As #babylossawarenessweek comes to an end there are many bloggers experiences out there. So touching and tragic.
You may have read in my about me that I am a retired Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, having worked in various roles in neonatal care for over 30 years.
When telling people what I did for a living I usually got one of 2 responses either 1) Oh that must be lovely all those babies to cuddle or 2) Oh you must see a lot of sadness.
In answer to that yes it was a fabulous job and I was privileged to have seen so many births and cared for so many fabulous tough human beings in the early stages of their lives and yes there was some sadness, but more happy moments than sad moments.
However, even in sad moments and times of loss I have some lasting memories that will never leave me.
I’m sure that outwardly as neonatal Nurses, Midwives and Doctors it looks like dealing with these situations is all part of the job and we appear to be cool, calm and collected and detached from the situation. I can assure you that is never the case. To many of my own family members I think I appear quite cold as nothing seems to affect me and I can talk calmly about peoples difficult health situations. This is not the case, but I do however have a side of my persona that can appear very detached. This side has to come into play to be professional and functional. The reality is that I am a real softie who cries at the sight of a limping sparrow let alone someones life tragedy! I have delivered many babies myself and been present at many more, too many to count in over 30 years, however let me watch a birth or a programme about Neonatal Units on TV in the privacy of my own lounge I never fail to cry and end up a sobbing wreck. I’m so full of admiration for these families and babies.
In every neonatal nurse or midwives career there are certain babies and families that touch the very core of you and stay with you forever.
I would like to discuss two examples of this and share my feelings with you.
I delivered my first stillborn baby as a student midwife in 1985. The evening before my final exams. To this day I can remember the families surname, which delivery room it was in and who my supervising midwife was amongst other details. I was so touched by the dignity of these parents at this lowest moment in their life. They already had children but this did not make their loss any less. They owned a business and I still see their company advertised to this day and I never fail to think of them. I am just very sorry that in 1985 we dealt with this situation so differently than today and keepsakes were not offered, no footprints, locks of hair etc, unlike today. All they received was a grainy instant Polaroid photo. However I’m sure it’s still a very treasured item. I remember coping professionally but cried all the way home from my shift that evening.
The second loss I would like to share is of a little boy I cared for as a Neonatal Sister in 1998, 20 years ago. This little boy was born at full term by Caesarian section. However he failed to adapt to independent life, needing maximum help with all his vital functions. He was ventilated and required full life support from soon after his birth. he was a big chubby, beautiful boy. There appeared to be absolutely no reason why he was so poorly. After tests it appeared to be a heart and circulatory problem. A retrieval team attended from a local specialist children’s hospital to transfer him to their unit for ongoing intensive care. I remember caring for the baby, I will keep his name anonymous for confidentiality reasons, as well as his parents. They were young parents and naturally devastated and dazed at the situation. After being transferred to he local children’s specialist unit his condition did not improve and he was airlifted to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Sadly despite huge efforts he had a rare form of a condition called Persistant Pulmonary Hypertension, it is mostly treatable but his rare form meant that it could not be treated on this occasion. It was the first time I had seen a baby not survive this condition. He sadly only lived for 2 days. After caring for him and his parents I could not get him out of my mind they all touched me so much. I cried buckets.
I attended his funeral, most neonatal Nurses and midwives attend the funerals of babies in their care if the shift pattern allows. Colleagues will usually swap shifts to facilitate this.
I have never forgotten him and I am still in contact with his mum today. Due to the circumstances of his condition and transfer I am the only person they know that met their son. I feel very privileged to be that person.
I will end with saying that even though we have to do our job efficiently using our technical knowledge and skills inside we are just like everyone else and experience a roller coaster of emotions in the situation too. We do have hearts and do care deeply. Every baby loss will have touched a healthcare professional and will be remembered somewhere by one.
Thank you for reading this. There are many other post on this subject as part of the Blogtober18 initiative hosted by Mandi at Big Family Organised Chaos
Please click the link below to see more