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Ralph Amsden @ralphamsden
, 34 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
I sent this tweet three years ago tonight, and I’ve been thinking all day about the events that led up to sending it, the night of, and the days/months/years afterward. If it’s alright, I’d like to share the story with you.
When I sent this tweet, a team of doctors had just come into a dark waiting room where my wife and I were sitting with both sets of parents, our pastor, and another friend, and told us that our two-week old daughter, Myles, was dying in the next room.
Earlier in the evening, Myles was with my wife at a Christmas ornament decorating party when she started to seem lethargic. My wife and her friends rushed Myles to Cardon Children’s hospital, and by the time they arrived, Myles had stopped breathing.
The ornament decorating party is something my wife and her friends had made an annual thing out of. Earlier in the day, she found out that the friend who was supposed to host the party had canceled. Fortunately, the party was moved to a house a block away from the hospital.
While a team of doctors and nurses worked dillegently to restore breath to my newborn daughter, I drove to the hospital alone, completely unaware of the severity of the situation. I remember being concerned that she had to be taken to the E.R., but not overly worried.
As I was driving, I just kept saying to myself “babies are resilient, MY baby is resilient.” The chant kept me calm. We’d had so many bumps and bruises with our three older boys that I figured this simply had to be a matter of over-caution in my wife’s part.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was ushered into a hallway where I saw my wife and a friend of hers both collapsed onto the floor with a social worker standing over them. I don’t know why it stands out, but I remember the social worker had her nose pierced.
The social worker explained that my wife had just watched an entire team of people work for nearly 15 minutes to bring life back into a tiny seven-pound body. She told us that our daughter would be moved to the pediatric intensive care unit, and doctors would explain the rest.
So we sat in a dark room, waiting for news. Her parents arrived- then mine. Then my pastor, with another good friend. They prayed with us. Cried with us. They tried to distract us with small talk. Minutes felt like weeks. A woman came in and out gathering insurance information.
Finally, a doctor came in. He had a thick Eastern-European accent and wore a worried expression. He explained that our daughter’s heart was swollen. He didn’t expect her to live more than a couple of hours. He asked if we’d like to make her comfortable and say our goodbyes.
I can confidently say that was the worst moment of my life (And my goodness, there have been some moments). Nothing, however, compared to attempting to comprehend having the strength to say goodbye to a beautiful baby that had, hours earlier, been peacefully napping on my chest.
“There is another option,” the doctor said.

He explained that there was a doctor who had returned from a two-week vacation just hours earlier, who was qualified and experienced enough to attempt a surgery that would essentially replace our daughter’s heartbeat with a machine.
There was little hope the surgery would work. She was so small, and in such bad shape. But we could try. If it did work, the machine would potentially give her heart the rest it needed to begin to heal, and give doctors time to discover and treat the cause of her sudden demise.
So we sat in this room, simultaneously alone and together, contemplating. I pulled out my phone, and asked you all to pray. I didn’t have a better plan. I wasn’t so much asking for prayer for my daughter as I was for the strength for my family to carry the weight of our decision.
I remember in that moment asking my wife to step out into the harsh flourescence of the hospital hallway with me. We walked to the next room and saw our baby, swollen and struggling, surrounded by nurses. Her skin was a color I’d never seen before, nor since.
In order for me to explain what happened next, I have to explain something about my wife. She’s strong. Strong in a way that doesn’t even feel like strength- it feels like a mix of bigness and power and safety. Like when an adult lifts and playfully tosses a toddler into the air.
As we stood in that hallway together, I remembered her strength.

I remembered sitting in an obstetrician’s office with her just one year before, and hearing a doctor tell us that we’d miscarried.
I remember the surgery being scheduled for the following week, and that despite her grief, she stood on a stage in front of over a thousand people on a Sunday morning, leading a the congregation in song, praising a God who she believed to be in control in the midst of her agony.
There’s a psalm that reads “better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere,” and I don’t think I understood it until I watched my wife grieve. Those awful, excruciating days, reminded me of how blessed we for everything and everyone we had- especially each other.
So in that hallway, thinking on her example of strength, we talked. We reminded each other that our daughter, as incredible and welcome a blessing as she was, especially considering her arrival in the heels of our previous sorrow, wasn’t ours to begin with.
Our daughter might have felt like God’s gift to us, but she was still God’s gift to give.

We’d agree to the surgery, and her fight would be her fight. Our fight would be for each other. In that hallway, we recited vows that I only wish we could have understood at our wedding.
The doctor who performed the surgery had this look of determination that I’ll never forget.

The moment we gave her the go-ahead, it was like she was taking the ball, bases loaded with a one run lead in game seven of the world series.

“Alright. Let’s go. Let’s do this.”
And she did it. She replaced a two-week-old baby’s heartbeat with a machine by connecting a tube into her carotid artery. There were a dozen improbable things that saved my daughter that night, but this one I was able to put a name to.

Wherever you’re at, Dr. Cox, well done.
The next three weeks were a blur. So many of you were involved that you probably remember bits and pieces better than I do. Against the odds, she fought, and lived. You cried with us. Fed us. Paid our bills. Gave our boys back the Christmas they missed. Prayed over her.
You celebrated with us as she mounted a miraculous mental and physical recovery over the ensuing months and years, and you continue to do so. There are so many people invested in her that sometimes I feel like I’m raising a publicly owned child. 😂😂😂
In the worst moments, I believed that you could and would help. I believed this because I believe in a God, who I feel plants seeds in everyone to respond in times of trouble. In circular fashion, I believe in those seeds because I’ve see their fruit manifest in your goodness.
This week I sat with my aunt and uncle, who are my two best friends in this world, and we talked about the frailty of things. She’s getting her ass handed to her in a battle with cancer. He’s barely holding it together, and was hospitalized today because of giant kidneys stones.
I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for these people. That’s a literal fact. They drug me through my teenage years. Ignited my passions. Encouraged my strengths. Challenged my philosophical strongholds. Accepted the idiocy I often put on full display on this app.
I bring them up to say this- they know they don’t have forever. They have today. And when possible, they spend each ‘today’ passing the baton to others and cheering them through whatever race they’re running.
All I’ve ever wanted was to be like them- to run my race, and pass the baton to my kids, or whoever else has a race to run and needs the encouragement to do so.

I feel like because of the work and compassion of many others, yourselves included, I get to do that for my daughter.
So thank you. And thank God for you. Whether you were there for us, or for the next person who needs it, because there’s always a next person. We’re a broken people in a broken place, after all.

But for today, this kid is whole, and she has a race to run.
Goodnight, and Merry Christmas.
Woke up this morning to find way more people reading this than I had anticipated.

I wrote this letter to my daughter a couple of years ago about what the experience taught me. If this story touched you, I hope it can inspire you to see/do some good today…
Someone just sent me this. That’s definitely her. Dr. Heidi Cox- a seriously hardcore human being.
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