Rocking CamilleRegister Today!
- Aug 26, '08 by vernixStepping into my clogs and starting my shift in Labor and Delivery always brings a sense of anticipation to my heart.
Nearly two decades have passed and I am still excited to assist with the birth of a baby.
People often comment on how lucky I am to work in such a happy environment. This is true, but there is another side that most people, even other nurses, will not discuss.
Some babies are born with issues that can not be fixed. Some babies are born so prematurely that they can not be saved.
This was the case the evening I met her. She was 20 weeks gestation, born due to premature rupture of membranes.
She was perfect; hands two centimeters long, each miniature fingernail in place, her skin fragile and translucent, her eyes still fused. Lungs are immature at this gestation so she would never breathe, but her heart beat.
Her heart was beating 140 times a minute -- normal.
She was already a surprise because most babes this small die in the birth process.
With complex assignments like this one we help the primary RN as much as possible.
I was to take her vital statistics and obtain mementos. We bathe and dress these little ones, take photographs, obtain hand and footprints-- a lock of hair if possible. We wrap them in warm blankets and keep them with their parents for as long as desired. Any spiritual or cultural rituals are honored and arranged for the family.
These steps have been shown to help the family grieve their loss. I think it helps the staff process the death also.
Her parents did not want to know anything about their little girl. They chose not to see her. At birth she was taken out of the room immediately at their request. We have rooms that provide the necessary privacy for these delicate times.
Most parents want to be with their child, especially if born alive. Most parents hold their newborn. This was not the case for this little one.
At first I was upset. She was still alive! Someone needs to hold her; her family!
The situation was not so simple. This baby was a twin. Her brother was healthy with great possibility of living. His separate and intact bag of water had saved him.
Mom and Dad were holding on to hope. The prospect of losing both babies was scary and heartbreaking so they focused their energy on the twin that still had a chance.
If fear and desperation were going to separate her from her family I would do my best to fill in. Honoring her short life was the least I could do. I wrapped her in a warm blanket. I was able to rock her, talk to her. It should only take a few minutes.
Five minutes… her heart rate 120’s. Rocking, rocking…
I did not intend to name her. It wasn’t my place.
But the name Camille just popped into my thoughts.
I decided she deserved a name since she was still alive. It was just between the two of us anyway. Twenty minutes… heart rate 100. It shouldn’t be much longer Camille…. rocking, rocking…
I hold her in my hands, as if I’m holding a prayer
book… rocking, rocking…
Thirty minutes… heart rate 60. I’m trying to be patient…
Little ones like you don’t live this long. Rocking….
Forty minutes…. heart rate 50. She is exceeding any expectation I had of her. Rocking…
Fifty minutes… heart rate 5. Fifty-three minutes… the heart beat became a flutter and stopped. Peace for this little person.
Fifty-three minutes of rocking Camille. Sweet, strong Camille.
It has been three years since Camille. I still get teary when I think about her. She taught me that there are still surprises to watch for. She confirmed for me that life is to be respected even when it isn’t perfect. I was humbled by her strength and beauty.
Who knows what her sensory capabilities were? Was she comforted, possibly aware of her surroundings? Only she knows. I was given the honor to be with her.
I rocked Camille. She is the reason I am a nurse.
Note: This is a true account of my experience but I have changed some minor elements to prevent identification of the family involved.
Thank you for understanding.
vernix has been a member since Feb '08 - from 'Mostly indoors'. vernix has '25' year(s) of nursing experience and specializes in 'OB/Perinatal, Nursing Education,'. Posts: 16 Likes: 143