A couple and their premature twins witness to the sanctity of life at any age.
When I first talk with Makayla Darowski, she is holding her daughter on her lap in a pediatric hospital room, a place she has become all too familiar with since the birth of her twins, Adalynn and Caleb, in 2021.
Makayla and her husband, Scott, members of Shepherd of the Hills, Knoxville, Tenn., always knew they wanted children. Even as three years of marriage slipped by without a pregnancy, the Darowskis didn’t give up hope. “We prayed and prayed and prayed,” Makayla remembers.
When God said yes to their prayers it was a mixed blessing. Makayla battled such severe morning sickness she was forced to quit her job. “I wanted to be pregnant so badly but was miserable,” she says.
During a routine ultrasound, Makayla found out why. The doctor told her, “Mama, this is why you are so sick. Here is Baby A . . . and here is Baby B.” The Darowskis were thrilled. Even though God had them wait for years, he now had not one but two special blessings planned for them.
Ten weeks into her pregnancy, Makayla began to have bleeding issues. Knowing she was at risk for delivering her twins too early, the doctor advised Makayla to “let the babies go” and “try again.” Makayla was shocked—and angry. She knew her babies were God’s precious gift. Their lives were sacred. She quickly transferred to a different hospital to receive her prenatal care.
At 16 weeks, Makayla had a medical procedure to keep the babies from being born for as long as possible. At 22 weeks, now on full hospital bed rest, she knew that every hour, every day, would give her babies a better chance of survival.
At 22 weeks and 5 days, weighing a mere 14 ounces, Adalynn entered the world—four months early. The doctor didn’t think she would survive and was hesitant to take extreme measures to keep her alive. No baby born at 22 weeks had ever survived beyond a week at that hospital. But Makayla already knew that her daughter was a fighter and her survival was a miracle. After she heard Adalynn’s faint cry, Makayla told the doctor, “Do what you are supposed to do to save her.” Caleb arrived soon after, weighing 1 pound 3 ounces.
Ups and downs
After their first week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the twins, particularly Adalynn, continued to have serious health challenges. Medical staff were heartbreakingly open about their low chance of survival.
Scott Henrich, pastor at Shepherd of the Hills, prayed with the Darowskis during those bleak days. “Pastor Henrich shared Bible passages that God has a plan, even if we don’t know what that plan is,” Makayla recalls. “We might not accept that plan and we may be angry at him, but eventually we will find peace in it. He is going to be with us.”
Henrich gently assured Scott and Makayla that even if Adalynn and Caleb didn’t live, God would provide. God loved their babies even more than they did. No matter what the future held for the twins, Henrich spoke of the only kind of assurance that is rock-solid in this world: God’s love and promises.
But then a week went by, and another week, and then months as the twins continued to defy medical odds. Doctors were baffled. Makayla told them, “There is a stronger power than you, me, and anybody in this room. Only he knows what is meant to happen. I believe these babies were born to show that 22 weeks can be viable.”
Prayers and support
While Caleb has been more stable, Adalynn has struggled with health issues, including a chronic lung disease, a condition called pulmonary vein stenosis, and the need for open heart surgery, which she almost didn’t survive. In her first year of life, Adalynn spent a combined total of three weeks at home. The rest have been spent in specialty hospitals hours away.
Both Scott and Makayla are vocal about how their faith is sustaining them. “How would you go through this without faith?” wonders Makayla. The Darowskis also have the full support of their church family. “There are so many people on this journey with us,” Makayla marvels. “Our church has been there for us, praying for us, and letting us know that we are not alone.”
In addition to prayers, members have provided everything from gifts to meals to financial assistance with mounting medical bills and hotel stays by hospitals far from home. Their church family hasn’t just impacted the Darowski family; Adalynn and Caleb’s journey has impacted their church in return. “It has given us a target for our love that has brought us together,” says Henrich.
Makayla also has been amazed at the prayers and letters they have received from people throughout the world they don’t even know. In addition to continued prayers for her babies, she asks for prayers for all NICU babies and their families. She knows that prayer has made all the difference for Adalynn and Caleb.
Makayla admits she has had her share of angry conversations with God, the kind that ask, Why? But she knows her babies were born for a purpose. It has given her a way to be very open about her faith—and the Lord’s constant provision—with everyone she meets, including the medical professionals providing care for her children. She prays that the seeds of faith might be planted in those who are touched by Adalynn and Caleb and their improbable, miraculous story.
“There is a reason God puts his words in the mouths of real people because it has a different impact,” says Henrich. “It’s one thing for me to stand in the pulpit and say, ‘God will be with you always,’ and that’s true. But it’s another thing for a mother who doesn’t know if she will have her daughter a week from now to say that same thing.”
Treasuring each day
This isn’t a story with a neat, tidy ending. Although the twins continue to make progress, Makayla and Scott find themselves in an unthinkable situation. Because of Adalynn’s incurable pulmonary vein stenosis, doctors warn that she may not live past her fifth birthday.
Scott and Makayla are learning to live out Jesus’ words in Luke 12:25—“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”—through faith. They know God hears their prayers of anguish on the dark days and of thanksgiving for the precious gifts that only he can give and take away.
They also know that Adalynn has been a fighter from her first cry, reaching milestones she wasn’t expected to reach. Scott and Makayla are leaving their precious babies in God’s hands, which is easy to say but never easy to do. They are committed to treasuring each day, each breath. Makayla simply says, “These babies were God’s children before they were mine. They are children that he has shared with me.”
Author: Ann Jahns
Volume 110, Number 1
Issue: January 2023
- My Christian life: Premature twins defy medical odds - 2022/12/27
- My Christian life: When vocation and ministry collide - 2022/09/30
- Confessions of faith: Jason LeMay - 2022/06/30