For weeks, Nicole and Blaine Mike wondered if their baby girl would ever get to come home. When she did, they were ready to celebrate.
And so was the town that had hoped and prayed alongside them.
As ABC News reports, learning that Nicole was pregnant was a miracle in itself for the Mike family. She and Blaine had been trying to have children for a decade. But after problems with infertility, an ectopic pregnancy, and the heartbreak of a failed adoption, they were on the verge of giving up.
Nicole told ABC News:
“We had given up all hope. I had stopped using any fertility medication and then without any help except for God, we found out I was pregnant on the day after Mother’s Day.”
The joy of the pregnancy turned to worry when baby Meredith was born three months premature. She went immediately from the delivery room to a ventilator in the neonatal intensive care unit. Over the next three months, Meredith battled a heart condition, collapsed lungs, possible blindness, and pneumonia. Nicole told ABC News that there were times when she and her husband spent the whole night “on our knees in prayer.”
Then there was the night they were warned Meredith might not survive the next few hours. Nicole recounted to ABC News how they prayed for their child:
“There was one night we thought we were going to lose her and we were told to prepare ourselves. We went into a room they gave us and prayed, prayed, prayed and we went to the hospital chapel. About 10 minutes later they called us and her levels were back to perfect.”
While their daughter clung to life in the hospital, Nicole and Blaine spent every possible moment by her side. And their community helped make it possible. Nicole's fellow teachers donated sick days, while Blaine's employer gave him extra time off of work.
Nicole told ABC News that their friends and neighbors explained why they were so willing to pull together to help:
“Their words were that Meredith had brought our community together. No matter what all else was going on in the world there was one thing they could agree on, to pray for Meredith.”
The family joked with the nurses that their community was going to throw a parade for Meredith when she finally left the hospital.
They had no idea how right they were.
Last week, the Mike family was finally able to take their daughter home. As they arrived in their hometown of Middlesboro, Kentucky, a police escort was waiting for them. The streets were lined with residents who held signs and pink balloons and cheered the family as they passed.
Dozens of cars joined the parade. By the end, Nicole estimates that there were about 75 to 100 cars following them— all hoping to get a glimpse of Meredith's homecoming.
And what a homecoming it was. As the family pulled up to the house, they saw that their lawn was festooned with pink streamers and balloons and guarded by two twelve-foot teddy bears. To cap off the celebration, pink fireworks went off over the house.
Nicole says that they had a hint that the town was preparing something special, but they were overwhelmed at the outpouring of love they witnessed.
Best of all, Nicole and Blaine were finally able to take Meredith to her room. Nicole told WVLT News:
“This room has been prepared for years but we just kept the door closed on it for a long time.”
She said opening it with Meredith in their arms was the “greatest gift we've ever received.”