Author Lacy Windham
I was in my third or fourth year as an intern. One patient complained that one of her twin babies had a decrease in her movements. She was 28 weeks pregnant. When we connected her to the monitor, one of the twins had a normal heart rate, and the other, the twin, had a straight line.
Straight lines are not a good thing in general when looking at a heart rate pattern in a fetus.
The ultrasound showed a healthy twin and a twin that did not move at all. And in his brain, there was a big white area. Between heart rate results and ultrasound results, we suspected that the second twin had significant intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain).
The mother now had a hard choice to make. She could choose to continue the pregnancy and give the healthy twin the advantage of steroids and extra time for gestation. Or she could choose to give birth now to give the sick twin the best chance of survival.
She chose to give birth.
There were already several other deliveries going on, so instead of being two interns and the doctor to perform caesarean section (as usual), I had to be alone with my favorite doctor for the operation.
We did spinal anesthesia on the patient, so she would be awake for delivery. The nurse instrumentalist cleaned her abdomen and I placed a sterile blue cloth on it. Once covered, we could not see his face.
I pinched it in several places on his abdomen with an instrument confirming that the anesthesia was working. I took my scalpel and performed the incision in the lower abdomen.
At first, I was not sure what we were hearing. Maybe a kind of buzz. Moments later, it was clear that the patient was singing.
The doctor leaned over and whispered, “Is she singing?” I acquiesced. We looked at each other with big, astonished eyes.
It was too delicate and not loud enough for us to hear the lyrics, but it made me think of a gospel song.
She continued to sing as I took the first little baby out of her womb. It was a healthy baby, but a very premature baby. She was singing while I placed the little baby in the incubator and the team in the neonatal intensive care unit took over. She sang while the baby was intubated to give her oxygen.
She sang while I took the second baby out of her belly. She sang while the two babies came out of the operating room to go to the neonatal intensive care unit.
She sang until I put the last stitch, and she was transported to the recovery room to rest.
I was interned in a big hospital. Pregnant patients from three states were transported to my hospital by helicopter. During my stay there, we gave birth to thousands of extremely premature or very sick babies. Often, we have never known what happened to it.
A few months later, a mother came to see us at the clinic pushing a double stroller. She brought two healthy twins with her.
She was asked why she was singing.
“Oh, I hope it did not bother you,” she said.
“I was singing for you, singing for God to guide your hands and bring you peace and comfort.” It still gives me shivers just thinking about it.