Well, I have been struggling with writing this post for a bit (it’s now been almost 2 weeks). Partly because it is a very raw subject for me as it speaks to the main cause of my current PTSD journey. It is not easy for me to write about, nor will it be easy for you to read. It might have triggers for some and could be just plain upsetting for others. But, it is my reality and why I started this blog. It needs to be written about so that you can understand my Journey.
One of the things that I need to make clear right from the start is that I am trying not to identify the people involved, whether they be members of the Emergency Service community or the family involved. That being said, time to get it out I guess.
Back in the day, when I would go to work sporting the snazzy working uniform of a Mountie, I was posted in a prairie town, which is the bread and butter of RCMP policing. I was working an evening shift on a cold winter day. Like normal, I was out and about in my car driving around when a call for assistance came over the radio. It was the ambulance at a residence requesting police assistance for a potential situation. So, I chimed in that I would attend.
I pulled up to the sight of the back of the ambulance doors wide open and the paramedic making their way from the house with a female on the stretcher. Okay, so far, nothing crazy as I start making my way to the house. As I walk by, one of the paramedics said “upstairs”. Okay, upstairs I go. Into the house I go, seeing the stairs on my left, I hit the first landing after a handful of steps, turn to look up and see another paramedic standing at the top with something in her arms. Shit is getting real……
I bound up the rest of the stairs to the waiting paramedic who informed me the baby was delivered upstairs. My co-worker was already starting the scene so I went to the hospital and this is where things really go sideways. For whatever reason (something that I am struggling with in order to make some sense of this), I soon find myself up in the Neo Natal ICU conducting a Coroner’s Investigation into the at home death of a baby. But, it is no where as straight forward as to how I just wrote it, in fact, it is far from it.
The reason is that the baby wasn’t technically dead yet. What, how is that possible you ask? Well, what happened is that a Doctor, based on prescribed guidelines, declared the baby as “non viable”. This basically means that the Doctor decided that the baby didn’t meet the necessary weight and time since conception to have a perceived chance of survival. So, he removed any further chance. Yep, you read that right. The doctor, based on his assessment, decided that the baby didn’t have a good enough chance to survive.
So what did that mean???? Well, it meant that the hospital did not have to provide any life-sustaining measures and the baby was left to die. Which, after a period of time, did happen. But not before the baby impacted a number of lives. Unfortunately or fortunately (I am still trying to figure that out), I was one of the people impacted as I sat there, waiting for the baby to die so that I could finish the Preliminary Report of Death and carry on with the rest of the investigation and my remaining shift.
Because of the 40 minute death vigil that I took part in, I now deal with the lasting impacts. Something that provides so much joy and happiness to people is my pain, guilt, suffering and root cause of my PTSD. For me, babies are a trigger that takes me right back to that pain I witnessed back in 2006. They are my kryptonite. It was the nursery scenes in American Sniper that cracked me at the cruising altitude of a plane. Those scenes took me right back to 2006 and I didn’t even realize it.
A baby has made me cry, not tears of happiness but tears of pain, guilt and sadness.