Copyright © 2006 Ed Bagley
I sat down to Thanksgiving dinner yesterday and slowly looked around the table at my eight companions. A soft glow of contentment came over me, and, like the good red-blooded male I am, I fought back any thought of becoming more sentimental and sappy.
There was my wife Annette, the same woman I have been married to for 33 years, a rare catch for any guy about to walk down the aisle to a new life.
My 30-year-old daughter Kristin was there with her husband Tom (a good man I am proud to call my second son) and our 1-year-old granddaughter Kira.
My 28-year-old son Eric was there with his wife Jenny (who seems like my second daughter) and our 9-year-old grandson Eric, Junior and 2-year-old granddaughter Emily.
Both of the granddaughters are cute as a cute can be (and I will bet yours are too), and already they seem well on their way to developing strong, independent personalities as women of the future.
Both of my children are doing very well relative to many struggling young couples. They are reasonably happy, healthy, productive adults making a positive impact on the people around them.
Life is good this Thanksgiving, and I realize that just sitting here, looking around, could well be a miracle in itself.
It reminded me of the birth of my first daughter, Kristin. Let me share with you what I wrote as a columnist for a nationally-recognized weekly newspaper that I owned in the great Pacific Northwest (it seems every bit as relevant today as it did in 1976):
Between the Evergreens:
First Time I Have Seen a Miracle
I have lived on this Earth 31 years, but Saturday night was the first time I had ever seen a miracle.
It started in the dead of sleep at 5 a.m. For four hours I slept on like a newborn baby. It was nothing unusual for me-the freight train that cuts Patterson Lake in two could detour through our bedroom, and I would probably not wake up.
Inside Annette-while I cut through zees like rewrite copy-a slow stirring began. Soon it became sharp pains. Finally I woke at 9 a.m. to greet the new day and found out Annette had been up at 5 wondering if her time had come. It had.
We checked into St. Peter Hospital at 11 a.m. and began an even longer wait. Soon it was 1 p.m., then 3 and 5 and 7 and 9 and her labor continued. The baby was not in the right position, and Annette spent a good deal of time figuring out how to push when the contractions came.
It was a struggle we went through together, her frank cries of anguish and my dispassionate encouragement. I could not have become emotionally involved, or it would have been all over for me. I wanted to see everything.
Finally monitors were put on her to play out the frequency of the contractions and the frequency of the baby’s heartbeat. A steady blip, blip, blip played across the face of the machine and, to the right, numbers changed every few seconds, telling the baby’s heartbeat per minute. Eventually medicine was used to help induce the contractions.
After 17½ hours, Annette went to the delivery room and I was right behind her. Inside, as Dr. Krug exhibited a totally calm, professional demeanor, I watched as the baby’s head pushed into the new world.
Krug noted that the cord had a knot and then, with one final push, Kristin Ann came into the world and nothing could hold back Annette’s elation and tears, and Kristin’s cry for survival.
Kristin was bright and alert to the momentous occasion; she immediately opened her eyes and let us know she was here-it must have been a tremendous struggle for her too.
I sat stunned, not giving in to instant joy. I wanted to note, with the patience and calm of a craftsman, every detail of this glorious moment.
Kristin looked blue and-had it not been for her crying-you might have thought she was not alive. Her eyes, if not her voice, said otherwise. I felt like I could have reached out and touched the Hand of God.
Later, in the nursery, I was astounded that Kristin looked a healthy pink only minutes after her arrival. Her eyes were still open and her mouth was constantly moving.
When Annette came out of the delivery room and the nurse wheeled her up to the window, I was sure I saw Kristin smile. As if to test this observation against reality, I asked the nurse if she had smiled. I could not believe it.
The nurse replied yes and then, when the nurse, Annette and I once again focused on the wonder before us, Kristin Ann smiled again.
(Editor’s note: Family is the fundamental core unit of our culture, from the unity of many comes the strength of the family to fulfill its destiny, with each generation experiencing the life cycle, and the joys and challenges of realizing our individual and group potential. The gift of life is only our first gift, it is up to us-as individuals and as a family unit-to love and support each other as we develop our unique gifts as children of God. Non-believers have some other ideas about this same topic, I believe our universe is big enough to accommodate everyone.)