Life has changed…completely…forever. On Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 Isabella Grace Burkholder was born at 7 lbs. 3 oz. She is absolutely beautiful.
The day before, Tuesday, we had an appointment with the doctor. He told us that Jenny’s amniotic fluid was low; if it remained low 24 hours later he would have to induce. So, we set up an appointment for the next morning, Wednesday. Fortunately, that Tuesday Jenny’s mom, “Grandma Runner,” made it here to Guatemala. We showed up to the appointment expecting to go have our baby, and I’m glad we did. The amniotic fluid was 2 cm lower than it was the day before. We swept Jenny to the E.R. and the whole process began.
When we got to our room the doctor hooked her up to a monitor to keep an eye on the baby’s heartbeat. When the fluid is low, the heartbeat decelerates with every contraction due to pressure on the umbilical cord. They started inducing Jenny at 11:30 am. The plan was still to have a normal birth. Jenny eventually started having bigger contractiosn and was dilated at 6 cm. At around 4:30 p.m., the doctor came in to theck on the baby’s heart beat. It continued to decelerate for longer periods of time. Eventually the doctor decide that there was too much risk to continuing the normal birth route and got us prepped for the c-section.
The nurse came and got me and handed me a pair of scrubs that I think were made for a giant. Americans are big people in Guatemala, so I’m assuming she thought I’d need big scrubs. Right before the surgery there was some confusion with Janet, Jenny’s mom, since she doesn’t speak spanish. The nurse was trying to tell her something and came and got me to clarify. By the time I got off the phone with her the surgery was under way.
The operating room was cold and felt, ironically, lifeless. They took me back behind the curtain that was draped in front of Jenny’s neck. She was shaking. It was a little scary, less the situation and more the scene. Air conditioner blasting, six masked people, dozens of machines screeching out horrible noises. If it wasn’t for the pending birth of my daughter it would have felt like a horror film. The doctor was unsing an electric scalpel. I could literally smell burning flesh as they cauterized while making the incision. Cold air, lots of masked people, burning flesh, and beeping, beeping beeping.
Jenny was trembling, partly from nerves, partly from the cold, and partly from anesthesia. Our eyes locked and all I remember thinking is “She’s never been more beautiful.” After about 25 minutes the doctor called out my name “Justin, mirá!” (“Justin, Look!”) I stood up, terrified to look over the curtain, unaware of the bloody, massacred scene I’d take in. But, it was my baby’s head. All the terrifying, macabre scenery fell silent as I took in the miracle of our little girl.
The doctor wanted me to look at something specific. The umbilical cord was wrapped around Isabella’s neck and down her back. It was clear that the doctor made the right choice – we never doubted it.
At 5:27 p.m. Isabella took her first breath on her own. The pediatrician cleaned her off a little and bundled her up. He laid her head down next to Jenny’s. Jenny kissed her daughter, the first of many. Jenny was so strong. I’ve been amazed and inspired by her. I couldn’t be more proud to be her husband.
Medicine, doctors, science, all are wonderful gifts. But child birth is a miracle. Life is transferred from one person to another through a series of complex phases. And, sadly, death is passed along also. I’m reminded that Isabella was born as a dead person. Dead in hers and my transgressions and sins. The miracle of birth is spectacular, the miracle of spiritual birth is supernatural.
It is that birth for which we will now toil and pray.