Magazine Article

Our Christmas Miracle

We watched helplessly as the level on the oxygen meter went down, down, down.

Ora May Baker
Our Christmas Miracle
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I woke before dawn December 23, conscious someone was entering the house. I donned my housecoat and tiptoed downstairs, where I saw my husband’s silhouette in the doorway.

Orie and I exchanged less than a dozen words before our children surrounded him, smothering him with kisses.

Family Time

Ed Glause stopped by our home in Michigan to wish us season’s greetings. We munched on cashews as we chatted. I gave an occasional nut to our 13-month-old daughter, Faith Ellen. As the supper hour approached, we invited Ed to stay.

While I started the meal, Marvel, our 16-year-old daughter, began setting the table. Before going into the kitchen, I placed the cashews far back on the buffet and told the children not to take any more and not to give the baby any.

Before I had even turned the heat on the stove, I heard a piercing scream. I dropped everything and flew to the room. Faith was lying on the floor, and as I picked her up I asked what happened.

“She bumped her head!” my daughter Wanda told me. But it was obvious something more serious was wrong.

As Faith tried to scream again I saw a cashew in her mouth. Further searching revealed three small particles, all I removed.

Faith tried to scream again, but emitted only a gasp and stiffened in my arms. I slapped her between the shoulders as I called to Marvel, “Call Daddy! Baby’s choking!”

“Pray! Pray!” I told Wanda. I never heard a 5-year-old pray more earnestly.

Faith was turning blue! Alarmed, I ran to the door, calling over my shoulder, “I am taking Faith to the hospital.”

A Matter of Time

The sidewalk was a glare of ice. I seemed to slip back two steps for every step I took forward. I rushed into the printshop around the corner as Harry Whitely was setting down the telephone. “Harry!” I cried. “Take me to the hospital—my baby’s choking!”

Without waiting for an answer, I rushed out to the car. Harry managed to get there ahead of me and open the car door for me. As he climbed in, Marvel ran across the yard. “Tell Daddy we’re taking the baby to the hospital.”

As we drove, Harry interjected bits of advice as he honked the horn to let people know this was an emergency. Arriving at the hospital, Harry took the baby and raced to the emergency room.

After a quick examination, Dr. Foley announced, “I’m afraid this child is gone; her right lung has collapsed.”

“No, Doctor!” I cried in alarm. Half audibly I prayed, “Please, God, save my baby!” I could not—I would not—give my baby up without a fight.

“I’ll call Dr. Cook in Bay City,” the doctor said. “I don’t have a child-sized bronchoscope to remove anything that far down.”

Bay City is nearly 200 miles away, I thought. We’ll never make it!

“Aren’t there doctors in Petoskey who would have those instruments?” I asked. “That’s closer.”

“Maybe,” Dr. Foley admitted, “but I know Dr. Cook.”

Just then my husband and Ed rushed in. I told Orie we had to take Faith Ellen to Bay City immediately.

Turning to the nurses, Dr. Foley asked, “How are we going to administer oxygen in the ambulance?”

“Doctor, my husband was a medic in the Army,” I said. “I’m sure he can take care of the oxygen.”

Dr. Foley welcomed the suggestion and proceeded to brief Orie on the equipment.

Into the Night

Orie and I took our places on either side of the stretcher in the rear of the ambulance. Mac, the ambulance driver stepped on the accelerator, and we were off! It was 7:00 p.m.

After what seemed like an hour I asked Mac, “Where are we?”

“Almost to Alpena.”

“Is that all?” I fairly shouted.

Mac glanced back, then stepped harder on the gas. We were covering those icy roads at 90 miles an hour, yet it seemed as if we were crawling.

Several times Faith fought for breath, and we had to give her oxygen. We continued to administer oxygen shifting our positions to relieve our cramped muscles.

At last we reached Standish, 28 miles from our destination, and had to stop for gas. “Better give me that last oxygen tank, Mac,” Orie called out the window as Mac paid for the gas. We had used what was left of one tank at the hospital, another full one, and a third was nearly empty.

We never had time to hook up the fourth, however, as Faith began another mad fight for life just as Mac pulled out. To complicate matters, the mouthpiece suddenly disintegrated in my hands.

We fumbled frantically in the semi­darkness to assemble the pieces properly, praying earnestly.

The oxygen in the tank was getting dangerously low, and with trying to keep the mouthpiece together and administer the oxygen, we watched helplessly as the level on the meter went down, down, down.

Then Mac announced, “The hospital’s just around the corner.” As we pulled into the emergency entrance, the meter on the oxygen tank registered one pound.

A nurse immediately took Faith and called the doctor, who arrived in a moment. Taking one shocked look at her blue face, he wasted no time.

Orie and I returned to thank Mac for his part in saving Faith’s life. Laying an arm over our shoulders, he assured us, “Everything’s going to be all right. Dr. Cook knows his business.”

The nurse returned and informed us that Dr. Cook had removed two pieces of nut from Faith’s bronchial tube and that she was responding nicely.

That’s when Orie shocked me with this confession: “I’ve never operated an oxygen tank in my life.” There’s no doubt who supervised those three hours of our lives.

Christmas Morning

We relaxed, but did not sleep, in the hospital lobby that night. Faith Ellen’s room was just off the lobby, so I checked on her frequently.

On Christmas morning X-rays revealed that Faith’s lungs were clear and we had a perfectly healthy baby. We thanked Dr. Cook for saving our baby.

He looked at us and said, “You can thank God you’ve got your baby.”

Of all the many Christmases I’ve celebrated since, that was the one I’ll always remember as the one that showed me how much God risked when He gave the world His only Son.

Ora May Baker

This story first appeared December 25, 2008, in the Adventist Review. Ora May Baker lived in Harbor Springs, Michigan, when this article was written. From what we’ve been able to ascertain, the events occurred sometime in Michigan during the early 1950s.