Saturday, May 07, 2005

Stuck

We had an interesting 'assignment' at school as part of out mother/baby section. We were sent to a house where medically fragile children live when they can't live at home. We had to spend 8 hours there, and needless to say, since I have really no interest in working in peds I wasn't thrilled at the prospect.

I happened to get there after a student from a local LPN course, and she was already over in the corner reading a story to a 5 year old boy. The nurse in charge told me that they were sort of 'short on kids' that day - there were only two babies besides the 5 year old. I thought to myself "Dang, I gotta hang out with a baby all day. Too bad the other student took the kid, maybe I could have at least had fun with him." (of course you know I smiled on the outside, and happily sat down to watch Veggie Tales...)

As the day progressed, I started to have a bit of a bond with my smallish kiddo. She wasn't fussy, and didn't cry much at all. She did smile - a LOT. She was actually a very happy baby, and I was relieved. Pretty blue eyes. Big gummy smile. Not a new baby - she was about 9 months old.

Now you may think this is new to me, but I do have my own child. I'm not prone to getting all mushy and worked up over every baby I see. This particular baby was just so nice. Her story ties your heart in knots (her parents couldn't/wouldn't take care of her and basically gave her to the state). The nurse had said at the beginning of the day that I would not be able to hold her beacuse of all the wires and tubes she was hooked up to, but after she was bathed and dried, I asked. We sat down in the rocker next to the bed - very close so all the wires would reach. She made little baby noises and smiled big when I sat her on my knee and bounced her softly. She actually smiled so big the nurse went to get a camera! (yeah, I'm getting mushy)

Anyway, that was that, and I left at the end of the day thinking about how sad it was that she was a ward of the state and really didn't have a family other than the nurses anymore (I guess she didn't have much of one before, but thats all heresay). Obviously she was really happy to get the extra attention, and someone to take care of just her.

Well, the gets strange a week later. Of all the days I could spend in clinicals at all of the hospitals I could have been assigned to - and of all the floors and of all the nurses I could have been assigned to, I managed to get in the same place as my little baby from the home! I went in to visit her when her nurse was changing a diaper. I said "Hi, baby - remember me?" and she looked right at me and smiled that same huge smile and tears just welled right up in my eyes. Yeah, she could have just been reacting to having someone talk to her, but right at that moment I could have sworn she did know me.

So the nurse and I talk about her case, how sad it is that she hasn't got a family now and how she needs to find a foster home. Later, I tell the other nursing students on the floor to come and see "my baby" from the previous assignment. I wish I could do something for her - I wish I could be her family. (God, woman, get a grip on yourself.. you know this can't work...)

I'm home and telling my husband about my day - the same baby from the week before, funny coincidence. Ha-ha. Boy, it sure is sad about her condition. It sure is so sad she doesn't have a family and needs a foster family (and I am, of course, qualifying it with "but I know we can't do anything about it..." because I know he's just going to say "no" and think I'm crazy to suggest it.)

After telling him the story (little tears in my eyes) he only says "Does the state give money to pay for her medical care, or do the foster parents have to pay it?". I looked at him, this caring man who took on my daughter as his own, and told him "Yeah, they do. But I know we can't do anything about it." He said "I know. We can't do anything about it."

Theres so much going on right now. I'm in school and working, and he works full time. I'm wondering whats going on - why am I getting all caught up in this when I know there's just no time and no space and no way right now. Especially for a baby so medically fragile that she'll need 24-hour care. Especially for our little family that has struggled to make ends meet for the past four years while I went back to school. We've been waiting for me to go to work full-time so we can pay down some of the credit cards and save up for a down payment for our own house. We need to move out of this crummy area of town and get someplace where my daughter shouldn't be afraid to walk home from school. What's more, baby's prognosis isn't good, and her life expectancy is not long from what I can tell. So I'm stuck.

There's a message here, but what it is I really don't know. I've got some ideas, but no epiphany. What are the chances of her being in the same hospital at the same time (even the same corner of the same floor) as me? Why this baby, when so many others don't affect me at all?

The whole thing still makes me incredibly sad.
Posted by HypnoKitten at 11:44 PM
7 Comments:

Blogger Cherry, at 11:49 AM  

Aww- I know how you feel about the situation. I would probably want to do all I could too and it really stinks when you just don't have the money- you rack you brain trying to think of something but it seems there is no solution. I think just having you visit and play with her is great and if I was in your situation, that is what I would do. You made it sound like she won't live long- that's sad, and I would want to help make her short life a little happier. It is heartbreaking to hear that a mother would just leave her child like that, and no one adopted her.... so sad.

Blogger Janine, at 9:41 PM  

I think it is great that you have such a level of openess and honesty about the situation. I think that you feel, and care for, and have concern for that child shows what a compassionate caregiver you are.

You might not be able to take the baby on full time, but know you made a difference to her being.

Blogger mamalife, at 5:35 PM  

Thanks for the comment on my blog... I will link to your blog on my site also... I think the idea of a nursing blogring is terrific! As a nurse you will touch patients in ways you never even know about. It will be an honor when a patient shares with you how you touched their life in a positive way. You will have many, many patients who you never remember and would not even recognize if you ran into them at the grocery store. And then. Then you will have those patients like this little baby. Those patients who profoundly touch a part of your soul and whom will never forget.

Blogger Nurse Mia, at 9:21 AM  

It's beautiful that this baby touched you so deeply. It shows what a compassionate person you are. I hope that your compassion brings much meaning to your work, despite the heartaches.

Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:20 PM  

Your instructor thinks that whatever you decide to do about this situation...this child...you are forever changed by the experience, and this can only help to make you a better nurse...

See you Wednesday.

= }

MER

Blogger Judy, at 6:39 AM  

Does the home accept volunteer visitors? Maybe you could become a regular visitor to your baby for a few hours each week. But your instructor is right. This baby has already changed you - and it's possible that's why she was placed in your path.

Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:36 PM  

I hope this does not sound trite. You are starting on a journey that is sometimes joyous and sometimes heartbreaking. Try to keep it in perspective. You are one person and may not be able to fix the problems you encounter to your hearts satisfaction. But you can make a huge difference in small time blocks ie eight and twelve hour shifts. Good luck and hang in there!

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