Our Story

Alayna’s Story: How Praise & Pray Began

This is the story of Jared and Lacy Taylor and their NICU journey with their daughter Alayna. Alayna was due to join us on May 17, 2009. God (and Alayna) had different plans and she born 15 weeks early on January 31, 2009.

Lacy began feeling some pain on Friday night (January 30) around 10:00. We were at her sister’s house for dinner and were about to head home. When we got in the car she said she was hurting in her stomach so I asked if it was just something she ate and she said no. She said it was something different than that. We went home and went on to bed thinking it would just go away through the night.

She woke up around 3:30 in pain again but she didn’t wake me up. She went into the den and looked up contractions on the computer to see what it felt like since she had never been pregnant before. She read some things that made her think it might be contractions but she just didn’t want to believe it. She read something online that said to take a warm shower and see if the pain subsides so that’s what she did. At this point I still didn’t wake up. She dried her hair and everything and I was still sound asleep.

Lacy got back in bed about 4:00 and as she was laying there she moaned and I heard her. I rolled over and asked what was wrong and she said she was hurting. I asked her what she wanted me to do and she said she didn’t know what to do. I asked if she needed to go to the hospital and she said she didn’t know. Then I asked if she had felt Alayna kick lately and she said no. So I told her, “I know the first thing we need to do.” So I grabbed her by the hand and began to pray. Here is where the story comes to life. I don’t remember anything of what I prayed except this. During the middle of my prayer I said, “And Alayna, if everything is going to be OK I need you to kick for your mom and dad.” Then I finished my prayer. About 60 seconds later she kicked hard. Lacy said, “Jared, she just kicked.”

At this point we still didn’t know what to do so I grabbed the computer and started looking for answers myself. I finally diagnosed it as Braxton Hicks, which are small contractions which prepare your body for the real thing. Some people even call it false labor. We decided it was Braxton Hicks and we were going back to bed. Lacy was going to go to the bathroom and then come back to bed. She stepped out of the bathroom and said she was passing blood so we decided it was time to go.

She asked me as we headed for the door whether she needed clothes and make up and I said, “Baby, we not having this baby today!” This whole time we were thinking even if she was in labor they would stop it and we would come back home. Lacy had a maternity fair and a shower to go to. And I had a softball tournament I was playing in at noon.

When we got to the hospital they sent us to a room in triage and the nurse began to do a test that would give us an indication of whether she would go into labor in the next 2 weeks (little did we know we were already in labor). Then the nurse checked to see if Lacy was dilated. The nurse didn’t give us any indication as to what she was thinking. She just said she would call the doctor and let her come see us. Dr. Ellis came in and checked her just like the nurse did. Except Dr. Ellis told us that she was fully dilated and all she could feel was the fluid sac and Alayna’s feet. Not only that, but Alayna was breech. She said she would need to do a C-section immediately.  I made 5 quick phone calls while Lacy was prepped for surgery. Within 15 minutes we were in the operating room.

I was able to watch as Alayna was born at 7:50 AM. She came out feet first and it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. When Dr. Ellis handed her to the nurse she moved her arms and legs and let out a very quick, faint cry. That was music to our ears. Lacy was able to hear it too.  This then began our 14 weeks in the NICU.

I decided that our best option to keep down phone calls, texts, and emails would be to come up with some way to keep everyone informed of Alayna’s progress without having to contact everyone individually.  I decided that the best platform for that was to create a CaringBridge website.  I used this website to tell Alayna’s story, ask for prayer requests, and most importantly to tell others about Jesus.  I didn’t know it at the time but this would be one of our most powerful witnessing tools, and also the beginning of a ministry.

The NICU is one of those places where until you have a child in there or know someone who does, you really have no idea that it even exists.  We found out very quickly that it is a very real place with very real people.  Our experience at the Spartanburg Regional NICU was nothing short of first class.  The nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists there are some of the most amazing, loving people we have ever met.  Those people, prayers, and the grace of God were the only way we could have ever made it through the journey.

Alayna was born 1 pound 12 ounces and about 12 inches long.  Other than spending some time under bilirubin lights to get rid of jaundice, she did quite well for the most part over the first three days.  She would spend several days on the ventilator, then several days off.  They tell you when you get to the NICU that it will be a roller coaster ride of changes and emotions, and they aren’t joking.  Then after a week or so we were told that she had a heart murmur and if it didn’t correct itself that she would have to have a heart procedure done to fix it.  The first course of action though was to treat it with Ibuprofen.  They gave her the first 3 dose course of the drug and it didn’t work.  They told us they would try another dose and if it didn’t work, then they would do the procedure.  We prayed that it would work and it did.

When the heart issue cleared up, Alayna put her NICU stay on cruise control.  She got to a point where she was sustaining herself off the vent and eventually got to where they were continuously upping her feedings, turning off her temperature in her incubator, putting clothes on her, and we were regularly holding her (kangaroo care).  Her weight had gotten up to 3 pounds 2 ounces and that was all good weight.  Everything was great and we were rolling right along through this NICU stay.

