By: Allie Gips, M.D.
Photo Credit: Ben Grimmnitz, M.D.
For ten minutes my gloved fingertips brush against the chubby fold where your leg smushes into your abdomen. For ten minutes I poke and poke at your cold skin while your body pounds rhythmically against the backboard. For ten minutes I advance and pull back and advance and pull back, move medial and then lateral and then medial again. When at last the blood arrives it is dark and sticky and only comes in spurts with each press of CPR.
I cannot remember what you looked like. I remember just that one part of you: that sweet baby thigh pressing up against that sweet baby belly.
I remember your mother in her winter parka wailing and wailing. She begged us to keep going, so we did. We should have known that it would never be enough for her. We should have known that she would have walked around with you in her arms for the rest of her life, her hands encircling your chest, her thumbs thump-thump-thumping. We should have known that she would have been your heartbeat for eternity. If we let her.
For ten minutes I did my job. You were pale and cold and the blood was dark and sticky and it didn’t even move on its own. For ten minutes I took care of you. You were dead the whole time.
Faculty Review: Elizabeth Mitchell, M.D.