Jacob and Hannah Sheriff from Sherman, Texas, were ready to take their family of six to a family of seven in 2018 as they awaited the arrival of child No. 5, Urias.
Meaning “God is light,” the newest addition to the Sheriff family has become a beacon of hope and a reminder of God’s care for his people — but it didn’t start that way.
As Hannah was in labor in a Texas hospital, the experienced mom suddenly realized something was very wrong.
“I looked up at my nurse and I said, ‘I’m not OK,’” she told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “I said I felt like I’m going to faint or pass out. The room just began narrowing.”
The baby started to show signs of distress, so Hannah was immediately prepped for an emergency C-section.
“At that moment it became, everybody jump on and let’s go,” said Dr. Kinion Whittington, Hannah’s OB-GYN physician. “We got a big-time emergency.”
Jacob said he didn’t realize the extent of the emergency until he got into the operating room and saw what was happening. Hannah had experienced a placental abruption and was losing a significant amount of blood, according to CBN.
Urias, severed from the placenta too early, was showing no signs of life.
“I opened up the uterus; there was just blood everywhere,” Whittington recalled. “Everywhere.”
“And then I see him come out and he doesn’t look like … I mean, he’s dead,” Jacob said.
There were no signs of life in Urias. He had no pulse, and he was limp.
As Jacob turned to prayer, he sent a quick text to friends and family requesting their heartfelt intercessions for the life of their little boy.
Meanwhile, doctors performed CPR on the infant.
“After about 10 minutes, if you don’t have a fetal heart rate, it’s just a futile effort,” Whittington said.
But 10 minutes came and went, and they continued. For 20 minutes, the medical team tried to revive Urias. They got a pulse, but damage had been done.
While Hannah remained for surgery and treatment, Jacob went with Urias as he was intubated and life-flighted to Texas Health Presbyterian in Plano, 80 miles away. During the trip, Urias started to seize, the Christian Broadcasting Network reported.
The prognosis was not good: He was diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. He’d experienced such a lack of oxygen and blood that his brain was seriously damaged.
“He had the severe form, the one that we consider that is at high risk of having long-term delays in terms of development,” Dr. Eduardo Perez, a neonatologist, explained.
Hannah and Jacob learned that their baby might never walk, talk or feed himself, and that he probably would have cerebral palsy and experience seizures.
Urias was put on a 72-hour cooling treatment to try to lower his body temperature in an effort to minimize the damage, but the parents weren’t given much hope. Doctors told them that 40% of the patients don’t make it.
“It’s just one punch after another,” Jacob recalled. “I can’t control anything, but I can trust God. I don’t feel it, like some emotional thing. It was a determination and a commitment: I’m going to trust God.”
And that trust manifested in a request on social media as the parents asked for the prayers of the faithful regarding this new little life that was so fragile.
The post took off, and soon a Facebook page was created called “Pray For Baby Urias.”
“We thought it was going to be just a few people, but it ended up being other churches, friends of friends, and believers ended up being around the world, praying for our son,” Jacob told KTEN-TV.
One night, a nurse witnessed what she’s calling a miracle. Night nurse Latricia Bell was checking on Urias when she saw his eyes open, so she rushed to get Jacob.
“He had been laying so still,” Bell said. “And for him to open up his eyes, looking around, this was a big deal!”
Jacob rushed in to see his son give the faintest sign of life, and he immediately returned to prayer. He struggled with doubt but reminded himself of God’s power.
“It’s like I could hear their voices again, what they’re saying about him,” Jacob said, per CBN. “And I just, remembered, ‘Don’t be afraid; believe only.’”
After Jacob had left again, Bell experienced something she could only describe as supernatural.
“I felt such a warmth,” she said. “Every hair on my body stood up. I knew that I was in the presence of God. He — He was right there, at that moment.
“I looked at the monitors, and there were no more seizures. That was the end of it.
“You hear about miracles, but God let me see that one.”
And from then on, Urias persevered. He recovered. He started breathing on his own.
Three weeks later, he went home. He hit all the normal baby milestones. At the close of his first year, his parents anxiously awaited the neurologist’s report.
“I’ve only had a couple other cases where people have made a full recovery, and I’m just telling you, he’s one of them,” the doctor told them.
Urias has continued to thrive, a reminder to his parents that God is with His people at all times.
“What I hope people have learned is not just how to work with God, but how to trust him,” Jacob said.
“Even in moments where I don’t feel Him, like, I can’t see Him, His faithfulness doesn’t change,” Hannah said.