Tuesday, January 03, 2006


If you read my previous post, you may be wondering why we try so hard in what seem like hopeless circumstances. We believe in miracles. We've seen them.

Thanksgiving eve, in a community hospital many years ago. A tiny baby lay very still in his intensive care warmer bed. The night before he had been active, but no more. I hadn't seen any movement in hours. His fontanel was bulging. His pupils were fixed and dilated. His heart rate should have been over 120, but it was in the 80's - and had been for hours. His limbs cooled, despite the heat of the radiant warmer and it seemed that nothing we did would ever make a difference to this tiny child. The IV pumps continued to drip fluids into his tiny veins. The ventilator forced oxygen into his tiny lungs. None of it seemed to matter.

The neonatologist had been fighting this losing battle since early evening and finally decided to go home about 4am to get a little sleep before approaching the family about terminating life support. He was just coming in as I was leaving - about 7:30 that morning.

I shocked my youngest sister by expressing my hope that he would not be there when I got back to work that night. I couldn't see any hope for him at all. If he survived - which seemed impossible - surely he would be profoundly brain damaged.

When I arrived at the NICU that night, I heard the story: The doctor had been unable to contact the parents. He tried repeatedly, but there was no one at home. This was in an earlier era - no cell phones, no voice mail, not even answering machines. Nobody was home.

About 11am, the family arrived, but there was no consideration of terminating life support. Yes, the baby was still there. At about 10, he had started to move again. His pupils began to react. His heart rate returned to normal - and so did his fontanels. There was no evidence of his brush with death. He looked like a typical preemie again.

Where were the parents when they couldn't be reached? They were in church, giving thanks to their Creator for all the gifts they had been given - but especially for this very tiny child.