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 need to think so hard about every little thing. Since it is my first Christmas in Labor & Delivery, I am required to work. Management 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, has sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers 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 36th 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 birth day when we annually 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: You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12

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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

Life Changing Letter

Saturday, January 16, 1971

I gazed out the window of our small stone home in the country and saw the mailman drive away. “I’ll get the mail, Mom!” I hurriedly put on my winter coat, hat, and mittens to brave the bitter cold. I ran down the gravel driveway, scooped the letters from the mailbox, and skimmed through them as I raced back to our warm home.

I was thrilled to see a letter addressed to me from my older sister!  Marsha was a freshman at the state university three hours away, so I didn’t see her often. When she came home for a visit in October, she seemed so happy, said her headaches were gone, and she broke up with her boyfriend because he wasn’t a Christian. She eagerly told me that her roommate told her how to become a Christian, and she started going to Bible classes on campus.

When she came home for Thanksgiving, she asked that we give her money for Christmas instead of presents so she could attend a missionary conference. As a sophomore in high school, I would never give up all my Christmas presents to attend some old dumb missionary conference!

Since she returned to school in January, I can’t stop thinking about how happy she is now. So I wrote her last week and asked her to tell me more about God.  I eagerly took her letter to my desk in my bedroom, closed the door, and began to read.

Dear Pam,

I would love to share with you more about God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! Even though we went to church every Sunday and heard about Jesus Christ, the pastor never told us that each of us needs to personally receive Him as Savior.  I am so glad my college roommate shared the good news about Christ with me our first night at college.  I went to a Bible study with her, and  I received Him as my Savior shortly afterwards. I am so thankful that I have a personal relationship now with Him for all eternity and my sins are all forgiven!

As it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world (Pam) that He gave His only begotten (unique) Son, that whosoever (Pam) believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  This is the most important decision of your life because it decides whether you will spend eternity with God or perish forever without Him.  He loves you so much, Pam, that He died for you on the cross to bear the punishment for your sins.  After three days He rose again and lives in heaven today.

I asked the campus group at noon prayer meeting today to pray for you to receive Him as your personal Savior.

Love in Christ,  Marsha

I don’t think anyone has ever prayed for me before. I am so amazed that God loves me so much that He died for ME so I can be saved and be with Him for all eternity.  He knows all about how shy and insecure I am, and that I am so fearful of death ever since my cousin was killed in the Vietnam war.

As my tears flowed, I bowed my head and prayed,

Dear God, I come to You as I am– a sinner.  Thank You, Lord Jesus, for dying on the cross in my place for my sins and that You rose again from the grave.  I receive You now as my Savior.  Thank You that You love me so much! Amen.

When I opened my eyes, my heart was flooded with the peace and the joy of God, and my fear of death was gone!

path of life

Reflection

Dear Reader,

I would love to share with you in this blog how God led me to  become a nurse, and how He has taught me about Himself on the path of life.

If you have not received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I invite you and encourage you to do so now as I did over 40 years ago.  It has been so exciting to grow in the knowledge of my Savior and let Him lead me through the joys and the sorrows, the laughter and the tears.  I look forward to that day when He takes me to heaven above in His perfect timing! “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20

Pamela, APRN

Tribute to Marsha Swinehart, RN – Part 1

Tribute to Marsha Swinehart, RN – April 10

This week, I would like to honor the life of my sister, Marsha Swinehart, RN, on her birthday, April 10. I also want to share some of the lessons God has been teaching me in the school of sorrow these past eight months.

I don’t think I ever would have become a nurse without her influence. She led me to the Lord Jesus Christ when I was 15 years old (See Life Changing Letter) and was my first Bible teacher. My birthday is April 9, so we always celebrated our birthdays together as we grew up. Mom often dressed us in matching outfits, so I thought that made us twins! Marsha was my best friend on earth and I still miss her so much, especially hearing her voice on the phone. But I wouldn’t wish her back to this old world, because I know she is gloriously happy in heaven worshiping and serving our dear Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Someday, in God’s perfect timing, we will be reunited in heaven above at the throne of our dear Savior.

Pam and Marsha celebrating their birthdays together.

Pam and Marsha celebrating their birthdays together.

Marsha went home to heaven to be with  Jesus Christ on August 12, 2015 after a year long battle with ovarian cancer. I thank God that I could be with her on the hospice unit during the last few days of her life here on earth. She not only only taught me how to live in Christ, but how to die in Christ. Her life verse was Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Pam graduated from high school and her sister, Marsha, RN graduated from nursing school the same day and time!

Pam graduated from high school and her sister, Marsha, RN graduated from nursing school the same day.

She left a rich legacy of numerous spiritual children from her 25 years as a Bible Club teacher, 30 years as a public health nurse, and the last ten years of her career teaching public health nursing at two different universities. Early in her career, she was a missionary nurse in the jungles of Suriname, South America. As a college nursing professor, she led student nurses on short term mission trips to New York City, Swaziland, and Dominican Republic.

