Jesus – Born in Bethlehem

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod, the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.” Matthew:2:1-2

Bethlehem, Israel – March, 2013

25,000 people now reside in Bethlehem, Israel

25,000 people now reside in Bethlehem, Israel

Our tour group boarded our bus outside our hotel in Jerusalem and traveled 20 minutes to the city of Bethlehem which now has 25,000 residents. We drove past the huge cement wall built between Palestinian controlled Bethlehem and Jerusalem to prevent the Arab snipers from shooting them. At the checkpoint, the security guard waved us through after our driver told him we were American tourists. Our day to visit Bethlehem changed since President Obama was scheduled to visit here in three days. We parked in an underground garage and walked several blocks uphill to the Church of the Nativity, the traditional site where Jesus Christ was born in a cave. We passed Muslim women dressed head to toe in black, brown, or gray burkas.

Church of the Nativity

Church of the Nativity

Construction began in 326 A.D. on this oldest church in the Holy Land which is still in use. It is separated into three different sanctuaries of the Franciscan Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox.

We entered through a four foot high door with a foot high wall at the bottom. Our guide told us they built it this short purposely as a deterrent to any enemies! "Mouse hole" entrance to Church of the Nativity!

“Mouse hole” entrance to Church of the Nativity!When an enemy entered all bent over, he couldn’t shoot anyone, but the person inside could knock him over or kill him easily.

Then we wandered from one sanctuary to the other. It was quite interesting to compare the different architectural styles, the Armenian one being the most ornate. We waited in line about 20 minutes to see the glass covered hole in the floor that is supposed to be the actual birthplace of Christ.

Traditional birthplace of Christ.

Traditional birthplace of Christ.

Our Hebrew Christian guide, told us that in 1948 when the State of Israel began, Bethlehem had all Christian residents, but now there are only about 40 families remaining. The Muslims won’t hire them, so all the Christian young people are leaving.

We went to a gift shop that an Arab Christian started to support these remaining families. The believers carve nativity scenes out of olive wood which are very intricate. I treasure the one I purchased that portrays Mary and Joseph gazing at the Christ child in the cave. I also learned the typical manger was made of stone, unlike the wooden mangers usually portrayed in the USA.

My olive wood nativity scene carved by Christians in Bethlehem.

My olive wood nativity scene carved by Christians in Bethlehem.

Reflection

As I recalled my days in Labor and Delivery helping those babies into the world on Christmas morning in 1981, I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone assisted Mary during her labor other than Joseph? It simply states in Luke 2:7  And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger. This is what the midwife or nurse would typically do who assisted the mother.  Midwives are mentioned in Exodus 1:15-22 who feared God and preserved the Hebrew male babies from Pharaoh’s wrath. “Therefore God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied, and became very mighty.” I do not think God gave any details about Mary’s labor or delivery because He wanted all the emphasis upon Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.Nazareth shepherd

The common shepherds were the first ones who learned of the Savior’s birth and came to worship Him, their Creator, who “took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; And, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7-8. Emmanuel, God with us, who left heaven above, and came to earth to be my Savior. Born to die. Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You love me so much!

Charles Wesley captured this thought beautifully in the fourth verse of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”.

Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die,

Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.

Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King!

I pray you all may have a Christ centered celebration of the birth of our dear Savior!

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Christmas Babies!

December 25, 1981 – 2 a.m. Labor & Delivery Staff Nurse

I finished my night shift orientation in September and am feeling much more comfortable in my skills as I don’t have to think so hard about every little thing! Since it is my first Christmas in Labor & Delivery, I am required to work and they designated me as charge nurse since the Assistant Nurse Manager is off tonight.

I glanced at the large white board in the nurse’s station which listed all the patients by name, stage of labor, and doctor. We still had six women in labor with four empty labor rooms. We had already done four deliveries since I was called in early at 9:30 p.m. to help the busy evening shift. I glanced at the fetal monitors which displayed each baby’s heart rate. All of a sudden, I saw one baby’s heart rate go dangerously low to 50 and stay there. A normal full-term baby’s heart rate is 120-160 beats per minute. Cathy, another nurse, stuck her head out the door of the woman’s room and yelled, “Call the doctor and nurse anesthetist, Pam! We have to do a stat C section (surgery). This baby is in trouble!”

