I know you will probably never read this, but I hope you will one day grow to be able to read. I hope that you will attend a school that has electricity and running water and teachers that love their job.
I want you to know that you inspire me. When I see you in your incubator, your entire body fighting to breathe, you give me hope. And I want to bless you – not in the name of any deity per se, just a blessing. You will be a leader. You will be strong. You will be protected.
The law says that a dead body may not be left unattended until handed over to a coroner. I stared at the tiny grey body swaddled in blankets, waiting for the grieved mother to say her goodbyes. When she arrived, I wanted to cry with her. But who am I to cry for a baby I never knew, a child I did not bear?
He was seven days old. He weighed 1600 grams. He was severely bradycardic.
His mother brought him to Emergency because she knew his breathing was not satisfactory.
He stopped breathing while I was auscultating his chest.
It’s been a bad couple of weeks, emotionally; me being weaker than I ever thought I could be. I’ve been able to retain my composure mostly.
However, during ward rounds our consultant looked up disinterestedly while I was presenting a rather interesting patient and said, “Today is your last day, isn’t it? So why is it that you can’t calculate the feeds of these children?”
At the beginning of our rotation my partner and I had asked the sixth years to teach us the formulae for feeds. They tried kind of half-heartedly and told us that it wasn’t part of our outcomes. The registrar agreed.
So I responded, not in a sarcastic tone, “I’m sorry – I was under the impression it was only part of the sixth-year outcomes.”
I’m not going to whine today. I’m not even going to be diplomatic.
Because I’m annoyed.
Because I believe in the rights of the patient, and because I love obstetrics and neonatology I’ve been reading a lot of blogs where women share their birth stories.
And a lot of them write about how they felt cheated out of a normal vertex delivery. Because their labour didn’t progress. Because the CTG showed decelerations. And so the doctor rushed them to theatre, and delivered their baby in one piece, and saved Mommy and Baby’s life.
In keeping with my general broodiness and my current Neonatology rotation, I couldn’t let “Blog it for Babies” go by.
BIFB is an attempt to raise funds and deliver equipment to a clinic in Bangladesh, where infant mortality is extremely high. They want to raise awareness too, so if you can’t afford to donate (like me), just be aware.
BIFB encourages bloggers to write about their own birthing experiences and reflect on how things could have been different. I don’t have children (being a student), but both my and my sister’s births were extremely difficult, so I’ll share that.
It’s cold in Cape Town today. It reminds me of a time where hundreds of South African babies died for a lack of incubators. Incubators are wonderful things, the way they protect the little children who arrive in the world a little too early.
Something else that saved a lot of lives was the simple knit beanie. Babies have huge heads compared to their bodies, and they love a lot of heat through it. Volunteers knitted and donated beanies to NICUs, and suddenly babies thrived.
A lot of money is spent to keep neonates alive.
But the most valuable commodity in the Neonatal ICU is not the incubator or the oxygen tank or even the doctor.
They have decided to unleash me upon the baby wards again.
I find this funny. My friends joke that they will need to check my handbag before leaving the hospital. Hah. Hah. They have sensors these days that trip an alarm if someone tried to steal a baby. Not that I’d steal a baby. I’m not that broody.
We are in the Neonatal ICU for two weeks. I think I saw a single term baby today – the others were all premature.