Christmas Miracles

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Arlene, Jerome, J.T. and Elizabeth Ann Davis

Arlene, Jerome, J.T. and Elizabeth Ann Davis

When Arlene Davis looks at her 5-week-old daughter, Elizabeth Ann, she smiles and says, “She’s my Christmas miracle.”

What Elizabeth Ann will some day realize is that her mother is also a Christmas miracle.

Elizabeth Ann was expected on Dec. 12, and was scheduled for delivery by C-section on Dec. 5.

But on the night of Nov. 20, her mom found herself with almost all of the symptoms of labor.

“I told my husband, ‘I’m dying. You’ve got to get me somewhere.’ ”

At Sacred Heart, it was quickly determined that the pains were not contractions, but there was, indeed, a problem. In labor and delivery, nurses and technicians couldn’t get a temperature for Elizabeth Ann, and Arlene’s blood pressure was crashing.

“Basically, I was coding,” she said. “I didn’t even feel the epidural.”

Elizabeth Ann – “Ibby Ann” to her big brother, J.T., age 28 months – was born a healthy five pounds, two ounces. But her mom was still in trouble. What doctors later discovered was that a portion of Arlene’s intestine was twisted almost in two.

“It was like someone had taken a bread tie and twisted it,” she said. “It was like there was no blood flow.”

She never had digestive issues or any other clue that there was a problem. But eventually, there was internal bleeding that nearly cost her her life.

The next days are, mercifully, a haze. There were more surgeries, kidney problems, a blood clot, and a ventilator. At one point, Arlene had nine I.V.’s and needed a picc line. She was told it would be weeks before she could come home, and that maybe, maybe, she’d make it for Christmas.

For two and a half weeks, she had nothing more than ice chips to eat, except for a taste of a popsicle on her birthday.

“I was in every unit at Sacred Heart except the psych ward,” Arlene laughs now. “At one point, they told me I was the most critical stable patient in the hospital.”

Worried about J.T., Arlene sent her husband, Jerome, home.

“I knew I was in good hands,” she said. “But I was worried about J.T.”

She had only held her baby girl once, but she had photographs.

“I looked at the pictures of my kids, and I focused on that,” she said.

The doctors told her she had lots of persistence and tenacity. Her co-workers and friends would agree that the doctors were correct.

She did make it home before Christmas, and with the help of friends and family members, there’s a tree in her family room and gifts beneath it.

“There have been tons of elves who have helped,” she said.

Her sister and sister-in-law have taken turns staying with the Davises or taking night duty with Elizabeth Ann.

“I guess it really does take a village,” she said. “But sometimes I feel like the whole continent is helping.”

“I’m happy to be here, and to be home for Christmas,” she said.


Arlene, who is a history and psychology instructor and coordinator of International and Special Projects for LBW Community College, will spend the spring semester completing the healing process. While most of her intestine was removed, she won’t depend upon external devices.

“I can eat what I want, I just have to go slowly,” she said.

She is a person who prefers to give and help others. But she has had to learn quickly to accept help.

“I had no choice,” she said. “I am so thankful for everyone who has helped.”