By Silvio Aladjem MD
Not too long ago there was an episode on “Good Morning America” about a woman in Australia who had twins. She delivered at 27 weeks. One of the twins did well from the beginning. The other one was declared dead by her doctor. You may have seen this program. If you did, please bear with me.
Immediately after delivery and having been told that one of her twins died, she asked to have the dead twin brought to her. Not unusual. She placed the baby on her chest and started caressing and talking to the infant, very much like in “Kangaroo care”. If you are not familiar with the term, read a previous blog of mine entitled Kangaroo Care. The father sat next to her. She continued to caress and talk to the infant for a considerable amount of time. Suddenly, the baby took a gasp. Her doctor told her not to raise her hopes. The baby’s chest movement was nothing but an agonal reflex movement, not breathing.
Without wavering, the mother continued to caress and talk to her baby. The reflex gasp turned into breathing. From being blue the infant became pink. Being near the maternal breast, the baby started sucking the nipple. The little one was anything but dead!
The imagery, as seen on the clip shown on TV program, was really breathtaking, moving and unforgettable.
What do we make of this story? Was this a “Miracle”?.
From a medical point of view, one can make a number of assumptions, but they are beside the point of this page. What I am taking home from this episode is the unfaltering power of “Motherhood”. Over the years, I have seen and felt it in my patients, innumerable times.
The power of motherhood is a paragon of total and unconditional love. Nothing can stop, supersede or compare with the power of motherhood. It can sense things that other people can’t, it can overcome unsurmountable obstacles, it can bear the cross when others think she shouldn’t. In a human sense, it was a miracle that no one can understand, except for other mothers.
There is no doubt in my mind that, unbeknown to her, she knew the baby wasn’t dead. Oblivious to what her own doctor told her, she did what mothers do best –caress, talk softly, radiate warmth, both spiritual and physical, all with an unshakable belief that it will help. And it did.
In watching the short clip, she did not look like a mother grieving for her child who, she was told, was dead. Looking at her child, caressing and talking to him, she had a faint smile on her face, more like a Michelangelo’s Madonna painting, than a real person.
Yes, the power of Motherhood is something else. Can’t explain it. After all these years of caring for mothers with all kind of problems, there is no doubt in my mind that she knew the baby wasn’t dead and was not about to take the word of her doctor.
Years from now, this baby should be told the story of its birth, and on Mother’s Day he should buy an extra present for his mother!
You can read more of Dr. Aladjem’s posts on Imperfect Women by clicking here. Dr Aladjem also answers questions of medical interest related to pregnancy in a monthly post here at Imperfect Women. You can read more details about this feature and ask a question by filling out the form here.
SILVIO ALADJE MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist and Maternal Fetal Medicine (high risk obstetrics) specialist, is Professor Emeritus in obstetrics and gynecology at Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine, in Lansing, MI. He is the author of “10,000 babies: my life in the delivery room” now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book stores. Dr. Aladjem published extensively in Scientific Medical Journals and wrote several textbooks in the specialty. He can be reached through his website, www.drsilvio.com