This is my personal experience I am sharing….
I had just started my career as an obstetrician in a small nursing home. There was this beautiful lady who was coming to me for her checkups. She was always accompanied by her husband, and sometimes by her son who was around 4 to 5 years. She was carrying her second child. As her date was approaching, I felt that her baby was too big for her to have a normal delivery. She was a small person. So I gave them a hint, that she may need a C-section. Anyway, let’s wait and watch. One early morning, I got a call, that she had come with pain, so I immediately went to hospital to attend to her. Her fluid had started leaking, it was stained with meconium ( meaning that baby was under some stress ). As everything else was fine, I decided to give her some time to deliver. But when there wasn’t much progress, I took her for a c-section. She delivered a girl baby around 3.5 kg. The baby cried after birth, was given all the initial care. The baby seemed alright but wasn’t very active.
There was a pediatrician in the nursing home, but she was an old lady in her late 70s. So she could not come to see the baby immediately. With time, I was getting more anxious, but there wasn’t much I could do. Finally when the paediatrician came and saw the baby, she asked me to refer the baby to a higher centre.
The baby was taken to a higher centre. And there she died after 2 days. The husband came back and told me that the baby wouldn’t have died had we referred her there early. He had always dreamt of having a daughter and now he had lost her.
You can call it my ignorance or inexperience… But it never really occurred to me that the baby was so sick. And I hadn’t anticipated things to take a turn like this. I felt sad for the lady. She had nourished this baby in her womb for 9 months. And now it was almost like I had snatched her baby from her. My heart cried, even today it does when I think of her. Nothing could compensate for her loss. Words of sympathy seemed empty in front of her sorrow. I felt like a criminal. Even I was carrying my second child at that time. I could not imagine losing my child like that. I felt her pain, but what could I do to ease it, when I was part of it? You can call it destiny, or God’s will, but it didn’t ease my feeling of guilt. I had done what was possible in my reach, with the best intention, but it had misfired.
Every doctor will have at least one incident like this to relate. An experience which fills you with regret, at your decision. The people who are cured are usually forgotten. But the memories of the ones who we were not able to save stay forever…coming back again and again to haunt us…This is the cross we are destined to carry…

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Divya Pai

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