This week is the week that we’re supposed to celebrate nurses. After working all weekend, I really do feel like we should be celebrated. Most labor nurses out there still take care of two moms (which ultimately also means at least two babies). Recently, I pit one patient and took care of an SROMed 20 weeker. I kept walking out of one room, after laughing and talking excitedly about the pending birth of their first son, just to go into another room where I had to prepare a mom for the death of her first daughter, her daughter that would probably be born alive, but born too soon for medical intervention. And nurses around the world do this every day.
We take care of mothers who come to our units on drugs. Once someone was high on PCP and kicked me in the shin. She ran around the room the entire time she was in labor, until she finally squatted and tried to have her baby on the floor. I still don’t know how the six nurses in her room coaxed her into her bed. The entire time I just kept thinking ‘isn’t PCP an 80s drug?!??’. My shin still hurts when it rains. When I was a new graduate nurse, I worried anxiously about the birth of a baby whose mother tested positive for cocaine. The charge nurse reassured me…she told me “usually when a baby fights like hell inside the uterus to stay alive, they are born screaming. The bad part comes a little later.” And now we not only worry about the drugs people take off the streets, we worry about prescription drugs that patient’s take prescribed by physicians (or dentists, or…). And nurses around the world do this every day.
And bad stuff still happens to moms in labor in this country! It doesn’t matter that this is the United States of America, women still die from childbirth. Whether it’s from a pulmonary embolism, or a hemorrhage, or from an underlying problem like a cardiac issue or fatty liver disease, or if a mom strokes out from high blood pressure—it’s our nursing assessment and skills that take care of every women that we’re presented with. We strive to please the patient, their family, our leadership teams, our coworkers, and of course, our physicians. And nurses around the world do this every day.
Then there are the nurses that helped me through my last pregnancy, nurses who take care of high risk moms. When I was told my son had an intrauterine brain bleed, I was a complete psychotic mess. But that’s their job. All day long they help pregnant people deal with unexpected and usually devastating news. Day in and day out they have to help women cope with the fact that their pregnancy isn’t normal or typical, that their child may die or have a debilitating condition, or may require intrauterine fetal surgery or surgery after delivery. I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of nursing attention that’s required to take care of these families. And nurses around the world do this every day.
Sometimes we have moms who do everything they can to get pregnant, but they just can’t seem to carry a baby to a ‘viable’ stage. I hate that word, viable. Sometimes viable means a matter of days, or a week. And that just seems so unfair. Sometimes I wish that every ultrasound is wrong, and that the baby will come out really a couple of weeks in gestation greater than we thought, and we’ll be able to do something. There are nurses that help people try to get pregnant and try to stay pregnant, and their job is give a family something they so desperately want. And nurses around the world do this every day.
There are my wonderful postpartum nurses, who take care of the patient and their family after delivery. I know of one nurse that helps every single c-section patient get up for the first time, and when they’re ready to shower she literally gets into the shower with them. She stands at the back, so she doesn’t get wet, and then she’ll wash their back and help them wash their hair. But no matter how far back she stands in the shower, she always comes out with wet scrubs. She’s the last one to eat breakfast and the last one to eat lunch. Our postpartum friends take care of the whole family. They are so motherly to the patients. And STATs still happen on postpartum! They have to be ready for anything at any time, but they have six patients (not just one or two!). And nurses around the world do this every day.
I grew up with the greatest nurse I’ve ever known (my nursery nurse mother) and now working by her side is one of the greatest joys in my life (even though she constantly tells me I need to “pick up my bra” and put on some blush!). I love seeing her at deliveries. I know every labor nurse out there is thankful for a nursery nurse that can pink up a baby. These nurses are fiercly protective of their babies, and their assessment skills have to be so good, because God knows a baby can’t tell you what hurts or what’s wrong with them.
I just love being a nurse. I wish there were a million words I could use to describe how much I love it, but I just do. I love my patients…the good ones and the bad ones, the rich ones and the poor ones, and the ones who don’t deserve my care, but I give it to them anyway because I hope I can somehow make a difference in their lives (even the one that kicked me in the shin!) And I think we have the greatest profession ever, because I know–I just know in my heart that there are true nurses out there that feel this way too. And I love going to work and being with my coworkers because we are all doing the same thing—caring for people who may or may not deserve our care, but we give them everything we have anyway because the nurse inside of us wants to help. And I know that nurses around the world do this every day. 🙂 And I love that. I’m so proud to be a nurse. Happy Nurse’s Week!
Until my next delivery ❤