His Greatest Christmas Gift

S


ome years ago Dr. Frederic Loomis, an obstetrician, faced one of the greatest challenges of his life. One of his patients, a fragile young woman, was carrying her first child. As best he could, he sought to help her as she struggled to keep her emotional and nervous reactions under control.

One month before the baby was due, a routine examination showed that the baby was in a breach position. That is, instead of coming into the world head first (which is the safest way for a baby to be born), the baby comes feet or seat first. The danger with these births is that the umbilical cord can get compressed between the baby's head and the mother's bony pelvis cutting off the tiny infant's supply of oxygen—without which the baby will die in a few short minutes. Time is of the greatest essence in these births.

This particular case was a "complete" breach—the baby's legs and feet being folded under it, tailor-fashion. As the baby was ready to be born, Dr. Loomis gently drew down on one little foot. Next he drew on the other foot, but it didn't respond. As the baby's body moved down, he noticed that it was a girl. And then, only he saw that the entire thigh from the hip to the knee was missing. Quickly he wrapped the warm towel—readied to keep the baby's body warm while struggling to be born—around the baby's one leg.

Then followed the greatest struggle Dr. Loomis ever faced. He envisioned a girl growing up different from her peers, sitting alone, being gawked at, unable to participate in any kind of athletic activities, never being invited out on dates—lonely, insecure and forlorn.

He could also "see" the agony of this young mother with such a burden to carry. "Don't bring this suffering upon them," he reasoned to himself. "This baby has never taken a breath–don't let her ever take one."

He envisioned a girl ... being gawked
at ... never being invited out on
dates—lonely, insecure and forlorn.

He glanced at the clock. Three of the allotted seven or eight minutes had passed. Nobody in the room knew of his struggle and intention. He would slow the birth. Nobody else would ever know. In a few short minutes it would all end. The mother would grieve but would be greatly relieved that she didn't have the responsibility of bringing up such a handicapped child.

Right then the baby's good foot popped out from beneath the towel and pressed against the doctor's hand. Then her body heaved with a surge of energy—it was wanting to be born.

The doctor could not do what he planned. He delivered the baby with her pitiful little leg.

Dr. Loomis said, "Every foreboding came true. The mother was in a hospital for several months. I saw her once or twice and she looked like a wraith of her former self. I heard of them indirectly from time to time ... Finally I lost track of them altogether.

"As the years went on, I blamed myself bitterly for not having had the strength to yield to my temptation."

Years later, as was the custom of the nurses at the hospital where Dr. Loomis served, an impressive Christmas party for the hospital staff and doctors was held. This year was particularly interesting. Every doctor and staff member who could be there was.

When the nurses, beautifully attired in their spotless uniforms, entered in procession, the audience stood as one to honor them. Then, from the back of the auditorium entered twenty more young nurses, each holding a lighted candle and singing the familiar strains of "Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright...."

Continued on Page Two


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