Her baby was threatening to arrive before she could reach the hospital; who would protect her and her newborn child?
In my living room, I took a break from dusting when I got to a framed picture of my daughter, Regan, cradling her viola. How far she’d come from those grade school days, struggling to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
Now, many concerts and hours of practice later, she had bigger challenges ahead. She was studying biology in college, over a hundred miles from home. Who knew what might be next for her?
It wasn’t easy for me to send my daughter off into the world. But I had an advantage some mothers might not. I’ve held one image close to my heart since the day Regan was born, 20 years ago....
Sleep wouldn’t come. My lower back ached. I stared bleary eyed at the clock: 4:00 a.m. I had a busy day ahead, legal briefs that needed reviewing, research I couldn’t put off. Lawyers live by deadlines. I could not stay in bed just because my back was aching.
I did my best to get up without waking Dean, my husband—not easy at 36 weeks pregnant. A warm bath was what I needed. On my way to the tub, I passed the bag I already had packed for the hospital, even though my due date was still four weeks away.
We lived in an isolated community west of El Paso, Texas, almost an hour’s drive from the hospital. When I got my first labor pains a month from now, I’d be ready.
Soaking in the bath helped a little, but back in bed my stomach cramped up. What was happening?
I shook my husband awake. “We need to call the hospital.” He sprung out of bed and grabbed the phone. Dean relayed every word. “Time the contractions,” the nurse said. “Come in when they’re five minutes apart and last for about sixty seconds.”
These were contractions? Dean tried to time the pains, but it was hard for me to tell where one contraction ended and another began. We called the hospital back. “Go ahead and come in,” the nurse said. “Just to be on the safe side.”
We dressed and grabbed my bag. I lay down on the big backseat of our Suburban while Dean drove. “Even if it is labor, it’ll be hours before anything happens,” I assured Dean. “We have plenty of time.”
An unmistakable pressure deep in my abdomen changed my mind. “Dean, speed up!” I said. “I think I’m having the baby now!”
I focused on the breathing exercises I’d learned in Lamaze class: a deep inhale, a slow, deliberate exhale. Focus, I told myself. Just focus. It felt like the baby would be born any second. I tried not to push, to hold the baby inside me, but it hardly seemed to matter.
I could see out the window that we’d reached the outskirts of El Paso, a half hour from the hospital. I wasn’t going to make it. “Pull over,” I yelled. “The baby’s coming. We need to call an ambulance.”
“Better to keep driving,” Dean said, his voice remarkably calm. “I’m going as fast as I dare.”
I winced. Not from pain. I was scared for our baby out here on the highway without a doctor. Our baby needed somebody to take care of her. Somebody besides me!
Dean made a hard left. How much farther? I strained to see through the windshield. Was I seeing things? Could this be real? I breathed in, long and slow. An angel hovered on either side of the car, above the fenders. Two angels, gliding in midair, like Superman, to the front of our car.
Male or female, I couldn’t make out, but they wore long, white, luminescent robes, with feathery wings that never moved even as they maintained their positions. They looked back at me, and in the warmth of their smiles and the kindness in their eyes, there was a feeling of comfort. Of protection.
I didn’t cry out. I didn’t want to alarm Dean. There was no question that the angels were real. The pressure in my abdomen reminded me that I definitely wasn’t dreaming. Why, I wondered, were there two of them? Was one not enough?
I looked down to rub my belly and when I looked up again the angels were gone. But we still had miles to go. “Run the red lights,” I pleaded to Dean as we neared the hospital. “Whatever you do, don’t stop.”
“So far every light has been green,” Dean said. “We’ve been incredibly lucky.” I took a deep breath, that sense of calm sweeping over me. Maybe I couldn’t see the angels, but I knew they were near.
We pulled up to the doors of the emergency room and rushed in. “I’m having a baby. Right now,” I yelled to the lady behind the registration desk.
Minutes later I was in a delivery room. “Just push,” the doctor said. And suddenly I held in my arms the most beautiful 5-pound, 14-ounce baby girl I’d ever seen.
To think she’d almost been born out on the highway—but for the two angels who escorted us to safety. Of course there had been two angels. One for me, one for my daughter, guarding her faithfully even before she was born.
For a long time I didn't tell anyone about the angels I’d seen, not even my husband. But today, Regan knows the story as well as I do. She has so much life ahead of her, a journey that is hers and largely out of my control. But I’ve seen the faithful companion who will always speed Regan’s way safely through the green lights. Someone besides me takes care of my little girl.
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