I'm deep in slumber when Dee the Desk Clerk walks into our temporary bunkroom at Backwater Parish Hospital. "Um, hey, March, the nurse said to come and get you and the doctor. Some lady pulled up with, uh, a dead baby, I think."
Yeah, I woke up pretty quick.
A quick snapshot as I step out into the bay. As it turns out, no, the baby is not dead. Barely. The two nurses and ER tech are clustered around the passenger side car door. Sitting there are a mother, who looks...calm. What the hell? She's covered in blood and just self-delivered.... somewhere. No emotion really, just sitting there, blinking at the nurses. Wait a minute...half lidded eyes...slow reaction to stimulation...
Jesus. She's high.
I pop my stretcher out from my unit, conveniently parked 15 feet away, and together Bossman, who's shown up from God Knows Where, and I physically lift mom and baby out of the car and wheel them in. The baby had been wrapped up in a comforter and is cyanotic, but I hear a weak cry. We pull mom across, and Doctor Dickhead walks in.
Normally, this is where I give you an extensive list of why I've bestowed this nickname on this individual, but here it's unnecessary. The name's got it all. He's a dickhead.
We get the cord cut and I get an IV in mom. There was blood everywhere on the car's seat. There's going to be hefty cleaning and detailing bill that medicaid is not going to cover. I walk into the other room, where baby is getting warmed up under a heating lamp. Dick is hunched over the patient.
"What's he doing?"
"Trying to sink an ET Tube," stage whispers BossMan. "I guess stimulation and blowby aren't in his playbook."
BossMan has already been given specific instructions not to argue with Doctor Dickhead from our higher ups. I guess he sees my lip twist in disgust and before I can talk he pushes me with his elbow. "Go Help with Mom."
I glare at him. As I was taught when it comes to neonatal resuscitation you follow a kind of inverse pyramid. A lot of times kids just need a vigorous rubdown (don't go all British Nanny, but get the job done) and some blowby O2. If that's not working, Bag 'em, and then so on down the pyramid till you get to cardiac drugs and electricity.
Well, fuck it. I'm not a doctor. Maybe he's doing something I'm not trained on or don't know. I walk out to the lobby where the driver of the car is waiting nervously.
"We're working on mom and baby right now. What happened?"
"Well, the power is still out over at their house, and I was sleeping in the other room. She was crying out that she delivered into the toilet. She thought she just had to go to the bathroom."
"Does she take any medicines?"
"Well..." She looks at me guiltily. "She gets bad anxiety and takes Xanax. She takes the boyfriend's medicine. He ripped his knee up and takes, um, vicodins, I think. She smokes weed too. She's not due for another month!"
I nod and thank her.
Back in the ER lab has come back with the screen results. ER Nurse 1 holds up the results. "You wanna guess?"
I hold a hand up to my forehead and shut my eyes in intent concentration.
"Opiates, benzos, and marijuana?"
"Ooh, not bad, you forgot barbiturates!"
"Well, I cheated and asked the family or friend or whatever outside. How's she doing?"
"She's pretty spaced." The phone rings, and ER Nurse 1 picks it up. It's the local NICU, telling her they're sending a team to grab the baby.
"Well, at least she's not hurting." I look through the observation window. Mom is passed out in the bed, even snoring delicately. Zonked.
I'm pretty worried about what could be floating around in the baby's lungs. Born in distress, mom's high as a kite, delivered into a toilet? Ick.
The neonatal team arrives in short order, and get the baby packed up. Doc was unable to get a tube in place, and they put the baby inside the plastic box, and head for the hospital. We're going to be getting off late, but I volunteer to bring mom over to the other hospital.
We transfer care and we go up to visit the baby. After some suctioning the baby has cleared up considerably. She's sitting under the fry light, getting her tan. I touch her foot lightly, and she opens her mouth for a second before closing it again.
"Happy birthday..." I say, and walk out to my unit.