Can’t leave work at work tonight

I wrote the following when I got home on Monday:

The other nursery nurse and I sat chatting while we awaited a new baby that we knew was coming our way. We had put together as much of the chart as we could. The warmer was set up. We were set to go and chatted about this and that while we waited. Then we heard the code overhead… the location of the code. We stared at each other wide-eyed, the color draining from our faces, tears pricking at the corner of our eyes. “Jesus Christ,” she said, partly a curse, partly a prayer. I sat in silence and stared at the floor.

The baby arrived at our door as scheduled. No giddy family members looking in the window. No goofy dad speaking in a falsetto voice and marvelling at his baby’s firm grasps on his finger. Just awkward conversation among the nurses punctuated by the baby’s indignant cries.

I did not know the outcome by the time I left tonight. The father eventually appeared with a small group. We invited him in to see and touch his baby, but his visit was short… his mind was understandably elsewhere.

I drove home glad that the route was so familiar so I needn’t think too much about the drive. The radio stayed silent. My usual quick pace was sluggish. I envied the religious tradition of my employer with its ritual prayers for these situations. I couldn’t come up with the right words myself.

I fear what I might learn when I return to work tomorrow.

The follow-up:

Sadly that sinking feeling in my stomach foretold the truth. There was no miracle overnight. A man lost his wife and the mother of his children. We are all reeling from what happened… so rare, yet so tragic.


3 thoughts on “Can’t leave work at work tonight

  1. Caroline says:

    So hard. What happened, amniotic fluid embolism or something? WOW. Bittersweet, isn’t it?

    I hate those kind of days.

  2. roriroars says:

    I haven’t heard the definitive cause, but I think it was something along those lines. I was so close to being in the OR when it happened… her nurse had asked if I wanted to observe, but for whatever reason I didn’t end up going. Ugh.

  3. Susan says:

    Rori – Sorry about the code and like you, codes such as the one you describe always affect me in much the same way – I always seem to get a little quiet / pensive). I think the thing that is toughest for the teams I have worked with (this is my job – debriefing teams after codes or high acuity weeks) is that usually the members of the team have so much in common with the patients in their care (they can relate the them because they are them) especially in NICU’s and L and D’s that are staffed by new / young families.
    So what is important is what you learn when you return to work (as heartwrenching as that is at times) – sometimes I think it’s just our need for “closure” – but what is more important than that is learning about yourself as a practitioner (ie: what you have learned about yourself as a result of what you have experienced and how can you let this lesson flow through you so that you can navigate the next code; the next ‘look on the face of the father who has just lost his wife looking through the window at his young son or daughter’)
    I love your blog – Susan

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