Monday, February 9, 2015

Holding, Listening, Rocking – and a Blessing in Turn

Pictured is Dr. Tackman’s fingertip under a baby’s hand

by Anthony Tackman, M.D.
Charlotte Lazier Institute

We deal with it fairly often. Or maybe not that often; perhaps it just seems more frequent than it actually is. But at least a couple times a year, at least for the docs anyway.

Pregnant women get sick. At times very, very sick. And I will forever be grateful for obstetricians and obstetrical nurses, because their job is a difficult one. Very difficult. Often a woman will come in needing an emergency delivery. And sometimes she will need to go to surgery and require general anesthesia. In most cases she will wake up soon afterward, but not always. Sometimes she does not recover. Sometimes she needs the ICU. And there are rare and tragic instances in which she never wakes up again at all.

A baby is delivered. Sometimes very premature. Sometimes extremely premature. Sometimes too small to get an airway in and to place on a breathing machine. Too small to brutalize with vigorous resuscitation attempts. Too small. He or she may bleat like a little lamb a few times, but most often they make very little sound that can be actually heard.

And sometimes there is no family.

Mom is unconscious, Dad is unavailable or out of town, and in some cases I’ve actually seen them flee the delivery room rather than remain with their baby, because it is too upsetting for them to wait as their baby dies. There is no condemnation here. Unless you’re in their shoes you can’t possibly know. But no baby is ever left to die alone. Our nurses tend to be saint-like in this respect. This world can be a cold and cruel one, but this baby is not going to die alone. Not here.

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Anthony Tackman, M.D. is a neonatologist in practice in Coastal Carolina.

The goal of the Charlotte Lozier Institute is to promote deeper public understanding of the value of human life, motherhood, and fatherhood, and to identify policies and practices that will protect life and serve both women’s health and family well-being. Our profound conviction is that the insights available through the best science, sociology and psychology cannot help but demonstrate that each and every human is not only “fearfully and wonderfully made” but blessed to be born at this time in human history.

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