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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mila Hope


February 3, 2006
2:30 AM
Ontario, CA

An ambulance arrives at San Antonio Community Hospital. Inside are two children. One, a 13 year old girl, the other is the 1 lb. 10 oz., 13 inch baby she just gave birth to. When the ambulance arrived at the young girl’s home, minutes earlier, she told them she didn’t even know she was pregnant until her water broke in the shower. The baby girl was not breathing, her eyelids still fused. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit would have their work cut out for them.

Four years ago today this is how my oldest daughter entered the world. What do you call it when a child survives a beginning like this? When they survive a grade 4 (of 4) brain hemorrhage, blood transfusions, seizures, bleeding in the retinas, a MRSA infection, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, 53 days on a ventilator, feeding tube, 144 days in the NICU, 1 ½ years in a nursing facility, 8 months in a temporary foster home, leg braces and eye surgery? I call it a Miracle. And that is exactly what her name means; Mila, from the Spanish, milagro. Her past is a miracle and her future has a hope. Mila Hope Grunau has beaten the odds and turns 4 years old today.

Even at four she bears the physical, mental and emotional scars from this traumatic start. She looks like she is two, and acts about the same. She has made huge strides in the year and a half she has been with us. When we got her at 2 ½ she could barely walk, had 2 words and depended on formula for most of her nutrition. Now, you’ll find her racing around the house in her braces and launching herself onto the couch, singing her favorite songs, and scarfing down a bowl of cereal or plate of pancakes all by herself (although she is wearing a good portion of it). We are making progress!! Its hard to say if we are making up any ground at this time, and while that frustrates me on a day to day basis, I occasionally have to step back and remember where we have been. In 2 weeks Mila will have been with us longer than she was with anyone else and I hope that it will be some sort of tipping point for her, that as our work and love becomes the most steadfast thing in her life, she, in turn, will be more stable in and of herself.

Of course, even this year with us hasn’t been the most steady. We’ve moved twice, she is at her second school and she has a new baby sister. While it’s safe to say we are settled in our new school, home and enjoying baby Autumn, I can’t help but wonder if she is still anticipating another major change. It’s hard to know what are realistic expectations for her at this point, considering all she’s been through. And while I have specific goals for her, (I am a long term planner, big picture person) I have to stop myself and remember what is REALLY important. I have to remember that if she isn’t mainstreamed by 1st grade, it’s ok. If she doesn’t exit Special Education by junior high, it will be all right. If she never passes the California High School Exit Exam, we’ll live. Even if she grows up and doesn't appreciate all that we have done for her, as long as she knows one truth, everything on this long and tiresome journey will be worthwhile. As long as she remembers…

Jesus loves her, and this she knows
For the Bible tells her so
Little ones to him belong
She is weak but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves her
Yes, Jesus loves her
Yes, Jesus loves her
The Bible tells her so

That’s what REALLY matters.

Happy Birthday Mila Hope!


  1. Happy Birthday Mila Hope! You truly are a miracle.

  2. Very sweet...and yes, she does know the most important things. She is loved by Jesus and her family so very much! Made me get all misty-eyed!

  3. That is the most beautiful voice to sing that song that I have ever heard!! Happy Birthday Mila and many more!p.s. Out of my 4 babies I have 3rd and 7th grade sons still in special ed. and every moment is a miracle, wouldn't trade it for anything.