THE CHRISTMAS GIFT
Driving to work on a Sunday morning, the roads fairly empty at the time of day I started work. Christmas lights still sparkled in the early morning light as I passed by the houses, reminding me it was only 3 days until Christmas day. This was my first day back at work after several days off, and with so little time before Christmas, most people would now be on holiday for the next few days.
When I arrived at work, far from being quiet major problems were waiting for me, and those few members of my shift not on vacation. The morning went by with many conference calls and problem resolving and around lunchtime finally I thought it had all settled down to a quieter day.
Suddenly my phone rang, it was my wife. The baby was sick, she had been crying for the last hour, and in pain. Not only that but when the baby had been sick she had traces of blood in the throw-up. She had phoned the Doctor who had thought it was because of a cold and congestion. Naturally I was worried, our daughter was only seven months old after all, and so very precious to us.
I was getting on with more work, thinking about what was going on, when the phone went again. The Doctor had second thoughts and wanted us to take the baby to the hospital. I would meet them the family there.
I drove not quite knowing where I was going or what I was doing, the area was strange and the worry about what was going on weighing heavy on my mind.
I found the children's emergency area, arriving before my family. Soon we were all there. The baby was no her normal herself at all, she would not let you put her down, and was crying in pain, as well as constantly dribbling. We were quickly looked at and details taken, then started a long wait until we could be seen. Children and families came and went and still we waited. The our other children were starting to get fractious, we had by this time been waiting almost 3 hours.
At last we were called in, and shown to the smallest cubical out of the ones there were, this was for the two of us, the baby, 2 small children and all the bags and car seats that were needed to port the family around. The staff seeing the children with nothing to do brought them gifts from the hospital Christmas tree, and so we waited.
Another hour, and at last the doctor came to see us. The baby was checked out, and nothing could be found. People still came and went and time continued to pass. At last the doctor came back and advised that they were going to take x-rays of the baby. We talked about what to do, we had been at the hospital for over 4 hours, the children were tired and hungry, and we both knew how long x-rays could take. Neither of us wanted to leave, but though it best if my wife took the baby home, and I stayed.
Very quickly we went to the x-ray area, and after just 10 minutes were back with the plates. The doctor could see nothing on the x-rays, but wanted a second opinion. The Senior Doctor came and examined the baby, and suddenly reported to both myself and the other doctor that she could see something trapped at the back of the babies throat. This explained her pain, and the soaking shoulders I now had from her constant dribbling for the last several hours I had held her.
My heart jumped into my throat, what had she swallowed, what if it moved and lodged across her throat. The surgeon was paged, and I was taken with the baby into another area. I tried to keep her as quiet as possible, the Christmas angels pinned round the walls seemed to look down at her so small in my arms and in so much pain.We moved to behind a curtain, as a major case was coming in, all the time the doctors kept checking on us. Nurses peered in at the beautiful baby, who every now and then let out such a heart rending cry that all stopped to see what was wrong.
The surgeon came and explained what he was to do, it was thought better to operate on the baby to get rid of the obstruction, rather than cause her even more distress, and possible problems by fishing for it. The theater was ready, we went up and met the operating team, where I handed over my beloved daughter to them. I waited in and empty waiting area.
Christmas lights sparkled on windows, and seasons decorations were everywhere. I phoned my now tearful wife, and explained what was going on. Thoughts went to another baby all those years ago, and silent prayers were sent to him. The last words that the anithatist had said to me as she took the baby , swirled round my head again, and again.
"You are very lucky, 80% of babies who swallow things like this do not even make the hospital"
What would we do if anything happened to her? After all that had happened to us this last year, this would be the end of all and everything if we lost her.
After what seemed an age, but was actually only 20 minutes the doctor returned, holding in his hand a container in which was a small frog foil sticker, as used on cards and presents at Christmas. This was the offending object. The baby was ok, and was waiting for me in the recovery area.
I sat by her bed, waiting for her to recover, trying to smile at the comments of the nurse taking care of her. She was alright, she was safe, a small tear trickled down my face, and my heart smiled at the beauty that was our daughter now safe and sound sleeping next to me.
A half hour later she was awake, and her smiling self, drinking a bottle of juice as if nothing had happened. Once we had been checked out, we left for our drive back home. The Christmas lights now matching the pair of sparkling eyes that sat in the car seat next to me.
We arrived home in the early hours of the morning, safe and sound, but still the words echoed round my mind. 80% of babies never make it to the hospital.
As we hugged each other and the baby, we both realized, never mind what was going to happen in two days time. We had already received the greatest Christmas present we would ever have. The safety and well being of our baby.
Normally I write a Christmas Story, and in fact this year I already had it written just waiting for my to type it out and up load it. That was until we had our own story, this time the story was for real. Victoria is fine now, and shows no ill effects from her operation. It just showed us how lucky we really are.
Barry Eva 2001
YOU ARE THE