First Person Singular

Sunday, July 1, 2007

When the parents first come in, they're scared. They feel like their whole world has been turned upside down. The first statement is always, "I'm not gonna leave until my baby does." I enjoy teaching them the how and whys of the care their infants are receiving. They don't know what they're looking at when they come in; what makes perfect sense to us is totally foreign to them. If I can take away a small amount of that fear, then I've done a good job. Nothing is more terrifying than the unknown.

I remember the first time we had to do an actual CPR on a baby in the delivery room. You're in denial the first time you put that stethoscope down and you don't hear anything. I must be listening in the wrong place. It knocks you in the stomach; you stop breathing. [ I was] doing chest compressions, working on this child, feeling powerless, checking every 30 seconds to see if the heart rate had started. And when you hear the heartbeat at 160 beats a minute, to hear it start where you didn't hear it before: We did it, we got the baby back. Now I can breathe.

You take it home with you on the days when you've lost one. We had a baby that was going to be transported to Children's [Hospital] because it was severely premature. But before they got out of the hospital, the baby went into distress again, and there wasn't anything they could do. Mom wasn't able to hold the baby, so I sat and rocked the baby just to be able to tell the mom, "Your baby wasn't just lying on the heat table by itself." Just to take some of the unknown, that fear, away from the mom. Those are the days you can't wait to get home to your own kids, 'cause you realize: That could have been me, and I could have lost you.

Interview by Robin Parker

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