She had us sing the beautiful hymn “Face to Face” at her memorial service.

What rejoicing in His presence, when are banished grief and pain,

When the crooked ways are straightened and the dark things shall be plain.

Face to face- O blissful moment! Face to face to see and know;

Face to face with my Redeemer,  Jesus Christ who loves me so.

On Easter Sunday (March 27) this year, I was really missing Marsha. But God encouraged me when I read the following thoughts on sorrow from a devotional book by Miles J. Stanford called None But the Hungry Heart.

Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us. 2 Corinthians 7:6

All of us are going to have sorrow, and none of us should miss its spiritual benefits. God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus. God had one Son, without sin, but not without sorrow. Sorrow reveals unknown depths in the soul, and unknown capabilities of experience and service. God never uses anybody to a large degree, until after He breaks that one. It takes sorrow to widen the soul. We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for our ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper must first be a sufferer. We cannot have the highest happiness of life in succoring others without tasting the cup which our Lord Jesus drank. The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.

It is but a little while and He will appear to answer all inquiries and to wipe away all tears. I would not wish, then, to be of those who had none to wipe away, would you?

Some of Marsha’s favorite verses were Revelation 21:3-4 – And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.

God’s Mercy in Tragedy

February, 1991

When I returned from my survey trip to New England, my Dad called me to say that Mom had had a small stroke (TIA-transient ischemic attack). A small blood vessel broke in her brain. Her doctor started her on persantine, baby aspirin, and digoxin medications.

She began crying on the phone when I talked with her because she is so afraid of having a larger stroke. I told her Christ is the only one who can give her peace and strength, and that she needs to receive Him as her Savior. My Dad seems to be in denial of the seriousness of the situation. I wish I could go visit her where she lives in Florida, but it is difficult to get the time off work. I wrote her the following letter, and pray for her to have a receptive heart.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

Dear Mom,

I just wanted to let you know that I am praying so much for you. Perhaps God allowed the stroke to happen to bring you to the end of yourself and your own resources so you will come to Him just as you are. He loves you so much! You cannot work your way to heaven or come to God on your own merit. That is why Christ died on the cross in our place, for your sins and mine. Now all He wants you to do is receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. For all those who do, He gives eternal life, and gives us His righteousness.

Mom, none of us know how many days we have left here on earth. But I’m looking forward to heaven and the joy of worshiping the Lord there forever. I so want to see you in heaven also for all eternity. When you believe in Christ as your Savior, He gives you the peace and joy that passes understanding, even in the midst of severe trials. (Philippians 4:6-7; Romans 5:1-9) It is also a comfort to know that God works all things together for good for His children (Romans 8:28) and won’t test us above what we are able to bear (I Corinthians 10:13). 

If there is anything I can do for you or if you just want to talk, please don’t hesitate to call me. Also, please read through the gospel of John several times and notice all the times the word “believe” is used. 

Much Love in Christ, Pam

March, 1991 – Florida

On March 13, Mom had a second major stroke and ended up in the Intensive Care Unite (ICU), between life and death. I could not talk with her, so committed her to God and asked that she would receive Christ as her Savior. She survived and was transferred to a rehab center. I was able to fly down to see her on March 13 and praise God that I had a good opportunity to be alone with her today and talk. She told me she now believes in Christ as her Savior, knows she has eternal life, and a home in heaven! I asked her if she wanted me to read the Bible to her, and she replied with enthusiasm, “Yes!” I read John 14:1-6 and she quoted the entire passage with me!

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. John 14:6

I read her Philippians 4 and when I reached verse 11, I told her that the Apostle Paul wrote this when he was in prison.

Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, in this to be content.

She is a kind of prisoner in her own body now that her left arm and leg are paralyzed, but she can learn to be content in Christ like Paul did. She replied that she is thankful that she still has one good arm and leg and can still talk. Then I read Psalm 23 and she quoted the entire psalm with me! She said she was trying and trying to remember it when she was in ICU, but it just got all mixed up in her brain. Then she asked me to read it twice more so she wouldn’t forget again.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want (lack)….Psalm 23

I found her little Bible in her home that she had before she was married. In the back flyleaf she had written John 14:1-6, John 3:16, and Matthew 11:28-29. Her father was a Baptist pastor and I am sure she memorized many Bible verses as a child, but she rebelled against God all these years. God is so faithful to bring to her memory all those verses from her childhood when she was alone in ICU. I think she now has the mind of a ten year old child and became childlike enough to trust the Lord as her Savior. It took cancer ten years ago and two strokes to bring her to believe in Christ, but now she is saved by His grace! How I praise Him!

