Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Saddest Day of Medical School

If you are hormonal or don't want to read about a baby dying....this probably isn't the post for you.

Sunday morning I went to the hospital to round in the nursery with Dr. G because she asked me to. Yes, I'm currently in my psych rotation, but did it anyways because I like her and was anxious to show her how much I have learned since the last time I rounded with her. Well, I walked into the labor and delivery floor and the nurses told me there was an emergency and I better get back in the room with Dr. G. I hurried back to the room where she came running out with a 26 week gestation baby. We all run to the nursery where they quickly put me to work. My job was to pull air out of the baby's stomach through an NG tube. Because of the ventilations being administered, the baby's stomach was getting full of air. I was thankful for a job, because I was able to keep my mind on doing the job right instead of sitting there watching all of this happen. There were 5 of us working on the baby, plus the people in the room grabbing equipment for Dr. G as she needed it. The baby's heart rate was only in the 20's when it should have been over 120. Finally, after an hour, Dr. G said she thought we needed to stop. Nothing was happening, the baby wasn't getting better, and if he did survive he would have been in pretty poor shape. So she asked each one of us if we were okay with stopping. Every single person in that room had tears in their eyes while we had the internal fight of stopping to save a baby's life. So as we pulled everything out, they cleaned the baby up, wrapped him up and took him to his mother so she could hold him. The mother was crying when she gave him the baby. Then she asked her "So what now?" And Dr. G told her "You're going to hold your baby and he's going to die." That was pretty hard to hear. I had to walk away because I started to cry. It was an awful feeling.

So you might be wondering why this baby died. The mother was a drug user throughout her pregnancy. She admitted to taking heroin, ibuprofen, Klonopin, and flexeril during her pregnancy. Oh yeah, and the baby's urine had 3 units of alcohol in it. And what was the mother doing an hour after the baby died? Oh she was outside smoking.

It's a good thing I had five healthy babies to examine after that. They made it much better.

So yeah, worst day of medical school. I know that event will stay with me the rest of my life. It was my first baby death and unfortunately probably not my last.


  1. It's hard to see mothers like that, that don't care. I know nothing will ever change that image in your head, but I know you'll charge through b/c you're a trooper! You're an excellent Doc =)

  2. (((Jenny))) I can't even imagine how hard that must have been to see. Stuff like that has got to be the hardest thing about being a doctor. That baby was lucky that he had an excellent doctor like you to to try to help him, unfortunately not everyone can be helped! I don't know that I would have been able to be very nice to that mother.