HOUSTON - “Every day in the NICU is a roller coaster. Every breath Ansley takes is precious. The last six days have been the scariest of my life.”
Ansley came into the world at 24 weeks. The tiny micro premie had to fight from day one.
Disappointment, determination and faith
Like many women, Kelly Geenawalt always dreamed of being a mother. When she married Chuck Greenawalt 20 years ago, the young couple looked forward to the day they would have children.
Fast forward to 2017, and the Greenawalts are the proud parents of six children, including 3-month-old Ansley.
"We couldn't even believe it. Every single minute, we were like, 'I can't believe this is real,'” Kelly said.
"We found out in July she was pregnant, and it was just a shock, and ever since that day, we looked at each other and have been like, 'Can you believe we're pregnant?'” Chuck said.
The journey that got them here is what sets them apart.
Chuck and Kelly were told early in their marriage that they were both infertile. The doctors said they had less than a one-percent chance of conceiving without IVF.
After the initial disappointment, the Greenawalts were determined to have their family – one way or another.
In 2003, they adopted Travis as a newborn. Clay, a toddler, was adopted a year later, also through a private agency.
When the boys were 5 and 6, the Greenawalts said God called them to be foster parents.
“We fostered 10 children and were blessed to adopt two of them,” Kelly said. "Never in a million years did we think our family would be as big and beautiful as it is."
Kaia was a 2-day-old premie when she joined the growing family. Sister Calista came next, just after her first birthday.
“Our family was complete, or so we thought,” Kelly said. “God had other plans.”
Baby “Roo” was the son of a family member’s friend. The Greenawalts were asked to take him for a few weeks last February. But weeks turned into months, and they are now his legal guardians.
'Surprise of a lifetime'
When “Roo” was 5 months old, Kelly got “the surprise of a lifetime.” Despite all odds, Kelly was pregnant.
“No one was more shocked, or surprised, or delighted than us,” Kelly remembered.
The pregnancy wasn’t easy.
Kelly had extreme morning sickness and painful ovarian cysts.
“Even so, we were rejoicing,” she said.
Ansley was due on March 17. Kelly’s heart sank when she went into labor on November 18 at only 23 weeks. Thankfully, doctors were able to stop it. But only for 13 days.
On December 1, Kelly went into labor again. This time, it was an emergency. Ansley was breech, her amniotic sac was bulging and her tiny feet were already outside Kelly’s cervix. Kelly was rushed into the operating room for a C-section.
Ansley came into the world at 24 weeks. She weighed only 1 pound, 12 ounces and was 13 inches long.
The tiny micro premie had to fight from day one.
“Ansley was such a sick little peanut!” Kelly said.
She had brain bleeds, chronic lung disease, kidney reflux, infections and more.
“Our daughter is fighting for her life,” Kelly posted on Facebook. “We feel so helpless. But … and this is a big but… God is still God! He loves us. He loves her. The only thing we can do is lean on him.”
The Greenawalts shared their journey on a Facebook page called “And then came Ansley.”
“When fear creeps in and says, ‘She won’t make it,’” God whispers, ‘Remember who I am.’ When my heart is so broken that I don’t even have the words to pray, God whispers ‘I’ve got this!’”
Despite her size, Ansley was feisty and strong from day one, her mother said. She has overcome one huge obstacle after another.
“She is truly a miracle girl - from conception and beyond.”
"She was really on the edge of viability, which meant she could have survived or not,” said Dr. Jayne Finkowski, Medical Director of The Woman’s Hospital of Texas NICU. “A lot has amazed me about the family, in the sense that they are always there for their Ansley.”
After more than 100 days in the NICU at Women’s Hospital of Texas, Ansley, now 7 pounds, is expected to go home Tuesday.
“God has been so good to us! Our house is one full of miracles,” Kelly said. “We believe that God will reveal his glory again through our little, tiny miracle girl.”
"Faith is real, God is real, and miracles can definitely happen,” Chuck said.