When I was in CPE training at Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia, it was Christmas Eve and I was on-call and had made rounds. I was heading back to my on call room when I ran into an OB-GYN doctor who had promised me an opportunity to see my first birth. "Do you still want to do that, George", said Dr. Abigazali. The night was quiet and I gave an enthusiastic, "yes."
The doctor said that the expectant mother’s husband had dropped her off at the hospital since he had primary care of the couple’s other children that night. We asked her permission and she was gratified that I would be there since her husband was to be away. I slept in the on-call room in the OB-GYN area since she was further along in her delivery than we had first thought.
The moment finally came, and I was gowned and escorted to the room and held the woman's hand while she pushed and moaned. At last at midnight on Christmas Eve in a flood of fluid, her boy was born and cried immediately. There was a black board on the wall on which were recorded the baby's vital statistics, and after a while, the baby was brought to his mother's arms, swaddled and asleep for her to hold. We had tears in our eyes.
That night in an inner-city hospital, three people from very different backgrounds − a Muslim physician, a white protestant chaplain and an African American woman − joined together to share the miracle of birth. I began to think about Bethlehem and the Christ child and the wondrous events that surrounded that birth.
That was in 1972. I have often wondered what ever became of the child and whether he was told that a chaplain was present at his birth. I wondered about the blackboard of his life and who had written on it. I wonder if he has a family of his own by now. I wonder.
Reprinted from Grace Drops, Volume 6 (2008).