Jeff Nelson and Steve Helling
February 16, 2017 10:00 AM

Maddie Aldridge is on the mend now, but when her family kept vigil while praying for her in the hospital, they had no idea how — or if — she would recover.

After Jamie Lynn Spears and ex Casey Aldridge’s 8-year-old daughter accidentally drove an ATV into a pond and nearly drowned on Feb. 5, “No one knew until she woke up what was going to happen,” a friend of Aldridge tells PEOPLE of Spears, 25, her husband, Jamie Watson, and Aldridge, 27.

“The doctors did a lot of tests before she woke up, and it was encouraging, but still — no one knew for sure,” adds the friend. “Everyone was really worried because they didn’t know how bad the brain injury was. They didn’t know if she was going to recognize them or if she’d ever be the same.”

But two days later, their prayers were answered: Maddie regained consciousness, was talking and showed no signs of neurological damage, Children’s Hospital in New Orleans told PEOPLE in a statement at the time.

For more on Maddie’s miraculous recovery, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

“When she woke up, they said that it was obvious that she recognized them all,” says the friend. “Everybody was crying because it was such a miracle.”

Shortly after the accident, Maddie’s family — including grandfather Jamie Spears and aunt Britney Spears — publicly asked for prayers from fans and friends, and now feel their prayers were answered.

“Everyone knows this was a God thing,” adds the friend. “It could have gone either way; they almost lost her. But God wasn’t ready to take her back … She’s getting stronger, and they have their Maddie back — and that’s all that matters.”

Indeed, since Maddie left the hospital on Friday her life has been getting back to normal, and her parents took to social media to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support they received.

“Thanks to the amazing first responders, and medical teams at University and Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, LA, we are headed home with our baby girl as she continues to recover,” the country singer-songwriter posted on Instagram over the weekend. “Above all else we are so thankful for each and every prayer, because we know that is what truly made the difference. Thank you again to everyone. We are truly blessed.”

On Tuesday, she even joined her classmates at school to pass out treats and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

“Maddie isn’t quite ready to return to school, but her doctors did clear her to bring in her Valentine’s Day treats to her class today,” Spears wrote on Instagram after the visit. “It made her so happy to see her friends, and be able to give them such cute treats. It was a great moment for us after everything that has happened. We are so thankful to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the ones we love, and we don’t take a second of it for granted.”

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