With all that has to happen in the womb, it’s amazing that anyone is ever born at all.
~Coleman Haggerty, CP~
William was born in the usual way to the delight of his family, relatives and their friends. He appeared as a beautiful baby boy and everyone rejoiced. On his second day of life a nurse found him gray and crying in a high pitched tone indicating distress. His caregivers switched into emergency mode and immediately transferred him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The staff closely monitored him and conducted tests to rule out the most likely reasons for his distress. The tests were all came back normal. He stabilized and returned to looking and acting like a healthy baby.
When a baby is born we all expect or at least hope that no difficulties will arise. When a crisis arises for a newborn, we suddenly face the fragility of life. Babies are delicate and need a great deal of protection. We all accept that. But how do we react when a baby is faced with an unknown threat? We want to do what we can but we don’t know what we can do. We are left to rely on the medical experts and prayers to God to help the baby through the crisis.
Few of us remember a time when infant death was common. Physicians and medical researchers have made tremendous strides in dealing with infants in crisis but there is no guarantee that their knowledge and experience will get any particular infant back on a healthy path.
Such a crisis reminds us that we are all fragile. There is much we can do to keep ourselves as well as our children healthy. Yet there is no guarantee that our efforts will be successful. A crisis also reminds us how precious any life is, especially the lives of those who mean the most to us.
I once heard a sermon by Father Brendan Breen reminding us that whatever we do ripples out through the world with effects on everyone. We obviously do not affect the whole world directly. What we do, good or bad, affects those who come into contact with us. Our actions affect those in contact with us and modify their outlook on life and their actions toward others, again for better or worse. Then those we have affected pass on to others what they have gained or lost from their experience with us. In that way we are all connected, even though we will never meet most of the people we affect indirectly.
As I just mentioned, we tend to see babies as fragile and helpless. Yet William has already had a wide reaching effect on many people most of whom he will never meet. As word of his distress spread from his family to relatives and friends, others who were told of him gained an opportunity to turn their thoughts and prayers in his direction. All of these people got a chance to consider the fragility, wonder and connection with others we all share.
Thank you William for helping all of us to stay connected and human. Good health to you. We look forward to seeing how the rest of your life enriches us.
Life Lab Lessons
- Treasure the lives of those you love.
- Show them you care every chance you get.
- Care for yourself. You are precious to others.
- Care for people you don’t know when you have the chance.
- Remember that we are all part of the human community.