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One Crazy-Looking Puzzle

October 9, 2011

The following is taken from an interview conducted on 9/27/2011. The Unger’s story reminds me that courage is not the absence of fear, but the presence of faith. A link to the recorded interview is provided below.

The path to parenthood has not been typical for Lois and Kaleb Unger. Their first baby, Daniel, was stillborn in May 2010.

“We had to deal with this overwhelming grief that no one should have to feel, and we had to do it together,” Lois says. “There were times we did a lot of drinking together to get past it, a lot of crying together, a lot of just curling up into a ball. I think because we had to do it together, that provided us with a look at God’s plan for us, what people could do for us, and we had to put our pride aside.”

God worked through friends to help them cope with their grief. “He put people in our way, to ask us questions and bother us… in a nice way!” Lois remembers.

“Putting those people in our faces allowed us to see that we could tell the story, and heal that way, too,” Kaleb adds. “It showed us — and others — that God DOES work, even through the horrific times of life.”

By November Lois had a clean bill of health. In January she was pregnant again, but the joy was short-lived. On March 3 her grandmother passed away; then her father died on March 15. Two months later, the unthinkable happened.

“It was like a flashback,” Lois says. She called Kaleb as she drove to the hospital.

“Oh, crap, we can’t do this again!” he said.

“You don’t have to tell me that!”

The doctor confirmed that Lois was having another placental abruption, complicated by preeclampsia. Her blood pressure was 215 over 110. Kaleb’s prayers alternated between, “God, please don’t take them both!” and “Really? This again? Are You kidding me?”

10" x 13oz: "a king-sized bag of M&Ms"

Melody Unger was born on May 21, 2011. Ten inches, 13 ounces (“a king-sized bag of M&Ms”), and 17 weeks premature. The medical professionals didn’t want to offer false hope; they had never intubated a baby that small. But Melody surprised them as she responded to medication, fought for life, and earned the Mighty moniker.

Each hurdle they cleared was followed by another. Lois’s blood pressure was out of control. Her heart was pumping less than half the normal capacity. Then her kidneys shut down. As Melody struggled in the NICU, Lois received daily dialysis treatments. She had to resign from her job and apply for long term disability. Kaleb quickly burned through vacation and sick leave. Insurance covered most of the medical expenses, but the 45 minute commute to the hospital took its toll on their budget and their automobiles. Kaleb lay awake at night praying, “God, we’re just feeble human beings, how are we going to do this?”

God used people to fill the gap with gas cards and car repairs. A friend set up the Mighty Melody Facebook page. Another put together an online site for donations. One day the Ungers wondered how they would pay the mortgage, and the next day, “BOOM! There it was.”

“I have a pride issue,” Lois admits. “I realized the need to set that aside and say to somebody, anybody, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to need,’ or ‘This is coming up, what do you think I should do?’”

First Family Photo

The journey has forever altered their perception of God. “He’s BIG!” Lois exclaims, eyes bright and wide. “Beyond belief,” Kaleb adds. Melody’s Facebook page has nearly 1100 fans. People the Ungers have never met tell them, “Your story has increased my faith.”

“It’s all because one person says something to somebody else, somebody has a picture posted in their office, somebody says, ‘I don’t have much to give, but I can donate breast milk,’” Lois says. “If we didn’t have the faith, we wouldn’t be able to see how all the pieces have started to fit together and just make for one really crazy-looking puzzle!”

Melody was released on October 3. Lois could be on dialysis for months, maybe longer. The Unger home has become an extension of the NICU, spic and span from top to bottom, gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, the works. Trust is the shelter that has drawn them closer to God — and each other.

“Now we need to trust God to take care of us as a family unit at home,” Kaleb says, “and help us be the best parents we can be for this little girl.”

“And the best thing you can do for your children [beyond trusting God],” Lois prophesies, “is to show love for your spouse.”

[Author’s note: You can “like” Mighty Melody on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mightymelodyunger. (Too bad FB doesn’t have a “love” button!) For readers who would like to hear “the rest of the story,” a podcast of the full, 50-minute interview is available to download from http://potteronpurpose.podomatic.com/entry/2011-09-28T13_20_19-07_00.]

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Marsha Hurst permalink
    October 16, 2011 2:28 pm

    Our prayers and concern are with you ALL. Our daughter and son-in-law have lost 3 now……………the first being a miscarriage at ll weeks, we lost Emmaline Grace at 21 weeks gestation and then Eli Joel last June l6, 20l0 at 25 weeks. Our daughter’s faith is amazing…………………..growing………………..and she was able to write Eli’s whole memorial service. Healing is taking place in her and her husband and, as we speak, there is a new baby on the way, due in March, which we pray about every second………………not just for the new life, but for the lives of our daughter and son-in-law mentally, emotionally and spiritually. God is awesome……………….with us always………………….and we are sending our heartfelt prayers to you now, Caleb and Melody. Knowing of the road ahead……………and wishing we could do something.

  2. Brandi permalink
    October 16, 2011 3:37 pm

    RIP Lois…you will be missed!!!

  3. October 16, 2011 7:33 pm

    A sad follow up note: Lois went to the hospital on 10/11, and her health continued to decline throughout the week. On Saturday 10/15 she was taken off of life support, and passed away at about 6pm that evening. Please pray for Kaleb, Melody, and their extended family. If you feel moved to support the family financially, please visit http://www.mightymelodyfund.com/.

  4. October 22, 2011 9:50 am

    This breaks my heart. I followed this story when I went into labor at 20weeks. My water broke at 23 weeks and our son was born at 24 weeks and 5 days. Their story gave me hope that our son would be ok. Our son Tony is still in the hospital but is close to discharge now at 37 weeks. I just looked to see how Melody was doing and learned Lois was gone. I am totally heart broken and in tears. She gave me so much hope during the worst time of our life. It’s overwhelming to think it turned out like this. This family will forever be in my prayers.

    • October 22, 2011 10:05 am

      Christina, my thoughts and prayers are with you, your son Tony, and your family. May God watch over you — and I’m sure Lois is cheering you on, along with a host of angels in heaven.

  5. October 31, 2011 6:33 am

    Such an inspiring and sad story. Little Melody will feel her mother’s love and loss all her life. Perhaps it will give her the life purpose that this blog is all about.

    So glad you find me and my blog, Richard. Do stay in touch.

    • October 31, 2011 6:53 am

      Thank you so much for visiting, Shirley. Happy to report that Melody and her daddy are surrounded by friends and family that will help guide her toward that for which they both were created.

  6. November 2, 2011 11:38 pm

    Lois was in my husband’s Sunday School class of 5th and 6th graders. I met her at her high school graduation party that she had with a gal from my youth group at the Hains house. Before I ever knew I would marry Dan, I met some of his best friends that day. Leland, Robert, and Lois, along with Harold, have touched our lives through the years as I grew to know them better. Now I grieve, once again, in losing Lois from this ball of dust. I will keep Kaleb and Melody in my prayers and have posted the prayer request to my FB page as well. Even though I can’t say I know Kaleb well, knowing that Lois loved him deeply and that a part of Lois is in Melody, I love them both just as dearly as her.

    • November 3, 2011 6:30 am

      Thank you for sharing your story, Jenny, and for your prayers for the Unger family.

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