The operating room technician, Teresa, ran to the prepared operating room (OR) while I called the two doctors. The nursing assistant helped Cathy wheel the huge bed down the hall to the O.R. Cathy had the mother lie on her left side to try and take the pressure of the baby’s body off her mother’s blood vessels so the baby could get more blood.

Newborn Baby!

Newborn Baby!

We worked quickly. As soon as the anesthesiologist nodded that the mother was asleep, the resident doctor cut her abdomen and lifted the baby out of her womb. He  cut the cord that was wrapped tightly around the baby girl’s neck, and carried her to the warmer. Her own cord had choked her as she came down the birth canal. The baby girl let out a weak whimper.  I suctioned out her mouth and placed the oxygen mask over her small face. I dried her off quickly and she took several gasps of air! I silently prayed, “Dear Lord, Please touch this baby girl’s body that she may live.”  She let out a louder cry and the delivery room staff exhaled a sigh of relief. Her tiny body began to turn pink. The Neonatal ICU nurse wheeled the baby girl down the hallway to keep a close eye on her until she stabilized.

I returned to my other patient, Marie, and checked her progress internally. She was ready to start pushing the baby out. She was totally exhausted after 16 hours of painful labor. After an hour of pushing, I saw a patch of the baby’s black hair peak out! We wheeled Marie in her bed down the hall to the delivery room, helped her transfer to the narrow delivery bed, placed her heels in the steel stirrups, and her hands on the steel handles. I had her husband, John, sit on a stool beside her.

She gave several more pushes, but wasn’t making much progress. Dr. D. instructed, “Pam, give fundal pressure during the next contraction to help her out.”  I looked at Marie over my mask and warned, ” I’m afraid this is going to hurt you.” As I felt her large abdomen harden, I reached across her, grabbed the steel handle with both my hands, and pressed my forearm into her belly with all my strength. She screamed and I felt like screaming as my back went into a muscle spasm. At last the baby’s head popped out and his slippery body slid into Dr. D’s hands.

“Congratulations, Marie and John! You have a nice big healthy boy!” announced Dr. D. I pulled the string on the Apgar clock and wrote down the time — 3:03 a.m. Christmas morning.  Dr. D.  quickly suctioned the mucus out of the baby’s mouth with the blue rubber bulb syringe, and the baby let out a loud strong cry. Dr D placed two clamps on the umbilical cord and laid him on Marie’s abdomen so she could see him. “John, would you like to cut your son’s cord?” “Sure!” grinned John as he took the sterile scissors in his hand and snipped the cord.

Dr. D. carried the baby to the warmer and the Apgar timer buzzed at one minute. I gave him a score of 8 out of 10 which was excellent! His trunk, hands, and feet were still tinged blue. I suctioned the mucus out of his mouth again, wiped off his body with the soft, warm, cotton blanket and put a little hat on his head to keep him warm. The 5 minute Apgar time buzzed and I scored him 9 out of 10. His body was now pink, but his hands and feet were still slightly blue. I wrapped him tightly in another clean warm blanket and greeted him, “Merry Christmas, Timothy! Welcome to the world!” John watched his new son with amazement.

A woman, when she is in travail, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. John 16:21

I carried Timothy over to Marie and placed him in her arms. All the fatigue vanished from her face as she gazed at him tenderly and kissed his forehead. After Dr. D. delivered her placenta and stitched her up, I put a warm blanket on her and wheeled mother and son to the recovery room.

The remaining hours flew by as we did two more Caesarian surgeries and two more normal deliveries. Eight babies were born that  Christmas night shift! I sat down twice for ten minutes during my ten hour shift. I was so happy to see the day shift staff walk into the nurse’s station at 7 a.m.! We gave them report, went to the locker room to change out of our blue scrubs into our street clothes, and walked wearily out the door into the bitterly cold Christmas morning sunshine.Christmas morning

Reflection

My severe back pain continued, and I was diagnosed with two injured back muscles. My doctor ordered me to take a month leave of absence while I went to physical therapy to heal and strengthen my muscles. He said I was in poor shape physically and needed to exercise regularly if I wanted to continue to work in labor and delivery. So I joined the local indoor pool and began swimming four times a week. I happily discovered that swimming was also a great stress reliever and helped me sleep better!

