Her hand burrowed into her purse, grabbed a rectangular object.
Stretching up and over the wires connected to her belly, she clutched the device in her palm and reached towards me.
Her fingers released.
My hands fumbled a bit. My forehead wrinkled.
“My husband would like to hear my baby’s heartbeat.”
Ahhh… I nodded, finally understanding. My thumb hit the red button on the screen.
Our current clinic policy prohibited patients from bringing their partner or families with them to their visits.
I recorded the loud, strong, and steady heartbeat, the squiggly lines dancing across the screen, the paper printing as it recorded the fetal tracing. I recorded mom with her sad eyes, her mouth hidden behind the blue mask, lying still on the exam table, waiting for the monitoring to be over, waiting for the doctor, waiting alone.
~ ~ ~
It was then that I realized: COVID is such a great thief.
Not only has COVID stolen the precious moments between dying patients and their families, who often have been prohibited into hospitals during the pandemic, and missed their final days and goodbyes with their loved ones…
but it also has stolen these precious moments between hopeful parents awaiting the arrival of their newborn, who cannot attend prenatal visits together, and missed these glimpses and whispers of their baby, that they normally would have shared together, prior to the pandemic.
What a difficult time it is for us, as people, to face both life’s sorrow and joy, in isolation…
Yet, how much more difficult it has been, for us nurses and my fellow healthcare workers, to fill in the shoes of loved ones (for whom we are a poor substitute), and shoulder our patient’s burdens, on our tired, achy backs…
carrying these crucial, life and death moments…
in our heavy hearts,