While doing rounds in the ward, I was trying to locate the whereabouts of a baby who was born yesterday, to have a bulge on the forehead. I was concerned and wanted an opinion on the baby but I could not locate this baby anywhere.
Suddenly, a midwife from the delivery room came into looking for me, muttered something in Burmese. I asked my translator/midwife what happened. ”Baby not good in delivery room,” she said. My ears perked up. “Baby not good? Come, let’s go!”
We ran over to the delivery room which was just opposite our ward. Threw gloves on and ordered for an emergency c-section. Once the baby was pulled out, we began immediate resuscitation. In the moment just focused & determined to save this baby I failed to see that we were just resuscitating a lifeless looking good-sized baby. Listened for a heart rate. Nothing.
“What happened?” I asked. There was a flurry of conversation in Burmese but none of which I comprehended. Finally I caught a “Came is full delivered. Baby no good”: The woman came with her cervix fully dilated and ready to push the baby out. With not much information to go on, we continued with the resuscitation. Still no heart rate. The anesthetist happened to walk past and quickly jumped in and did the resuscitation with me. After more than five minutes and no response at all to our resuscitation efforts, I knew it was futile.
I looked down at the sweet little face of this normal good-sized baby and silently apologized to him in my heart. We continued for ten more minutes and pronounced him dead at 11am. The baby was not a premature baby, whose chances of survival would have been much worse. What probably happened was the mother took too long to come to the hospital and the baby was compromised/asphyxiated for too long before being born.
Feeling dejected, I left the room. The midwives had managed to locate the baby with a bulge on the forehead and brought her to me. I looked at her. She was swaddled in the fury baby blanket and I could only see part of her face. “Well hello, little one.” I lifted her from her cocoon and really saw her. My heart sank. Crouzon syndrome*. A fancy name which brings with it a sentence of ‘all the odds stacked against her’. She was barely a day old. To be a girl in this country is already challenging, but to be a special girl, is even more difficult.
We explained to her mother about how she is a special baby and how the bulge at the forehead is not as a result of the vacuum cup as she and her family had so firmly believed – an easier and more temporary explanation to accept perhaps. The mother remained silent. It was difficult to gauge her reaction. I placed her baby in her arms. She looked down at her and asked if the bulge will go away eventually and I knew she was still in a denial phase. I wondered if life will be more difficult for the baby or for her. It never was easy to begin with.
“You cannot change the circumstances, the season or the weather, but you can change yourself.”