The babies that were born that early morning will celebrate their 35th birthday this Christmas and likely have children of their own by now. I wonder what kind of choices they have made in life? They share the same birthday that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I pray that each has chosen to receive Him as his/her personal Savior.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12

Transcultural Nursing Course – Dominican Republic – Part 3

Transcultural Nursing Course – Dominican Republic – Part 3

January 3, 1995

It seems hard to believe that our trip is half over. Today, we returned to the city hospital to work as a group so Tammy could translate for us. We made rounds in the pediatric ward and watched a skilled nurse easily start several IV’s in babies, unlike yesterday. She wore a cap with a blue velvet band, so she has a Bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Then we went to the Labor and Delivery unit. When the nurses learned I had experience in labor and delivery, they assigned us to a 28 year old woman having her fourth baby who had just been admitted. The doctor examined her and said she was half way dilated and broke her water. We went on rounds and I checked her before lunch. No change. We felt her contractions and I tried to listen to the baby’s heart beat with my new stethoscope, but couldn’t hear anything. There is no fetal monitoring available here.  She looked very comfortable, so we had a leisurely lunch. When we returned at 2 p.m., she was writhing in bed in pain and looked like she was in the transition stage. I asked for a sterile glove, checked her, and she was totally dilated. I asked her to push and the baby’s head crowned, so I told her to blow so she wouldn’t have the baby in bed.  The Dominican nurse said it was time for her to go to the delivery room. We watched in amazement as the mother stood up, and walked in her sandals to the room, laid on the table, and put her feet in the stirrups.

The nurse then told me that they do all the normal deliveries rather than the physician, and motioned me to deliver the baby! It has been 13 years since I worked in labor and delivery, so I silently prayed, Dear Lord, help me! Bring this new baby into the world safely. Amen. The mother gave two pushes and the baby came out with a cord around his neck once which the Dominican nurse quickly removed so he wouldn’t strangle. The baby boy then let out a loud scream, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. It was so exciting! Then the nurse put two clamps on his cord, cut it, and motioned me to carry him to the bassinette. I rubbed him down and gave him an Apgar score of 8 at 1 minute, and 9 at 5 minutes which is totally normal. Thank you, Lord.

The nurse gave me a sterile string and motioned me to tie the cord closer to his abdomen, so I tied my best Girl Scout square knot, and asked if I did it right? She said, “Si!” (yes). Then Julie cut the cord again between the clamp and the string. They removed the 2 clamps so they could sterilize them and reuse them. We examined the cord, and it had three vessels which was normal. Julie and Paula then delivered the placenta. I handed the baby to Mom and she began to breastfeed him. After the nurse cleaned Mom, she stood up and walked to the wheelchair, and was wheeled down the hall to the postpartum area. Mom never screamed the whole time, but only grimaced. She made childbirth look so incredibly easy.

After we settled Mom in bed, she thanked us profusely, while hugging and kissing each of us.  It was so gratifying. The other students had never participated in a delivery before, so we were all thrilled. The miracle of birth never ceases to amaze me. God is so magnificent!

Lo, children are an heritage from the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is His reward. Psalm 127:3

Holding the new baby after I delivered it!

Holding the new baby after I delivered it!

Mom brought two disposable diapers with her. I saw a price tag of 3 pesos on one which equals 25 cents in the US. This is lots of money for her.  Each patient is only given one bed sheet their entire stay.

We then made rounds on the rest of the hospital. The men’s ward had 20 beds with quite a few men in traction from femur fractures from motor scooter accidents. We then went back to the ICU. The three patients we saw yesterday are about the same. The lady with high blood pressure actually had a stroke rather than a blood clot in her lung. Her right pupil was enlarged and non reactive to light. Her left arm was limp, but she could move her left leg. I checked her blood pressure, and it was back up to 196/110 and her heart rate was only 56. There was a new lady who was there with an asthma attack and was on oxygen. They had the head of her bed propped up with a chair since there is still no electricity today.

