The story of young Kristina Hendley and her seven-month-old baby, Rayne Marie, looks like it is headed toward something few could have anticipated: a happy ending.
Their tale first became news Dec. 18, when a very pregnant Kristina, 20, was visiting a friend. She suddenly went into labor, and Rayne Marie was delivered on a bed as the friend, with no training of any sort, played midwife.
The baby was fine, Kristina said, and all was well.
But that was not the case.
As it turned out, Hendley had been using alcohol and the drug methamphetamine during her pregnancy, and traces of the drug were found in Rayne Marie's bloodstream soon after her birth meaning that the infant could have developed one or all of a myriad of "meth baby" symptoms, which can range from thyroid, kidney, liver and heart problems to death.
But Rayne Marie lived up to her billing as a "miracle Christmas baby." After spending a week in observation at Payson Regional medical center, she was allowed to go home.
But at the suggestion of Child Protective Services representatives, Kristina's grandmother took care of the baby until Kristina completed 30 days of drug rehabilitation in the Valley.
That was in January.
A lot has happened since then.
"I went through my month of rehab, and Child Protective Services dropped my case as soon as I got back," Kristina said Monday. "My grandmother had Rayne Marie while I was away, and that was very hard to be gone from her for so long. But we had a wonderful reunion."
Soon after, Rayne Marie even attended her first wedding: that of her mother and father, 42-year-old Dan Middleton of Payson.
"Right now, I'm loving my life," Kristina said. "I've been clean and sober for 7 months, and I can actually take care of my family and myself. My husband has a good job, and I take care of Rayne Marie all day.
"I'm still going to Alcoholic's Anonymous three or four times a week. I chair the Sunday meetings, and I'm also a temporary sponsor, which means that I can help others. Rayne Marie goes to the meetings with me, unless my grandmother wants her," she said. "Everything is going really well, and Rayne Marie is growing so fast. The doctor said that she's taller than normal, and her weight is perfectly healthy."
According to her grandmother, Annellenson, Kristina's life is truly back on track.
"She is doing wonderfully," Henson said. "The baby is so healthy and happy, and they have a little apartment. I think they're going to make it."