By Shakila Hassan
People shiver when they hear the term CoVID-19, or Coronavius. Yes, of course, this pandemic has affected us in many different ways, including our mental health.
As Registered Nurses, we are supposed to serve and save the little ones who have just opened their eyes, unaware of the fact that they are born in the time of our modern history’s worst pandemic.
Working in Neo-Natal ICU is not like working with adults. Here we deal babies weighing from 0.4gram to 4kilograms. Some of them come out of the mother womb prematurely. We often receive 26-weeks babies who have not even developed proper organs. They have delicate organs like immature Lungs, fragile brain which is on high risk of tearing known as IVH (INTRAVENTRICULAR HEAMORRHAGE). For weeks to months they need ventilator to take their normal breath due to immature lungs and delicate brain. Caring for these angels is as tough as the challenges posed by this pandemic.
We don’t fear Covid19. What we fear is the moment we disclose the bad news to a mother who has kept a baby in her womb for 9 months, who gave birth to a life before 9 months due to complications of the body systems, and who dreams of seeing her baby grow and flourish.
As Nurses, not only do we feed the baby, at times we also administer medication to the baby. It is also our duty to keep the parents informed about the progress being made by their child.
So, in this context, living in this kind of stressful environment, CoVID-19 is not something we are afraid of. Disclosing the bad news (your baby is positive for Covid19) is one of the most difficult parts of our responsibility.
Can you even imagine the emotions of the parents, on getting the news, who have not even held their baby yet? Think of the mother who is thinking of her last breath because of Corona positive but has held her breath to hug her new born, who is still waiting to feel her baby?
But, unfortunately, being a nurse you diminish her dreams by letting her know that her new born is also positive just like her! My God! She might curse herself, thinking that she was the cause of the transfer of the virus! She might feel guilty forever. While devlivering the bad news, the messenger (the nurse of the doctor) do not remain unscathed; it is an emotional burden that weighs heavy on our soul.
Now, let’s move towards the real story of me working with a suspected CoVID-19 baby who is only 6-days old.
In the start of the shift when I saw my name assigned to this baby, I did not think of my own immunity, which many of the times took me to ER, even to OR too. But, yes, different question regarding the baby and his parents started to develop in my mind. Any ways this was just at the entrance of NICU. I slowly moved to the changing room and changed my casual dress to scrub, took my PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and entered the room.
Evening staff was informing me about the condition of baby. “RN Shakila, we are waiting for his second corona test report. You will inform his parents about the test result.”
I held my breath for a moment and thought what if the child tests positive? How will the parents feel when they hear the news? What about the hopes they were having when their newborn was inside the womb?
These questions were roaming in my mind and I was thinking to find out techniques to how to disclose the news when it becomes BAD news like Positive CoVID19…. Then I took a deep breath and took the name of Allah, starting my shift while following the reports.
At 0000 hours I got a call from his father. Deep down somewhere a man was slowly speaking about his kids Corona test reports. I apologized because still I have not received the result. I asked the father to get relaxed and pray for good to happen, despite of my own fear that something bad can also happen! He thanked me and cut the conversation by dropping his call.
Then I thought to have a cup of tea to relax my own mind. I went to the lounge where, despite of being with my other colleagues, I could not enjoy. I was continuously thinking of the family where a mother is already corona positive and they are waiting for the reports of their baby.
While returning to the baby’s room, i decided to call the laboratory to get an update about the test. I offered a prayer, inside my mind, and dialed the lab’s number.
The bell tones, which barely lasted a few seconds, felt much longer. I shared the details and asked about the result. The receiver told me that the child had tested Negative. I couldn’t believe my ears. I gave the child’s MR number again, along with his name, and asked for reconfirmation. The receiver told me again that the child had tested negative.
To reconfirm, again, I logged into the online system and, thank God, it was indeed negative. I was so happy that I cannot describe my emotions. I thanked God and started waiting for the father’s call, because it was too late in the night.
At around 0355 hours, after Sehri, the bell started to ring in the baby’s room. I picked the phone and greeted the father. He politely asked, “Nurse were you able to get the reports?” I could feel anxiousness and pain in his voice.
I replied, “Yes sir, congratulations! Your baby is safe. His report is Negative.
I can’t imagine how much happy this father was. Suddenly he laughed, and his voice changed. The fear of corona had diminished. I felt this soothing. For the first time I was happy to announce this “Negative” word as a blessing for a family. I felt proud to be a Nurse, for not feeding and medicating the baby, but also to become a source of disclosing a very good news to the family.
As nurses, we witness the first cries of babies, and also the last cries. We observe the first eye-opening to the forever closure and from the first smile till the last laughter. It is an emotional roller-coaster ride.
While serving, we do not even have the time to think of our own families, or calling them to get updates about the well-being.
These all are secondary things for a Nurse. Our first responsibility and Role is to take care of you all.
Stay Home. Stay Safe. Ensure Physical Distance.