Those that say that miracles don’t exist anymore, have not had the privilege to bear witness to the life of little, Jayden Woodson, for his amazing life can be described as nothing less than miraculous.
In utero, baby boy, Jayden was diagnosed as having hydrocephalus or fluid on his brain, and the decision was made that after his birth a shunt would be placed to drain the fluid so that he could live as normal a life as possible. A harrowing several days after his birth, the doctors were shocked to discover that their diagnosis had not been accurate….he did not in fact have fluid on his brain–he instead had fluid filling the cavity where his brain should have been also known as hydranencephaly. His family was given the devastating news that perfectly plump little Jayden, was born without a brain and that he was functioning on the reflexes of his brain stem which is what pumps the heart, regulates breathing, etc. They were instructed to say their goodbyes to Jayden, who although already on a respirator, would most likely not last through the night.
I was leading a meeting for Journey, when Jayden’s Grandmother sent me the news. It was through leading this ministry of Journey, for young teen through college age moms, that I had met Jayden’s mom, Erica, the previous year when she had begun to faithfully attend our group. After the meeting came to a close, we rushed to wrap things up so that my co ministry leader and dear friend, Juli and I, could make our way to the hospital.
We could hear Erica’s sobs before we got to the door of her room as she clutched her sweet baby in her arms. We had both spent hours in this room with them before, but this time was so very different. There were no words to describe the heart break that hung in the air as this beautiful strong mama held this perfect looking little baby and faced letting go of him forever. So, we prayed. I honestly don’t remember any of I said except that it felt inadequate as I stumbled over all the words. Upon this baby’s birth, he had been given into God’s hands and there was no better place for him to be.
Even in the days before this difficult diagnosis and especially in the days afterwards, it became incredibly clear that God had a special plan for Jayden and that each day of his life was a living testimony of God’s miraculous powers. Jayden survived that awful night and seemed to make a sport out of defying doctor’s expectations. When doctor’s said that he couldn’t feel or respond to touch, it soon became very apparent that he did indeed respond to touch and particularly reaching out to feel his mother. Soon specialists’ reversed their stance on this. For the longest time, his eyes were shut and when he opened them up after days and days of closure it was a rare treat, but that was tempered with the news that he was supposed to never be able to hear or see. Somehow, weeks later, tests revealed that even supposedly without a brain, he had some sight in his eyes and response to sound. Science did not yet have all the answers, but God did. God had perfectly formed Jayden and made each part of him–no part of him was an accident. Psalm 139:13-16 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
The baby that doctor’s predicted would not survive that night, fought on. He grew bigger and stronger and celebrated his 1 week birthday, then 1 month birthday, then more. The doctors didn’t think that he would ever be able to come off the ventilator and be able to breath on his own, but sure enough he did it and with feeding tube in place, was able to leave the hospital was able to go home and be with his family. Over the course of his little life, we had prayed for so many things: peace and comfort for his family, miracles in his life, and most of all that the Lord’s will be done in the entire situation. The name Jayden means “God has heard” and though not always in the way or the timing that we wanted, God heard our prayers. Jayden’s journey continued to be miraculous and the news of his story spread throughout our community.
As Jayden grew, even at home, he needed round the clock intensive care, and his family all pitched in to attend to his specialized medical needs. His mother Erica, is one of the strongest women I know. She advocated for Jayden’s care and rallied the support of those around her. Totally devoted to her baby, she balanced the difficult task of caring for an infant with specialized needs, while being mommy to a precocious and adorable toddler as well. Understanding the need for Erica to be with her infant, her fiance often sacrificed his own time with them to keep their toddler busy away from the hospital as well as work at his job to provide the means for their practical needs. Erica’s siblings, father, and extended family and friends pitched in. Erica’s mom, Jayden’s Grandmother, was Erica’s source of strength throughout, as well, tying the family together and relaying communication to me and other friends and family.
Unfortunately, due to various complex health situations, Jayden was often in the hospital. A simple virus could turn life threatening in an instant for him and each hospital stay, became longer and more life threatening. However, this made each time spent at home more precious and more dear.
