I often daydreamed about having a Christmas baby in the days leading up to Christmas 2017. Nobody on earth but my husband knew how badly I wanted a baby then. One evening, we tidied our home in anticipation while listening to music about Jesus, a baby born in a manger. How magical to have a baby at this time of year, I thought, and Mary was just a regular girl in pursuit of God’s will.

God had been tugging on my heart, telling me it was time we started a family, and I wanted to follow His will too. What I wanted more than anything was a baby for Christmas the next year.

We were expectant parents less than two months later, and by the end of October 2018, I was a new mom on cloud nine. It didn’t matter that I was sleep deprived most days. Everything about our newborn was extraordinary, and I basked in the wonder that surrounded her. She was better than anything I could’ve dreamed.

I’d seen the warnings about germs and how to ensure she stayed healthy, but we were traveling to the pediatrician for checkups pretty regularly and all was well. I finally relaxed.

But it seemed as soon as I let down my guard, she was sick. Bad sick.

Like PICU on Christmas Eve sick, receiving eight liters per minute of high-flow oxygen, 24/7 oxygen saturation monitoring, deep suction every two hours, breathing treatments, antibiotics, and countless needle sticks and blood draws sick. That’s what Respiratory Syncytial Virus does when you’re 8-weeks-old.

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It was heartbreaking. I never felt more helpless as a parent than when I fell on my face in the hospital with hands lifted offering up my baby to the God who made her. I had anticipated her arrival for so long, but she was the Lord’s after all. I had faith He would heal her. I just feared it wouldn’t be here on earth.

Our family of three emerged from the hospital six days later, mostly unscathed. Nobody would have guessed our baby had been sick; she didn’t even wheeze! But I, on the other hand, fought those germs and others for the next month. The Christmas season, which was always so joyous, had been tainted in my world.

This year when summer turned to fall, it dawned on me I could pray and ask Jesus to redeem the holiday celebrating His birth—the one I loved so much before the trauma we experienced last year. I wanted to give Christmas back to Him, to take it away from fear. I whispered a prayer, and about an hour later as I was driving to the craft store, the radio played an ad for K-LOVE’s Christmas Tour. You know that means jingling bells and holiday melodies. Instead of sorrow, my heart leaped with joy. Instead of worry, I found excitement. This moment was the start of the healing I’d desperately needed. My hope was only reinforced when I arrived at the craft store to find the Christmas decorations on display and, once again, a rediscovered joy in my heart.

Not all my thoughts about winter and Christmastime are stress-free, but He is working on me—and working in me.

I’m eager to walk into the next season as a mama wearing the armor of God, better prepared than last year, stronger for our experiences, and confident because of Who holds my hand along the way.

Even when we’re worried, even when we’re scared, He is right there with us. He’s as close as a whisper. When we call his name and ask for his help, He is faithful, and He will strengthen us and cure what ails us. He will redeem what’s been broken in our lives.

Ashley Hill

Ashley Hill is a wife and a new mom who writes, paints, and bakes when she isn't chasing after her little girl. After working in New York City for a period of time, Ashley felt God calling her back to a quieter life in West Virginia where she was born and raised. She writes about motherhood at https://www.raisinbabies.com.