhibit faith, wisdom and discernment, and yet their constant subjection to the wisdom so confidently offered by doctors that literally held their son in their hands. Their story, from this point on, is best told in their own words, words that resonate with faith. Their daily decision to believe was not just made privately, but proclaimed to their community, and to the world through the decisions they made on Simon’s behalf.
“This is going to be a long road, with the potential that Simon will be in the hospital for 2-3 months. But we are reminded that we live in the present moment, rather than being anxious about what will come in the days and weeks and months to follow.
“Continue to pray for Simon as he grows and develops. His breathing is getting better, his skin color improving, and all his other body systems are catching up. It will just take time. Every day is a testimony to the goodness of God. We spend a lot of time thanking and praising God. I often reflect on the Biblical claim that the wisdom of God makes the wisdom of the world foolish. It seemed wise in the eyes of every doctor to give up and let our unborn son die. It is the Word of God that calls us to preserve life, to believe, and to trust in the God that saves.” – Grant, August 18, 2013
"The Lord answers prayers! Though Simon has a machine pushing air in his lungs, it is The Lord that has breathed life into his body. We know that claiming Jesus is Lord takes tremendous faith in this world. But, despite the bleak deference of the world to the contrary, HE IS LORD! Steph and I walked by the triage room yesterday where doctors first explained to us all that was happening, with the 'wise' counsel to induce and let everything run its course. But we want to be faithful to the way that God has given us in Jesus because, though "it is foolishness to those who are perishing...to us who are being saved it is the power of God." – Grant, August 21, 2013
“Simon is Ok. Actually, he is more than OK. This is becoming a recurrent theme during this season of life: Doctors and Nurses call with what should be incredibly serious and potentially harmful news: "your son tested positive for a super bug," "your son's lung collapsed," "you will have to wean your daughter since she could contaminate your milk supply." Yet, in spite of all this 'bad' news, Simon is fine. It's like he's walking on water when he should be drowning.”
– Grant, August 29, 2013
"Simon is resplendent today! He now weighs 4lbs 4oz! He is able to have his isolate top popped, is wearing clothes, and able to maintain his body temp. They have reduced his oxygen levels quite a bit, and he seems very happy and comfortable with it. Tomorrow were gonna start infant massage classes with him and very shortly will start to incorporate non- nutritive breastfeeding. Ahhh. I'm so happy I could cry!! He is just a few steps and weeks from coming home. Praise the Lord for his goodness!!
Also, If ever you doubted that The LORD heals, this story proves you wrong! And in light of all the sickness overseas I wanted to encourage you all to continue to have faith. The Lord is truly with us and will not forget us."
– Stephany, September 29, 2013
“When can Simon come home? The short answer to the question is "We don't know." The long answer is, "We don't know, because these criteria are quite subjective and require a lot of effort on our part and Simon's." He is so big but still so little. Breathing and swallowing are very hard and cause him to "spell" often (Simon's spells were related to sleep apnea, in which he would stop breathing, turn blue, start coding and need rescuscitation. That happened several times.) Sometimes he breastfeeds like a champ; other times he latches and then falls asleep. It could be a month, it could be longer.”
– Grant, October 20, 2013
On November 22, 2013, Simon Dailey left the hospital, his “home” of nearly 3 months. In the months since, he has not experienced a single complication or spell. He is healthy and hearty. We rejoice with the Dailey family that just as they believed He would, and testified with their words, God heard their cries, and responded, with Simon Hesed.
Interview Written and Conducted by Sara Davis