By Jennifer P., with Greg Koukl
I was a new nurse on a new job. The night shift nurses were hard on the newcomers, and I was particularly easy to intimidate.
One night a nurse on my shift came up to me and said, “Jennifer, you need to see the Garcia baby” [not its real name]. There was something suspicious about the way she said it, though. I see babies born every hour, I thought. Why do I need to see this one?
She led me to a utility room the nurses used for their breaks. Girls were smoking and drinking coffee, their feet up on the stainless steel counter. There, laying on the metal, was the naked body of a newborn baby.
“What is this baby doing here on this counter,” I asked timidly.
“Oh, that’s a preemie born at 19 weeks,” she said. “We don’t do anything to save them unless they’re 20 weeks.”
I noticed that his chest was fluttering rapidly. I picked him up for a closer look. “This baby is still alive!” I said. I thought they hadn’t noticed.
Then I learned the horrible truth. The nurses knew, and it didn’t matter. They had presented the baby to its mother as a dead, premature child. Then they took him away and tossed him on the cold, steel counter in the lunch room until he died. His skin was blotchy white, and his mouth was gaping open as he tried to breathe.
I stared at the little boy, trying to collect my thoughts. Inside I was in complete turmoil. What should I do? Should I talk to the supervisor? But she was involved in this, and I knew the doctors wouldn’t do anything.
I slowly realized that this child was going to die and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The only movement I could see was the rapid fluttering of his little chest.
I did the one thing I could think of. I held him in his last moments so he’d at least have some warmth and love when he died, which I was sure would happen any second.
Just then one of the nurses—a large, harsh woman—burst into the room. “Jennifer, what are you doing with that baby?” she yelled.
“He’s still alive...”
“He’s still alive because you’re holding him,” she said. Grabbing him by the back with one hand, she snatched him from me, opened one of the stainless steel cabinets, and pulled out a specimen container with formaldehyde in it. She tossed the baby in and snapped the lid on. It was over in an instant.
I was in such shock, hardly breathing. I was a new nurse. I didn’t understand the system. I was intimidated by these worldly and aggressive people.
Worst of all, though, I hadn’t given issues like this much thought, even though I was a nurse. I’d just rolled along like everybody else. I’d never consciously asked myself, “Jennifer, what is really going on here?” I’d been floating through life as a Christian not facing the hard issues.
When I was confronted with a horrible situation, I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t respond with what I knew to be true about myself in Christ. Instead, I was easy to push around. I gave in to intimidation.
I can’t express the failure, guilt and powerlessness I’ve felt over these years. In a profession that’s supposed to save lives, many people don’t really care. To them, this child wasn’t human. In seven more days he would have qualified, but at 19 weeks he was just trash.
That baby was meaningless to the world. But God allowed this life to begin because it had a purpose. It was God’s desire that this child be created.
That little boy was meaningful to God even though his own mother didn’t even know he was alive. He was meaningful to me, too, because it was his death that God used to completely turn my own life around.
Thank you, baby Garcia.