Through Tammy’s interpretation, I found out more about, Martha, the ICU nurse. She works 9 days out of 14 with two days in a row on each shift, and then she gets two days off. Dr. Elaine said nurses and doctors are not respected in the Dominican culture and the pay is very low. The head nurse makes the equivalent of $120 per month in U.S. dollars.

We then met with a lady in charge of infant feeding who has a doctorate degree from Santo Domingo. She showed us their beautiful classroom with a TV and video player. Mothers complete an 18 hour course of nine two hour classes on infant care. They have posters all over the hospital forbidding baby bottles and other posters showing a beautiful dark haired Mom breastfeeding her baby. This hospital has 190 beds for the whole region, which is not enough. They had 4000 births in 1993, and 6000 births in 1994.

At the end of the day, I rode back to the clinic Dominican style taxi, on the back of a motor scooter, hanging on to the driver for dear life and asking the Lord for safety the whole way. Then I paid him the going rate of 3 pesos – 25 cents. What a day!

Dear Lord, Thank you for the safe delivery. I pray this new baby boy and his Mom will receive you as personal Savior. Thank You for all You have taught me today and for the strength and health You have blessed me with. In Christ’s Name, Amen

 

 

Transcultural Nursing Course in Dominican Republic – Part 2

January, 1995 – San Juan, Dominican Republic

After awakening, I began reading my English-Spanish Bible in my Pan Dia village home, when Maria, a ten year old girl came in and shyly started reading over my shoulder. I gave her a Spanish gospel tract to read, and she was thrilled.  Before we said goodbye, the cute children gathered around us for a final photo.

The village children loved chatting with us!

The village children loved chatting with us!

After we returned to the clinic, we compared our clinic stays. It sounds like Debbie and Julie stayed in a much wealthier community and even had an indoor bathroom, but I think Paula and I had a truer picture on Dominican life for the majority of people. We all watched Paula analyze the water samples she had collected from the boiled water they had given us, the town pump, and the clinic. Paula is doing an extra project on water quality since her first degree is in biology.

The next day, Paula discovered the water that we drank in Pan Dia was unboiled and the filtered water here at the clinic is almost as bad. The tap water here came out clear of bacteria. She will repeat all the tests to confirm her results.  Thankfully, neither Paula nor I became sick from the unboiled water. Perhaps I’m building up a little immunity since this is my fourth trip to the Caribbean region. But it does make me realize how much I take for granted clean water in the USA. (We later learned that the clinic’s board of directors took steps to improve their water filtration system as the result of Paula’s work.)

Watching Paula analyze village water samples.

Watching Paula analyze village water samples.

The next day, Dr Elaine had me work in the city hospital in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). There was no running water or electricity that day, so no one was on an EKG monitor, and it was very hot since they could not run fans or air conditioning. The only way I could wash my hands was with wet wipes that I brought with me. The nurse pulled out their only stethoscope which had five foot long tubing on it and no diaphragm on the bell, so she grabbed a piece of paper and placed it over the bell. After she checked a 46 year old woman’s blood pressure who had a blood clot in her lung, I rechecked it with my stethoscope. I was shocked that it was very high at  180/120 and that they only checked her blood pressure every 12 hours. She then gave the woman Procardia under her tongue and pushed Ranitidine intravenously quickly through her IV line. I checked the patient’s blood pressure twice after that and it came down to 150/88. There was a can of pear nectar on the woman’s bedside table, so Dr Elaine and I helped her sit up and she drank it thirstily. There was no water pitcher beside her bed. I pitied her because it was so hot in the ICU.

The doctor then came in and changed the abdominal dressing of a man who had a ruptured appendix using Betadine and sterile gloves. The nurse then had me give him a gentamicin antibiotic injection in his arm. Normally I would have given it by IV drip slowly or given it in his thigh. Then she mixed up 1 gram of ampicillin in 5 ml. of normal saline and gave it rapid IV push through his line. She asked me to give it, but I refused and told her I was used to dripping it slowly through the IV over 30 minutes. She then gave him 100 ml. of Gatorade with brown sugar added for lunch. There was a quart of it, but she said he couldn’t have any more. Then she offered Dr Elaine and me a glass of Gatorade as she drank one, but we politely declined.

