I was 20 weeks pregnant when my husband and I received the news—the baby inside of me was a girl!
We could finally begin picking out paint colors, names, and dream of what our little princess would be like. Married for two years and working in full-time ministry with children at risk, we could hardly wait for our own little one to arrive.
Alexa and Jake were married in 2012 (Image Courtesy of Jones Family)
Three short weeks later, I found myself in a Texas Labor and Delivery hospital room, in complete shock, hearing words come out of my OB’s mouth like “incompetent cervix” and “possible lost pregnancy.”
Immediately the nurses began administering IV’s and medications to accelerate the maturation of the baby’s lungs and brain, as well as others to prolong labor for as long as possible.
It was hardly registering for my husband and me. I was barely halfway into my pregnancy; was I really going to have this baby? The ultrasound had shown that my baby weighed less than a pound and a half. There was still hope, however. A specialist would evaluate me the following morning and decide if he could stitch my cervix shut or not. Though the chances were slim, we held on to that hope and prayed with every bit of faith we had!
After a dreadfully long night, the high-risk pregnancy specialist arrived and delivered the news: things had gone from bad to worse. Not only was my cervix too thin to stitch shut, but I was at a very high risk for infection. He was going to recommend to my doctor that they empty the uterus for my own safety.
Image Courtesy of Pexels
What I had feared most was now becoming our reality. But the words “empty the uterus” honestly confused me. Were they just giving up on my baby’s life completely? Was there nothing they could do? My heart sunk and I fell into my husband’s arms in total and complete agony.
Suddenly the nurse came rushing back into the room—the specialist had made a mistake.
He hadn’t realized that on that very day I was 23 weeks pregnant, and not 22 weeks. Legally, now, they were obligated to do everything in their power to save the baby. Very cynically, however, the specialist warned us that it was not a viable fetus, and had a very slim chance of survival.
At that point, we honestly didn’t care about what anyone said—one day had just saved our baby’s life. We knew that nothing and no one else but God could have set that up, and we were filled with more faith than ever to pray LIFE over this child.
Born at 23 weeks, Ava was beautiful… and barely larger than a hand (Photo Courtesy of Alexa Rae Jones)
Not only that, but weeks earlier through prayer we had chosen a name for her: Ava Joy. The Hebrew meaning of Ava is LIFE.
We felt so strongly that this was the Lord’s will for her, and that entire day we sat in the hospital room, enjoying the joyful, peaceful presence of the Lord, declaring life over her with our family.
That night Ava Joy arrived: 1 pound, 6.2 ounces, 12 inches long, pink translucent skin, and crying. There was an abundance of joy that filled the delivery room, and we had so much hope for what the Lord could do. The neonatologist who resuscitated her at birth recorded her as being “vigorous with good respiratory effort.” She was immediately transported to the NICU, where she would continue to develop for the next four months.
Though tiny and frail to look at, our baby girl amazed us and the doctors daily. She wanted to live, and she fought with every ounce of strength in her being. I would have given anything to have her back in the safety of a womb, but it was truly miraculous to see her development with our very own eyes.
We literally watched her skin form, her eyes open for the first time, and we saw her feisty personality coming out as she kicked and hit away at the nurses when they had to inject her with needles. We admired her perfectly formed fingers, toes, ears and nose.
Photo Courtesy of Alexa Rae Jones
She was fully human, just smaller than we had ever seen before in our lives. Four months later, Ava Joy came home with us as a completely healthy baby with a minor case of reflux.
When I consider the current debate in Washington over the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act—which bans abortions after a baby’s 20th week of development—all I can picture is Ava Joy at 23 weeks, or even younger, being forcefully removed from the safety and protection of my womb. I know she would be fighting for her life, just like I saw her do every day in that incubator.
The thing is, Ava Joy didn’t become a human being overnight when she became 23 weeks gestational age. People just chose to acknowledge her life at that point. These babies want to live, and they need people who will fight for them when they are not given the opportunity.
Alexa Jones is a graduate of International House of Prayer University in Grandview, Missouri. She and her husband Jake live in Juarez, Mexico, serving as ministry staff at Youth With A Mission and raising Ava Joy.