Mother and Child

Struggle, love and survival
by Mark Thelen, LC | Source: Catholic.net
It was the middle of January. He stood at the fireplace, slowly removing and folding every card before he pressed them together in a neat pile to be duly disposed of. One, however, grabbed his attention. It wasn’t glossy, nor was there fancy gold lettering. Neither the beautiful picture on the front nor the message written inside caught his eye. It was her name and her story.

It brought him back a good many years to a lonely hospital ward…

Silence reigned in the room, but it was not a peaceful silence. Rather it was the eerie silence of the eye of a hurricane, the quiet before bombshells begin to fall.

The dim fluorescent lamp cast a greenish glow across the ward making the patient look even more pallid than she was. The only sound was the soft beeping of the monitors and the muffled rasping of troubled breathing.

He stood there wondering what to do. But there was nothing left to do. She was so young, so innocent. At twenty-three, Eleanor was recently married with a life full of possibilities, full of promise, full of love. Yet it was all coming to an abrupt end.

They had tried everything to help her, without luck. The cavity from tuberculosis on the right lung would not close. Operating directly was out of the question because they couldn’t get at it. Air had been pumped in to force it closed, but without avail. They considered taking the whole lung, but she was too ill to hold up under any such procedure. There was nothing left to do but wait… and hope.

Three months later, things came to a climax, but even tuberculosis didn’t seem to fully explain her rapid deterioration. Already extremely weakened, her body was ready to simply give out. Less than eighty pounds, Eleanor could hardly eat. She was nauseous and vomiting constantly – and all this even without food in her stomach. Tuberculosis had taken its toll, yet something more seemed to gnawing away at her already ebbing strength.

Even a senior medical consultant who examined her could achieve no clear diagnosis. “Maybe she’s pregnant,” he had said, grinning ironically. There was no way her body could have handled it. Or could it?

When the pregnancy test came back positive, shock set in. She had left the hospital only one day, Christmas, to go home to her husband, and even this against the doctor’s better judgment.

His hesitant concession given in March for Christmas at home, more based on the certainty that Eleanor would not be alive to take the opportunity than the prudence of the proposition, now seemed to bear a death sentence.

Her fight continued and another began. An emaciated body was now supporting two lives, and it had struggled for months to support just one.

Then the incredible, the miraculous happened. Her fever began to subside. She kept food down. Her weight went up. The TB cavity stopped growing. For some reason the cavity on her lung was closing, and she was getting better.

The diaphragm was pushing up against the lower lobe of her diseased lung to make room for her child. Nature was doing what medicine had failed to. A few months later Eleanor returned home healed of TB with a normal, healthy baby. The child had saved the mother!

-Information taken from “How an Unborn Baby Saved Its Mother’s Life,” from Joe Wheeler in Christmas in My Heart by Joseph A. McDougall, Focus on the Family, 2000.


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