One of the most unfortunate things about being a nurse, but especially a perinatal nurse, is that we don’t share our stories. So much of what we do and what we see is beautiful and magical. Part of our job is hilarious and gross. Another part is borderline unbearable and heartbreaking. It’s exhilarating and exhausting all at once. And we have no one to talk to but each other. But we don’t normally talk to each other about the good or the bad, and when we do, it’s more…”pull up this strip from last night and tell me what you think.” We can be very hard on each other. We can be very hard on ourselves.
I know that we can’t discuss things in the elevator 🙂 We can’t go home and discuss things with our family. My husband just doesn’t understand the world of OB. He questions my nursing abilities when I tell him to take 600mg of Motrin (but the box says take 200mg!). He doesn’t understand how much influence we have as nurses over someone’s outcome…how soon our patient delivers (ummmm, or how late), how she delivers, and who knows how many times we’ve caught a bad strip in time to save a baby from a worse fate. We work with physicians and scrub techs and nursing care assistants to all provide the best outcome for our patient and her baby. We’re all like superheroes!
Some days I come home so excited. I want to tell someone every single cool/gross/wonderful thing I saw and did at work that day. But because many people do not understand our nursing world, I end up saying the same things day after day: I worked hard today. It was a good day at work today. Today my feet hurt from running around so much. I am so tired today. But really, in my head, I want to say: my job is so cool. I have the ability to befriend a woman in 5 minutes flat. She lets me see her naked, I hold her hair back if she vomits I wipe her if she has an accident, she practically does every single thing I say, and I fight for what she wants. I’m like a mom, a best friend, a lawyer, and a big sister rolled into one 🙂
When someone asks me how my day was at work, I can’t elaborate. I can’t tell anyone how awesome it was to watch a mom with 4 boys at home have her first daughter. I can’t say “oh my God, and every time the baby’s head turns as it’s crowning, I just want to make every single person in the room look at her vagina to see how COOL it looks. I can’t tell people that I cried at a delivery because I really just liked the patient and was rooting for her (even though we had so just met), and it made me all emotional when her baby was finally born. I can’t say that I watched a mom who struggled for years with infertility come in with a full-term IUFD, and I had to watch her labor and then finally hold the baby she so desperately wanted and would not be leaving the hospital with. I can’t say I flip-flopped a patient into every position imaginable, the patient still ended up with a section, and I wanted to cry because I tried so hard and I failed! So yeah, I just say I’m tired. lol
Think of the last day you worked. Think of how you altered that patient’s experience, or her outcome, by one act that you did. Did you turn her into that sacred left-lateral position with that pillow between her knees and that bottom leg straight like an arrow to get rid of that anterior lip? I bet you got her delivered 🙂 Did you provide words of encouragement to that first time breastfeeding mom when she began doubting how much milk she had, and if she was really feeding her baby enough? Did you assess someone in triage and report concerning findings to her physician, helping to ensure a healthy, or healthier, delivery for her or her baby? You wont be able to think of just one small act that you did…you’ll be able to think of 100 things you did to help your patient, her baby, or her family.
So even though summer is here, and God knows all of our rooms are full and everyone is coming in SROMed, remember that you alter your patient’s experience or outcome with every interaction that occurs. Whether we’re being motherly, or sisterly, or fighting for our patient like we’re in front of a judge, we can’t lose sight of the fact that what we do is so important, and we all have stories to tell. We have to celebrate the fact that we help women become mother’s, we help make a family, and the care we provide ultimately aims for a healthy mom and baby 🙂
Until my next delivery ❤