It was late at night and I had already seen a truckload of insane things happening. The midwives were on strike again and the busy referral hospital we were working at was in dire need of help.
Women were lined up on the floor in the hallway, often screaming in agony as they somewhat patiently waited for a bed to labor on. All the beds, of course, were already full and babies were coming at a rapid rate. I was called into the admissions room, where the poor doctors were in over their heads with all the women waiting to be seen.
“Please check her,” they said to me as they motioned over to a fragile looking “older” woman. I say “older,” because while she may have only been around 35, compared to the many 15 and 16 year olds I’d seen lately she was well past her prime.
She apathetically lay on the admitting table while chaos ensued around her. She took off her undergarments so she could be examined and exposed the small pool of blood she was laying in. She was 21 weeks pregnant and having a miscarriage. I was instructed to admit her into the labor ward and let her “pass the baby.” Obviously my heart felt compassion for this mother of 7 who was losing her baby. I searched around the rooms until I found a couple cushions I could lay out on the floor to make her comfortable. I laid the cloth material she brought with her out over the worn down cushions. It was the most I could do to create an atmosphere of dignity. She was alone on the floor waiting for her baby that had died to come out. I stroked the top of her forehead as I often do for my laboring mothers. She was strong and seemingly unaffected by her misfortune but I knew in her culture she didn’t have any other choice but to be strong. The busyness continued around us and I had a moment of fearing that perhaps this mother would continue to bleed more than necessary and her life could be at risk. I leaned down on the floor with her and prayed for life.
I went to respond to a women screeching out in pain in a room close by. Id be back to check on this mother soon enough, I hoped. And fortunately I was back in time to help her little baby, which was coming feet first, be delivered into the world. The tiny body was so delicate and just barely larger than my small hands. I knew I had to be careful with him. This was a miscarriage after all, and I didn’t know how long the baby had been dead or if the integrity of his little frame would allow him to stay together. I laid him gently between his mother’s legs on the space left on cushion and turned to her to help ensure she wasn’t hemorrhaging.
Suddenly one of my students yelled out from behind me, “he’s breathing!”
I looked down at this little body that had already been “dead” for quite some time. And there, right before my disbelieving eyes I watched his little chest inflate with air and then deflate back down. I watched for several suspenseful seconds thinking I must have seen something wrong.
But it happened again.
We cut his cord and rushed him to the resuscitation table to receive oxygen. I stayed with the mother while some of the students and the only nurse on duty that night went with the baby to fight for his life.
This woman had so many complications. She was having a miscarriage! Definitely. And yet God softly reminded me of a simple prayer of life I had prayed over his mother. In the moment I thought of my lack of faith and how I didn’t even think to pray for the baby. Yet God, in His mercy heard my prayer for life and He responded. It was a miracle.
Together with the mother we thanked God for her safe delivery and for the LIFE of her son.
Within a couple days the baby died. He was indeed too young to be out in the world. And even though he isn’t alive today, I thank God for his short lived life. And for the way it grew my faith and reminded me to pray and believe that the Creator of the universe wasn't joking when He said,
"12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."