The third patient in ICU was a woman who had been stabbed by her husband. She had a tube in her stomach with the drainage bag lying on the floor under her bed. She also had a tube in her bladder, with that bag also lying on the floor. She had on no gown and was exposed from the waist up. She was behind a curtain so no nurse could observe her, and her IV ran dry. When the nurse discovered it, she hung a new IV bag and ran a tube full of air into the patient. Since there was no running water, none of the patients were bathed and the nurses never washed their hands. All the patients appeared dehydrated from lack of fluids in the heat.

The medicine cabinet had 3 more bags of IV fluids, and medicines in bottles with labels. Another nurse came to the door and asked for a pill, so the ICU nurse took one from the bottle and handed it to her. Each patient had a chart with doctor’s orders, operating room record, and nurse’s notes. The nurse’s note was divided into four sections: date, hour, medicine, and observation. Dr Elaine pointed out that the nurse’s note didn’t have much room, but at least they had a chart.

On our way to lunch, we stopped by to see Julie in the pediatric ward.  There was a baby in severe respiratory distress. She watched the nurses try 20 times to start an IV in a baby with the same butterfly needle. One male nurse accidentally stuck himself with the needle, and then continued to stick the baby with it.

Since the operating room was closed for the holidays, we went with Cora, NP,  as she made home visits to families who have infants on her nutritional program. This very poor village is a number of shacks beside a bean field and the river. We watched them wash their clothes in the river and cook their food over a charcoal fire. One home had two babies because one baby’s mother had died in childbirth. The remaining mother was trying to breastfeed her own baby and the orphan, who appeared to weigh only about three pounds.

Cora spoke with an  18 year old woman about family planning who already has four children. Many women have their first baby before they have their first period. The poor people don’t marry, but just change from one man to another. It is estimated that 25% of the population is HIV positive.

After walking down dirt roads and fording several streams, we arrived at the local midwife’s home. She delivers 100 babies yearly and charges no fee. She was a dear friendly 40 year old grandma who got down on the ground and demonstrated how she delivered her own twins alone! Until last year, when she spent three days training at a local hospital, she had never received any formal instruction. At the end of our visit, she handed us each a chicken egg as a gift. It was difficult for us to accept this gift as we knew we were taking most of her food for the entire week, but Cora said we would have offended her greatly if we would have refused. In turn, we gave her a gift of several boxes of gloves for her home deliveries since she could no longer obtain them. She hugged us all as we left.

Local midwife tells us the amazing story of how she delivered her own twins!

Local midwife tells us the amazing story of how she delivered her own twins!

Reflection

Those days in the city hospital with hardly any supplies and in the homes of people who had very little material goods, once again brought home to me how I have grown up in such relative material wealth in the USA. The poorest people in the USA are wealthy compared to many people in the world. One missionary in Ecuador told me that the people there think that all Americans sleep on mattresses stuffed with money! She offered to let them look at her mattress to prove that there was no money in it:)

I was blessed as I read through some of the many verses in the Bible about poverty and wealth. The only kind of wealth that lasts for all eternity is our relationship with Jesus Christ. The person who has received Christ as Savior is the richest person in the world and the only one who can truly be happy.

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” II Corinthians 8:9

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

 

Jesus Christ, Born in Bethlehem

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod, the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.” Matthew:2:1-2

Bethlehem, Israel – March, 2013

25,000 people now reside in Bethlehem, Israel

Modern day Bethlehem, Israel

Our tour group boarded our bus outside our hotel in Jerusalem and traveled 20 minutes to the city of Bethlehem which now has about 28,000 residents. We drove past the huge cement wall built between Palestinian controlled Bethlehem and Jerusalem to prevent the Arab snipers from shooting them. At the checkpoint, the security guard waved us through after our driver told him we were American tourists. Our day to visit Bethlehem changed since President Obama was scheduled to visit here in three days. We parked in an underground garage and walked several blocks uphill to the Church of the Nativity, the traditional site where Jesus Christ was born in a cave. We passed Muslim women dressed head to toe in black, brown, or gray burkas.

