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A Christmas Story - Dr. James Dobson PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Watchman   
Monday, 21 December 2009 21:02
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Take a moment to read this touching story of LIFE!

by James C. Dobson, Ph.D.

Dear Friends,

Christmas is a time for tradition, which is defined as “the handing down of stories, beliefs and customs from generation to generation.” Millions of families depend on these traditions each year to help them celebrate the birth of the Christchild and explain the meaning of His coming to their children. There is something about revisiting familiar symbols, activities and foods that reminds us of what is important in our lives.

In that spirit, I want to share a tradition of my own this month. I’m returning to a letter that I sent to nearly 2 million people in December 1993. More than a million families have been added to our mailing list since then, and those newcomers did not read my earlier letter. Therefore, I am repeating it this month, not only for their benefit, but also for our long-time friends who will enjoy reading this remarkable story again. Let’s go back, then, exactly four years to the time when these words were penned.

* * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * *

...and the baby’s body moved down just enough for me to see that it was a little girl—and then, to my consternation, I saw that the other foot...

* * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * *

December 1993

I have a little Christmas present for you. No, it won’t come wrapped in pretty paper or adorned with a bright colored ribbon. But I believe you will enjoy this little remembrance. You are, in fact, holding my gift in your hand at this moment. It is a true Christmas story that will touch your soul during this blessed time of the year.

Do you have time right now to read something simply for enjoyment? I doubt it. We are all so busy during the holidays that we can hardly pause even to receive a blessing. Nevertheless, I am suggesting that you take a few moments just for yourself. You deserve a break today. Situate yourself in your most comfortable chair — perhaps with a cup of hot cider and a few (low-fat) cookies—and read the inspiring words of Dr. Frederic Loomis. This obstetrician’s story is included in an outstanding collection of writings entitled Christmas in My Heart, compiled by Dr. Joe Wheeler. If this piece doesn’t light your fire, you have wet wood.

These are Dr. Loomis’ own words, recalling the delivery of a baby many years ago, before cesarean procedures were commonly used to rescue infants at risk. He called his story “The Tiny Foot.”

Two years after I came to California, there came to my office one day a fragile young woman, expecting her first baby. Her history was not good from an emotional standpoint, though she came from a fine family.

I built her up as well as I could and found her increasingly wholesome and interesting as time went on, partly because of the effort she was making to be calm and patient and to keep her emotional and nervous reactions under control.

One month before her baby was due, her routine examination showed that her baby was in a breech position. As a rule, the baby’s head is in the lower part of the uterus for months before delivery, not because it is heavier and “sinks” in the surrounding fluid, but simply because it fits more comfortably in that position. There is no routine spontaneous “turning” of all babies at the seventh or eighth month, as is so generally supposed, but the occasional baby found in a breech position in the last month not infrequently changes to the normal vertex position with the head down by the time it is ready to be born, so that only about one baby in 25 is born in the breech position.

This is fortunate, as the death rate of breech babies is comparatively high because of the difficulty in delivering the after-coming head, and the imperative need of delivering it rather quickly after the body is born. At that moment the cord becomes compressed between the baby’s hard little head and the mother’s bony pelvis. When no oxygen reaches the baby’s bloodstream, it inevitably dies in a few short minutes. Everyone in the delivery room is tense, except the mother herself, in a breech delivery, especially if it is a first baby, when the difficulty is greater. The mother is usually quietly asleep or almost so.

The case I was speaking of was a “complete” breech—the baby’s legs and feet being folded under it, tailor-fashion—in contrast to the “frank” breech, in which the thighs and legs are folded back on a baby’s body like a jackknife, the little rear end backing its way into the world first of all.

The hardest thing for the attending doctor to do with any breech delivery is to keep his hands away from it until the natural forces of expulsion have thoroughly dilated the firm maternal structures that delay its progress. I waited as patiently as I could, sending frequent messages to the excited family in the corridor outside.

At last the time had come, and I gently drew down one little foot. I grasped the other, but for some reason I could not understand, it would not come down beside the first one. I pulled again, gently enough but with a little force, with light pressure on the abdomen from above by my assisting nurse, and the baby’s body moved down just enough for me to see that it was a little girl—and then, to my consternation, I saw that the other foot

Last Updated on Monday, 21 December 2009 21:06

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