Less than two weeks ago, my sister Christine visited her obstetrician's office early in the morning for a 39-week prenatal check up. After the examination, the doctor, concerned with signs of imminent labor, combined with a history of quick labors, suggested an induction for Christine later that day. This would help assure a birth in the hospital instead of home, or somewhere along the way to the hospital.
With the invitation accepted, Christine went home with hopeful preparations to not spend another uncomfortable night pregnant. Apparently her body was thinking much the same as the doctor, but a little ahead of schedule. Within a couple hours Christine's contractions were so regular and strong she and her husband Stephen went to the hospital.
After some monitoring the contractions had seemed to slow down and Christine was about to be sent home. However, when the nurses noticed that she was due back into the hospital for an induction in only an hour and half, they gave her the option to stay, which she accepted.
By early evening her labor was intense again. After the third hard contraction, the baby's heartbeat stopped. With alarms loudly buzzing, nurses scrambled to move Christine in another position in hopes of recovering the weak to nonexistent heartbeat.
When those efforts failed, suddenly a flurry of medical personnel entered the room. Frantically unplugging cords, the doctor ordered them to the operating room for an emergency C-section. With no time for a hand squeeze or a kiss on the forehead, Christine looked up at Stephen. Then with tears forming in her green eyes, she was whisked away.
"Faster! Faster!" the doctor shouted as they raced her bed down the hall. Once in the operating room, Christine calmly obeyed the anesthesiologist's directions. "One," he counted, "Deep breath." Her stomach was scrubbed with a large swab soaked in iodine. "Two. Deep breath." She could feel cutting, but strangely no pain. "Three...Deep...."
A couple hours later Christine awoke in her room to learn that within one minute of entering the operating room, 7 pound 5 ounce Lincoln was born. After careful observation he was brought to her and Stephen. Healthy and perfect in every way.
From a discussion with the doctor they realized that Lincoln's umbilical cord had been wrapped around his body and then again around his arm. The contractions had restricted his blood flow and oxygen. In addition, the umbilical cord was unusually short. According to the physician, Lincoln surely would have never survived a normal vaginal birth. A labor that began at home rather than in the hospital would have been a frightening unknown.
We don't drive expensive cars or enjoy vacation homes in the mountains. But we are rich in blessings. Death's early grasp has not always stayed its hand from our precious family members. But this month, we were fortunate. And for that we are forever grateful.