I Don't Remember His Name

I was into my fourth month as a labor and delivery nurse when I received a report on a patient who was diagnosed with a term intrauterine fetal demise. She had only stopped feeling the baby move earlier in the morning before she came in that night. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

I Don't Remember His Name

A feeling of dread consumed me as I walked to room 418. I took a deep breath and knocked lightly on the door before quietly stepping into the patient's room.

There, laying in the middle of the bed was a young African American woman. Besides the swell of her belly, she was tiny. In greetings, she mustered a small smile that never reached her eyes, then slowly turned her blank gaze back to the window. My heart melted. After I completed my assessment, I offered the patient pain medication which she willingly accepted. Within minutes the 2mg Stadol and 25mg Phenergan sent the patient into a deep sleep. I wondered if she dreamed everything was ok. She stayed that way for the next hour and a half until she woke with the urge to push. She was fully dilated and ready to deliver. The doctor was notified to come for delivery.

As the minutes ticked by, it became painfully clear that the doctor would not make it in time for the delivery. I called another nurse into the room to help. She assisted with the delivery of the baby. In a gush of fluid, the baby laid lifeless on the bed. There was no wailing or hands thrown into the air. Nothing. I intently looked the baby over....he was perfect.

I was jarred back to reality with the voice of the other nurse instructing me to take the baby. My heart sank the minute I lifted the baby and felt his heaviness. He was completely limp. His lifeless arms fell to his sides. As I laid the baby down, I told myself to "keep it in, to just PLEASE keep it in". Now was not the time to cry.

I turned to look back at the mother. She was once again asleep. No doubt dreaming it was all a dream. Oh, how I wanted to vigorously dry the baby and flick his perfect little feet to stir him to live, but I didn't. Instead, I cautiously patted dry the baby.

How could it be? He was perfect. His perfect little nose. His perfect lips. His perfect fingers. His perfect toes. I banded him and gently did his footprints. I put on his hat and wrapped him snuggly in the baby blankets. I left the baby in the open crib and turned to observe the mother still sleeping.

As I quietly straightened the room, I would periodically look towards the baby in the open crib. It looked like the blanket was slightly moving. Is his chest rising and falling? After several times of looking.... really looking. I leaned down towards the baby so I could be sure of what I was seeing. There was nothing. Alas, no matter how much I willed the baby to breathe, it was not going to happen. He was gone. I knew I could not hold it in any longer.

I quickly went to the restroom in the room where I broke down in tears. I don't know why, but I didn't want anyone to know I had cried. I quickly pulled myself together before exiting the restroom. The mother was still asleep.

When the mother awoke, I expected her to sob uncontrollably, but she didn't. She remained as before with quiet acceptance. Tears silently fell down her face as she held her baby and looked at him. What dreams did she have for this baby boy? Oh the heartache of a mother who has lost a child is unbearable to watch.

She held her baby for hours before giving him one final kiss. She quietly handed her perfect baby to me.

I went to pathology. As I waited for another nurse to prepare the baby's resting spot before being taken to the morgue, I held him as I would any newborn and unconsciously swayed side to side. The perfect baby with the blue lips was wrapped and placed with the tech.

After the mother was transferred to postpartum, I learned where her strength came from. She stated that "God needed him...he had a reason."

It's been months. I don't remember his name, but I remember his face. Quite frankly, I don't believe I will ever forget the perfect baby born asleep.

10 Posts

Share this post

What a beautiful story.

Perhaps slightly off topic- does your facility have special photographers for situations like this. It is sometimes overlooked that although a baby is not viable, it was still a woman's child and she may want pictures.

Here is something similar: http://www.newsweek.com/id/182665

I'm a nurse, but I'm also the mother of a stillborn baby. Your compassion touched me deeply. Please don't ever lose that.

never give up on children! how is it possible the doctor couldn't come?

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my memoir of the special mother and perfect baby who touched my heart.

Thank you GOMER42 and KayceeCA for the kind words.

GOMER42, I have passed the link on to my manager.

KayceeCA, I am so sorry for your loss.

Dophamin, I don't think you understand.

The baby had passed away in utero 18-24 hours before the mother gave birth. The mother came to the hospital when she realized she hadn't felt the baby move in over twelve hours. When the mother was placed on the monitor and no fetal heart tones were found, ultrasound was called in. It was then that the baby was confirmed as having passed. There was no heart activity visualized on the ultrasound. The baby was gone. There was nothing the doctor or nurses could do to bring the baby back.

