Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A day in the life

So, our girl is back from Melbourne and BUSTING to see HSM3 with her bestie, they've been planning it for months, only there is no reply to the phone messages left on Monday.

As I leave for work on Tuesday I call again, and her Mum answers the phone, sounding shattered. Downplaying any problems. Sorry, A is in the shower, we're only just back from the hospital. WTF?

Turns out she has been cutting herself for the last 6 months. Long back-story, not mine to tell. But we see her regularly and care deeply for her. She went further this time and got a vein. No surgery, but sedation and patching up. She will be OK, but the battle for her tranquility goes on.

We are all absolutely gutted. Our daughter is devastated and very fearful. I call work, and hubby (who knew about the cutting but hadn't told me) and he comes home. We send flowers with a big message of "WE LOVE YOU".

I go to work an hour late. To be sent to an area I have never worked in. With a very sick young woman who has just had a stillbirth, and who doesn't speak much English, and whose family oppose many of the practices we commonly do around stillbirth and creating memories. She is very sick, but after a big sleep wakes up feeling a bit better. Her hubby has spent time with the baby while she was sleeping, and has been supported by us to take photos and have them, even if keeping them private from the family.

She is very emotional to hear that her hubby has seen their baby, but is encouraged to think she could see her baby, even in the middle of the night, and the extended family doesn't have to know. Its important that her needs are met. She asks for her immediately. And wants photos, and holds her, and loves her. The couple drink their sweet little one in, and begin to talk about themselves as mother and father to this baby.

Unleashed from restriction the parents want to see her in their favourite outfits, and photographed with things they will keep as mementoes, an urgency to it all. Shuttling back and forth (to the usual area with all the camera, supplies and equipment) and it takes time to dress her and undress her and make her look peaceful, tidy and beautiful, although she is a very pretty baby. All this in a ward area where deceased babies are rarely seen, passing through public areas with a veiled cot. Its a tricky day.

I end my shift handing over the parents and the baby to a night staff member who is quite unused to providing bereavement work, and a bit daunted about the requirements of it all. But I need to get home to see how my own family is.

They are doing OK. They have spoken to A on the phone, the girls had a good long talk, and our daughter is reassured that her friend will recover and they made plans to see the movie when she is feeling up to it.

When I explained what I had been doing at work all day my husband was a bit freaked out. What - a dead baby? You've been dressing up a dead baby? And they've been holding it? And you've been taking photos? He was a bit on edge after dealing with confronting issues all day, and then told me about having the conversation with A, describing it as a conversation with a living person. And how diagnoses of mental illness are all just labels, and this poor kid didn't need more labels, she needed someone to just love and support her.

I slipped quietly into the house, hugged our girl and was grateful to see her reassured and not teary-eyed as she had been when I left. I was in a bit of a daze after a fairly intense day, but realizing that although work was challenging it had kept my mind off the horror and grief of the news of A's hospitalisation. I went to bed early, choosing not to watch the ridiculousness of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie trying to kill each other in the "Smith" movie - it just didn't appeal somehow.

And now I should get off the computer and get myself ready for another day at work.

What will it bring?


mtnchild said...

You are amazing!!! You carry a compassion in your heart that goes way beyond just caring for people and their personal stories.

I wish you peace and love in your daily work whether it's your own family or grieving parents.

I will repeat - You are an amazing human being.


Frogdancer said...

That's one hell of a day! You must have been exhausted by the end of it.

Just remember to look after yourself as well as everyone else...

widget said...

OMG! What a day.

I was breathing quite fast at the intensity of it all.

What will this weeks end bring?

Me to your sunny shores of Perth. I am arriving Friday night (VERY LATE!) but I will be in touch over the weekend.......hugs!

Lesley said...

Crikey, Laura. Take a good, big breath!

Suse said...

Oh my.

Take care of YOURSELF amongst all of that intensity.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you are such a wonderful person and so restorative to my belief in human nature and what a day you had! I wish I cold make you a nice hot chocolate, you desreve it.