About Patti Barnes, CPM, Licensed Midwife
Patti Barnes, a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), licensed midwife in the state of Virginia, retired EMT, certified Neonatal Resuscitator, and CPR Instructor, has been a practicing midwife and medical missionary for the past 30 years. She is both a midwifery and childbirth educator, having also lectured at various Christian colleges and institutions throughout the United States. She has appeared internationally on the 3ABN television network. She is now the Director of the Midwifery Program at Hartland College in Rapidan, VA.
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The Birth Story Behind the Cabin
From Chapter 15 of the book, The Ministry of Midwifery: A Manual ~ Birth in a Blizzard
"It was March 12, 1993, with the spring thaw well on its way. Snow plows, sleds, and all other sorts of implements used for wintry weather were being stored away for another year. All attention was now turned to a new season, and a warm lull had fallen over us all. Foul weather predictions lessened, and we were ready to embrace yet another spring season. However, nature had other plans! We were rudely awakened out of our slumber as a seriously foul forecast of cold rain and high winds came to our attention. As you know, nature waits for no one and doesn’t ask for opinions; neither did the expectant fourth child of Jerry and Tammy Kingston.
"It was Friday evening when I received the call. “Patti, you won’t believe this, but my water broke.” Slightly surprised, and not a little concerned, I questioned her as to the intensity and frequency of her contractions. Fortunately, they were not too severe at this point, and I proceeded to make preparations to go to her home. As my husband helped me pack the car with the needed equipment, I did some quick calculations and realized that she was two weeks before her due date, and probably was not prepared for the event herself.
"The rain, which had already begun, was falling with an icy chill as it formed puddles on the ground. Listening to the weather report, we discovered that the rain could turn to snow, so before leaving, my husband and I had prayer for traveling mercies and a safe delivery. As I backed out of the driveway, he waved and called out his typical, but cheery, “drive safely.” Little did either of us realize just what would take place before seeing each other again.
"I had previously solicited the help of another midwife, Katie, whom I contacted before departing, informing her of Tammy’s progress. We decided it would be best if she met me half-way so that we could travel together the remainder of the journey. I reminded her to pack some warm clothes and a Bible since I figured we might possibly be there through the Sabbath. After traveling for close to an hour, we met at the rendezvous point, transferred everything from her car to mine, and pressed on. The rain, which had started to fall in torrents, quickly changed to wet snow, then to a blowing, driving, blinding blizzard. This greatly impeded our progress and made driving painfully slow and very stressful.
"Around 10:00 p.m. I called Tammy to get an update on her condition and found, to our dismay, things were progressing much more rapidly than I had hoped. Again I felt the urgency of the situation. I told her to lie flat, hoping that this would slow the progress. Katie and I prayed that our kind heavenly Father would get us there in time. After what seemed like an eternity, we turned into their half-mile long, snow covered driveway, and pulled up to their cabin home snuggled at the base of a mountain. What a welcome sight! I noticed that every light in the house was on, illuminating the snow beneath the windows. We quickly grabbed the necessary equipment and made a dash for the door, leaving two pairs of footprints and skid marks across the little icy bridge that spanned the flowing creek next to the cabin.
"Upon entering, I quickly assessed the situation and realized we hadn’t arrived a minute too soon. Tammy was in hard labor now, and nearly ready to push. Moments later, a beautiful little head presented itself and slowly eased out into our eager and waiting hands. There was a cord around the neck, but it was easily slipped over the shoulder, and we rejoiced as a healthy, handsome, nine pound, baby boy was born at 11:21 p.m.
"Under normal circumstances we would have been homeward bound soon after the delivery, but because of the distance and the hazardous driving conditions, we decided to stay for the remainder of the night. Both Katie and I went out to finish unpacking the car, thankful that we had brought a change of clothes. Then with a shred of optimism, we turned the car around so that it would be in a “going home position” for Saturday morning.
"As we retired for the night, Tammy and the baby were doing well, and we all snuggled into our warm beds. Just past midnight the lights began to flicker, and then they were off...permanently! As we were to discover later, the power would not be restored for several days. I drifted off into a semi-conscience sleep, with jumbled dreams of driving, deliveries, and snow. I awoke several times from the cold and finally, around 5:00 a.m., was completely startled out of my sleep by the smoke detector. I was quickly reassured by Katie that it was only Jerry trying to start a fire in his new wood-cookstove in the kitchen. I noticed that it felt as if the air in the room had fallen several degrees in temperature. I shivered as I realized that now our only source of heat was that cookstove, and with the lack of insulation in the cabin, probably the only place the heat would be felt, if it was to be felt at all, would be in the kitchen.
"By now the rest of the members of the family were awake and were donning the extra clothing needed to stay warm. The baby, who had done well through the night, was wrapped warmly and placed in a bassinet right beside the cookstove. He was actually the warmest member of the house. After sharing a breakfast prepared on the cookstove. I went out to see what our chances were of leaving. I had never seen so much snow in my life! There was already fourteen inches on the ground with no sign of stopping. Katie had swept off the roof of the car earlier, “just in case” we could get out, but it looked as if it hadn’t even been touched. The snow was up over the lug nuts on the wheels, and I knew we were not going anywhere.
"As the day progressed, I began to feel a tickle in my throat which turned into a cough, then a fever, then a very high fever, and with a mighty crash I was down with a severe case of the flu. I stayed upstairs in bed under about five quilts and comforters, wearing thick insulated underwear, pajamas, and a big thick robe, but in spite of all that I could not get warm.
"The Kingstons were in contact with the Forest Service (miraculously, the phone still worked) in the hope of securing help. They informed them of the birth, hoping that would expedite the restoration of electricity, and perhaps get some help to obtain much needed supplies. It didn’t work. They informed us that the electricity could not be restored for awhile, and that a large four-wheel drive vehicle had driven down the road by our house earlier that morning, and had gotten severely stuck. They encouraged us to hang tight, in hopes that it would soon let up. Our husbands were also able to keep in touch by phone, but it was decided that trying to drive up to rescue us would be nearly impossible until the roads were cleared.
"Meanwhile, the diapers dwindled along with the water and food supply. Having been caught off guard by the storm, they were completely unprepared. They didn’t even have batteries for the flashlight! Jerry, trying to be resourceful, melted snow to drink and cook with, and to flush toilets. I took one look at the melted snow offered me, and at the little particles floating around in it, and knew that I would probably suffer from dehydration before drinking it. That afternoon, the big city newspaper called. The story of our plight was already getting out!
"Night slowly drew on with no sign of relief from the raging elements. Several times I was awakened by the sound of the wind as it buffeted the walls of the cabin. We feared their little home would plummet down the mountain or that trees would fall on it. Then there was the fear of the roof not being able to handle the strain of the intense weight of snow and ice. And oh, was it ever cold! The mercury had plunged to zero..."
...and you'll have to get the manual to finish this and the many other great stories found in The Ministry of Midwifery.
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.