Synopses & Reviews
Chapter OneTake a Fetal Love BreakA man's mother is his other God.
"--African proverbThe phone rings and I awake from a deep sleep. An anxious voice says that I am needed in Room 129 for a Baby Boy W in fetal distress. Immediately my heart rate accelerates as I shake the sleep from my not-yet-fully-alert mind. As I walk down the short hall to the delivery room, I prepare mentally to be at my best for this innocent infant going through a major life crisis that will test his physiologic reserves.When I arrive, I get a quick report from his mother's doctor. His eyes are tired and his voice tense as he tells me that he must deliver this infant as soon as possible and it's too late to try for a C-section. I glance at the fetal heart monitor, and see the all-too-familiar heart rate pattern of a fetus in distress.After checking with the nurses on my resuscitation team to be sure everything we need is present and in order, I notice for the first time the embrace between my little patient's mother and her life partner. They are face-to-face with the father's arms around her shoulders. He is whispering in her ear while she recovers from the last uterine contraction.Her obstetrician interrupts them to give the urgent message that he needs her full cooperation and a maximal effort to push her infant out during the next contraction. The contraction comes and with deep concentration and intention, she bears down with all her might. She is obviously reaching deep within herself to deliver her baby's head now, before it is too late.Her husband has risen from his embrace to count the interval between her breaths. They are working as a team that has obviously practiced this cadence many times.Together they are successful in pushing out the infant's head.Her doctor quickly notices the umbilical cord is tightly wrapped around the baby's neck. He deftly clamps and cuts the cord, which interrupts the only oxygen available to the infant. Now there is no chance for the infant to recover until after the delivery, when ventilation is established.It's my responsibility to assist the infant in making this important transition to good ventilation with plenty of oxygen. It is now a race against the accelerating biological damage that occurs when his vital organs don't have enough oxygen.Once the chest is delivered, I notice his slate-gray skin color -- one of the cardinal signs of asphyxia, a condition that can cause permanent brain damage. I feel the effects of an adrenaline surge in my own body. Everyone in the room is tense. We all have the same wishful mind-set. Please dear baby, take a breath.Like an answered prayer, he takes his first breath, and then begins to cry as the obstetrician dries him off with a sterile towel. I quickly suction his mouth and nose and do a cursory assessment of his clinical condition. Once I am sure he no longer needs additional oxygen and his cardiovascular system is stable, I swaddle him and carry him to the open arms of his parents.Up to this moment his facial expression was a contorted grimace. He had experienced profound physiologic stress, and the survival of many vital organs systems was at risk. Once he hears the words of endearment from his parents, his facial expression changes. He relaxes his grimace. There is a slight change in the tilt of his head and I notice the drop in the hunch of his shoulders.A few minutes later he opens his eyes andlooks directly at his mother's face. Again his expression changes and there is a wide intense gaze of excitement, which captures his parents' ardent attention as they stroke and talk to him. Slowly and barely perceptibly his face melts into an angelic smile of contentment.An expression of such endearment always creates an emotional release in me. I am assured that once again the miraculous biology of the newborn infant has withstood the vagaries of hypoxia and asphyxia that certainly would have killed any adult. Yet in minutes, he is at peace and in obvious full recovery.No one fully understands why the newborn can recover so quickly and completely from these severe physiologic insults, but each of us in neonatal medicine appreciates and respects the biology of the human reproductive system. We revere the capacity of the newborn to withstand immense biological stress. Each time I observe their recovery capacity, I thank God for allowing me once again to witness this miracle.Most movies and novels depict the discovery of pregnancy as a wonderful, joyous event that miraculously changes the couple's lives and their relationship. This romantic view of pregnancy may or may not be true for you. Many couples are surprised by the news that they are pregnant. Some are prepared, some are not, and some may be upset by an unplanned pregnancy.Pregnancy is a time of change and challenge. It is a time when we reevaluate our attitudes and priorities. It is a time of great personal growth and interesting opportunities.I was surprised and perplexed by the announcement that we were pregnant with all four of our children. I was not overwhelmed but indeed amazed that the pregnancy had occurred. My life didnot change overnight. My wife and I did not find new joy at the discovery of the pregnancy. Instead of celebrating, I started thinking about the new responsibilities -- both personally and financially. I also was frightened by all the possible complications of pregnancy, and the dangers that both my wife and unborn child faced. After all, I deal with those complications twenty-four hours a day in my work. It wasn't until my first birth that I really got into the magic of being...
“Please read this book. It just may be the greatest gift you ever give your child.” & #151;Steven W. Vannoy, author of The Ten Greatest Gifts We Give Our Children
Did you know that...
Every year an increasing number of babies are born prematurely or with behavioral disorders?
- Learn how thinking positively and communicating with your partner and/or medical staff can help prevent a preterm birth and aid in the positive development of your unborn child's personality.
A baby's in utero experience builds the brain architecture that will determine behavior throughout life?
- Discover exercises that will help you control stress, fear, guilt, and anger and change unwanted behaviors during pregnancy.
Your unborn child has more nerve cells and many more connections among them than an adult?
- Learn how a fetal love break can help calm your baby and lead to proper nerve and brain development.
An expert in prenatal medicine offers advice on how to bond with a baby before he or she comes into the world--and how to handle the stress that can accompany the incredible responsibility of carrying and bearing a child.
About the Author
Frederick Wirth, M.D., staff neonatologist at the Reading Hospital and Medical Center in Reading, Pennsylvania, is an expert on pediatric medicine, in general, and, more specifically, the needs of preterm infants. Dr. Wirth was the physician to Elizabeth Carr, America's first test tube baby, and has served on several presidential and gubernatorial task forces on infant mortality. Dr. Wirth is a clinical associate professor of Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine. He and his wife, Linda, live in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and conduct pregnancy and parenting seminars together.