It was five minutes till seven at the end of a long but good shift. I was on my way to fill my water bottle before giving report to the oncoming nurse. A nurse called out to me, "hey aren't you a family presence facilitator?" I am, she had just seen the mother of one of our little patients run the patients sibling out to the waiting room and then run back to the room (our unit is VERY large so we couldn't see exactly what was going on). I put my water bottle down, yelled to someone to watch my kids and went to investigate.
I came into a scene all to familiar in my cardiac intensive care unit. A plethora of doctors and nurses, a crash cart, a tiny baby getting chest compression that seem all to brutal on her tiny 7 pound body, and right outside the room is the mom, gripping the wall for support.
I'm too late to join in on the action, but that's not why I'm there, I go straight for mom. It's after hours and the weekend and we are waiting for the on call social worker. She grabs onto me for support. I explain everything that's going on and when the doctor yells out to call for ECMO I ask her if she wants to give her baby a kiss before the room becomes a sterile surgical field. She wants to, the doctor agrees. The crowd clears slightly while still flowing smoothly to set up for ecmo, the only people who stay at the bedside are the respiratory therapist and the person keeping her little heart beating, gripping my hand, mom leans in for a kiss and then turns and runs, dragging me out behind her.
Dad shows up and they fall into each others arms. They stay and watch while I update them and answer their questions. Baby stabilizes on ECMO and they return vigil to her bedside.
I've done this before and I'll do it again, but sometimes, like today, it really hits you, how unfair and painful this all is. A mama should never have to kiss her baby good bye while someone does chest compressions on them.
Days like this, I don't hate my job, but I wish it wasn't a necessary one.