Stormy Delivery

Stormy Delivery

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

Stormy Delivery

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something
else is more important than fear.

~Ambrose Redmoon

It was just an ordinary day. I had tucked our three children in for their naps, fully realizing I needed it more than they did. Plopping into the overstuffed chair, I rubbed my tummy. Only three more weeks and I’d cradle our baby in my arms, not my belly. I whispered, “I can hardly wait.” Then I glanced out the window at the blizzard conditions and amended that statement.

I massaged my abdomen again, this time to rub away a subtle uterine twinge. It’s nothing, I told myself. The doctor had checked me just the day before and my cervix hadn’t dilated a bit. The slight twinges gnawed at me. My first labor was only five hours. My second, just one and a half. My third tied that record. The doctors expected number four to break it. That’s why I’d been instructed to call at the earliest sign of labor—that and the fact that I lived forty minutes from the hospital.

As I watched the snow pile higher on the streets, something else gnawed at me. I called my husband Del at work and told him about the twinges. “It’s probably nothing, but I think I’ll call the office and go in for a checkup before the storm gets too bad. If this isn’t early labor, the kids and I will just have dinner with my mom.”

Tanya, the office nurse was wonderful as always. She always validated my concerns, though I suspect many of them were unwarranted. In her usual, supportive fashion, she agreed with my cautious plan. So I woke the kids and paraded them to the car, ragged blankets in tow. We inched through the swirling snowstorm for seven miles before the first contraction seized my abdomen. In two minutes, a second contraction—then a third—then a fourth, each more intense, bending me over the steering wheel. The baby’s head pressed forcefully down the birth canal. Panicked and pain-stricken, I looked into the rearview mirror at my children, huddled in the back seat.

To six-year-old Timmy I said, “If something goes wrong and our baby comes, you’ll have to help Mommy catch it.

“And Danika,” I wheezed to my four-year-old daughter, “you just press on the horn and don’t stop until somebody comes to help us.”

Three-year-old Taylor sat bravely, waiting for her job. “Sweetie, you must sit very still and be quiet.”

All three of them followed Taylor’s assignment, when they watched my hands grip the wheel as I labored through my Lamaze breathing.

By the time we approached the interstate on-ramp, I knew I couldn’t concentrate on slowing a labor and speeding a car, all at the same time.

I pulled over. “Lord,” I begged out loud, “we’re in big trouble here.” I gritted my teeth and panted to keep from pushing. “We need help. Please send a policeman our way.”

At that very moment, a patrol car passed us.

Timmy exclaimed, “There he is, Mom! Let’s go catch him!” By now the patrolman had pulled on to the interstate, so I put the car in drive again and followed in close pursuit. While the rest of the traffic crawled along at twenty miles per hour, the policeman cruised at thirty. Dangerously, I sped as fast as I dared behind him, honking my horn, flashing my headlights and panting.

The policeman drove on.

I pressed the gas pedal to catch up to him, trying to tap my bumper into his. That caught his attention. He stopped. I stopped. Jumping out of his car, he slammed the door, and tramped to mine. But I was already outside, screaming to him through the sleeting snow. “Contractions, two minutes, baby’s coming!”

He looked more terrified than I felt.

He explained that he was on his way to an accident just a few miles down the road. He phoned in my emergency, with little hope for immediate attention. I leaned onto the hood of the car and panted to keep from pushing.

“There’s an extra ambulance at the accident site,” he exclaimed from his phone. “It’ll be here in three minutes!”

“Make it two!” I hollered, wishing the freezing snow could somehow ease the searing pain in my abdomen.

“Can I call somebody for you?” the patrolman asked helplessly.

I shouted my husband’s work number to him, but his trembling hands couldn’t write it down. He scribbled again and again, and finally just dialed the number as I repeated it a fourth time.

Just then, the ambulance and fire truck screamed across the median and to our aid. Before the paramedics coaxed me onto the cart I went to my children, shivering in the back seat. “Just stay with the firemen,” I assured them, unable to force my usual it’ll-be-okay-smile. “They’ll help you.”

I breathed with the rhythm of the ambulance siren, and thanked God I was in the hands of EMTs. Still, I prayed harder that we’d make it to the hospital in time.

Little did I know that my husband was joining me in prayer as he drove too fast down the same interstate. Cautiously, he sped past a fire truck and looked—then looked again at the three little blond heads in the front seat. He waved the fire truck down. “Those are my kids! Where are you taking them?”

The fireman yelled out his window, instructing Del to head on to the hospital; he’d bring the children. Del glanced at the three beaming fire cadets, waving madly from the front seat. He blew them a kiss and jumped back in his car.

The ambulance siren droned as we finally approached the emergency entrance.

“The baby’s coming!” I moaned. In a heartbeat, I was on a gurney, with the paramedics jogging alongside, wheeling me into the birthing unit. Dr. Hoffmann greeted me with a nervous smile.

“So, you came special delivery, huh, Debbie?” I could only groan. He squeezed my hand. “Now let’s go deliver this baby.”

Right on cue, Del ran into the birthing room just as I slid over to the birthing bed. With a gush, my water burst. The only thing scarier than the increased pain was the look on the nurse’s face. Dr. Hoffmann’s gaze fixed on hers. I knew we were in deep trouble.

“Debbie, the amniotic fluid is badly stained,” he said as he worked feverishly over the baby’s protruding head. “That means the baby had a bowel movement under all this stress. That’s not a good sign.” He grimaced as he grabbed the scissors. “And the cord is wrapped around its neck—tight. Don’t push, Debbie. Don’t push.” He turned to the nurse. “I saw a pediatrician in the hall—get him in here—STAT.”

As the nurse rushed out, my three kids and the fireman rushed in. I alternated between panting and praying as the fireman talked in a hushed tone to Del, then left.

Dr. Hoffmann said, “Del, I’m going to give Debbie a local anesthetic before the next contraction. You may want to take the kids out of the room.”

As Del escorted them to the door, I heard Tim ask, “Daddy, why do we have to leave before the next trash man?”

“No, Timmy,” Del chuckled. “He said contraction, not trash man.”

So then I was panting and praying and laughing.

Two more contractions, and Del was back at my side as our baby pushed his way into our world. And with no one to watch our children, they watched the birth of their brother.

I wish I could say the moment was joyous, but baby Ty debuted in critical condition. Danika summed it up, “Daddy, I didn’t know babies were born purple.”

For the next six days, Ty fought for his life in intensive care. The pediatrician shook his head in dismay. “Everything went so wrong,” he said sadly.

“I disagree, Doctor,” I argued. “Didn’t God give me an office nurse who listened to my concerns and told me to come in? And didn’t he send a policeman just when I asked for one? And didn’t he arrange for an extra ambulance to be just a few miles away? And didn’t he see to it that a fire truck was there for our children? And didn’t he put you in the hallway when we needed you? And didn’t you tell me that if Ty had been born outside of the hospital, he never would have survived? On the contrary, Doctor, I’d say everything went just right.”

On the seventh day we bundled little Ty in his brand-new blanket, and took him home, healthy and strong.

We’re still in awe of how that Perfect Plan unfolded. The kids will attest to that as they sum up the events of that day. “You’ll never believe what happened! We got to ride in a fire truck!”

~Debbie Lukasiewicz as told to LeAnn Thieman

Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul

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