“It takes a village.”
When Merideth Celine Mike was born on October 24, 2016 at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, she weighed in at a mere two pounds. Her mother, Nicole Mike, was given countless scenarios as to what could go wrong with their new baby, as to prepare the parents for the worst. Immediately after her three-months premature birth, Meredith was brought to neonatal intensive care. The tiny baby was put in a ventilator and had tubes attached to her little body.
Nicole Mike and her husband Blaine stayed with their daughter as much as they could and Meredith had nurses caring for her at all times at the hospital, two hours from the couple’s home in Middlesboro, Kentucky.
Quickly, the folks in the Mikes’ hometown aimed to help as best they could. Nicole, a teacher, was gifted her co-workers sick days so she could stay with her daughter after her premature birth. Blaine was also granted an extended leave from his employer. As Mrs. Mike said, “No matter what all else was going on in the world there was one thing they could agree on, to pray for Meredith.”
The Mikes had long been trying for a baby, a decade be exact. They experienced infertility, endured an ectopic pregnancy, and had an unfortunate failed adoption. They had given up hope. Nicole says, “I had stopped using any fertility medication and then without any help except for God, we found out I was pregnant on the day after Mother’s Day.” In fact their faith kept them strong during the heartbreaking days that followed Meredith’s birth.
In the days right after her birth, Meredith was diagnosed with pneumonia, then collapsed lungs. She had her surgery, and was almost blinded. The prognosis didn’t look good, yet the Mikes continued to have faith. It seems that miracles do exist, because not ten minutes later the parents were called in and told that baby Meredith’s levels were back up to normal.
When the parents were finally granted permission to take their baby home after three months in the NICU, they were given a police escort. into Middlesboro. Pink balloons lined the street, and there were signs welcoming them home. Friend, neighbors, and even strangers cheered as the new family of three made their way through to their house. Once home, they saw even more decorations-including a 12-foot teddy bear-ornamented their front lawn. Pink fireworks were set off in baby Meredith’s honor.
Of the nurses, Nicole says,“They are her forever aunties.”
Both the community where the Mikes reside and the community at Tennessee Medical Center surely impacted the Mikes’ lives forever.