With the doctor not being there for the delivery....well it is probably more common than you think. The mother I am speaking of was multiparity and even though we encourage multiparity patients not to push.....sometimes they have no control when mother nature takes control of the situation.

I am blessed to be a labor and delivery nurse. I share in the most intimate personal experience a woman can have and I am witness to miracles everyday. Who could ask for more? With my words and touch, I hope that I lessened this mother's burden, but even with the heartache and polaroid memory of the two........I wouldn't change my profession for nothing....

Specializes in LTC, Alzheimer's patients,Cardiac.

That is the most beautiful and heartwrenching story I have ever heard. I know that you must experience a lot of wonderful things as a nurse in L/D but that story makes me think I could never work there. I am a nursing student and a mother and it was my son's own medical issues that brought me into this career... but I don't think I could handle that. I work with the elderly and love them to pieces. When they die I am okay with it because they lived a long life, everyone has to die eventually, right? I can go home and sleep at night knowing that I brought some joy into their life near the end.....but a baby? I don't think I will ever have the emotional strength to handle that. I guess we all have our own talents and gifts to contribute to our patients but you are a diamond in the rough, you are a VERY special person. Thank you for sharing that story with us all.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I am going into Nursing and my goal is to oneday have the opportunity to work in the NICU. It is heartbreaking to read stories like this and as I sit here in front of my computer crying, I wonder if I am strong enough. I have witnessed the pain of losing a baby. My mother was excited to be having twins. My dad was away on the road and he was so excited to see his babies once he got home. Unfortunately, my twin brother passed away at just 45 days old. I can remember every birthday, my mother crying happy tears and sad tears. She also cried tears of anger because the Dr. and the nurses assigned to his care did nothing to save his life.

I went on to get a business degree and for 6 years I wondered if I was doing something I loved. It wasn't until last year that my 5 week old daughter was admitted into the hospital. At first they feared Meningitus. After a taking spinal fluid, a renal ultrasound, and a VCUG they diagnosed her with Vesicoureteral Reflux. Thankfully, she has Stage 1. It was the worst 4 days of my life.

It was then I decided I wanted to be a Nurse. My dream would be to work at Childrens Hospital. I want to do all that I can to care for a child...as they did for mine.

I was once told that doctors and nurses couldn't show any emotions towards their patients...that they had to be emotionless. How could you possibly. Especially when it comes to a baby a mother should be celebrating and hugging every moment she has, not giving her child one last kiss.

Nurses like you inspire me to continue my path towards such a rewarding career.

written so beautifull that made me see the room, be in it and feel the way how they felt ,mom and the nurse...still crying

I want to be a midwife this is my dream ,its my first year of nursing working part time in a medical centre and a hospital ,doing my advanced practice and applied for the master of midwifery but did not get a paid placement or job yet.wish you good luck rj..you work with your heart this is the most beautifull way of working.Thank you for sharing this touchy story with us.

Specializes in Orthopaedics, Nursing Education.

Beautifully, touching, yet tragic story. I am touched by how deeply you were touched and I agree with 100AF, I was in the room with you.

Specializes in L&D.
It is sometimes overlooked that although a baby is not viable, it was still a woman's child and she may want pictures. Here is something similar: http://www.newsweek.com/id/182665

:yeah: This Newsweek article is very well done! And the original story was well written with a beautiful "word picture" of the events. Thanks to you both for sharing.

As a L&D nurse of >25 years and a Perinatal Grief Counselor, I want to again support the concept of photographs of the dead baby. Parents who are pregnant are thinking ahead of a lifetime of parenting. Parents of a stillborn have a few moments to create memories that will help them over a lifetime. Photographs are an important tool to accomplish this.

If your area does not have volunteer professional photographers, invest in a moderately-priced digital camera and a printer. If it is not in your budget, ask your hospital volunteer organization to assist with funding.

There are many other hints available on how to take tasteful photos of the babies, and the families. Do a little research and you will impact your families lives more than you can ever imagine!

Specializes in psychiatric, UR analyst, fraud, DME,MedB.
What a beautiful story.

Perhaps slightly off topic- does your facility have special photographers for situations like this. It is sometimes overlooked that although a baby is not viable, it was still a woman's child and she may want pictures.

Here is something similar: http://www.newsweek.com/id/182665

:cry:I never thought of that , but yes that is indeed a very good idea. Forgetting is not part of healing----remembering is part of healing. What a beautiful story !:redbeathe

I don't know how I'm going to stop crying now.... Even though that breaks my heart, thank you for sharing it in such a beautiful way.