Your rolling and stretching had grown quiet that stormy winter night,
but no labor came as it should.
A long ten days overdue post-Christmas,
you clung to amnion and womb, not yet ready to emerge.
Then the northeast wind blew more wicked
and the snow flew horizontal, landing in drifting piles,
the country roads impassable, impossible to traverse.
So your dad and I still tried,
worried about being stranded on the farm miles from town.
Our little car got stuck in a snowdrift in the deep darkness,
our tires futilely spinning, whining against the snow.
Your dad struggled to walk down a long driveway
to a neighbor’s house for help,
and their bulldozing tractor dug us out to freedom.
Through it all,
you floated silent and still,
knowing your time was not yet.
Creeping slowly through the dark-night blizzard,
we arrived and were enveloped by the warm glow of the hospital.
We were checked in, all looked fine with you, so tucked into bed
to await a morning induction of labor.
You slept afloat.
I slept not at all.
When morning light glistened off sculptured snowpiles,
your heart, newly monitored, ominously slowed as we watched the screen
and listened to the pulsing beats.
The nurses jostled you,
but nothing changed.
Your dear heart beat even more slowly,
letting go your tenuous grip on life.
The nurses’ eyes told me you were in trouble.
The doctor, grim-faced, announced you needed to be delivered now,
hoping we were not too late.
I was rolled, numbed, stunned,
clasped your father’s hand, closed my eyes
to the bustle around me,
tried not to hear shouted orders,
the tension in their voices,
the quiet moment of opening my belly
when it was unknown what would be found.
At first you were silent.
Then you cried.
A hearty healthy husky cry, a welcome song of life.
Perturbed and disturbed from the warm dark womb
to the cold shock of a brightly lit operating room,
your first vocal solo brought applause
from the surrounding audience who admired your pink skin,
your shock of damp red hair, your blue eyes blinking open,
wondering and wondrous,
emerging safe from the storm raging within
You were brought wrapped for me to see and touch
before you were whisked away to be checked over,
your father trailing behind the parade to the nursery.
I closed my eyes in silent prayer of gratitude,
swirling in a brain blizzard of what-ifs.
If no snow storm had come, we would have stayed home that night.
You would have fallen asleep forever within my womb,
no longer nurtured by an aging placenta,
cruelly cut off from what you needed to stay alive.
There would have been only our soft weeping
instead of a healthy birth cry.
We knew not the trouble you were in,
so God provided us a sign to go for help.
God sent a storm mighty enough to blow us to town,
He sent a bulldozer to dig out our car,
He provided a team of doctors and nurses who moved
so fast when you needed them to rescue you.
You were saved by a storm and dug from a drift,
and every time now when I hear your voice,
nearly thirty years later,
I remember my joy in hearing it for the first time.