News In The Park
I was in the process of remodeling an old bakery in Phoenix, Arizona one day. My wife had planned to bring me lunch after her visit with the doctor’s office. When I saw her, she walked straight towards me with a serious look on her face. I was expecting some news about her medical exam, but not what was forthcoming from her lips.
She wasted no time in telling me she was pregnant. She said I had a funny look on my face. I guess I didn’t get very excited like most husbands do. Raising kids was not a priority in my life at the time.
She also was afraid that I might do something drastic when she told me. Like maybe leaving her to fend for herself with this newborn child. She saw fear in my eyes as she relayed the news to me. This was my first biological child and I wasn’t really sure how to handle the whole thing. We had a new baby on the way and that was that. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it would become an extremely difficult adventure like we never could have possibly imagined.
The No-Warning Signs
Her pregnancy was uneventful for the entire length of the term. She carried the baby well, never got sick, and worked at her job right up to the near due date of the birth. It seemed like everything was going to be normal.
Then the day before Labor Day, everything started to go wrong. All the things that happen to a woman’s body were starting to happen, but not in the right sequence. We immediately went to the hospital not knowing what to expect. There, the baby was signaling that it wanted to be born, but not moving forward into the birth canal. Adding to the drama, the doctors at the hospital could not induce the natural birth delivery procedure.
After multiple delays in the medical staff’s decision-making process, I could see that my wife was getting very frustrated. I finally started to get mad and wound up throwing things and kicking chairs in her room. It was a stunt which finally got the medics in gear to come up with a solution before things got out of hand.
She had asked me to be in the delivery room during the birth, something I absolutely did not want to do. She even chose the birth place in her planning, Glendale Hospital, which happened to be a small facility. They would allow for me to be present. I was definitely losing the battle to be absent.
Even though I had eventually geared myself up to succumb to her request, it was not meant to be. The decision was finally made to take the baby by Caesarean Section, and I would not be allowed to witness the moment of birth.
Baby Cloaked In Blue
I had waited for what seemed like hours to hear the news. When the nurse carrying our child came out, she told me we had a baby girl. But the first thing I noticed is that her coloration was kind of a grey-blue color. Even though I was not experienced with the look of a newborn baby, I immediately came to the conclusion that something was seriously wrong.
Our daughter was quickly whisked to an area where she could be closely monitored. When the doctor came out, he said that there was a big problem with the child’s breathing. Something was blocking her air passage.
It didn’t take long before I was able to see my wife. Even though she was feeling the pain of a difficult birth, panic mode was setting in as her fears focused on our baby. The big question was whether this newborn infant was going to live or die. The situation became dire as time seemed to march by very quickly.
The Transfer To Good Samaritan
The attending physician finally informed me and my wife that there was some type of growth in the baby’s throat that was affecting the breathing process. In order to save her, she would have to be transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix which had a facility set up to handle the crisis.
During all this, my wife’s parents had just arrived, having come in from Los Angeles, California. They were immediately faced with the prospect of following the paramedic vehicle to the new location. While in route, I was sitting next to my Father-In-Law in the front seat of their motor home. We both talked and prayed that the emergency lights would not light up as we followed. If they did, it would indicate a turn for the worse, signaling a sudden need to get to the hospital quickly. Not a good scenario!
Arriving at Good Samaritan we were quickly educated to the fact that we were in a very fortuitous timeline for handling our baby’s demise. One year earlier, a brand new classification had been orchestrated by the American Board of Pediatrics called Neonatology. It was a hospital-based specialty that catered to newborn infants that were ill or required special medical care. In other words, baby’s that previously were dying, were now being kept alive by this science.
It just so happened, by the grace of God, that we were in the right place at the right time for this event. Good Samaritan had recently adopted the new Neonatology discipline and had a fully functioning ward in place. Our baby was now in their care.
The horror of what was happening was just getting started. We soon learned that our baby had a very rare tumor just below her brain area called a Teratoma. The tumor contains various forms of human development including hair, teeth, limbs, and various other body parts. A biopsy done through her mouth and throat was needed to get a tissue sample and verify the existence of this freak of the medical world.
First of all, the doctors had to perform a tracheotomy in this tiny baby’s throat to allow her to breathe properly. It was a necessary procedure done to buy time until a decision could be made to deal with this mass inside her. And to top matters off, much of the tumor was intertwined with nerves coming out of her brain. What a horrible nightmare!
If you are wondering at this stage of the story why I haven’t mentioned the baby’s name, I will tell you. It is because I definitely told my wife that I did not want the baby named after me if it was a boy. But she tricked me. Since I did not place any restrictions on the name if the baby was a girl, she went ahead and named her Stephanie. Being all that we were going through at the time, I could not object.
The Neonatology Ward
Now comes the kicker. We knew nothing about this new science called Neonatology. It was too new to learn about in existing medical books. Many of the incorporated procedures that catered to keeping problematic births from ending prematurely were in the early stages of development. And now we had to trust our baby daughter to possibly untested solutions to fix her malady. Things started becoming more intense.
As Stephanie’s condition stabilized, we were allowed into the ward to view her. It was not a pretty sight. She had this tube going into her trachea and needles stuck into various parts of her body. When she opened her eyes, they had a very dark, almost black, appearance to them.
So, we began to make daily visits to see her. While we watched her lay there in her cubicle, the seriousness of the condition she was in was manifested through the conditions of other babies that were in the same ward as her.
