Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Life (06/15/06)
TITLE: Each New Life
By Jen Davis
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The mother lay in the hospital bed clutching a cigarette between her two fingers. Her doctor stood at the foot of the bed and spoke with her as he glanced between the chart and his patient. Hours of hard labor were evident in the fresh lines carved into her face, her tousled hair and a crumpled hospital gown that hung off one shoulder. Intent on her doctor’s instructions, she hadn’t acknowledged her infant’s arrival. After positioning the basinet at the mother’s bedside, I picked up the baby and held him in my arms. As soon as the mother extinguished one cigarette, she immediately reached for another. Striking the match, she lit her cigarette and inhaled deeply. That’s when it hit me.
Just hours before, the Labor and Delivery nurse had brought this baby to the nursery for admission. At first glance I was startled at his appearance and assumed he had delivered prematurely. Not only was he small in size, but his skin lay fragile on his bony frame. He lacked that healthy layer of fat most newborns have. Rather than the robust pink of the other babies whose basinets lined the rows in the nursery, his dull complexion paled in comparison. Even his cry was feeble, seeming to require more energy than he possessed. After completing a thorough head-to-toe newborn exam, I found him to be a full-term infant. Never before had I seen a newborn who looked so unhealthy, yet I could find nothing wrong.
As I looked down at this new life in my arms, suddenly I understood. Never before had I seen a mother who smoked as much as this woman and never had I seen such a marked effect on a newborn. As I continued to wait for the doctor to finish with his patient, I began to wonder about this little boy’s future. What other choices would this mother make that would drastically affect her son’s well being? Where was his father? Would he be involved in his life? Would they love him unconditionally and nurture his God given talents? Or would he fall short of their expectations?
In addition to his family, so many others would shape his life. Would he be blessed with teachers who would recognize his strengths and weaknesses? Would they nurture and encourage, or would they criticize and discourage? Would he have friends to laugh with and grow up with, or would his friends venture off the straight path and take him along with them. Would he come to know the Lord through his encounters with Christ followers? Or would he instead bear witness to their hypocrisy? If his father was not in his life, would he come to rely on the One who would never leave him? So many questions yet to be answered. Each new life having so many possibilities and each new life affected by so many others.
As the doctor turned to leave, the mother turned towards her son. Her eyes settled upon his face and she instinctively reached for him. Suddenly, she stopped as she realized she still held a cigarette in her hand, her third since I entered the room. Pressing out the flame into the ashtray, she pushed it away. Returning to her son, she looked up at me and smiled in anticipation. “Would you like to meet your son?” I asked.
Without hesitation she accepted him into her arms. Hours of hard labor had resulted in a cesarean, so this would be the first time she would hold him. A smile warmed her face, softening the lines and returning some color to her complexion. This was not the same person I encountered when I first entered her room. She had been changed. She was a mother now. I stood very still not wanting to interfere in this very special moment, although I suspected I could disappear and she might not notice.
While I had been so concerned about how others would affect her son’s life, now I had to wonder what kind of affect the son would have on his mother’s life. Watching her admiring her son, accepting him as her own, it seemed as if he already had.
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