The Hand of God

I live an unusual profession. Guarding the unborn and their mothers from the random and often senseless strikes of mother nature against the survival of our kind. It is a world that hopeful parents to be and their family members are best ignorant of. But the battle goes on ceaselessly every day I put on my cloth armor of a white coat or scrubs. Our best weapons are the skills that have become second nature when you work 80 hours per week for thirty years doing the same thing every day. And my closest friends are the medical personnel who work side by side with me trying to accomplish as a team what you could never do as an individual.

But even to us seasoned and weary veterans, sometimes an event will occur that defies expectations or reality. After the fact, you sit back and reflect that what happened was beyond belief, and that meant there was a power higher than yours that made the difference.

This is one of these stories, and it has a happy ending that I will share with you first. When you are blessed to be part of a miracle, you need to let others know. Crazy as the world is, maybe there is a purpose for it after all..

This photo was taken in my office a week ago. I have permission from Ursulyn and Andry to share their story. The flowers reflect our happiness that she and her son have made a complete recovery from…

It started with a phone call while I was working in the Delivery Room. One of my partners phoned and told me one of our full term pregnant patients had arrived for her regular OB visit, and was having serious trouble breathing. He had called 911 and he told me she was being sent to the Delivery Room. I alerted the staff and we made preparations for whatever might be wrong. Minutes went by and no patient arrived. Then the ER called and said that she was being kept there for a serious medical condition. I hurried through several attached buildings to the ER and found bedlam.

In a regular examining room there was my patient, unconscious and trying to be ventilated by the ER staff. Staff from the Delivery Room and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit had just arrived and were watching with shock as she coded and CPR was begun. Like a preposterous scenario from the television series “ER” or “House”, I found myself in a situation where literally a minute or two was to make a difference whether that mother and baby lived or died. The fetal heart rate was present but dropping. Her husband was standing there watching in shock as I asked for a scalpel. Without taking time to do anything but put on a pair of gloves, I delivered the baby. The sound of a newborn cry was a very welcome sound to the large multitude of staff gathered outside the patient’s cubicle. Veterans all, but many crying from the reality of what was happening with that mother to be.

Without being overly dramatic, let me say that this was the first time that I had done an operation where there was no bleeding. Her heart had stopped and her blood was black. This was going to be a very bad outcome. As I closed her incision, the resuscitation team kept on with their heroic efforts. Multiple drugs were given at intervals to get her heart started. And then, someone called out that she had a heart rhythm, and then a pulse. The blood turned bright red again. But nine minutes had passed since her heart had stopped. The question was: would she wake up, and what kind of condition would she be in?

She was transferred to the ICU where a battery of specialists determined that she had developed a very unusual heart condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy. Her heart muscle had slowly weakened over the week prior to her arrival in our office, and she was in heart failure. She was literally drowning with fluids building up in her lungs. The treatment is delivery and allowing the heart muscle to try and recover. That had been accomplished in the ER.

For three days her husband kept a vigil outside her room in the unit. The enormity of the potential problems facing that young man with the reality of raising a new baby without his wife humbled me. But on the third day, she started to become alert. She gradually returned to the world of the living and her faculties slowly recovered. We all held our breath when the neurologist did his battery of tests and reported that she was “neurologically intact”.

Another week went by, and my daily routine in the office kept me busy out of the hospital. With my next hospital duty, I inquired of her location and was told she had just been discharged to the Hospital for Special Care for rehab. So after my weekend on call, I decided to pay this very special person a visit. I brought one of the puppies to cheer her up, since I wasn’t sure what sort of mental state she would be in. I got to the hospital and found she had just been discharged the day before. I called her husband and asked if I could see them in their home. He gave me directions. This is what I found.

Thankfully she has no memory of the events of that day, or even being in our office for her prenatal visit. But outside of her memory lapses, her personality, and sense of self is intact. Her hug and smile made me know that I was part of something very special. I told her God must have very special plans for her.

George Strait recently wrote a country song, ” I saw God today”. It goes..

“I’ve been to church, I’ve read the book, I know he’s here, I don’t look as often as I should. His fingerprints are everywhere, I just need to slow down to stop and stare, and open my eyes. I saw God today.”