A woman clutching her day old son entered the room, unwrapped him from the sheets she cradled him with, gasping for breath, toes and fingers blue, eyes slit-like as if there was so little to live for. She told, with no remorse, that she never had any check-ups and when her water broke, delivered at home attended not by a doctor or a midwife or even a nurse. Even stated matter of factly that his tiny buttocks emerged first with the head trapped for 15 minutes before full delivery, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. The baby never cried, even when provoked, even during the first few minutes of life when crying is always a good sign. She never let the baby feed from her breasts. In the one day he spent alive, he never cried, never tasted his mother’s milk. The duty team took turns breathing for him. The mother did nothing, idle. When it was time for the baby’s heart to stop beating, the mother blamed the people who were breathing for him, shouted profanities to the ones who did what was needed to be done to keep him alive. She blamed everyone, except herself.
Who could blame the madness of a mother witnessing her child die, even if all that she did and did not do from the beginning she got pregnant to the moment she gave birth led to her child’s death? If I was the one breathing for her baby, if I was the one worried at what could happen, I would never have been able to understand her ignorance, her irrational belief that the people helping her child were at fault and that she was blameless. If I was part of the team saving her child, I would have been furious, decency and professionalism replaced by pride and ill manners. But I was only a reliever, triage means greeting her and her dying baby and passing them to the team on duty. I became a bystander, seemingly aloof, judgments kept to myself, the distance allowing my proud heart to feel sorry for her.