His doctor shared this newborn's amazing recovery, and the story is gaining international attention.
It’s the Christmas season — a natural time to think of babies. Every newborn is a symbol of hope, especially these days when so much is uncertain. Yet these concerns make us appreciate life, which is even more precious because it is fragile.
With COVID-19 cases and deaths on the rise, we are constantly being reminded of our own mortality. But it’s not all bad news. New lives are also being born.
Some of these little babies are already showing their resilience and strength, overcoming obstacles to their survival and inspiring us in a special way. One example is little Emanuele, shown in this photo in the arms of pediatrician Dr. Attilio Barbarulo.
28 ounces of strength
The story of Emanuele comes to us from Umberto I Hospital in Nocera, Italy, in November. The wonderful news was first made public thanks to Dr. Barbarulo sharing it on Facebook. The fact that thousands of people have commented and shared the post testifies that we are all lifted up, now more than ever, by the miracle of life prevailing over the shadow of death.
Back in August, Emanuele was born prematurely, with a very sad family history. His mother had already had numerous miscarriages—eight or nine—and Emanuele’s condition was precarious.
He wasn’t extremely premature (being born at 27 weeks), but he only weighed 28 ounces at birth, or about 1.75 pounds (the average birth weight for babies is 7.5 pounds). He was in good hands at the neonatal intensive care unit of the Umberto I Hospital. Dr. Barbarulo told Italian news outlet Corriere della Sera that although the tiny baby suffered from an infection after birth, things went was well as could be hoped, and the the infection was cured.
Three months later, in November, the doctors declared he was ready to go home. “All the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Nocera, absolutely everyone, salutes the triumphant warrior. May he have a long and good life!” Dr. Barbulo wrote on Facebook.
Emanuel’s presence is a striking sign of good. Dr. Barbarulo, who took care of the newborn, sees Emanuele’s story with the eyes of faith: “Emanuele is a name that comes from Hebrew and means: God (is) with us,” he explains in his Facebook post.
He shares more about his faith-filled perspective in his interview with Corriere della Sera. When asked what it feels like to save the life of a newborn, he told the reporter,
It’s our duty; we do it for a living. But then when the parents thank you, you realize what you’ve done. It’s very moving. Likewise, when we don’t succeed, it’s always an incredible blow. But we are in the Lord’s hands; He is the one who decides. As Carl Sandburg wrote, “a newborn child represents God’s conviction that the world must go on.”
This clarity of vision is refreshing. He’s a doctor who puts his profession in its proper perspective: He’s a collaborator in a happy event, without the temptation to proclaim himself the author of salvation.
There is great joy in being part of a project that is more than we can manage alone. The work of many people (first of all, God) makes us collaborators in an achievement beyond our own abilities.
This joyful gratitude is especially profound when it involves the life of a child. Charles Dickens chose the cry of a newborn baby—named Oliver Twist—to propose to his contemporaries the hypothesis that when things get bad in the world, it is precisely in the noisiness that accompanies a birth that God still shows himself to be our traveling companion.
A child is born for us
Emanuele is doing well despite the many difficulties of his premature birth. His story calls to mind the Christmas miracle we are still celebrating.
A Child was born—and it was indeed Emmanuel, God with us—in circumstances that were not at all easy, in a hidden place. Today, as then, hope lies in the smallness of a newborn child.