Church of the Nativity

Church of the Nativity

Construction began in 326 A.D. on this oldest church in the Holy Land which is still in use. It is separated into three different sanctuaries of the Franciscan Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox.

"Mouse hole" entrance to Church of the Nativity!

The tiny entrance to the Church of the Nativity prevented intruders!

We entered through a four foot high door with a foot high wall at the bottom. Our guide told us they built it this short purposely as a deterrent to any enemies! When an enemy entered all bent over, he couldn’t shoot anyone, but the person inside could knock him over or kill him easily. Only one person could enter at a time through the tiny door. It reminds me of the verse in John 10:7 where Jesus said, “I am the door; by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” How I thank Jesus Christ for saving my soul and giving me eternal life!

Then we wandered from one sanctuary to the other. It was quite interesting to compare the different architectural styles, the Armenian one being the most ornate. We waited in line about 20 minutes to see the glass covered hole in the floor that is supposed to be the actual birthplace of Christ.

Traditional birthplace of Christ.

Traditional birthplace of Christ.

Our Hebrew Christian guide, told us that in 1948 when the modern day State of Israel began, Bethlehem had all Christian residents, but now there are only about 40 families remaining. The Muslims won’t hire them, so all the Christian young people are leaving.

We went to a gift shop that an Arab Christian started to support these remaining families. The believers carve nativity scenes out of olive wood which are very intricate. I treasure the one I purchased that portrays Mary and Joseph gazing at the Christ child in the cave. I also learned the typical manger was made of stone, unlike the wooden mangers usually portrayed in America.

My olive wood nativity scene carved by Christians in Bethlehem.

My olive wood nativity scene carved by Christians in Bethlehem.

Reflection

As I recall my days in Labor and Delivery helping those babies into the world on Christmas morning in 1981, I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone assisted Mary during her labor other than Joseph? It simply states in Luke 2:7  And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger. This is what the midwife or nurse would typically do who assisted the mother.  Midwives are mentioned in Exodus 1:15-22 who feared God and preserved the Hebrew male babies from Pharaoh’s wrath. “Therefore God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied, and became very mighty.” I do not think God gave any details about Mary’s labor or delivery because He wanted all the emphasis upon Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Shepherds of Bethlehem.

Shepherds of Bethlehem.

The common shepherds were the first ones who learned of the Savior’s birth and came to worship Him, their Creator, who “took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; And, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7-8. Emmanuel, God with us, who left heaven above, and came to earth to be my Savior. Born to die. Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You love me so much!

Charles Wesley captured this thought beautifully in the fourth verse of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”.

Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die,

Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.

Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King!

I pray you all may have a Christ centered celebration of the birth of our dear Savior!

Christmas Babies!

December 25, 1981 – 2 a.m. Labor & Delivery Staff Nurse

I finished my night shift orientation in September and am feeling much more comfortable in my skills as I don’t have to think so hard about every little thing! Since it is my first Christmas in Labor & Delivery, I am required to work and they designated me as charge nurse since the Assistant Nurse Manager is off tonight.

I glanced at the large white board in the nurse’s station which listed all the patients by name, stage of labor, and doctor. We still had six women in labor with four empty labor rooms. We had already done four deliveries since I was called in early at 9:30 p.m. to help the busy evening shift. I glanced at the fetal monitors which displayed each baby’s heart rate. All of a sudden, I saw one baby’s heart rate go dangerously low to 50 and stay there. The normal full-term baby’s heart rate was 120-160 beats per minute. Cathy, another nurse, stuck her head out the door of the woman’s room and yelled, “Call the doctor and nurse anesthetist, Pam! We have to do a stat C section (surgery). This baby is in trouble!”

The operating room technician, Teresa, ran to the prepared operating room (OR) while I called the two doctors. The nursing assistant helped Cathy wheel the huge bed down the hall to the O.R. Cathy had the mother lie on her left side to try and take the pressure of the baby’s body off her mother’s blood vessels.

Newborn Baby!

Newborn Baby!

