HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The 7th annual Miracle Bash and Swim for Melissa are coming up this weekend. The two events are the biggest fundraisers of the year for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund.
Chris and Amy George set up the fund after one of their twins, Melissa, died shortly after birth. The fund helps buy lifesaving equipment for the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children.
Steve and Kim Green of Limestone County have been helped by that equipment bought with your donations.
It must have been love at first sight for Kim and Steve, because they married seven months after they met in 2004. They began a long journey on the road to parenthood. For seven years, they tried to have a child but couldn't. They even thought about adopting.
Several days before this past Christmas, Kim gave Steve an early gift.
"She handed me a little bag and I opened it and it was a little positive stick, so we were excited," said Steve.
But at 28 weeks, Kim's doctor discovered the baby had stopped growing. They did a C-section and on June 13th, 2012, Ava Grace Green came into the world. Steve says she arrived “kicking and screaming.” She weighed a little more than a pound.
“One pound, six ounces, 12 inches long," said Steve. "So it was like I was telling my pastor who fishes a lot, 'she's a keeper'.”
Four days later, the proud dad celebrated his first Father’s Day. But that joy would soon turn to sorrow. One week after becoming a first time mom, Kim unexpectedly died. After visiting the NICU that night, she collapsed from a left coronary dissection of her heart. Kim Green was 37.
"That was very hard. Hard on the family, me, her friends," but Steve adds, “I know God has a plan so it was all in His plan.” He was with Kim earlier that day visiting their little miracle. He gave his wife a hug and a kiss and told her he loved her before going back to work.
Steve Green had gone from being on the top of the world to the lowest point in his life.
"I knew one of the most important things I needed to do was to come up here to see Ava Grace," said Steve. "I had to see her. I knew it was going to be very difficult but I had to see her. Even though Kim may have left, still, part of her is here.”
He had to see that part of Kim’s life that was still with him. His words to his one week old daughter that night were simple.
“Daddy loves you. Mama's with you. God loves you. Jesus loves you. Looks like you have a lot of mamas and daddies here for you," Steve said.
Steve was immediately surrounded by the love of family and friends including the doctors and nurses in the NICU and the family support group.
Steve Green is a man of faith. He feels like God has had a hand in everything, especially the time his wife got to spend with their daughter.
“It gave us the opportunity to experience pregnancy. And it gave Kim the opportunity for the week when she was born early to experience being a mama," said Steve. "And that was a very special gift.”
Steve has been given other gifts. Four days after Kim’s funeral, the new father got to hold his daughter for the first time.
“When I first held her, it was like you felt this little body wiggling on you to find a spot to settle down in but you just felt, I don't know, this love and spirit just wrap around her and it was just an experience I didn't expect but it was a wonderful experience just to be able to do that," he said.
Steve felt like Kim was there as well. He wishes she’d been there the first time he gave Ava Grace a bath. The nurses had to remind him she wouldn’t break.
“She handled it really well," Steve said. “She didn't cry. She enjoyed every minute of it especially when you got to her head and you start brushing it with a little brush and scrubbing it and she just sat there looking up like this is the best thing in the world.
Steve says he’s making it through each day thanks to God, his family, his friends and others who support him with their prayers and love. But the biggest reason to go on is his little girl.
"She's been a true little blessing, a real witness," he said.
Ava Grace continues to do well. She now weighs almost four pounds. Steve says he's looking forward to the day he can take her home but admits that will be a bittersweet day. But if all goes well, he could take his daughter home in a couple of days.