Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Children and Babies

So, I've been really thinking about the questions regarding children, and I have a few different answers.  People usually want to know how I work on children and babies, like how I don't just cry and cry when I work on them, but they never really ask about the process and how it differs from that of adults, and I'd like to cover all of that here.

Children and babies have higher fat content in their bodies than normal adults, which makes it harder for the bodies of children to embalm as well as an adult since embalming relies on fixing proteins (muscle).  Fat people are a lot the same, the tissue just doesn't "fix" (get firm) as well as in bodies of someone with less fat.  In order to compensate for the higher fat content we usually use stronger formaldehyde content, but that can lead to tissue becoming dehydrated more quickly than in a "normal" case.  with children I try to use the stronger fluid mixed with humectant chemicals, which, if I try to explain, is like injecting them with lotion so as to moisturize the tissue from the inside.

With babies, especially with fetal deaths that were premature, sometimes it isn't possible to embalm them using the arterial system, as it is not developed enough to do much good, and their skin is so underdeveloped that it tears easily and is hard to stitch up any injection site.  In cases like that we normally "pack" them, which means we wrap the baby in cotton and saturate the cotton with embalming fluid, and let the body sit for a day or two.

So that's the technical aspect.

As to the emotional side of things, that's a lot harder to answer.  It wasn't until recently, in dealing with the homicide of a young child, that I had any emotional issues with the death of children.  I don't mean to sound like I am cold, or unfeeling, but I am fairly good at understanding that people, even children and babies, die.  I don't feel like it's fair, and I don't think that I feel like it has to be fair, and I know that me doing a good job, whether it be meeting with the family of a dead child, or embalming them, that it will help a grieving family, and that helps me tremendously.  Usually when a child dies it is because of an accident, or maybe a long-standing illness, and while families have questions about why their child had to be the one to die, I don't tend toward those thoughts.  But then, with the homicide case a little while ago, I was shaken.  I cried when the case got to the funeral home.  I sobbed, I was uncontrollable.  I didn't understand.  I still don't.  I cried when I met with the family.  I cried at the service.  I cried as I attemped to make the little body look like it hadn't suffered.  I cried to my mom, and my friends, and was just not myself.  I still don't sleep well, waking to thoughts and images of the little body.

So, that's what took me so long to post.


Ivan Toblog said...

I don't care what others say. You are a good person.

HomeSlice said...

i will say it again: if i ever had to suffer the loss of one of my children, i would be lucky to have you behind me and helping me with the final process. thanks for sharing. the homicide thing upset me and i don't even know the details. don't think i want to, either. i couldn't bear it.

Miss Anne said...

thank you for sharing your thoughts/feelings/process with us.

i know it couldn't have been easy

Jenn said...

Thank you for your honesty and I sincerely didn't mean to upset you. I appreciate your posts, and I am at a loss for words right now. Please keep posting.