Katrina (not the hurricane)

I first met Katrina when she was about ten years old. She had shiny red hair and green eyes full of intelligence. She came with her parents to our church where I was teaching children’s Bible study. I was struck by Katrina’s openness to talking to adults and by her affectionate nature.

Katrina was one of those children who noticed others’ pain and wanted to do something about it. She befriended the friendless, whether a child too shy to participate, or a newcomer, a neighbor down the street.  She would be the one to share her lunch if someone had come without.

When I visited in her home, I was always met by the family pet, a black lab who was overwhelming in her affection. Katrina “rescued” me several times, but she thought it was funny that I, a veterinarian’s wife, should be so awkward in fending off her giant “teddy bear” of a dog.

Katrina was a bookworm. She absolutely loved books. It was so encouraging to me, an author, when she told me, her face so alive with enthusiasm, that she liked my books. But Katrina didn’t read all the time. She enjoyed games with other children, the more challenging the better. She played flute in the band seventh through twelfth grades and took piano lessons for years.

From time to time I had the opportunity to glance at some of Katrina’s school work or extra projects she created on her own. I recognized she had talent in expressing herself on paper and I enjoyed encouraging her to write. I was sure she’d be a writer someday.

She graduated from high school with honors and received several scholarships as she continued her education in college. After she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree she went right ahead to work on a Master’s degree. Finishing her education, Katrina soon moved into a successful career and quickly earned the respect of other professionals as well as those she served.

Life was truly wonderful.

But let’s go back a few years.

When Sue, Katrina’s mom, became pregnant in 1983, she and her husband already were happily raising twins, aged eleven. Sue remembers clearly the day when she, in the teacher’s lounge at her school, received “The Call.” She had been to the doctor for a pregnancy test and the nurse called to tell her she was indeed pregnant. Sue was initially ecstatic. But the nurse’s next words were “When do you want to schedule your abortion?”

Sue was dumbfounded. “What? No! No abortion. I want this baby.”

The nurse reasoned with her that her twins would soon be teenagers and she should think of them. Besides, the nurse said, her age (she was 37) would make a pregnancy dangerous. Sue insisted she wanted the baby.

The family began making plans for and looking forward to the birth of a baby in the spring.

Things were fairly normal until Sue went into her fifth month of pregnancy. She was still teaching and feeling good about her baby. One day at work she realized a filing cabinet was turning over and jumped quickly to get out of the way. Whether or not that quick move caused damage, Sue went into labor four days later. The doctors were able to stop the contractions. But they discovered a serious problem: the placenta had a hole in it. This would not only harm the baby but would endanger Sue’s life as well.

The doctor gravely informed Sue and her husband that he must abort the baby. The baby, he said, if it survived, would be brain damaged, might have missing limbs, would at best be mongoloid, all this due to the lack of oxygen and nutrients from Sue.

Sue and her husband said with no reservations that there would be no abortion.

These parents continued to say, “This is our baby. We will receive whatever God has for us, no matter what.”

Sue’s hemoglobin dropped so dangerously low the doctor said he would have to operate. He promised to try to save the baby. As she was rolled into surgery, Sue says she was praying, “Jesus, I love this baby but I know you love it more.”

Sue’s hemoglobin was life threateningly low when she was rolled into surgery. But, amazingly, just before the doctor began the Caesarian he ordered one more check of her hemoglobin and it had, for no apparent reason, risen to 16. He yelled to the whole surgery team to stop at once.

For the next three months Sue stayed in bed for all but bathroom visits. The twins and her husband rallied around her. Church members brought meals every day, cleaned house, took the twins to birthday parties–and prayed.

One day Sue felt especially drawn to a certain Bible verse. In Luke 1:66 she read, “What then is this child going to be?” As the weeks crawled by, she whispered to herself, “What then is this child going to be?” The verse referred to John the Baptist but the question became Sue’s. In her heart she knew God had plans for her baby.

At eight months Sue woke one morning realizing her baby who had been so active, “all over the place,” was not moving at all. In the hospital she was prepped for surgery. Friends, coworkers, family were all praying.

Katrina was born in April, 1984, a beautiful baby girl weighing four pounds. She had to stay in the hospital for nineteen days and reach a hefty five pounds before she could go home to her eager family.

We know her today as a highly successful young woman who is making a huge difference in her world, active in church and community, happy in her career, dedicated to helping others. She still loves books, has achieved rewards in her field and, yes, she’s writing some too.

“What then is this child going to be?” Her parents would have received and loved whomever God had sent to them. And God gave them Katrina.



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2 responses to “Katrina (not the hurricane)

  1. Carol Ball

    Wow. This is such an uplifting story. Thank you for writing about Katrina and her parents so that we could all share in the power of their faith in God. Love you!

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