Dear Baby Girl,
We meet again. The first time we met you scared the crap out of me and you probably don’t remember because you were really sick. So sick that I thought you weren’t gonna make it.
It was early in the morning and you decided you were ready to meet the world. Even though I don’t know if the world was quite ready to meet you.
See I’m in the NICU where we take care of really small really sick babies. And when the OB doctors told us you were only 29 weeks, we knew you would have to come stay with us in the NICU for a while.
We had everything set up for you, a nice warming mattress, a plastic bag to keep you from losing too much heat, that cute pink and blue striped hat, and most important the little machine to help you breath until you could make it upstairs. As we prepared for you , the anesthesia and OB doctors whisked around the room prepping your mom who looked scared and worried. I wanted to tell her that we were gonna do everything we could to make sure you were alright but she had enough scary people in masks talking to her.
They put her to sleep and I couldn’t see behind the curtain but I could sense the urgency. They really wanted to get you out, and fast.
“Baby out!” Someone yelled. But you didn’t yell back, no cry, no gurgling, no nothing. And when I saw them walking over to the warmer with you lying blue and limp in a blanket my heart dropped.
I had been to plenty of deliveries before. But none like this. You were so small and fragile. We immediately put you in the bag and began giving you breaths with our little breath machine that we were so grateful we brought. But you weren’t responding to those, and I couldn’t feel your heart rate pulsing through your umbilicus. Maybe it’s going to quick and I just can’t feel it? So I grabbed my huge adult cardiology stethoscope and listened with all my might, blood smattered all over the bell, and still nothing. So because you weren’t breathing on your own, we had to put a tube into your tiny lungs. We stared at the little monitor to see if your oxygen got better and if you heart rate was faster but you wouldn’t budge.
Your body lied there limp and pale, and all I could think in my head was that you weren’t gonna make it. That you would never get the chance for your mother to hold you and feed you, you would never get you first set of vaccines or your first set of teeth, you would never get to play with the other children at school and grow up to be what ever you wanted to be.
And then you turned pink, just like that. Your heart rate came right up, your chest wall started moving on it’s own. You were squirming around. You were alive! We were finally able to stabilize you and bring you up to the NICU where you decided you didn’t need the tube any more and we were able to put you on less respiratory support. You will never you understand, that you gave me such a gift that I had never experienced with such intensity: the gift of saving a life. You made me feel like a bad ass, like I could accomplish anything. But at the same time, you humbled me and reminded me why all the things I learn are so important, why I need to read more, be more diligent, always strive to be the best doctor I can be.
I visit you everyday in the NICU, even though I’m not the doctor on your team. You scared me baby girl and looking at you through the incubator glass keeps me going. You still have a long road ahead, and I’m glad I was there for the beginning.
PS: please don’t do that again!