"All across the land dawns a brand new morn, this comes to pass when a child is born", words from one of my favorite Christmas songs, " When a child is born" sung by the great Johnny Mathis. Those magnificent words have a special meaning for anyone who has ever had the pleasure of witnessing the birth of a child, and for me they were never quite as meaningful as they were the night my son David was born.
Each year as the holiday season approaches, I find myself thinking about family gatherings at Nana Flanagan's house, watching It's a Wonderful Life more times than I care to admit and that most memorable of nights, December 24th, l988.
David made his grand entrance into the world at 7:23pm on Christmas Eve, twenty five days before his estimated time of arrival. Trust me, the last place that Linda and I expected to be that night was in the Delivery Room of the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Earlier that day Linda had complained about stomach pains and was concerned that they might be labor pains. Since Linda and I had gone to a party the night before and had eaten far more than our fair share of the Christmas goodies I too had awoken with stomach pains. As a result we were thoroughly convinced that there absolutely was no possible way that Linda's pains could in any way be related to her pregnancy. After all, David wasn't due until January 18 and we had another party to go to that night. Needless to say, several hours later Linda and I found ourselves checking into the hospital and by nightfall David had arrived.
The birth of a child is indeed one of the most incredible wonders of the world and I will never forget the first time that I laid eyes on David. Like all new parents, I found myself anxiously counting David's fingers and toes and wondering if he would be a healthy baby. How could something as incredibly wonderful as this happen to me I marvelled as the nurse handed David over to me. There he was all 6 pounds, 4 ounces of him, crying and squirming around in my arms. David looked so small and vulnerable as I held him that night that I was afraid that I might somehow squeeze just a bit too hard and hurt him. How wonderful I thought to be here on Christmas Eve with my new son, holding him tightly in my arms.
Within minutes of David's birth my feelings of happiness turned to fear as the doctors and nurses began working on Linda who was apparently experiencing some type of complications from the delivery. I cannot recall ever feeling so alone and helpless as that night, standing there holding my son and my life in my hands while my wife was lying there helplessly nearby. I demanded to know what was wrong and one of the doctors suggested that I leave the room so that they could help Linda. Reluctantly I left the delivery room and watched anxiously through the tiny window praying to God that everything would be okay.
The nurses were concerned for David's health and rushed him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for observation. I agonized over whether to stay with Linda or go with David and decided that my new son needed me more that night so I accompanied him to Neonatal.
The last thing that I wanted was for David to be alone, out of my sight for even a moment, on Christmas Eve, his first night on this earth. I will never, ever forget that night, sitting in a rocking chair, rocking well into the night, holding David and trying to fight back the tears as I thought about all that had happened that night. God, please help me, I thought, its not supposed to be like this, tonight was supposed to be the happiest night of my life but in moments it had become the saddest.
As I sat there in the rocking chair, slowly moving back and forth, holding David and looking at him lying there so peacefully, I could hear "Oh Holy Night" playing gently over a loudspeaker, behind me. The music was so low that I could barely hear it, yet the words "Oh Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior's birth" were never more clear or poignant to me. I rocked well into the night, holding David, tears streaming down my face I prayed that Linda would make it through that night. Each Christmas Eve, as I look at David, his brother Evan and Linda I thank God for helping me that night and for all that he has given me.