Monday, June 26, 2006


The father and I stood looking at his newborn baby. The baby was born full term by an emergency caesarean section for a prolapsed cord, which is when the umbilical cord comes out, at least partly, before the baby. The baby was breathing rapidly, but would be okay in a few hours. We didn't have much history on the mother because she had been rushed to surgery shortly after coming to the hospital and was now snowed with general anesthesia. All we knew is that she admitted to using cocaine, the last time 4 days ago. I was getting some more information from dad, and so far had found out that mom had 5 other kids who lived with the mom and this father. I asked him about the mother's prenatal care; she had none.

"You see," said the dad, pausing a moment, "she really wanted to abort the baby, but we didn't have enough money, and every week the pregnancy went further the price of an abortion seemed to go up a couple hundred dollars." Dad seemed like a real nice guy,very perky, very knowledgable about his kids, and very happy with the baby, which is just a bit paradoxical when you hear him saying they wanted to abort the baby.

Mom and baby turned out to have cocaine in their urine; we consulted Protective Services regarding placement of the baby: home with mom, foster care, or some other arrangement? Dad claimed paternity, and Protective Services said we could discharge the baby to his custody. Since he and mom lived together, along with her other five kids, it was sort of the same as discharging the baby to her. I didn't feel too bad about that, though, because dad really seemed to have it together.

I saw mom today in the NICU, six days after the birth, shortly before the baby went home. Unlike dad, she looked wasted and weary. Her skin had the little dark pockmarks I've seen before in drug users. I think they come from "skin popping" cocaine, shooting it just under the skin. She was holding her baby, and I couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking. Was it about what might have been - or not been - if she had more money?

P.S. Radiology Grand Rounds is up -check it out.


Blogger Lisa said...

As a former foster child and current child advocate,

I'm not sure I follow you here. If she had more money, what would happen? Sounds to me like she'd buy more cocaine. Oh, I get it... she'd have an abortion. Is that your point?

I grew up in foster care. When I first aged out of foster care, I tried to 'save' a former roommate of mine, but she was addicted to cocaine. Addictions can be very powerful.

When I read your posting, I feel very protective of the baby. I hope the father takes good care of this child. Even if mom is in bondage to white powder.

It can break your heart, really, the things kids go through. We never ask to be born. But, I hope this baby is loved by someone and has a fighting chance.


10:25 PM  
Blogger SmartBlkWoman said...

She was holding her baby, and I couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking. Was it about what might have been - or not been - if she had more money?

Probably. Believe it or not feelings like this are pretty commom. I've felt this way at time times myself, looking at the situation I'm in and wondering if I made the right choice in spite of the people that told me to abort my daughter because having a child would ruin my life. I've had my moments where I thought to myself, "what if?"

I have another friend from a religious family that has 2 kids and has had 2 abortions. I'm sure that if her mother hadn't found out about her first pregnancy at the same time as my friend that my friend would have aborted the first child too. She really didn't want the baby but she knew her mother would never have accepted the abortion.

I hate hearing about situations like this. This woman will be pregnant again soon enough unless she gets her tubes tied. And where would she get the money for such an operation? It's a sad cycle....

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think criteria should be set for resuscitation of premature babies, one of which should be maternal drug use during pregnancy. A point system should be developed. Drug use should automatically accrue enough points which empowers physicians to refuse to resuscitate the baby. Really, what future does a baby like this have. Foster home hopping, low IQ, ADHD, teenage pregnancy and drug use????

12:03 AM  
Blogger Flea said...

"...and every week the pregnancy went further the price of an abortion seemed to go up a couple hundred dollars

Forgive my naivete, but this doesn't sound square with reality. What did dad do, call Planned Parenthood every week and ask for a quote?

Does Medicaid no pay for abortions in your state?



5:19 AM  
Blogger stockingup99 said...

Astonished. CPS sends baby home with drug user. But..

The link above shows CPS forcing surgery on a nine month old, over the mother's objections. She is now in custody for Kidnapping on a half million dollar bond.

The other good one I read this week, I can't find news coverage. So here a message board straight from the horse's mouth.

CPS took this woman's child because she had an unassisted home birth. Seven workers arrived after the birth and bullied her into letting them take it to the hospital. Where it was immediately released into foster care. Now that the court issues have been resolved, the family is leaving Spokain WA. The baby was not sick. Thrush is not a crisis rush to the ER sort of thing. CPS has violated her birthing rights. Home birth is legal.

We should have choices. The mom in your post should have been able to get an abortion for free if she wanted one.

Why do we let religion govern our medical choices? Why do we only hear about reproductive rights for men? Fanatisism? Am I the heretic because I feel I have the right to choose what medical treatments I subject my family and myself to?

12:46 PM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Thanks for the comments, all. Medicaid does not pay for abortions in my state. I agree, it doesn't seem right that the abortion price went up every week, but that was the father's perception.

Anonymous 12:03, I understand your frustration with this situation, but I don't think we should take it out on the baby by not resuscitating him or her.

I, too, don't understand all of Protective Services' decisions, but I have to admit, they have a very tough job.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Oubli said...

The price for an abortion is pretty stable and "affordable" BUT only in the first trimester, 300-600$. That being said there are many women out there who cannot afford even that and end up chasing an every increasing price. Some women do not know that they are pregnant until after 12 weeks (for whatever reasons), the prices for a second trimester abortion can range from 600-10,000$, this figure mainly depends on how far along you are but other things can be a factor - location, availability of the doctor, the type of procedure etc etc etc . . .

This women who is addicted to cocaine and has other children wanted to do the right things for herself and her family by not bringing another child into the world she couldn't care for. Pregnancy is a known recovery risk, many women slide back into addiction while pregnant. I hope she was offered a tubal ligation or an IUD to prevent more children to being born to her because even she seems to recognize that she shouldn't bring any more pregnancies to fruition with her drug abuse.

7:47 PM  

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