This past year has been a difficult one for the Koford’s. Soon after her husband, Cameron, suffered a serious brain injury, Emilie found out that she was pregnant. This was not expected, and it was not the ideal timing, to say the least. If that weren’t enough to deal with, her dad suffered a heart attack, and she fell down the stairs. On top of all of that, the family made a big move from California to Utah. This was the 19th move for the family, and this was a hard one, because she was leaving behind a great job, her family, and her support network, just when she needed all the support she could get.
“There has been a time in each and every one of my children’s lives where I literally fought for their life!”
Starting a family wasn’t easy for the Koford’s. They struggled to get pregnant, suffered miscarriages, struggled to stay pregnant, and once the babies were born, they struggled to get them home from the NICU. They struggled to get their children into the world and struggled to keep them in the world many times. Because of this, they are very united as a family, and they place great value on love and life. Emilie and Cameron had three children while they traveled the world as Cameron played professional basketball. Life was amazing and magical. They eventually settled in sunny California.
Life was good in California. Emilie was managing an elite gymnastics center, where her oldest daughter was thriving and found purpose and confidence. She suffers from ADD, Emilie calls it “the scary kind”, and gymnastics brought her confidence and purpose. Not only was she amazing at gymnastics, she was passionate about it, and it gave her the opportunity to travel around the US and compete. It brought life and joy to the family.
In the past year, Cameron suffered a serious brain injury, which made things quite a bit more difficult not only for himself, but for the family. He was no longer able to work while he focused on recovery. Initially, they had to move in with her parents, and she had to adapt to a new life where not only was she dealing with the every day parenting drama mostly by herself, but she was also putting a lot of her energy into helping her husband heal.
Around this time, while she was already in a difficult place, she found out that she was unexpectedly pregnant. This was a complete shock to her, since pregnancy does not happen easily for her. She definitely did not have the extra emotional or physical energy to care for an additional human being. Adding to her own families’ emotional problems was at a particularly inconvenient time because her brother and his wife had recently had a stillborn baby. This made it even more difficult to celebrate this new life, and it also caused some emotional tension in the family as well. It made it hard to be happy about a pregnancy when she knew that the family was hurting so badly over this loss. Not only was she not able to feel the joy herself, but she was also not able to get the support that she so desperately needed at this time.
“I don’t get pregnant. I can’t stay pregnant.”
Needless to say, she was terrified. This is not something that she felt like she could handle. For the longest time, she refused to accept that this was her new reality. She was having a hard time with it. Finally, one day her sister said to her, “You need to stop calling the baby ‘it’”. You need to give this baby a name. You need to be excited about this! Emilie knew this was true, but it was a hard change to make.
She started looking for names, and when she found the same “Samantha”, she just knew it was the name for this baby. Samantha means “God heard”. This was a time when Emilie definitely needed to know that God heard her. She needed Him in her life now more than ever. She desperately needed to know that God was hearing her prayers, and the He was aware of her family and their trials.
She was only 20 weeks along in her pregnancy at this point, and it was a high-risk pregnancy. With the comfort of this name, she was able to continue on with the rest of the pregnancy knowing without a doubt that God had heard her. And that He was taking care of her. With this knowledge, she was able to find peace and comfort that God would not only help her through this pregnancy, but through the rest of the trials that she might face.
With 3 older children, a husband still recovering from a brain injury, and a high-risk pregnancy, Emilie needed a lot of support. God heard her by sending her some amazing friends, who were her lifeline and a huge help to her. They were her everything. They lifted her through the dark times and brought joy and some stability into her life. God knew what she needed, and He would send her friends to help her just when she needed them the most. Even though they were very busy, they would just show and do what needed to be done. Emilie has no idea how she would have gotten through that time without them.
“I am a huge believer in resources.”
Emilie was able to carry the baby to full term, and sweet Samantha was born healthy and happy. The promise of her name rang true, because with that beautiful baby, God did hear. The hardest thing that could have happened to her in the hardest time in her life was everything that she didn’t know she needed and more. Samantha changed everyone and brought peace, joy and a little piece of heaven into the chaos of their life. They absolutely adore her, and she brings out the best in all of them.
“She is every prayer I’ve ever said that has never been answered. She is everything I ever wanted and never thought I could have.”
Sometimes we don’t understand why we are given the trials and the gifts that we are given, but God does. He knows us and loves us. God knows that, even though things may be hard right now, and it may feel like more than we can bear, we are strong enough to do hard things. He is always there, and He is always hears us.
Story about Emilie Koford Photography by Heidi Higley