When the doctor said, “We gotta go now!” my heart dropped.  Not knowing what to say, like Nehemiah of old I uttered a most quick prayer in the most recent history of our lives, “O, Lord, help!”  Then I felt my heart again but now percussing louder and louder against my ribcage.  As one nurse blurted crash codes on the phone, another practitioner pulled some electrodes off the machine which alerted us that the baby’s heart rate had dropped to 40!  I pulled a couple of plugs off the wall as her gurney was being dragged out of the room.  Brittany tilted her head towards me.  Her eyes pierced into mine.  I took her hand but words wouldn’t come out except “everything will be alright!”

The day had actually gone by uneventfully except for a few things.  She had been in early labor since 1:30 in the morning.  Talk about a literal “early!”  But she wasn’t early.  In fact, her due date had passed already two days ago.  It was now nearly 11:00 pm.  Her contractions had been consistently 3-5 minutes apart for the past two hours but some were only “extremely mild” as the first nurse described.  They understood that we lived an hour away so we weren’t about to go home and then turn around immediately as her water breaks.  So we went downstairs and ate supper.  Brittany had subway and I had chicken tenders.

After two hours of walking around, we went back to Labor and Delivery.  They moved us now from the triage to a real room.  The nurse started an IV.  Another nurse came in with papers to read and sign.  And I went down to the parking lot to get our stuff.  This was gonna be our fourth delivery.  We were ready for it!

But no one could be prepared for what was about to happen.  (I had planned to re-read “Shepherding A Child’s Heart” and finish “The Conviction To Lead” because I had anticipated that this was gonna be a long labor.)  That’s when the nurse noticed the baby had moved from one side to the other because the monitor silenced.  She manuevered to find the heartbeat which was now on the opposite side of the belly!  Then the OB-GYN came in, checked her and the baby.  “She’s progressed” she said and so proceeded to break her water.  Fluid began gushing including myconium which I later found out a sign of infant distress.  Then the doctor muttered, “no, that’s not her head.”

“Get the ultrasound in here” she ordered the nurse in a masterful cadence.  At this time I could no longer hear the heartbeat on the monitor.  The doctor realized that what she thought was the hand on the baby’s temple was actually her umbilical cord wrapped around her foot and neck!  That’s when she made the decisive and crucial call.  And that was the beginning of the longest 23 minutes of my life.

I prayed mostly.  That was all I could do as they asked me to wait in the hallway in full bunny suit while they prepped Brittany for the c-section.  “Once the anesthesiologist is done with his part we’ll call you in to be with your wife,” one of the nurses explained.  I prayed again.  Another nurse reminded me that the baby’s heart rate is now up and I could hear the monitor beeps.

Finally they called me in.  Brittany was in tears.  “I’m sorry,” she said.  “Don’t be sorry, it’s not your fault.  You’re in good hands here.  Everything will be alright,” I said to her.  And everything indeed was alright.  Saw the whole thing myself!  Too bad TLC wasn’t here to film it.  (We had agreed earlier to participate in one episode of “Labor Games” to be aired in May but now that labor is over, I don’t think we’ll qualify in the games anymore.)

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Nonetheless, these came to mind during the longest 23 minutes of my life: 1) that life is fragile, “a vapor that vanisheth away” as Pastor James said; 2) that life is precious, so every moment counts, 3) that life is a stewardship, so spend and invest it wisely, 4) that life is but a brief opportunity to worship its Maker and Giver.  Job was absolutely right: “the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away”!  So make no mistake about it–when life flashes in front of you, you will be thinking about what things you’ve done for God, and how you’ve invested it in others.  All other things, in that brief moment, fade into oblivion!

|Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!  He answered my prayers.  Thanks to the superb Labor & Delivery and Surgical teams at Pomona Valley Hospital, Pomona, CA.  Your professionalism and competence save lives!|