| LifeTakes |

120 Seconds

They’re full of remorse. Yet sometimes it’s too late for remorse

As told to Miriam Klein Adelman

For my newly born grandson, life is short.

It lasts only 120 seconds.  He will never see the sun rise, he will never have a birthday, he will never meet his big sister. He will never feel his mother’s embrace, nor experience the thrill of his father lifting him into the air, making him squeal in delight.

Before he has a chance to live, he’s gone.

The pain is greater because the delivery is punctuated with the doctor’s mistakes. Had the doctor been in the room, he would have noticed the fetus’s lowered heart rate, heard my daughter’s distress, recognized the signs of uterine rupture, acted quickly to ensure that the baby be born safely.

If the midwife had realized things weren’t right and had called the doctor when the baby’s heart rate dropped, if medical staff had listened to my daughter’s entreaties for an emergency C-section, if, if — he might have been saved.

None of this happened, and the infant was born scarcely breathing. Twenty minutes of CPR could not revive him.

The doctors and nurses are devastated. They’re full of remorse. Yet sometimes it’s too late for remorse. A life is gone. Of what good now is remorse?

The parents are left to mourn. That is all they are left with. They leave the hospital without the joyous bundle they’d anticipated when they came in. The bassinet and the baby clothes they prepared stare at them accusingly when they return.

At least there are little Leah’s arms to return to. She doesn’t know what happened, but she knows her parents haven’t been there for her for a long time. To a two-year-old, a week is forever. Leah clings to her mother’s skirt. She refuses to take her daily nap and is constantly lifting up her hands to be held. But her mother can neither pick her up nor hold her because of the physical pain from her injuries from this birth gone wrong.

The baby, and the hopes and dreams that came with him, are gone. The anger at the doctor and hospital staff is ever present. If only… the parents say to each other. If only, if only, if only. They know they’re blameless, yet they search inside themselves anyway. Could they have said something earlier? Should they have taken matters into their own hands?

But that’s not realistic, they conclude.

So, they’ll sue and get cold, hard money in the place of a warm, live baby.

There’s no comfort in that, but they know they’re suing for justice, to save other parents from egregious malpractice. They hope it will help other medical practitioners to see that in their profession there is no room for error. This doctor should be stripped of his license. There were too many mistakes made that shouldn’t have been made.

The lawsuit will be filed. But there’s a deeper message that has begun to weave its way through the horrific events of the last few weeks. Leah is meant to be an only child for now. This newly born and newly lost little baby was never meant to live. If he hadn’t died because of the doctor’s errors, his death would have come about another way.

Though my daughter is only 21 years old, too young to go through this pain, she understands that what has occurred is due to a Divine plan. None of it would have happened had G-d willed differently.

She knows this.

Her husband knows this.

Yet they mourn.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 868)

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