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The Arrival of Sophie Elizabeth

By Dennis Rainey

Barbara and I witnessed a miracle last week. Some might say, “Ah, Dennis, that wasn’t really a miracle.” But respectfully, I disagree.

The miracle was the birth of Sophie Elizabeth, the third child of our daughter, Laura, and her husband Josh. Why do we consider this baby’s arrival to be a miracle? Because of our experience 14 years ago, when we experienced another baby’s birth, Molly Ann Mutz, to our daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Jake.

We weren’t prepared for what happened after Molly’s birth … from the moment she was born she began dying. Molly died of an extremely rare disorder: malformation of the Vein of Gallen.

We called her “Mighty Molly” because of the legacy she left. Molly’s brief life profoundly touched her mom and dad, both sets of grandparents, and Rebecca and Jake’s siblings.

It was a seven-day walk through the “valley of the shadow of death.”

I had the privilege of holding Molly on day seven. The baby’s oxygen level had been dropping all morning and by the time Rebecca placed her in my arms, it was sliding south of 80 percent. As I held her, Rebecca said, “Dad, why don’t you tell Molly a Speck story?”

When our six children were younger I’d created dozens of these Speck stories as I helped put them to bed. These stories were about tiny Speck kids and the adventures they faced. I tried to create life lessons that our kids could learn from and each of the stories was usually a cliffhanger… with the Speck kids facing a tough decision or a danger at the very end of the story. I always ended by saying, “And you’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to hear the rest of the story.”

So that day I told Molly a Speck story, knowing that “tomorrow night” her home would be heaven. In my story, I was taking a Speck girl out for ice cream. And as I held Molly I was awestruck with the irony of that moment … the sweetness of holding my granddaughter and the tragedy of the inevitable.

I don’t know what caused me to laugh, but as I was choking out the story I said something like, “And if Papa can stop sobbing like a baby I’ll finish this story.” I laughed and suddenly the room was filled with all our laughter.

I looked up at the monitor that measured Molly’s oxygen level and watched as it began to climb to 80 percent ... 85 percent ... As I laughed harder her oxygen soared past 90, 95, and finally 100 percent! We realized that Almighty God had given us a holy moment. A glimpse of heaven.

At that moment, I promised Molly that when I joined her in heaven I’d take her out and get plenty of ice cream.

Do you think we’ll laugh in heaven? I do. We have a Savior who defeated death. There is hope beyond the grave … it’s called heaven.

Perhaps we’ll laugh so hard that we’ll have tears of joy on our faces. I believe that true followers of Christ are the only ones who can laugh about death. We have the Savior who died for us and who defeated death so we can make heaven our permanent address.

After experiencing the loss of Molly with Jake and Rebecca, all the adults in our family stopped assuming a perfect birth for new grandchildren. Those who have lost a child after being born or as a result of a miscarriage truly understand how the impact of that event changes our perspective.

Every birth is indeed a miracle. And so it was as Laura gave birth on Monday, September 10, to a 7-pound, 13-ounce little girl named Sophie.

Barbara and I headed to the hospital as soon as we could visit. I gently kissed Laura on the forehead and told her that I was proud of her and glad she was in good health. Then, after waiting for an appropriate amount of time, I asked if I could hold little Sophie. Looking into her dark blue eyes, I silently offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God for her healthy arrival and for her mom as well.

Laura’s oldest child Lincoln, who is almost four, asks every day if his mama is healing. Emma Cate, 2, is already hard-wired with a mom’s DNA … she has held Sophie and even fed her.

Emma Cate is Sophie's little 'mother'!

Josh and Laura's fan club!

And Josh, a big-time Tennessee football fan, is looking for a “onesie” for Sophie that says, “In my lifetime, Tennessee has never lost to Alabama.”

We are still giving thanks for the miracle of birth! And laughing!!!

To God be the glory,

Papa and Mimi

Psalm 112:1-2

“In the midst of tragedy, we have hope. We can have joy and laughter in the midst of unspeakable pain.”

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