The Farm Chronicles: Birthing babies

Growing up on a farm, one learns a lot about life and death at an early age. I knew that I loved animals, especially horses and dogs. This love propelled me to set the goal at an early age of being a veterinarian. While some of my high school coaches didn’t know it, I even turned down several athletic scholarships to attend The Ohio State University with the idea of one day being accepted to the OSU vet school. I worked for several years during high school and college summers under the tutelage of Doctors Jay Richardson and Don Van Vlerah. They taught me well about all various situations and diagnostics one would face in a large animal practice. So, I thought I was prepared when the time came.

I decided to follow my gifting for investigative reporting and writing rather than attend vet school—another story for another day. But the time of preparation I’m talking about is when my wife Chris was pregnant with our son Christian. We had decided to have a home birth with a midwife in assistance. And people would ask things, like “What if something goes wrong?” I would say that because of my vet school training, I could handle the birth. In fact, I declined to go to birthing classes and would often tease Chris with, “Don’t you worry about a thing. I have birthed horses, cows, sheep, pigs and even dogs. I’ve got this. In fact, I will deliver our baby. You can count on me.” Many people heard me boast this and the looks on their faces and in their eyes was, “Yeah, right. We’ll see.” Mainly, I was just trying to get a rise out of folks.

It was about 2:00 AM on April 6, 1992 when Chris woke me and said, “You had better call Juliana (the midwife), I’m having this baby.” I immediately made the call. Her husband answered and told me she was out on another birth. “You are going to have to deliver this baby. He asked, “Can you handle that?” In shock, I replied, “I’ll talk to you later.” Chris describes the situation well in Christian’s baby book: “Christian wasn’t waiting, no matter how hard I tried not to push. It was no use. He came out even though I had taken a knee-chest position to relieve pressure on his prolapsed cord. Bill did an excellent job of delivering his son, even though it had gotten rather hectic, and the cord was wrapped several times around Christian’s neck.

“At first Bill wasn’t sure Christian was alive, as he was rather white and pasty looking. But all at once Christian opened his eyes and took his first breath, looking into those loving green eyes (my eyes).” This all happened within ten minutes of when Chris woke me. And I have to tell you, I learned a lesson: no matter how many animals you birthed, there is nothing like delivering your own son. It’s the Super Bowl of life, really. I held Christian up to the stars that morning and blessed him and dedicated him to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for as Psalm 127:3 declares, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” I also learned that you should be careful what you say you can do for you just might have to do it. God’s sense of humor.

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Bill Wilson