“Gordon, I think it’s time”, I heard the voice of my darling wife through the fog of semi-consciousness as I struggled to shake the grip of slumber. When the words registered in my mind, I was instantly awake. She had been feeling birthpains periodically over the previous 24 hours, but had been advised by the local hospital not to come before the contractions were regular at 15-minute intervals. Now, it was the moment we had been anticipating since our wedding day. I made a quick call to a neighbor who had offered to help ‘at any time’ and within the hour we were checked-in to the small local hospital. There was no “maternity ward”, so they took her to the small operating room, and summoned the local doctor. By the time the doctor arrived, however, the contractions had stopped altogether. She felt rather sheepish, but just to be safe, the nursing staff put her into a small room at the hospital to keep her under observation.
I tried to remember all of the things that we had learned in pre-natal classes, but, for the most part, my mind was swirling with the excitement of the hour, and the anticipation of the future. Memories of our wedding day flooded my mind as I took a moment to reflect on the goodness of God, and the ways in which He had led us during the past year.
“Ohhhhhh!” my reverie was broken by her startled cry, and, instantly I returned to the hospital ward.
“Remember to breathe, Anna,” the on-duty nurse coached her, as the pain subsided once more. Another contraction started within a few minutes; then, once again all was quiet. So it happened, intermittently all day. There seemed to be no regular pattern, but each session left her increasingly weaker. By suppertime, she was too fatigued to eat much more than a small sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup.
“Doctor, that is a big baby!” the voice of the nurse could be heard through the door of the hospital ward. Throughout the day the nurses had discussed the possible necessity of a Caesarian birth, but the doctor appeared to be adamant that Anna was capable of a natural birthing process. The hospital was too small to accommodate such a major operation, and the nearest larger center was 120 miles distant. Now, it was after 10:00 p.m., and still there was no regularity to the contractions, although they were increasingly painful. What was I to do? The nurses suggested that I go home and catch a few hours of sleep, but I knew that I wouldn’t have been able to relax if I had followed their suggestion. Obviously, this was not going to be as easy as we had heard in pre-natal classes, and I wanted to be there to give her the support when she really needed it.
“We’re going to have to take her into Prince George,” the doctor advised, “Is there anyone that you need to call?” I numbly walked to the telephone and dialed the number of one of the church board members. Being assured that the prayers of the saints were supporting us, I walked back outside to the waiting ambulance. Anna was already strapped into the gurney complete with an Intra-venous drip, so I climbed into the second seat. I turned to face her so that I could grasp her out-stretched hand, and tried to find some words of encouragement in the turmoil that was going through my mind.
“It’s going to be alright, Little-one”, I tried to comfort her as the ambulance driver sped toward the main street that led out of town. Reaching the main highway, he turned on the flashing lights and stepped on the accelerator. It wasn’t much more than a winding logging road in northern British Columbia and the winter frost had left its mark on the pavement. The potholes were unavoidable at times, and with each jar, she gasped in pain. The nurse tried to make her as comfortable as possible but the situation was tenuous at the very best.
“How is Dad doing?” the attendant directed his question to me in an attempt to bring me back to the present. Numbly I nodded a response, and turned once again to grasp her outstretched hand. Reaching the outskirts of the city, the driver once again turned on the lights as well as the siren in order to warn the sparse traffic that was on the road at that early hour of the morning. Within minutes we were pulling up to the emergency ward of the hospital, and the driver, attendant, and nurse proceeded to whisk her away to the waiting emergency operating room.
Having filled out all of the necessary forms, I was shown to a waiting room adjacent to the maternity ward. There, I breathed a prayer for the safe-keeping of my Anna, as well as the little life that would soon make his/her way into the world. His or her? At that point it didn’t really matter to me, but whenever we had discussed it over the prior months the thought of a little girl that looked like her mother had caused my heart to beat just a little faster. In the uncertainty we had chosen two names to accommodate either eventuality. Now, in the turmoil of the situation, the only words I could find was “Lord keep them both safe!”
I watched as the swinging door opened to reveal a nurse in a green gown backing into the room. As she turned to face me, I could see that she held a small bundle wrapped in a small white blanket. “Mr. Lang!” she called as she recognized me, “do you want to see your little girl?” Instantly, I was there – gazing in wonder at the most precious sight I could ever have imagined. Her skin was flushed, her nose was wrinkled, and her head was covered with fine dark hair – and she was beautiful!
“So, what’s her name?” the voice of the nurse broke the wonder of the moment.
“Her name is Deborah Kathleen!” I replied without hesitation.
“Ohhhhh! What a pretty name!” the nurse exulted as I continued to adore the little angel that I held in my arms. Some time later I heard her break into my thoughts once again. “I’ll take her back to her mother”, I heard her say, as the little bundle broke into a cry of hunger. “It may be some time before you can see her – you might want to go get some breakfast at the cafeteria while you wait.” It occurred to me that it was, indeed, early morning. I had not slept in the last 24 hours, but I knew that I wouldn’t have been able to sleep if I had the opportunity.
“Good Morning, Deborah Kathleen”, I mused as I wandered off in the direction of the cafeteria, “my little angel!”