Ashley and Ronnie Shirley weren’t expecting to make any additions to their family, they already had three beautiful children.
But when Ashley took a pregnancy test in late 2015, they knew God had a different plan.
As Ashley tells KTHV, the beginning of her pregnancy went seemingly well. At her twenty-week ultrasound, however, everything took a turn for the worse.
The Shirleys were referred to a high risk doctor who diagnosed their unborn daughter with skeletal dysplasia.
Not only were her arms and legs measuring small — three to four weeks behind what they should have been — but her legs were appearing bowed and she was missing part of her brain.
Doctors told Ashley that because her daughter’s chest cavity was so small, her lungs were not forming properly. They were unsure of whether she would ever be able to breathe on her own.
These were the first signs that their baby would not make it, and as time progressed, there continued to be more red flags.
Knowing that their baby’s chances of survival were so low, Ashley eventually mustered up enough courage to make arrangements at a funeral home back in her hometown.
“[W]e were praying for the best, trusting God, but also had to prepare ourselves for the worst.”
Throughout this difficult time, there was one thing that kept Ashley going. She tells Independent Journal Review:
“My Faith was everything through pregnancy, if I didn’t haven’t my faith I don’t know that I could have made it through. There were times when I was on bed rest from low amniotic fluid and I would just sit. My bible on my lap, worship music in the background…
As horrible as the diagnosis that we continued to get, the peace I felt was beyond understanding. God was with us the whole time.”
At thirty-seven weeks, Ashley went in for a scheduled C-section.
She recalls the morning of her delivery to Independent Journal Review:
“I remember laying on the table as they began surgery and all I could do was cry out to God. I prayed out loud with my husband asking God to just let her breath.”
She heard a cry, which eventually turned into a loud wail. Baby Jocelyn was alive.
Even more, her appearance was that of a healthy baby. Her legs were not bowed and her brain was developed. She only needed a breathing tube for six hours.
Doctors were at a loss for words — they had no idea how to explain what they saw. Ashley told KTHV:
“Our doctor kept saying, ‘Where did we go wrong? Did we miss something?’”
Ashley, on the other hand, completely understands: Jocelyn is a miracle from God.
“This experience has rocked our world and completely changed the way we view God. He still is very much in the business of performing miracles. If there’s one thing I can teach them [my children] through this, it’s that God NEVER leaves you, He will always bring peace in hard times, and when you can’t take another step, he will carry you through it. God’s love never fails.”
The Shirley family has not been left without challenges — they have recently learned that Joceyln is blind — but they will get through these obstacles the same way they’ve gotten through tthem in the past: by putting their utmost faith in God.