A baby born twice

A remarkable story featured recently in the Washington Post.

It told of a baby in Texas who had been born twice.

A woman named Margaret Boemer was having difficulty with her pregnancy.  Months earlier, Boemer had suffered a miscarriage. When she conceived again, she and her husband discovered it was with twins. But they lost one of the babies about six weeks into the pregnancy.

Soon, doctors gave Boemer more grim news.

The child she was carrying had sacrococcygeal teratoma, a rare tumour that appeared at the base of baby’s tailbone. It is estimated these types of tumours occur in about one of 40,000 pregnancies.

Performing open fetal surgery—removing the baby before term in order to operate on the fetus—was risky, doctors said.

At 23 weeks, the tumour had grown so large that doctors sent Boemer back to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where the baby was removed from the womb.

After removing about 90 percent of the tumour, surgeons placed the baby back into the womb. Closing the uterus proved tricky.

But later, the baby was born again. This time naturally. And she lived.

“You can say she’s seen the world twice,” a doctor said.

Jesus told us long ago that we all needed to be born a second time (John 3). For centuries, the mainstream churches have regarded these words as applying to the fact that our “second birth” occurs when we are born into God’s family at baptism.

The Church is continuing the tradition established by the first Christians, who heeded the words of Christ: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).

St Cyril of Jerusalem, writing in the Fourth Century, said: “Baptism is a garment of light and a holy seal that can never be dissolved.”

Martin Luther, the religious reformer, had occasional times of doubt. But Luther would tell himself: “You are born again.” Luther would then make the sign of the cross on his chest and remind himself: “I have been baptised.  I am forgiven.”

Sadly, some extremist Protestant groups restrict the use of the term “born again”, only for people who have what they call a “conversion experience.”  Such people are often extremely conservative in religion and in politics.