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

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.

Was this mother all alone. Was there no family or anyone with her during this experience? Was it just her and the nurses?

Specializes in psychiatric, UR analyst, fraud, DME,MedB.
Was this mother all alone. Was there no family or anyone with her during this experience? Was it just her and the nurses?

good question ! Was she a single mom? This is the time you need a family and friends!!! I have heard some stories that parents kick their daughters out because they are pregnant !!! Kick them out at a most vulnerable time, when this is the time a support system is much needed !!!! These kind of parents are really lame, very inappropriate action in response to a family crisis ,so sensitive as this one.

Alone w/ a non viable baby is so sad......:cry: My apology for my emotion from anger to sadness.....this type of a story just emulates all sorts of emotion.

That was a story beautifully told :redbeathe thanks for sharing

This patient in particular was alone. Not sure of her full family history, but I do remember she was a single mother that had three little ones at home.

As a side note, I work in a historically underserved community. I would say that majority of they patients we see live under the poverty level. In fact, 99.9% of the patients we see have Medicaid or CHIPS.

Sometimes we get patients with so much family support, it is difficult to control the crowd. Other times, we will get a patient who comes in by herself. She will labor and deliver by herself with no family support. It is definitely mind boggling to see.

"When you know better you do better."

— Oprah Winfrey

My daughter lost her son in her 8 month. He was perfect too. My family are Christians and we felt God had a purpose in taking our precious Matthew before he was born. Our faith has sustained us. This was the most heart breaking event I had ever been through at that time. Later, the loss of my father topped it, but each loss tore out my heart. Ten years after the loss of her first baby, my daughter delivered another son, Nathan. He's four now and we thank God everyday for him.

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry.

My cousin lost a baby when her water broke -- she felt it kicking and said it felt "frantic" but the OB said she was just having first mom jitters the week before she gave birth. Sadly the "frantic" movements she felt were the baby reacting the cord that was knotted around its' neck. when her water broke, the baby strangled. She gave birth to a perfect but still little boy -- nothing genetic, nothing anyone did, just bad luck.

She'd have been luck to have had a nurse like you.

Having worked in OB, most of the time was a very happy, uplifting atmosphere. When there was a perinatal loss, a pall was cast over the entire department. i've cried right along with patients...and they were appreciative that the staff "got it". We did do grieving packs=baby's blanket, cap, a lock of hair if there was some, footprints, and pictures. The hospital portrait service provided the pictures free of charge.( a new rool of filmwas used for a demise, to prevent accidentally mixing in with others.) I honestly was happy to take the pictures-and made sure that baby was as presentable as possible. Some of my co-workers viewed me posing baby as weird. As a self proclaimed shutterbug, I agree with the post that said that this is the one visable memory that parents have...and I wanted to make it right.:heartbeat

My sister and I both were pregnant and due with our second baby in July 2009, my baby boy was born healthy and her perfect baby girl died in utero two weeks before her due date. It has been bitter sweet for our family in the month of July to have the joy of a birth and mourn of a death of perfect babies. In the wee hours of the morning when I am exhausted and I hear my baby's cry, I am reminded that my sister cries in her bed longing to hear her baby's cry. When I have even the slightest urge to complain, I am reminded of the mothers who are longing to feel their baby's touch and I feel so thankful to God for my baby. This was a beautiful article, it was hard to hold back the tears.

My thoughts are with you aec...sometimes when there was a demise or really bad outcome, I'd come home from wor, and hug my kids while they slept. I have six healthy grandkids now, and I thank God for them everyday:heartbeat

Nicu is hard too, sometimes I feel like we are torturing these children. Anything less than 24 weeks. They are with us for months. I always wonder what the parents think after they decide to continue with treatment long after their chances at a normal life are gone. I love them but emotionally, its hard. Especially when you have a doc that paints a rosy picture. Babies are easy until they get bigger and then how do they manage their care. The burden of caregiving even someone you love dearly has its costs as well. Those that do well on the cusp of viability are a miracle.

dscrn--thank you!

Specializes in LTC.

When I decided to become a nurse, family and friends told me that I needed to be a L/D nurse. I love babies and people in general. I have thought and thought about what I want to do when I get that degree in hand and get the NCLEX over with.

I would not have been able to be as strong as you were. I am sitting here sobbing even still. It takes a special person to be able to pursue OB. I can't. I want to but I can't take it knowing I will see the heartache and sadness that would come. I know there are lots and lots of wonderful joyful stories also but I don't want to see children hurting or dying. Maybe it is a form of denial. I know children die and I know I will see it one day. I can't deny that. This will be the hardest thing for me to overcome and I don't know how I will. I actually fear it to be honest. It makes me hold my little man even closer every night, knowing he is safe and healthy. I am able to hold him in my arms every night when some mothers never get to take home their swaddled miracle.

I wish I could talk to someone about this. Obviously, it is a big deal to me.

Anyway, the article was beautiful and touching in so many ways. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story.