I thought this Mother’s Day weekend might be a good time to share, again, one of the two best days of my life (the other best day being the birth of my eldest son) :
“O gentle presence, peace and joy and power; O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour, Thou Love that guards the nestling’s faltering flight! Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.” From the Christian Science Hymnal, words by Mary Baker Eddy
I’d hoped that with the birth of my second child I would have a full night’s sleep before going into labor (having experienced a sleepless night in the birth of my first son) and that, unlike my first birthing experience, this time the process would be quick and easy. Having taken no pain medication in the birth of my first son, I’d also decided that I would ask for an epidural with this one, reasoning that even Christian Scientists usually get Novocain before letting dentists drill their teeth.
It all began as I’d hoped it would. I got my full night’s sleep, started feeling labor pains at nine in the morning, and, according to the midwife who met my husband and I at the hospital, was proceeding very smoothly and quickly through the birth. I asked for the epidural and was given one. Life was looking pretty good. Even the nurse attending me commented on how great it was to have a nice, normal couple to work with and to have a nice, normal birth to witness.
But not long after I was given the epidural, something started to go wrong. Apparently the baby’s cord was wrapped around his neck and he was in distress. It was decided to give me a caesarean section to get the baby out quickly.
As they wheeled me down to the operating room (my rear sticking up in the air in a very undignified position), I called back to my mom, who was following behind the gurney, to phone the Christian Science practitioner at the Christian Science Reading Room and ask her to pray for us.
Once they got me down to the O.R. I was attached to machines to monitor the baby’s heart rate and blood pressure, the staff took Scott away to don him in surgical garb, and the surgical team prepared to slice me open. Everything was happening very quickly, and there was a lot of bustling activity surrounding me, but, strangely, I felt very calm. I knew that no matter what happened, God was in control and the baby was moving at Her direction and guidance.
Now I was surrounded by a team of medical staffers whom, aside from my midwife, I’d never before met. Their eyes flicked from the monitor to my belly and back to the monitor again. I saw they were all puzzled by something. There was a moment of quiet. Then suddenly they all began yelling, “Push! Push!” – like they were spectators at a sporting event. I felt surrounded in Love – love from the medical staff who only wanted the best for my baby, love from my husband, and love from God. In a matter of moments our son entered the world in the old-fashioned way and the medical staff whooped like their favorite team had just won the championship. One of the nurses was crying. When I asked her why, she said that as an operating room nurse she’d never before been able to witness a baby being born naturally, and she felt she’d just witnessed a rare and special thing.
When I asked my midwife what had happened that had enabled my son to be born without a caesarean section, she said, “We don’t know.”
Later my mom shared what the Christian Science practitioner had told her when she reached her on the phone: “Life loves that baby!”
For a few hours we called our son Pieter Dee. Then we tried out the name Nicholas Piet. Finally, after a day in his company, we realized that this baby had big presence – his body was small, but something of his irrepressible identity was communicating itself to us – and we knew he needed a big name to match that identity. So we named him Alexander Raymond Dee Terrell. His name had more syllables than he had poundage, but it fit him just right all the same.