Around this time our motto on CaringBridge became Praise & Pray!  The idea was to continue to pray for God’s grace, mercy, and love to be poured out on Alayna, but more importantly praise Him for prayers answered and for everything He was doing for us.  Little did we know this would stick as well as it did.  We also had no idea the trials that were about to come our way or how much our faith would be tested.

On March 16 we received a call from our nurse that Alayna was going back on the vent because she had been dropping her oxygen more than usual.  We knew that there would be a chance she would go back on the vent but she had been off for several weeks so we were hoping that she would be able to stay off for good.

We went in to see her that morning but to our surprise she was swollen.  They had cut her temperature back up in her incubator and had stopped all her feedings and put her back on IV fluids.  We just thought that she had gotten tired of having to breathe on her own and keep up her oxygen.  There were so many different things she had to do on her own, we just thought she was worn out and would recover in a few days.  Unfortunately things began to worsen.  One day her heart rate jumped over 200 beats per minute and they couldn’t get it to go back down.  The swelling continued and within a week she had gone from 3 pounds 2 ounces to 6 pounds 10 ounces, and that was all fluid weight.

Later that week we thought we had found the source of all the problems when it was discovered that there was a tear in her stomach.  They called in the pediatric surgeon and the surgery was a great success.  Looking back we realize that was only one small problem in a long line of other problems.  With all the fluid in her body, her kidneys were unable to work fast enough and her kidneys began to fail.  With all the swelling, this caused her incision where her surgery had taken place to open back up so the surgeon had to come back in and do a revision to the site of her incision.  It seemed that there was just one problem after another and we couldn’t find a solution.

It finally got to the point where Alayna had so much fluid that her lungs began to be constricted and she was having trouble breathing.  They did regular checks of her blood gases to be sure they were in normal ranges and that her blood was not becoming too acidic.  One particular blood gas was really bad and they told us we needed to come up there immediately.  On the phone we were told that if her blood gases didn’t get better quickly then she wasn’t going to make it.  When we got to the hospital we were informed that fluid had begun to leak out of her incision on her stomach.  We were assured that this was not something that was supposed to happen, it just happened.  As more and more fluid leaked from her belly, her blood gases got to normal.  It was one of those things where you could see God’s hand at work.  Everyone just stood there and watched something that wasn’t supposed to happen, happen.

This was one of several miracles that we saw with Alayna.  Something similar happened two days later except this time, no fluid leaked from her belly.  As we watched blood gas after blood gas get worse, we called our parents and told them to come up to the hospital, that things didn’t look good.  Before we knew it there was about 30 family members in the waiting room.  We all held hands and stood in a circle and prayed aloud, one after another.  When we finished praying we went back into the unit and the very next blood gas was normal.  This was just more proof of the power of God.

The roller coaster continued several weeks later when we walked into the unit and about 5 seconds after we walked in, she began to drop her heart rate.  We watched as it continuously went down to nothing.  The nurses and doctors worked with her and tried to resuscitate her for about 30 minutes and we had come to the conclusion that it was over when the doctor came walking over towards us.  He told us that he could continue this all night but at some point serious brain damage was going to occur.  He gave us three options at that point: 1) continue with chest compressions, 2) stop chest compressions and let her go, or 3) stop compressions and we could sit down and hold our baby girl as she passes.  After a few minutes of discussion we decided that we had watched her suffer enough and we would just hold her one last time.  As we sat down, I had a “clinging cross” in my hand that my brother had given me.  As the nurse picked up Alayna to hand her to us, we all looked up to find that her heart rate had jumped to 130 beats per minute.  This was just one more miracle that God had in store.

Since Alayna’s kidneys were failing, the doctor had one more suggestion and that was to do peritoneal dialysis.  This is a form of dialysis where a solution is run into the abdominal cavity and the fluid from the body is pulled off.  The hope is that you pull off more fluid than you put in and eventually we would be able to get the fluid down and get her kidneys functioning again.  This worked in pulling off fluid but her kidneys never regained function.  Not only did her kidneys not regain function but her liver began to fail as well.  We were told that she had developed a condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and this would ultimately cause her death.  This is a condition where your blood clots when it’s not supposed to and doesn’t clot when it is supposed to.  Her condition began to worsen and on the morning of May 9, 2009 our sweet little Alayna went to be with her Lord.

For 99 days, Alayna’s light shined for all to see.  Though she never left her hospital bed in the NICU at Spartanburg Regional her impact reached much farther than we could have ever imagined.  We watched as there was over 100,000 visits to our CaringBridge website.  We watched prayer lives grow, relationships strengthen, lives rededicate to the Lord, and we saw people come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The question is asked so many times why a precious little baby like Alayna would pass away so young and to be quite honest, I don’t have an answer.  You see, that’s one of those questions that I would have to ask God when I get to heaven.  The only thing is, when I get to heaven, I will be reunited with my baby girl and it won’t matter why.  All I know is there are people that I will get to see in heaven who are there because of Alayna and what she went through.  Maybe her job here was complete.

When we first thought of the idea to do a NICU ministry our first thought was what we would call the ministry.  We bounced around several ideas but the best one I heard came from my brother when he suggested Praise & Pray Ministries.  What a fitting name.