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Monday, April 19, 2010

"Hi, Babies have fingernails. Fingernails!"

**Disclaimer: Some of this story and some of these photos may bother certain people.**

I have very little obstetrical experience, and I mean little.  When my youngest sister was born I was seven.  My experience caring for her as a newborn consisted of sitting in a chair, holding out my arms, and being told "now don't move!".  So when I was shoved into the birthing center for a few hours due to unplanned meetings where I was suppose to observe in the womens clinic I was caught off guard.  

Immediately a short, happy, little, old nurse greeted me and led me into a room with two very young parents that were sound asleep and a baby that was nine hours old.  Yes, nine hours.  Not even through her first day of life on this planet.  The nurse said "the parent's are asleep, but she needs to be changed so get a set of vital signs, change her diaper, and then dress her."  I nodded and my eyes must have become the size of saucers.  Before I could stammer on about my inexperience with babies she had stepped out of the room.  I was alone.  No one was in there but me, two sleeping parents, and the newborn. Yikes!

Somehow my hands stopped shaking enough to pick her up and unswaddled her.  I just kept thinking, how am I going to reswaddle her this nicely? And then I understood why they have parenting classes.  I started with what I knew best, an assessment.  That was easy. Counting her little pulse through the miniature stethoscope, looking at her skin, listening to her lung sounds. Then, after a bumbling couple of minutes, I change the diaper, put a new one on correctly, and figured out the puzzle of snaps on the little set of pajamas set out for her to wear. Everything about her was perfect and I now want a baby more than ever.  

Then the telephone rang.  There was an emergency case in the Operating Room.  A woman who was only 14 weeks pregnant had become septic following an emergency surgery.  Once she became septic her body soon began rejecting the pregnancy and early that morning she lost her babies.  Yes, babies.  The woman was barely 14 weeks pregnant with twins.  The reason for the call to the birthing center was because the fetuses that were removed in emergency surgery needed to be photographed, measured, and examined.  A baby, no matter what gestation, is regarded and treated as an actual baby by the hospital staff.  Data has to be recorded just like a normal birth so myself and two other nursing students went down to the lab with an obstetrics nurse to examine the babies.  Nothing could have prepared me for this experience. 

The lab was cold and clean.  We gloved up and put on surgical masks as the babies were brought into the room in a little plastic container.  The nurse opened the lid and we peered in.  Inside was a single placenta (meaning they were identical twins) and two small babies.  Each baby was brought out and placed before us.
I had a lump in my throat.  Never would I have guessed that at just 14 weeks a fetus would resemble a newborn baby so clearly.  I had imagined something like those lizard-like photos they show you in textbooks, but that was not the case.  These babies looked just like a full term baby, only in miniature, about eight inches long.  You could see the lips clearly, little ears, and each one's tiny nose.  They even had fingernails!  Yes, fingernails.  The little hands still haunt me.  

We professionally took photos, footprints, fingerprints, head circumference, and length, naming them 'Baby A' and 'Baby B' as we recorded the information.  Then we put the babies back in the plastic container, closed the lid, and left them in the lab for whatever other procedures awaited them.  

And now my view on abortion will forever be pro-life.
If you've held the hands that I have then you'd be pro-life too... 


Hydrant girl said...

Wow.......... I don't even know what to say. Very good post.

To Hey You: said...

I LOVE this post! Those little hands, the little nails, melt my heart. I'm a prolifer forever!

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully made from the very first moment that egg and sperm meet! I'm sad for the parents. What would those hands have done? Picked flowers for mommy? Stumbled through piano lessons? Performed surgery to save lives? Found the cure for cancer?

Suz McFatter said...

Wonderfully made from the very first moment that egg and sperm meet! I'm sad for the parents. What would those hands have done? Picked flowers for mommy? Stumbled through piano lessons? Performed surgery to save lives? Found the cure for cancer?

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

WOW! So amazing the things that you get to see and experience!

Nina Honeycutt said...

I'm so jealous that you are doing what I'd love to do (nursing), but at the same time, this post and the 'very unhappy birthday' quickly remind me about the things I don't want to see. We forget how quickly lives can end and how sometimes you don't even get that first breath.

Jules said...

Wow! What an amazing story...
Yes, if only the world knew what you know. When I went in for one of my ultra sounds the lady told me she heard a heart beat (in a lady's belly right before my appt.) that was only 10 days along!!!


Dianne said...

So beautifully, truthfully said. How very sad for this Mom and Dad to lose these babies. I will always be PRO-LIFE! Thank you for sharing this experience with us. As a Registered Nurse since 1978, I can say truthfully you will be touched more in this field than you can ever imagine.

Jen at Cabin Fever said...

It was an amazing experience! I can't believe that everything I have been able to see over the last few months of nursing school. Its been a wonderful experience and I am so glad I chose this field.

Even though seeing these things aren't always easy the lessons you learn are phenomenal!

Linda said...

Thank you for having the courage to write this post and show these images. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made" by the God of creation, from the very moment of conception. Your recounting of your experience is touching.

I'm going to share your blog address with everyone I know--your story and photos will do a great deal to bring people to a pro-life mindset.

God bless and I hope you never loose this passion for the field you've chosen.

carol said...

I would like permission to use the post you wrote on April 19th, 2010, about the babies that were born at 14 weeks. I would like to use the article for a Pro-Life ministry that we are doing in Amsterdam, NY. If in the future we schedule an open house to encourage people to support and come to the center we minister from, I would like to know if you could come to speak of your experience with these beautiful babies.
Carol Jordan - Co-organizer of
The Family Tree, A family centered, Pro-life help ministry. If you would like to view our mission statement please email me at Linda Buckman a volunteer of the center sent me your information.
God Bless you for your Pro-Life stance.

Country Girl said...

Holy hell. I've seen similar photos, but this hand really got me too.
I did this once or twice with an abnormal foal that had been born, recording it with the vet on the horse farms where I've lived. When I tell people this, they can't imagine doing something so "gross". I guess it's not for everyone. No.

Anonymous said...

What is really hard to believe is that there are many medical people who see this frequently, the perfectly formed babies, and yet continue to do abortions. I pray that your pregnancy will end in a perfect, wonderfully healthy child! Deb W.

Melina said...

I understand your opinion on this and that your experience was traumatizing and eye opening. I am a trained doula and birth educator, and the miracle and joy of birth, infants, babies, children is not lost on me, in fact with every birth I attend it just amplifies.

However, I am extremely pro choice. I think not simply of the baby, but of the mother. I respect her life and her body, and her right to her own body. I certainly do not mean to get into any sort of debate. I love your blog, and of course I am from right down the road from you in the upper valley. I just wanted to voice my opinion that any woman should have the right to choose what is best for her, and the circumstances behind an unintended pregnancy may be far more difficult and complicated than we as outsiders could ever fathom.

Cattle and Cupcakes said...

and, not to start a debate, but adoption is also a wonderful thing. (This coming from a birth mother)

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