This weekend, Jayden, was once again admitted to the hospital and once again the constant fear prevailed that he might not make it home again. Tuesday, I was able to visit with Erica and Jayden. Jayden was stable at that time, but he was definitely in a precarious situation. Erica and I sat and talked as we usually did when I visited–we talked a lot about anything and everything. She is hilarious and not afraid to be real. She is one of those people that is so easy to talk to and her strength and love just shines through. Towards the end of my visit, I was able to pray over Jayden. I placed my hand on him and prayed a prayer over him and then prayed words of scripture over Erica from Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I rubbed Jayden’s soft, chubby arm, his little face, his hair, hugged Erica, and felt this overwhelming feeling that in the life of this precious baby we had all been given a front seat to witnessing something miraculous.
As I walked out of the PICU, I shared with Erica what a privilege it was to witness the miracle of Jayden’s life and her face lit up as she shared about another recent victory in Jayden’s life–his smile. Jayden had recently begun to smile–not just a reflexive smile, but a reactive smile. Somehow, this little miracle, who doctors said nothing was possible for, was doing the impossible. He was smiling in response to his Mommy and Daddy. This was a victory and a reminder that what man deemed impossible, God made possible, and was doing so in the life of precious, Jayden. Therefore, whether at home or in the hospital, whether healthy or sick, whether hooked up to a myriad of machines or not, Jayden was right where he belonged–he was resting in the arms of his Heavenly Father who had a definite plan for his life how long or how short that may be.
The day I began writing this, I received a call from Jayden’s Grandmother saying that Jayden’s precious life on earth had ended, as he was carried into Heaven in the arms of Jesus. However, Jayden’s miraculous story was about to take it’s biggest turn yet. His parents made the brave decision to donate his organs to others so that his amazing legacy could carry onward and he was kept on life support until that time. Throughout the day, people prayed for him, said their good bye’s, and through a variety of circumstances the team who would be gathering the organs scheduled time got moved back to the end of that day, then to the following morning, and finally to the following evening. Although the family did not want to say a final goodbye to their precious boy, every time the organ donation got moved back it was an exhausting and emotionally draining occurrence, yet they trusted that God somehow had a reason for it. That reason soon became evident when a mere few hours before donation was to take place, Jayden, had opened his eyes and started to look around. His medical counts/numbers began to show improvement and he was reacting to sounds around him.
I happened to arrive at the hospital at the exact moment that Erica was texting me with this news and I was unsure of what to think. I didn’t know if this was something reflexive that happens typically on life support and didn’t want to get my hopes up, so I approached the situation with caution. Erica was coming out of the PICU by the time I saw her and she told me that Jayden’s eyes had opened, he had grasped her hand, and seemed to be improving. I asked her what it meant and although still weary of the doctor’s cautions, it was evident that she knew that Jayden was still there and trying to tell her that he was ready to live out yet another miracle.
After visiting with the family for a little while, I went back to the PICU to see Jayden, the image of him from Tuesday fresh in my mind. On Tuesday, he hadn’t been moving, his eyes had been firmly closed, and he didn’t react to the voices around him. That had been just one day before I got the call that his time on earth had ended. This time, when Erica and I entered his room and went over to his bed, as soon as I began to talk to him, he opened his eyes wider than I have ever seen them open and he turned his head straining toward the sound of my voice. If I stopped speaking, his eyes would flutter shut, but they would open wide immediately upon the sound of my voice again. Erica was taking pictures during this time and the pictures that she took turned out beautifully. The one that I like best is one that she took as I stroked his head, he heard her voice, smiled the biggest smile and opened his eyes just as wide as can be. I am not sure that I would not have truly believed such a miracle could have occurred had I not seen it myself, but the change in that little boy’s condition was miraculous and there were many witnesses there that day to see it and marvel at what an amazing work that God had done in little Jayden’s life.
All those who have been privileged to see, hear, or be a part of the life of this baby in the six amazing months that Jayden has lived so far are witnesses to the mighty miracles that God can and does still perform. Therefore, we are tasked with continuing to celebrate each day of Jayden’s beautiful life and share with others all the miracles that we have seen. One day, Jayden, will indeed pass on into Heaven, but that day is not here yet. However, we all will face that day eventually ourselves. We have the choice, do we choose to accept that as in Jayden’s life, God is ruler of everything and He is in control, or do we choose a different path? For myself, I will continue to believe that in all things God is good, that He is a God of miracles…today, yesterday, and forever.
To assist this precious family with continued financial needs and support, please visit their GoFundMe