During this holiday season I want to share with all of you, the miracle of my youngest child, Annie.
I had a stillborn son in 1975, and was heartbroken. However, two years later, Annie was born, midst all the encouragement of my friends, my new doctor and a pediatrician, who was in the delivery room when she was born (at my request.) We all celebrated until two days later, when my pediatrician came into my room, closed the door and sitting at the end of my bed, told me gently that my precious Annie was born with no openings in her skull to make room for her brain to grow. Dr. Villa had ordered an emergency transfer to a large hospital 100 miles away
. I was devastated, and made immediate arrangements for her christening in my hospital room. Dr. Celso Backes, who had taken such pains to bring her into the world was named as her godfather and his wife, Anna, her godmother. There in my room, with my minister to guide us, Annie was baptized, tears streaming down my face, I kissed her and said goodbye as two doctors and two nurses took her away to begin her journey into the unknown.
I was told she would be operated on within the week to open her skull, ear to ear, to allow her brain to grow. The doctors told me she would have to have this procedure done for years until she was full grown. I cried, had my phone turned off, and withdrew into my own private cacoon, filled with guilt that I had brought her into the world to suffer.
Throughout that weekend, nine churches in our area banded together and formed 24 hour prayer chains.
The following Monday I received a call from a specialist at the larger hospital. She had taken x-rays of Annie's skull, and miraculously over the weekend, the openings had appeared. Dr. Villa still calls Annie his "miracle baby."
A week later, we traveled to Buffalo and brought our little angel home with us and for several weeks afterward, I took her to each of those churches to give thanks to everyone who had prayed for her.
In May of this coming year, Annie will graduate from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in communication.
During the last 21 years, she has been such a blessing to all her family and to others as well. Her story has been told and retold many many times, and brought hope to many families. The moral of this story is simple. Never give up hope, and remember that each child is placed in our care for a reason. My Annie is my inspiration to so many. I love her more as each day passes. And she has returned that love in full measure.
-- Shirlee Leete, Coudersport, Pennsylvania