The snow is falling. It is that time of year again. When people talk of a baby boy born to a carpenter and his wife. It is a lonely time for me. I am alone and pregnant this year. The baby's father up and left me the moment he found out I was pregnant. So... I'm forced to live in a small one bedroom apartment at the end of town. I don't have much money. I live mostly on the charity of others. I am thankful for the food banks and my neighbors. I have a lot to be thankful for, but it is still not my favorite time of year. I long for the warmth of summer... the tulips of spring... the smell of falling leaves from autumn... anything but cold and snow. I pull my scarf up over my mouth and open the door to the outside world. A cold wind greets me as I go outside.
The streets are filled with hustle and bustle. Even here at the end of town people are decorating their doors and windows getting ready to celebrate the Christ child's birthday. I am cold. I rush to get to the food bank before they close. I should have left sooner but the baby had a mind of its own and decided to make such a ruckus it kept me lying in bed half the day. The baby will be here soon. The doctor at the free clinic says my baby will be born close to Christmas. He wasn't sure how close. "We shall see," he said.
The food bank is busy today. People are stocking up for the weekend. I am allowed one of each item they have to take home. I can barely carry one bag of items. I carefully pick items I know I can carry with no problem. I pass by the baby aisle... It will be soon enough that I will need items from there. I touch my stomach. The baby is starting to make a ruckus again. I move quickly with the help of a volunteer. The nice lady puts my choices in the bag I brought. She asks if I need help and I answer "no thank you." She hands me my bag and wishes me a Merry Christmas.
Outside the snow has started falling stronger. I have a few blocks to walk until I get back to the comfort of my apartment. It seems like a long way off with the pain that is growing inside me. Maybe I should just go to the clinic? Or maybe it is just something I ate? As I struggle to decide what to do, my grocery bag falls as I yell out in pain. I clutch my stomach. It hurts bad. There is no one around to help me so I am forced to move on. The pain lessens and I decide to try and make it home. As I reach the end of my block I breathe a sigh of relief. The pain has stopped and I shrug it off as something I ate.
The next few days are filled with frequent trips to the food bank. I need to be prepared for when the baby comes. I won't be able to go as often... especially for the first few weeks after it is born. The people at the food bank are very understanding. They let me take home a few extra things to hold me over. I have no family and I have gotten quite fond of the people that have been helping me. I imagine they are my family and are just helping me, out of love.
As Christmas quickly arrives a neighbor notices I have no tree and brings me a small one to add to the table in my window. It has lights, tiny ornaments and even a pretty star on top. It is the only Christmas decoration I own. I turn the lights down low and enjoy the twinkling of the tree lights as they dance on my apartment walls. They make a pretty decoration all around the room. Tomorrow is Christmas Day and I am finally ready for the season.
The baby makes a ruckus. I can't sleep. This is just another night to me, nothing special. I don't FEEL in the holiday spirit. I have no gifts to give anyone. No one will give me a gift. It is a night like any other except for the ruckus in my tummy. The baby settles down and I get a few hours of sleep before the ruckus starts again. This time a little longer and it hurts more now. I think it is time. There is a hospital just down the block. I have to make it to the hospital. I have no phone to call an ambulance and I don't want to wake my neighbors. Quickly I dress and put on my coat and hat. My scarf is positioned around my neck and mouth. It is cold outside and I know I will have trouble walking the whole way.
The streets are quiet. It is a crisp night. The wind does not howl... the snow does not fall... and I am thankful. The ruckus has begun to get more painful. The pain is almost constant now as I try to bring one foot in front of the other to get to the hospital. I can see it lit in the distance. I only have a little farther to go... but the baby is impatient. I fall in the street crying in agony. Will ANYONE hear me?
I think I must have passed out. I don't remember much after that. I DO remember a white angel rushing to my side to rescue me, and then being in a white room, all bright and clean. I do also remember a dark black scary figure. It never quite comes in to focus. It hovers over the white angel and is reaching for my baby. "NOOOOOOOooooooo," I give out a yell. And that is the last thing I remember.
I awake to a bright light. I am dressed in white. White sheets cover my once filled tummy. I am frightened. My baby... where is my baby??? I feel my stomach... it is empty. I start to cry. Something dressed in white comforts me. My eyes try to focus. Is it an angel? Am I dead?
No... It is a nurse and I am in a hospital bed. Things are begin to sharpen and I can see the nurse is talking to me. I try to make sense of her words...
"I must say... you gave us a scare for a while there." Her voice was pleasant. "You are lucky nurse Judy saw you laying in the street. She thought fast and called for help. We had to work quickly. Your baby was close to death. It's little heart needed help pumping. But the doctors here are wonderful. I guess that ole grim reaper is mad. He couldn't claim your little one tonight. Your little one is special... being born today, of all days... our first Christmas baby of the day. Born 12:01 am... Christmas Day. He will have a special birthday each year. Shared with our lord. He sure is lucky."
"He??? My baby is a boy?" I mutter.
"Yes ma'am a healthy 6 pound 5 ounce baby boy. And boy can he eat. Would you like to see him," she asked?
I nodded yes and she left. I looked around the room. I was alone. Everything was so sterile. The only color in the room was a green Christmas wreath hanging on the door. She returned with my little boy in arms. He was wrapped in a blue blanket. I took him from her arms. I was so happy. I would never be alone again.
Death had almost claimed my baby, but I wouldn't let death have him. I hold my baby boy to my chest. I LOVE my Christmas gift... my Christmas Baby!