Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The future

I stand very quietly watching the tiny form wiggle his toes, the whole foot not much larger than my thumb. "No name yet," the nurse informs me as she adjusts the ventalator. She is reading my mind, "We are coming down on the ventolator settings. He is doing better."

I always go up to the NICU or neonatal intensive care unit to see the babies I have delivered. Many make it through to the step down unit, grow to be 5 or more pounds and go home. As with this baby, I always wonder what kind of home that will be.

I know this baby's mother better than most. She was in the hospital 5 weeks before he was born. Her drug screen was positive and after a few days of "drying out" she ask me to terminate the pregnancy. When I told her this was not only against hospital policy but at her stage in gestation, it was illegal as well, she refused all subsequent care and left against medical advice.

She returned via ambulance, again in a drug induced stupor, and I delivered this two pound baby boy on the stretcher just inside the doors to labor and delivery. At delivery I thought he was dead but the NICU team was there and revived him. Now we are here. He is two days old and getting stronger.

From the mother's previous hospitalization I know there are two other children. One in the custody of her mother, the other her sister. The patient asked to have her tubes tied and if it were up to me that would already be done. I have no illusions of rehabiliation. Sterilization is at least part of the solution. I am just wondering about this baby, with feet the size of my thumb. Who will care for him? What does his future hold?

How many more like him are in this city, state, country? Where does it stop? I fear we will run out of resources sooner than we will run out of babies with feet smaller than my thumb.
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Anonymous said...

Was she able to have her tubes tied at this point?
I sure hope so.

local MD said...

The legal requirement for Medicaid to pay for a tubal is a consent form signed thirty one days in advance. Of course her coverage will last for three months to allow her to do this in the future but my experience has been this only happens about 10% of the time. Even as we solve the problem of access to health care, we also have to solve the problem of apathy about health care and especially contraception.

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