Way back in the summer of 1973 I was pregnant with our first son, Walker, and Winston was living several miles apart from me, at what they called "The Schools' Command" in a barracks on Pensacola Naval Air Station.
I wasn't yet 23 and trying to manage living alone for the first time in my life - in a new town in a different state from our home in Texas. Looking back, I was unsure of myself and timid and quite intimidated by those in the medical profession. I didn't have a lot of initiative or confidence and the entire having a baby prospect was exciting but also daunting. I certainly took it seriously.
I was of course scheduled to deliver in the hospital building on the navy base.
At my first OB appointment in Pensacola I was over 6 months along. Much to my dismay, instead of seeing a doctor I was seen instead by a rather brusque woman who was identified as a "nurse midwife". I had never heard of such a title and found her manner to be unsettling. When I asked her who would actually be delivering my baby, she said emphatically, "I will".
Now here I must explain that I had a feeling of foreboding.
I was absolutely and beyond any doubt certain that this woman should not preside over the birth of my child. I did not feel that she was competent!
I don't know why but I was suddenly convinced that I should just go to a civilian hospital when my time came.
I had no idea, however, that that would not be an option for me in Pensacola. Soon I learned that I would have no medical coverage unless I delivered at least (I think it was ) 30 miles away from a military base.
It was then that I decided to go home to Houston where I could have the OB who had seen me before the move to Pensacola. This meant that Winston would not be with me. This was a wrenching sacrifice for me.
It meant staying with my parents, which was unfortunately not going to be an ideal situation. But I was sure that I could not remain in Florida and let this woman deliver my baby.
As it turned out, Walker was 9 lbs. 13 oz. and had to be delivered by forceps. But he was absolutely unharmed and a very healthy, bright child.
Four years passed and we moved back to Pensacola after a tour of duty in Hawaii. One morning I looked at the newspaper and read an article entitled, "Navy Hospital Named in Lawsuit".
A month following my son's birth another little boy was born at the navy hospital and a lawsuit had apparently recently been filed by his mother.
"She charged that officials negligently entrusted the care of herself to an uncertified and inadequately trained obstetrical nurse practitioner (midwife) for delivery of her child.
As a result, she said that her son suffered brain damage during the course of labor resulting in cerebral palsy and great disability of his mind, including but not limited to, paralysis or loss of use of both of his lower extremities and his upper extremities, muscle contractures and skeletal distortion requiring surgical correction, casting and cutting of nerves."
I have kept this article all these years as a reminder of how close I likely came to a true tragedy.
I have always felt that the unusual unrelenting boldness that came over me to take charge and change my situation was a blessing from God.
I am forever grateful for that strong Heavenly "nudge"!