One night while visiting, we heard the monitor of one infant nearby quit blinking. We asked the nurse if she had died and were given the sobering answer of “yes”. That really shook us up. Another time, a child was rushed in that was vomiting up some type of green fluid. Moments later, we saw the father come to the viewing window and started beating his head against the glass while screaming. It was awful to watch.
Eventually a decision was made to operate and remove the tumor. In the surgeon’s office, we were told that the removal process was very risky and that there was a very good chance the baby would not survive the ordeal. But in the meantime, Stephanie would be allowed to come home with us for a short while until the surgery could be scheduled.
The next words out of my wife’s mouth broke my heart. She looked straight at the doctor and stated “If she doesn’t survive, I am glad that we will have been able to spend this little time with her”! Suddenly I felt myself looking away as tears began to fill my eyes. I didn’t want her to see me this way.
Her Temporary Visit In Our Home
Another thing that I haven’t mentioned yet is the fact that we had made the decision before the birth to make this child our last one. During the Caesarean Section, the surgeons would also be required to tie her tubes to prevent any further pregnancies. The finality of this decision was that my one and only biological child could have her life terminated on the operating table. More anxiety set in as we prepared to bring her home.
So here we were, our little daughter home with us carrying the weight of an enormous defect inside her. It crossed our minds many times that this short visit would be her last. Not being spiritually inclined at the time, I didn’t even entertain the concept of prayer to soften the fear that I felt inside me.
We learned quickly that one of us had to be vigilant all through the night. The tracheal tube would need to be cleaned out periodically because it would often fill with mucous and cut off her breathing. To make matters worse, the tumor was still growing and further blocking the air supply into her lungs.
I volunteered to be the one to spend most of the sleepless nights waiting for signs of labored breathing and possible choking from Stephanie. When any sounds indicating difficulty presented themselves, I would get up and clear the tube until normal breathing started again. It was exhausting, but satisfying that I could play an important role in her immediate survival.
Finally, the unwanted day of surgery finally arrived. We took her back to the hospital fearing the worst. By now I had been entrenched in being a father and very much wanting my baby daughter to survive. I finally had reached the point of realizing this baby was the product of my essence and I would not have the chance for another one. A very sobering thought indeed.
My wife, Gene (short for Geneva) was very wrought with fears of losing the only child she had with me. She often became emotional when thinking or talking about the possible outcome of our brand new baby girl and it got to me. I found myself searching for answers as to why this was happening to us.
As we released our baby into the arms of the attending nurse, we were then ushered into a private waiting room. A special hospital rep was there to sit with my wife. I sat in another corner of the room by myself. All alone in my thoughts, I stared blankly out the adjoining window. I remember looking at a large tree with fading leaves filling the view.
It was there that I realized I was totally helpless as I sank into despair. Finally, I began to pray. Pray to a God that I hardly knew. Where was He and what power did He have to save my baby. I uttered silent words that came from deep within my heart. Little did I know at the time that He was there in my presence all the while and was using my newborn child as a means of reaching me and drawing me closer to Him. It was a defining moment in my life!
The News We Had Been Waiting For
After seemingly endless hours in the waiting room, the surgery was over. For the very first time I saw the surgeon with a smile on his face as he came out of the operating room and walked into our room.
The surgeon had never operated on an infant before. I guess he was chosen because he was an expert in this type of medical procedure and probably the one individual best qualified to make the final outcome a success.
He was thrilled to report that the surgery had a very positive outcome. He said we were able to go in through her mouth to cut away the mass and make no external incisions. It looks like we got all of the tumor. He talked to us in a very upbeat manner as he explained how they performed the procedure and stated that our baby was now doing very well. To sum it all up, she was going to Live and had an excellent chance at a normal life!
We were absolutely elated at the news. My wife could finally breathe a very deep sigh of relief and her joy that followed filled her entire being. As for me, I was suddenly embraced by the feeling that God does answer prayer and He does listen to what you have to say.
Since I was raised a Catholic by my mother I was not familiar with the Holy Bible as an entity unto itself. Later on I would begin to learn important passages from It’s pages that I could relate to. One of them was:“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7 King James Version
Our baby was alive and breathing and the tumor was gone. What an incredible moment in both our lives. Adding to that, there was no doubt in my mind that the God of Creation was the central entity involved with helping us through the whole ordeal that we had been going through.
Baby Stephanie was required to remain in the hospital another week before we were able to take her home. It was amazing that with all the needles and probes stuck in her, there was only one tell-tale sign that remained. It was a scar where the tracheal tube had been inserted into her throat. The only other thing was that she had a drainage tube implanted in her left ear to allow any built up fluid resulting from the surgery to escape.
So there we were. We had just survived a very real near-death experience that threatened our newborn daughter’s life. This whole ordeal had a lasting impact on future decisions that affected my way of thinking. It also gave rise to the awareness of of my ensuing spirituality. God had spared my life on 3 separate occasions, and now he spared my baby’s life. There had to be a reason, and I had to discover what it was.
Along with other stories, I now find myself on the verge of writing articles and creating poems that enshrine my relationship with Him. Now writing spiritual insights about Him is one way I can communicate to others about what I believe in and how it has changed my life. Stephanie’s survival story is key to having put me on the right path and making that happen. Amen.
PS: I wrote this article shortly after the State of New York approved “very” late term abortions. Also the governor of Virginia was pushing for the legal termination of an infant’s life shortly after birth. That is no longer an abortion, it is infanticide. Can you spell M-U-R-D-E-R.