It was a crystal clear, winter night like many others that was to turn into one of the most wonderful days of my entire life. It was a night I wasn’t ready for and didn’t expect for another two weeks.
At 1 o’clock in the morning I was driving my wife to the hospital, our first child preparing to enter this world. It was early February; the air was cold and the sky clear. Traveling the country road to the main highway we passed a herd of 12 deer, the most we had seen at one time. They looked up and watched as we passed, almost acknowledging our passing, before returning to their grazing.
Because of the late hour we entered the hospital through the emergency entrance. The staff was very busy and the admitting nurse visibly relieved to have someone pass her way that was not injured. We were escorted to the maternity ward where we were greeted by a friend who had taught our Lamaze classes. By 2 o’clock the doctor had arrived and did the initial examination of mother and baby. Both were well, the baby’s vitals very strong. The one problem, the baby was breach (butt down instead of head down.) This meant a trip to the operating room instead of the birthing room.
In the operating room I encountered a team of doctors, nurses, and technicians. To this day they remain the best working team I’ve ever seen. Everyone knew their job and performed it when needed – it was amazing to watch. I held my wife’s hand as she drifted off to sleep. The work began and I was in awe of it all. Experiencing the miracle of birth was inspiring and humbling. There is a lot we can do with technology and medicine but neither can create life.
Then the moment came… it was the hardest moment of my life. On my right was my wife, my love, in an induced sleep. On my left was this new life, my daughter. My wife was going to be brought to recovery while my daughter to the nursery. There I stood, looking at one then the other and I couldn’t decide which one needed me more or which direction to head. I expect this wasn’t the first time the staff had witnessed a father in this state. One of them gently told me to go with my daughter while they took care of my wife. In that meek and relieved voice I said, “okay.”
I was expecting to be a bystander in the nursery but life had other plans. Over the next 24 hours more than a dozen new children would crowd into the nursery but that early morning there was only one other and my new daughter. I was invited by the nurses to help with her cleaning, measuring, and taking of the foot print. We wrapped her in a blanket and put a little pink cap on her head. Then the nurse handed me my new baby daughter and motioned to a rocking chair nearby. I sat down and was able to feed her a bottle of sugar water, her first meal.
It was new beginning for her as well as a new beginning for me. These are the experiences that define us, who we are and what path we follow. Many of the decisions I’ve made over the past 20 years can be traced back to this event. We all have defining moments, or events, that change us. Sometimes they are lost to the fading memory of time.
I challenge you to look back at your life and remember a time or an event that helped you choose your path. Remember, our life path isn’t a straight line; it bends, turns sharply, and sometimes meanders in different directions. What has inspired you to change your path?