We worked quickly. As soon as the anesthesiologist nodded that the mother was asleep, the resident doctor cut her abdomen and lifted the baby out of her womb. He  cut the cord that was wrapped tightly around the baby girl’s neck, and carried her to the warmer. Her own cord had choked her as she came down the birth canal. The baby girl let out a weak whimper.  I suctioned out her mouth and placed the oxygen mask over her small face. I dried her off quickly and she took several gasps of air! I silently prayed, “Dear Lord, Please touch this baby girl’s body that she may live.”  She let out a louder cry and the delivery room staff exhaled a sigh of relief. Her tiny body began to turn pink. The Neonatal ICU nurse wheeled the baby girl down the hallway to keep a close eye on her until she stabilized.

I returned to my other patient, Marie, and checked her progress internally. She was ready to start pushing the baby out. She was totally exhausted after 16 hours of painful labor. After an hour of pushing, I saw a patch of the baby’s black hair peak out! We wheeled Marie in her bed down the hall to the delivery room, helped her transfer to the narrow delivery bed, placed her heels in the steel stirrups, and her hands on the steel handles. I had her husband, John, sit on a stool beside her.

She gave several more pushes, but wasn’t making much progress. Dr. D. instructed, “Pam, give fundal pressure during the next contraction to help her out.”  I looked at Marie over my mask and warned, ” I’m afraid this is going to hurt you.” As I felt her large abdomen harden, I reached across her, grabbed the steel handle with both my hands, and pressed my forearm into her belly with all my strength. She screamed and I felt like screaming as my back went into a muscle spasm. At last the baby’s head popped out and his slippery body slid into Dr. D’s hands.

“Congratulations, Marie and John! You have a nice big healthy boy!” announced Dr. D. I pulled the string on the Apgar clock and wrote down the time — 3:03 a.m. Christmas morning.  Dr. D.  quickly suctioned the mucus out of the baby’s mouth with the blue rubber bulb syringe, and the baby let out a loud strong cry. Dr D placed two clamps on the umbilical cord and laid him on Marie’s abdomen so she could see him. “John, would you like to cut your son’s cord?” “Sure!” grinned John as he took the sterile scissors in his hand and snipped the cord.

Dr. D. carried the baby to the warmer and the Apgar timer buzzed at one minute. I gave him a score of 8 out of 10 which was excellent! His trunk, hands, and feet were still tinged blue. I suctioned the mucus out of his mouth again, wiped off his body with the soft, warm, cotton blanket and put a little hat on his head to keep him warm. The 5 minute Apgar time buzzed and I scored him 9 out of 10. His body was now pink, but his hands and feet were still slightly blue. I wrapped him tightly in another clean warm blanket and greeted him, “Merry Christmas, Timothy! Welcome to the world!” John watched his new son with amazement.

A woman, when she is in travail, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. John 16:21

I carried Timothy over to Marie and placed him in her arms. All the fatigue vanished from her face as she gazed at him tenderly and kissed his forehead. After Dr. D. delivered her placenta and stitched her up, I put a warm blanket on her and wheeled mother and son to the recovery room.

The remaining hours flew by as we did two more Caesarian surgeries and two more normal deliveries. Eight babies were born that  Christmas night shift! I sat down twice for ten minutes during my ten hour shift. I was so happy to see the day shift staff walk into the nurse’s station at 7 a.m.! We gave them report, went to the locker room to change out of our blue scrubs into our street clothes, and walked wearily out the door into the bitterly cold Christmas morning sunshine.Christmas morning

Reflection

My severe back pain continued, and I was diagnosed with two injured back muscles. My doctor ordered me to take a month leave of absence while I went to physical therapy to heal and strengthen my muscles. He said I was in poor shape physically and needed to exercise regularly if I wanted to continue to work in labor and delivery. So I joined the local indoor pool and began swimming four times a week. I happily discovered that swimming was also a great stress reliever and helped me sleep better!

The babies that were born that early morning will celebrate their 34th birthday this Christmas and likely have children of their own by now. I wonder what kind of choices they have made in life? They share the same birthday that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I pray that each has chosen to receive Him as his/her personal Savior.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12

New Position?

September 8, 1982 – Labor & Delivery Nurse

I read a book this summer by Margaret Clarkson called, So, You’re Single which was helpful. She is a 60 year old single Christian woman who reviewed phases of her life with her struggles and victories in her singleness. She authored the well known missionary hymn “So Send I You.” I especially like this poem which she wrote at age 22.

