by Sharon Dunsmore
Every now and then, an example of our humanity comes along and ends all possible
arguments to its contrary. The following story is such an example. Beyond all
rhetoric pro and con to abortion, right to life/right to choose, beyond all
contemplation or belief in spiritual or moral matters and regardless of the
convenience aborting unwanted babies represents to our society--is an innocent baby.
After reading about Tiny Tim, keep him in your heart and arm yourself with the truth
this little boy's life, though over in an instant, speaks about the entire issue of
It was a relatively calm day in my hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Two other nurses and I were trying to have a conversation amid the customary sound
of ventilators and heart monitors.
I was in mid-sentence when the shrill ring of the red emergency phone halted all
conversation. "Come fast," the voice said urgently. "We need a neonatal nurse stat!"
Fear gripped my heart as I ran into the delivery room. Instantly, I knew the situation
"Whatís happening here?" I asked.
"Itís an ĎOOPSí abortion, and now itís your problem!" responded one the nurses. For us,
an ĎOOPSí abortion meant the motherís due date was miscalculated, and the fetus survived
the abortion procedure.
A pediatrician was called to the scene. He ran by me with the fetus (now called a baby)
in his hand and yelled in my direction, indicating he wanted me to follow him into the
resuscitation room adjoining the delivery room.
I looked into the bed of the warmer as I grabbed equipment. Before my eyes was a baby
boy. A very, very tiny baby boy. The doctor and I immediately made an attempt at
intubation (inserting a tube down the trachea from the mouth or nose of the infant to
the top of the lungs to ventilate, expand and oxygenate them). The doctorís effort at
intubation failed, which further traumatized the baby. I glanced at the doctor and
hesitantly asked, "Will you attempt intubation again?"
"Youíve got to be kidding," he replied. "It would be inhumane to attempt to intubate
this poor little thing again. This infant will never survive."
"No, Doctor, Iím not kidding," I said, "and itís my job to ask."
The doctor softened for a moment. "Iím sorry, Sharon. Iím just angry. The mother doesnít
want the inconvenience of a baby, so she comes to the hospital so she can pay somebody
to get rid of it--all neat and tidy. Then the whole thing gets messed up when the fetus
has the audacity to survive. Then everybody takes it seriously, and they call the
pediatrician, whoís supposed to fix it or get rid of it."
With anger in his voice, he went on, "Some lawyers will fight for the right to do whatever
we want to our bodies, but watch out for what they will do when these abortions arenít so
neat and tidy! A failed homicide--and OOPS! Then all of a sudden everybody cares, and itís
tuned from a Ďrightí into a Ďliabilityí that someone is blamed for!"
We looked at our pathetic little patient. He was lying in the fetal position in the
wrong environment, trying to get air into underdeveloped lungs that couldnít do the job.
In a calmer voice, the doctor said, "Okay, nurse, Iím going back to the office. Keep him
comfortable and let me know when itís over. Iím sorry about this. Call me if you need me.
I know this is a hard one. If it helps, please know itís tough for me, too."
I watched the doctor retreat and then glanced back at the infant before me. He was gasping
"Lord, help!" I prayed.
Almost instinctively, I took the babyís vitals. His temperature was dangerously low.
I pushed the warmer settings as high as they could go. His heart rate was about 180-200
beats per minute. I could count the beats by watching his little chest pulsate.
I settled down a bit and began to focus on this tiny little person. He had no name, so I
gave him one. Suddenly, I found myself speaking to the baby.
"Tiny Tim, who are you? I am so sorry you werenít wanted. Itís not your fault." I placed
my little finger in his hand, and he grasped it. As I watched him closely, I marveled that
all the minute parts of a beautiful baby were present and functioning in spite of the
I touched his toes and discovered he was ticklish! He had a long torso and long legs.
I wondered if he would have become a basketball player. Perhaps he would have been a
teacher or a doctor.
Emotions swept over me as I thought of my friends who had been waiting and praying for
years for a baby to adopt. I spoke aloud once again to the miniature baby.
"They would have given you a loving and happy home. Why would people destroy you
before ever considering adoption? Ignorance is not bliss, is it, Tiny Tim?"
Meanwhile, Tim put his thumb into his mouth and sucked. I hoped that gave him comfort.
I continued to talk to the baby.
"Iím sorry, Tim. There are people who would risk their lives for a whale or an owl
before theyíd even blink about what just happened to you."
Tiny Tim gasped, and his little chest heaved as if a truck were sitting on it. I took
my stethoscope and listened to his tiny, pounding heart. At the moment it seemed easier
to focus on physiology rather than on this babyís humanity. He wet. And with that my
mind took off again. Here was Tiny Tim with a whole set of kidneys, a bladder, and
connecting tubes that functioned with a very complex system of chemistry. His plumbing
was all working! I turned from it, in spite of eyelids that were fused together to
protect his two precious little eyes. I thought about them. They would never see a
sunset, a motherís smile or the wagging tail of a dog.
I took his temperature again. It was dropping. He was gasping for air and continued to
fight for life. I stroked him gently and began to sing:
"Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black
and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."
A nurse walked in.
"Howís the mother?" I asked.
"Oh, sheís fine. Sheís back in her room resting. The family said they donít want to see
or hear about anything. They said, ĎJust take care of it.í"
The nurse retreated with one last glance at the tiny patient. "For such a little person,
heís sure putting up a big fight."
I looked at Tiny Tim and wondered if he knew that what he was fighting for so hard was
life--and I knew he was losing it. He was dying and his family was resting. Their words
tormented me. Just take care of it! No muss and no fuss. Then Tiny Tim moved and caught
hold of my little finger. I let him hang on. I didnít want him to die without being
touched and cared for.
As I saw him struggle to breathe, I said, "Itís okay, Tim. You can let go. You can go
back to God."
His gasping started slowing down, but he still clung to my finger. I stroked the baby ever
so slowly and watched him take his last breath.
"Goodbye, Tiny Tim," I whispered. "You did matter to someone."
A few years later, Sharon Dunsmore became the manager of a psychiatric unit. One day,
Kathy, a young, severely depressed woman, came to see Sharon following an unsuccessful
suicide attempt. As Sharon interviewed her, Kathy said she had gone through an abortion
three years before, and she was having recurring nightmares. A baby was crying for help
and kept calling her name. In her dreams, Kathy searched for the baby, but she could
never find him or her.
As Kathy gave the name of the hospital and the names of doctors, a disturbing realization
dawned on Sharon. Kathy was Tiny Timís mother. Because of hospital regulations, she
couldnít tell her what she knew.
Time passed; Sharon was no longer a nurse or therapist. Kathy was no longer a psychiatric
patient. They ran into each other at a restaurant, where Sharon gently unfolded the story
that had been hidden for so long. Tears flowed as she gave Kathy the gift of answers. Her
baby was touched and loved by a mother. He was given a name. He didnít die alone. He was
sent back to God. As the visit neared an end, they held each other and wept. Sharon
looked into Kathyís eyes and saw new strength and calm. There were scars, but she was
beginning to heal. The nightmares were being put to rest.
Sharon still lives with the haunting impact of this experience. A choice that was
intended to be "no big deal" turned out to be a very big deal for everybody.
Sharon Dunsmore has the full version of Tiny Tim's story available in booklet form for
$3.50 to cover shipping and handling.
For orders and/or more information, write:
PO Box 84
Smiths Creek, MI 48074-0084