The bond between a mother and her child is a special one. One many mothers hope to cherish for a lifetime. However, not all mothers get that chance.
A doctor from a hospital in Kluang, Johor bore witness to a heartbreaking scene as a young mother, bedridden with Covid, asked to see her newborn child for the first and perhaps, last time.
Chen Pengju (陈芃莒), a doctor working in the pediatrics department. recently wrote a post on Facebook detailing a young mother’s story. According to Chen, the mother had been admitted to the hospital for delivery. But, they soon discovered she was infected with Covid. The mother and her newborn were separated after; the mother for isolation and the child to the pediatrics department. Chen explained that the newborn had neonatal jaundice and required intensive care.
“Now, (we) just need to wait for both the mother and her baby to end the isolation period,” he recalled thinking. “They should be able to leave the hospital (after that).” However, Chen admitted it had only been wishful thinking. When the child was only six days old, disaster struck. An anesthesiologist intern appeared in the pediatric ICU to make a request.
“We have a patient with (Covid-19) who is deteriorating. (She) needs to be intubated and connected to a ventilator,” the intern explained. “She hopes to see her newborn baby before the intubation. May I make a video call for them?” Chen realised the patient the intern was referring to was the mother he had seen a few days ago. Knowing the mother hadn’t managed to glimpse her child after the delivery and knowing this could be the last time she saw her newborn, he said yes.
As the intern called the mother, Chen noted that the child was still asleep. However, as soon as the call connected, the child woke up and burst into tears. “She couldn’t hold her baby and comfort (her child) like other mothers. She could only watch (her child) cry,” Chen said. “I can’t imagine how powerless that feels.”
Chen asked the intern if the mother had any questions about her child. “She doesn’t have enough energy to speak,” the intern replied. After a few moments, the intern told the mother she would be sent to the intensive care unit for intubation. She nodded and the call was ended. “I wanted to say: “Tell the mom the baby is fine. Please don’t worry.” But it was too late to say (it),” Chen shared. “It was the only thing I could do for the mother, but because I hesitated, it became a regret.”
Chen hopes the mother will be one of those who recover from the virus. “This way I can tell (her) what I didn’t have time to say that day: “The child is very healthy, don’t worry.””
The baby has already recovered from the jaundice. Now, they are only waiting for the mother. “Until then,” Chen promised solemnly. “This baby will be protected by us.”