Salvation is of the Lord. Jonah 2:9

Reflection

My Mom learned to walk again short distances with a quad cane, but her left arm remained paralyzed the rest of her life. My father faithfully became her caregiver the next five years, and they traveled to a number of places across the USA with her wheelchair and their travel trailer. When they visited my new church in New England, she delighted in singing the traditional hymns of her childhood and hearing the Bible teaching.

My parents traveled all over the USA after my Mom's stroke.

My parents traveled all over the USA after my Mom’s stroke.

The stroke changed her taste buds so all she would eat was mashed potatoes and cookies. She developed breast cancer, and the Lord took her to heaven at the age of 75, five years after her stroke. She chose “The Old Rugged Cross” and “In the Garden” to be sung at her funeral. It is so comforting to know she can walk again in her new body and is delighting in our Savior in the fullness of glory!

 

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

Life Changing Letter

Saturday, January 16, 1971

I gazed out the window of our small stone home in the country and saw the mailman drive away. “I’ll get the mail, Mom!” I hurriedly put on my winter coat, hat, and mittens to brave the bitter cold. I ran down the gravel driveway, scooped the letters from the mailbox, and skimmed through them as I raced back to our warm home.

I was thrilled to see a letter addressed to me from my older sister!  Marsha was a freshman at the state university three hours away, so I didn’t see her often. When she came home for a visit in October, she seemed so happy, said her headaches were gone, and she broke up with her boyfriend because he wasn’t a Christian. She eagerly told me that her roommate told her how to become a Christian, and she started going to Bible classes on campus.

When she came home for Thanksgiving, she asked that we give her money for Christmas instead of presents so she could attend a missionary conference. As a sophomore in high school, I would never give up all my Christmas presents to attend some old dumb missionary conference!

Since she returned to school in January, I can’t stop thinking about how happy she is now. So I wrote her last week and asked her to tell me more about God.  I eagerly took her letter to my desk in my bedroom, closed the door, and began to read.

Dear Pam,

I would love to share with you more about God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! Even though we went to church every Sunday and heard about Jesus Christ, the pastor never told us that each of us needs to personally receive Him as Savior.  I am so glad my college roommate shared the good news about Christ with me our first night at college.  I went to a Bible study with her, and  I received Him as my Savior shortly afterwards. I am so thankful that I have a personal relationship now with Him for all eternity and my sins are all forgiven!

As it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world (Pam) that He gave His only begotten (unique) Son, that whosoever (Pam) believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  This is the most important decision of your life because it decides whether you will spend eternity with God or perish forever without Him.  He loves you so much, Pam, that He died for you on the cross to bear the punishment for your sins.  After three days He rose again and lives in heaven today.

I asked the campus group at noon prayer meeting today to pray for you to receive Him as your personal Savior.

Love in Christ,  Marsha

I don’t think anyone has ever prayed for me before. I am so amazed that God loves me so much that He died for ME so I can be saved and be with Him for all eternity.  He knows all about how shy and insecure I am, and that I am so fearful of death ever since my cousin was killed in the Vietnam war.

As my tears flowed, I bowed my head and prayed,

Dear God, I come to You as I am– a sinner.  Thank You, Lord Jesus, for dying on the cross in my place for my sins and that You rose again from the grave.  I receive You now as my Savior.  Thank You that You love me so much! Amen.

When I opened my eyes, my heart was flooded with the peace and the joy of God, and my fear of death was gone!

Reflection – August, 2015

Tribute to Marsha Swinehart, RN

My dear sister, Marsha Swinehart, RN went to be with our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ, on August 12, 2015 after a year long battle with ovarian cancer. I thank God that I could be with her on the hospice unit during the last few days of her life here on earth. She not only only taught me how to live in Christ, but how to die in Christ. Her life verse was Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Pam graduated from high school and her sister, Marsha, RN graduated from nursing school the same day and time!

Pam graduated from high school and her sister, Marsha, RN graduated from nursing school the same day.

She left a rich legacy of numerous spiritual children from her 25 years as a Bible Club teacher, 30 years as a public health nurse, and the last 10 years of her career teaching public health nursing at two different universities. Early in her career, she was a missionary nurse in the jungles of Suriname, South America. As a college nursing professor, she led student nurses in short term mission trips to New York City, Swaziland, and Dominican Republic.

She had us sing the beautiful hymn “Face to Face” at her memorial service.

What rejoicing in His presence, when are banished grief and pain,

When the crooked ways are straightened and the dark things shall be plain.

Face to face- O blissful moment! Face to face to see and know;

Face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ who loves me so.

Some of Marsha’s favorite verses were Revelation 21:3-4 – And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.

I thank God that Marsha is no longer suffering, and that she is so happy now praising and serving our dear Savior in heaven for all eternity. We shall be reunited in God’s perfect timing, perhaps very soon. Thank you for praying for her husband, Keith; my brother, David; and me during our time of sorrow. God is our great comforter. II Corinthians 1:3-4