GROVE OAK, Ala. (ABP) — Ten years ago, a tornado left Regina Webb's body broken on the ground amid the scattered remnants of her home. She was paralyzed from the chest down. Last January she gave birth to triplets.
The three girls arrived 11 weeks premature and weighed in at less than three pounds each. But they are now home, healthy and big enough to fill their mother's embrace.
“It's wonderful,” said Webb, 34. “It's kind of hard for me to grasp that I had three babies.”
On March 27, 1994 — Palm Sunday — Webb was sleeping at her home in Grove Oak, in northeast Alabama, after working a 12-hour night shift as a registered nurse at a hospital. Meanwhile, her husband headed off to church three miles away.
Around 11:30 that morning, Webb awoke to a sound like a rushing train. She knew it was a tornado, she said. The last thing she remembers was heading for cover in the bathroom.
When she regained consciousness she was in her yard — along with her washer, dryer and bathtub — 75 feet from where she had been, with rain falling on her face. She wasn't in pain but she could move only her right arm.
As a nurse, Webb knew she was paralyzed, although she hoped it was temporary. “I prayed, 'Dear God, if it's your will, just take me on home.'” She'd fractured her legs, her shoulder and ribs, punctured her lungs and severed her spinal cord, an injury resulting in permanent paralysis. But she would survive.
“It makes a tremendous difference that I have a wonderful Christian husband who was right there saying, 'We can do this.'”
Regina and Randy Webb had been married only a year and a half at the time of the tornado, but Randy never lost heart over their losses, Regina said. “If he did, I never knew about it,” she said.
Their home demolished, the Webbs moved in with her parents for a couple of months, a frustrating move for the formerly self-reliant Webb. It was a dark time, she recalled. As she prayed that God would never leave her, she felt arms wrap around her. For a second, she thought it was her husband. Instead, she believes, it was God who had her in “his grip.”
Soon the couple found a first-floor apartment and though paralyzed from the chest down, Webb returned to work. She transitioned from nursing into her current position as quality improvement/utilization review coordinator for DeKalb Baptist Medical Center.
Before the tornado hit, the Webbs were undecided about whether they should have children. Four years ago they started exploring the option and praying about it.
“I was real apprehensive about having children,” Regina Webb said. She wondered if she could properly care for a baby from a wheelchair. The Webbs consulted fertility specialists and Regina took fertility drugs.
But on the day the couple found out they were expecting triplets, they also heard devastating news. The plant where Randy worked was closing immediately. Insurance and medical benefits would be gone at midnight.
“Just when we thought we'd hit rock bottom and thought, 'Oh, what are we going to do?' we had to turn it over to God,” Webb said. “… When we looked at it, we saw snapshots, but God could see the big picture.”
Through her job, Webb was able to get insurance that covered pre-existing conditions. When she was put on complete bed rest several weeks before delivering the triplets, Randy — no longer obligated to the workplace — was able to be at home to care for her. He also stayed at home to care for the triplets when Regina resumed work at the hospital.
The girls — Emily Grace, Alyssa Jean, and Lauren Olivia — were named after the couple's mothers and a neighborhood child they took in as their godchild.
Webb credits their church, parents and co-workers for their support during her ordeal. She said her faith is stronger than ever. “I think God left me here for a reason. You trust God, and when things aren't going like you think they should be going, you trust that God has a plan and a reason for things.”
— Kima Jude is a correspondent for the Alabama Baptist. A photo is available from the Alabama Baptist.