A Fleeting Gift
She was long overdue. Jendyose (alias that means "I have done well to produce a child") had lived the nightmare at least four times before. She had conceived. She had felt the child move in her womb. Then the child had died within her. She felt that she was a failure, a non-person in her society, where womanhood was defined by giving birth. She was mocked by the ladies in her village and scorned by her in-laws. This time would be different.
She Reached Out and Grasped her Tiny Hand
Jendyose went to the hospital. She had a cervical suture put in place to help keep the child in the womb. She prayed that all would go well and waited. About 26 weeks along she started feeling contractions and she was transported to the hospital. The cervical suture was removed and after a very careful delivery her baby was born. Jendyose named her Gift. Her heart soared. She touched her tiny daughter's hand. In a small village her beloved daughter was placed in a six bed neonatal intensive care unit, her mother at her side.
Gift did quite well for about Four Days
Jendyose was a devoted mother. She sat for long hours at her daughter's side. The doctor and nurses did what they could. She was given oxygen and I.V.'s and medications. A nurse monitered her vital signs and oxygen saturation. We watched and prayed.
A mother's Love, A Father's Fleeting Gift
Around day five I could sense that Jendyose was distancing herself from the child. She knew the inevitable. As a nurse, I knew that there was little that was going to be done physically for her child so decided to minister to her mom spiritually. I shared that her daughter was a very special gift that God had sent into her life to let her experience the joy of being a mother and that this time would be short. She needed to touch and feel the things that a mother touched, to know that joy in her heart while her child was with her. God had allowed her to be validated as a woman in her community. She had a child. Their relationship might be fleeting on this earth, but they would meet again someday. Jendyose went back to her child and loved her to the end. They only had 5 or 6 days as mother and daughter, but it was a special time. She watched as the life drained from her little one and our hearts broke to see the pain. But this pain was not empty as with her other children who had died in the womb. This time she was a mother who touched and felt and experienced her child. I pray that she will some day be able to have a life-long relationship with her own child.
The following is a prayer that I wrote for a child with an incurable heart problem in my first year as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care nursery. It expresses the same poignancy that I felt when Gift died.
O God, my heart cries for this little child of yours,
this little wisp of life so soon snuffed out.
Only an hour or so he was with us,
but life was so precious for the moment.
I couldn't stand to see his bruised body
lying there on a start white bed,
so I rocked him Lord.
We rocked as his heart rate fell
and his life dwindled.
It was hard to see, Lord, and I cried.
He is with you now, Lord.
Care for him with more tender hands
than those who cared for him here.
Love him for me, Lord. Amen LBJ 1976