Should a terribly deformed baby be left untreated in the days until it dies? Care2 blogger Kristina Chew told the story of one such child, known as Cyclops Baby, and Care2 member Melanie Blow wrote this moving comment. We thought it deserved a post of its own.
A few years ago a cousin of mine had a deformed baby who lived about 90 minutes postpartum. She was having multiple ultrasounds a day, everyone knew it was unlikely that the baby would live. But she was allowed to hold him, dress him, take pictures with him, Christen him and let his grandma meet him. She had a funeral for him. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen, but life went on. She had another child since then. Mom, dad, sister, new baby and the imprints the deceased baby left on all of them are part of that family. The tragedy affected all of them, but it didn’t ruin any of them, because they were treated compassionately by the hospital staff and allowed to make some choices, to exercise their personal empowerment at a time when the universe was stripping most of their power away from them.
Sometimes we both want and need mementos of the things that hurt us the most. I still have a ripped-up shirt that I almost died in during a hiking accident, it reminds me of how luck I am. I saw a picture one time that was taken as my uncle was molesting me — I don’t yet have custody of that, but I still am trying. Among other things, that picture proves how strong I am. I have a friend who’s a tattoo artist, who said she had an entire support group for women who lost babies come to her for mementos of the baby tattooed onto their skin- a footprint, a birthdate, something like that.
For a doctor to let his own fear of an ugly situation get in the way of empowering a patient and treating her, and her child, compassionately is criminally, inhumanly wrong. It does sound like the baby would have died in infancy no matter what, but they could have died a much better death than this.
Hiding one’s head in the sand and hiding ugly truths accomplishes nothing. If nothing else, I’m glad the doctor came forward and wrote this piece.
Photo from Early Modern England