Today we had two infants that were resuscitated after being born without a heart rate or respiratory drive. They both received chest compressions and medications to keep them alive.
Hours after each were treated, they both showed signs of severe brain damage (one worse than the other, though). If either survived, they would likely have significant developmental problems.
At the end of the day, I spoke with both mothers. The first mother was sitting outside and was flanked by her husband and mother. They held hands and caressed each other as I detailed the medical care and likely outcome. The mother cried, screamed and continually mumbled “they should have done a cesarean!”
At the end of the conversation, the father softly said in perfect English “please give my wife some hope. She already loves this baby and will not eat, drink or sleep. She needs some hope.”
I wanted to be honest and did not want to give false hope but it seemed she needed something to hang on to.
I said, “your child has a better chance to live than other child I have cared for today”.
After concluding with the first family, I met with the second mother. She came to neonatology, sat next to the bed of her baby and held him for the first time.
I explained to her what we had done and described his exam in simple terms. I then said “he is very sick and actively dying. I do not think he will survive the night.”
She began to cry and then said “I think he is dying too. It may be my fault. I was raped. Just recently, he (the rapist) made me drink something to try to kill the baby. I think that is why he (the baby) is dying”.
I held her hand and simply repeated “it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault” over and over again.