Oh, hold my heart, Lord Jesus, within Thy wounded hand;

Its stirring or its stilling must come at Thy command.

My love is Thine, my Savior; No other sway I own;

Bestow it where Thou willest, Or keep it Thine alone.

I am now 27 years old, and sometimes the thought of being single all my life frightens me, but I think I’m facing it more and more as a reality. I probably fear the loneliness more than anything, but then I remember that Christ is my best Friend. It is so comforting to know that Christ was single here on earth and knows what it is like.

Let your manner of life be without covetousness, and BE CONTENT with such things as ye have; for He hath said, I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER (5 times in the Greek) leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

Each year, more of my friends marry, so the singles are definitely in the minority at church. At work, sometimes 3 or 4 of my patients a night ask me if I have children. Also the other nurses are determined to get me married off and constantly try to match me up with medical students who rotate through each month. I must constantly remind myself that this is the way of the world and not God’s way. The world says, “Be aggressive and go get him!” But God says, “Be still and wait on Me, be content.” I just keep praying that the Lord would make my desires His desires, and that I would not compromise. I know it is not God’s will for me to marry a man who does not believe in Jesus Christ. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? (I Corinthians 6:14) I will be so glad when I get to heaven and these inward struggles are over and marriage is no more! (Matthew 22:30)

I’ve been looking at the job postings at work for a different nursing position, but have not had much success. I think it would help me emotionally and physically to get out of labor and delivery since my back continues to hurt from all the physical labor. I would like a daytime Monday through Friday job so I can attend church more on the weekends. I’m also not sleeping that well during the day and have trouble turning around from night shift. This is a tall order in the middle of a recession, but I know God won’t test me above what I can bear, and that His timing is perfect.

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.  Psalm 62:5

March 5, 1983 – Nursing Staff Development

I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength. Psalm 18:1

Oh, I just want to love and know Christ more, and make Him known to others! “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” as the old hymn says. In rereading my entry written in September, I can see how the Lord has answered prayer in so many ways. When I had given up finding a new job and was thoroughly enjoying working in Labor and Delivery, the Lord opened a new position for me in Staff Development.

I just started this week, and I think it will be a good fit. I still work night shift Sundays through Thursdays, but I have weekends and holidays off. I will be orienting new nurses on the various units of this 1000 bed hospital, teaching inservices (continuing education)  for the nurses, responding to Code E’s (cardiac arrest), and writing policies.

Answering Code E's was part of my new job.

Answering Code E’s was part of my new job.

The job has good variety and freedom to develop other projects that I can design. The Director seems excellent with high standards, but lets all the staff work independently. For the first time, I feel like a professional and won’t be punching the time clock. I pray that I would be a good testimony for the Lord, and point the many new people I meet to Him.

Reflection

As I reread this portion of my journal, I asked the Lord about how much to share with you about my ongoing struggles with being single. I searched on Kindle for Miss Clarkson’s book under “Christian Single” and was amazed when over 1800 titles came up! I had to stop the search because I was afraid it would crash my tablet! So I guess I’m not the only one who has struggles with being content in the Lord and waiting on Him. How I praise Him for His grace, tenderness, and patience with me in leading me along over the years and helping me grow in this area of my life. As I shared a couple posts ago, He has truly made me so content in being single. And now I am encountering quite a few widows and divorced women my age and am able to help them with this new stage of their life.

The most helpful book I ever read on Loneliness has this title by Elisabeth Elliot. She was widowed twice. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was martyred 27 months after they married in Ecuador by the Indians they were trying to reach with the gospel. She tells that story vividly in “Through Gates of Splendor”. She raised her daughter alone after his death. She spoke of the early days when she was a new widow and said God had given her the gift of widowhood.

At the cross of Jesus our crosses are changed into gifts. The Love that calls us into being, woos us to Himself, makes us His bride, lays down His life for us, and daily crowns us with loving-kindness and tender mercy, will not, no matter how it may appear in our loneliness, abandon us. Hebrews 13:5. (page 37)

I pray you all may discover that sweet deep contentment in Christ alone.