Memorable Memorial Day

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virden

kids-image-4Early in the pregnancy, I was praying when I sensed a very strong warning. Something would go wrong. Over the course of the next few months, I tearfully trusted that if God was willing, he could save the baby.

Odd circumstances pointed toward a specific action. First a magazine article, then a friend, followed by my mother, gave me the message, “You need to memorize Psalm 91.” 

About two weeks before Tim arrived, I was told he was transverse.  Unless he turned, his birth would have to be by caesarean section.

On Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, I woke feeling uncomfortable. Pain in my lower back and tailbone area as well as uneasiness  made me call the doctor. Not to worry, he said. Since there were no contractions I was to wait until I had some – then wait for them to be five minutes apart. Besides, Tim was not due for three more weeks.

I spent the day watching TV in bed, tossing and turning, attempting to find a comfortable position. I had not experienced these sensations before. By midnight, my husband was ready to sleep.  Since I was still moving about with the TV on, he went upstairs to sleep with three-year-old Jonathan. 

A contraction hit.  Ok, now is when I am supposed to start timing them.  I check the clock. It is 1:00am.  Intending to take a shower and get dressed for a possible trip to the hospital, I walked to the bathroom where my water broke.

Within seconds a contraction hit hard followed immediately by another.  The fifteen feet back to the bed looked impossible to reach. I started yelling for my husband to come back downstairs. By the time he finally heard me over two loud fans, I had fallen onto the bed, and several more contractions had come and gone.

Miracle one is an ambulance had been called on a false alarm down our street. It arrived in seconds.  Immediately upon entering the room, a paramedic assessed the situation.  He hesitated briefly because what he was considering was against the rules.  His orders were to take mothers and babies in distress straight to the hospital. Remember, Tim was transverse.

I watched his face intently and saw a look of decision and determination cross his eyes.  “This is going to hurt,” he warned.

After being turned, Tim was born breech.  He was also lifeless.  I wanted to see him because I feared there might not be another chance. I was told there was no time. I begged. 

Tim was in the paramedic’s arms on the way to the ambulance. They paused for a nano-second. In that moment I saw a completely blue baby.  I have never seen such a blue since.

They whisked away while new paramedics with a second ride for me arrived.  Unknown to me, Tim was undergoing CPR on his way to the hospital.  For ten minutes, he showed no life signs.  He scored zeros on the APGAR scale for all of those passing minutes.

Loaded into the second ambulance,  Psalm 91 came to mind and I prayed it. Later, as the paramedics compared notes, it became clear that baby Tim gasped for air as I began to quote the passage. Miracle two.

He was in NICU for a week during which I received one bad report after another; he could not hear, he was seizing, and there was likely brain damage.  A neurologist told me Tim could not move his legs.  As she spoke, I looked over at Tim’s pajamas. His brother had worn them and had been shorter than this newborn.  “His pajamas are too small,” I said. Freeing him from the confining clothes, his legs plopped down and wriggled as any baby’s should.

My faith grew stronger that human doctors’ reports are not necessarily God’s opinion. Miracle three is Tim grew up to be a normal, healthy, intelligent, soon-to-be twenty-two year old with excellent hearing and no brain damage.

Tim himself is miracle four. I have always been and will forever be grateful for his life. He has brought joy and tears and lots of laughter into my world, a loss I would surely have felt if he had never breathed.

Memorial Day is special for all the love of country and gratitude to our veterans. This weekend is also a memorable one for our family. For on the 26th of May, this beloved son arrived, and his life has changed those around him for the better.

Compassionate love remembers gratitude as we count our blessings and freedoms, say thank you to our war heroes, and whisper a prayer to the God of the universe who has a purpose for each of his creations. Life is full of miracles. 

Happy Birthday, son.


NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

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