Exposed and raw, I still think of her as part of her mother…which is how it should be, where she should be…still a part of her mother, fetal. That is mostly where my grief wants to go; to her mother, but thrust into the world early this little girl became herself, separate and alone. I also grieve for her. Poor little soul, she knew so little of anything good. I’m sure there were gentle touches but they were so overwhelmed with the medical horror touches…invasive, torturing, and isolating. Exposed, no shield of flesh or arms, we made pitiful attempts to hold her with devices designed to comfort and surround. Swollen and seizing, her current X-rays and photographs from before this crisis with ET tube in place become humanizing factors. There we can still see how tiny she is, those fragile bones in that huge yet tiny, puffed up body. Photographs of intubated babies normally make me cringe. It’s so difficult to find the baby behind the machinery. This one made her real again.
I wonder what they did with the frozen milk. I wonder, did a brady just spread until there were no QRS complexes left. I can imagine the ambivalent moment, perhaps more than once, when one of us would notice the widening gap. Did we dare not touch her, dare not offer even that comfort for fear of our simple touch serving to “resuscitate” and prolong the torture. Like creeping around quietly to not wake a sleeping baby, did we creep around touchlessly to not stimulate a dying heart?
There was never a reason for me to touch this child. My touch would have been one more assault, unneeded and therefore not helpful, not a good idea. Others did, I know these people. She was touched tenderly by nurses, by doctors and by her family. I hope it comforts them.
On the periphery, with my job over (Who cares for the future milk of a dying baby?) I long to connect, to still be a part of this pain without making it about me. I hope to make understanding eye contact with the real nurse; I want to find something practical I can contribute to the family. I want to hug because I want to be hugged. One nurse trims a bit of hair and I find an unneeded way to “help”, really just an excuse to involve myself. I’m aware enough to thank her for allowing me, for not thinking me ghoulish in my need to participate.
Bye, bye baby girl. I’m sad to have not known you.