Saturday, July 07, 2007


So Friday the CICU was rockin' - lots of sick babies plus a couple of sick adults with congenital heart defects. I had spent some time with new anchor mom (the beautiful, fully made up one) and we talked about grieving the perfect birth and homecoming she had planned for her little boy. When you're a master (or mistress) of the universe, you think everything's going to go your way, and when it doesn't, it's a shock. A long and interesting conversation, and she was able to cry about it, which was a very good thing. The good news is that her son's problem is very fixable, and although the start of his life was not what she hoped for, the rest of his life most likely will be. On the other hand, mye xperience with my own children tells me that they tend to do follow their own path, not the one I laid out for them. Nevertheless, she is fortunate.

Then the social worker came to find me and said "We need you to do a baptism NOW." It was a baby I had prayed with before - the family is Catholic and Hispanic, and mom speaks very little English. I suggested she might prefer to have the Catholic priest come down...and was told that the baby was crashing and they were about to rush her up to the OR to try and fix what they believed was the problem (the baby had already had several heart surgeries and was recovering from her latest) and there was no time to page the priest. So I baptized the little one (who had every square inch of her body covered with tubes, leads, etc) reaching past the four nurses who were packing her up with all her equipment to go to surgery. Even with all the work they had to do, they stepped aside for a moment to give me access, and a few said some of the prayers with us. One of the nurses said to me, as I was by the crib, "You better do some extra prayers for this one. It's really a long shot." Nothing like a little pressure. We had an interpreter translate as I baptized the baby, and they recited the Lord's Prayer in Spanish as I did it in English. Then we brought in the two siblings, aged ten and six, to kiss their baby sister before they took her up. We had to gown and glove the brother and sister, which they thought was great fun. The only thing they could reach to kiss was her little foot.

Suffice to say it blew me away, and I had to step out after they took the baby up to compose myself.

An hour later, she came back down from surgery. The problem was not as acute as they feared, and was fixable. The baby still has a long road ahead of her, but she got through this one. I'd like to believe the Lord (and my clumsy baptism) helped. At the very least, it was a comfort to the mother and to the staff who (remarkably) thank me when I pray with a baby.


The other biggie: the newborn baby of a teen mother (both baby and mom have a raft of problems) was taken up for surgery unexpectedly - we thought she would be waiting until next week for her repairs. She was in surgery for twelve hours, on heart bypass for over five. She will still need more surgery down the road. It's miraculous that they're able to do these repairs, but it raises a number of ethical questions as well. Teen Mom has been leaning on me (as has her mother, a grandmother at 36) so it has been a challenging week. I expect this family will be with me for the rest of my time in CPE this summer, and I already feel very close to them. I don't know whether their reliance on me is a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm certainly learning a lot in the midst of it.

Plus we have a preemie who has just had his first heart surgery despite the fact that he weighs under three pounds.

Whoa, indeed!

Six more weeks.


Towanda said...

Whoa indeed, indeed. You are doing such good work. Blessings.

Mark Steidler said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
the reverend mommy said...

My CPE was in a Children's hospital and this brought back some memories of that experience.

Blessing on the journey!