Posted Online: March 22, 2013, 2:50 am

A little one's life saved by a big, strong faith

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By Leon Lagerstam,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Alicia Ames holds her 4-month-old miracle daughter, Noelle Ames, while her husband, Daniel, holds their other daughter, Hannah, in their Cambridge home on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Noelle was born Nov. 24 and weighed 4 pounds, 13 ounces. Mrs. Ames was only 32 weeks and six days into her pregnancy when Noelle was born. Noelle was just taken off of oxygen recently. Her parents credit everyone's prayers for pulling her through.
CAMBRIDGE -- A big faith saved a little one's life.

Noelle Ames will celebrate her 4-month birthday Sunday, a birthday many feared she'd never reach. A dedication service for her will be held during Sunday 9 a.m. worship services at Osco Community Church, 311 Main St.

Noelle was born about a month prematurely, after a series of serious complications during the pregnancy, on Nov. 24, weighing 4 pounds, 13 ounces. She wasn't released from University of Iowa Hospitals until Dec. 21, and wasn't taken off oxygen until March 18.

Her parents, Alicia and Daniel Ames, both 28, of Cambridge, celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary March 15.When asked what she wanted for an anniversary present, she told him she already had it, referring to Noelle's survival.

"The only reason she's here today is because God decided to give us a miracle," Mrs. Ames said.

"This was a true miracle," thechurch's senior pastor, the Rev. Doug Shook, agreed. "I was in the hospital room when the doctor responded to Daniel Ames' question about the likelihood of the baby surviving. He asked, 'What are the chances the baby will live until it's viable?'

'''Zero percent,' the doctor said. 'No hope.'"

After their first daughter, Hannah, was born 2 1/2 years ago, the couple endured two miscarriages, "before we became pregnant with Noelle in May 2012," Mrs. Ames said.

But by Memorial Day, Mrs. Ames started experiencing asubchorionic hemorrhage, which isn't all too uncommon, but in her case, only kept getting worse, she said.

Other medical problems cropped up along the way, including a bout of viral meningitis in August, she said.

Doctors told the couple she would have to be at least 23 weeks along before University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City would accept her. In early September, she said her water broke. "I was at 20 weeks at the time."

Doctors told her she would give birth in the next two to three days, or the baby was going to die. Yet, by the end of that three-day period, Mrs. Ames' fluid levels had climbed to acceptable levels.

"My doctor said she had never seen anything like that," she said.

"On Sept. 14, I was 22 weeks and five days along, when I lost a big gush of fluid," she said. This time, she and her husband rushed to Iowa City, expecting the worst. Once more, delivery was held off.

A week before Halloween, doctors again thought Mrs. Ames would have to deliver the baby within 48 hours, or risk losing her.

Finally, on Nov. 24, the baby was delivered by C-section, since doctors knew Noelle was going to be a breech delivery. Doctors also had started fearing that the placenta was "close to eruption," and sped up the process.

Mrs. Ames said her husband made it in the nick of time."God knew the exact right moment to get her out. After Noelle was born, she was healthy enough that they were able to bring her over to me so I could kiss her cheek.''

However, soon after, Noelle started experiencing breathing problems and had to hooked to a high-powered ventilator, "and then I couldn't hold her or anything for a long while," Mrs. Ames said. "Her lungs were just too small for her little body."

Throughout the entire ordeal, "we prayed constantly," Mrs. Ames said. "If I hadn't had my faith to cling to, I don't know what I would have done."

She admits that when doctors first told her Noelle would die, "I did ask 'Why God, Why.' I was a grief-stricken mother, so it took me a little while, but then I started praying for a miracle, and then my faith strengthened more."

Mrs. Ames wasn't the only one praying for that miracle.Friends and family following the story on Facebook also prayed for the family.

"And it spread like wildfire," Mrs. Ames said. "We had people from Africa, Europe and all over the U.S. praying for us.And our church family has spent a lot of moments on their knees for this baby.

"Multiple people from church said they absolutely felt God was calling them to pray. People said they would wake up in the middle of the night and pray," she said.

Mrs. Ames said she also drew strength by continuing to "picture the day when I could walk back into church with Noelle in my arms. I'm so very excited. I can't wait for the dedication. It's like a second wedding for me, my husband said."

Associate pastor the Rev. Paul Benevides expects a lot of excited people will be at the service.

"I know there will be many people coming that have walked with Dan and Alicia since that shocking moment when they realized they would lose their baby," he said. "Each week, we were encouraged that she and the baby were holding on, even though the odds were mounting.

"It's events and calamities like these that galvanize a church, and it certainly brought ours together," he said.

"The church has been more of a family, than a church," Mrs. Ames said.

"This Sunday will be the rejoicing of this little life and the faith of the Ames' and the church family," Rev. Benevides said.

"I don't think I'll get through the whole day without tears," Mrs. Ames said. "Noelle really is a miracle. She's not supposed to be here, but she is, and I'm so happy she's been taken off oxygen, and that her lungs are so strong. Her lungs aren't supposed to be so strong, but they are.

"It's like God was saying all along, that it wasn't time to take this baby."

"But isn't that what God does?" Rev. Shook said. "When there is no hope, He provides hope. When there is no life, He brings forth life. That's the message of the Resurrection. Not just on Easter. Every day.

"That is the big truth our people are learning," he said. "Easter is every day. God is still the God of new life. The power of Christ's Resurrection is relevant every single day in every single life."

Even in the littlest of lives when the faith is big and strong enough.