More Than Birth and Babies

Perinatal nursing is sweet and magical and everything you think it would be.  But everyone only thinks of the birth and the babies.  No one ever thinks or talks about the pain of pregnancy, the heartbreak of infertility, or the difficulty of death.

I remember once I was working triage, and I seemed to be seeing patient after patient.  It was just one of those days…of course, I didn’t think the charge nurse was helping me like she could have.  I felt swamped.   By lunchtime, I had finally cleared all the beds in triage and was finally going to eat breakfast when a patient walked through the door with a slew of family members.  As she filled out her paperwork, I gave the unit secretary a look and she smiled at me.  I was thinking that I was about to see my 7th patient in 6 hours for a “I’m bleeding when I wipe” issue.

The patient was very tiny.  As I walked behind her I could not even tell she was pregnant.  As I put her in the triage bed, she told me that she hadn’t felt her baby move since the night before.  Tomorrow was her due date.  I put the monitor on her belly and heard nothing.  Even though I knew at that moment that her baby was dead (she was so tiny, I should have been able to put that monitor anywhere on her and picked up her baby’s heartbeat), I moved the monitor around and around hoping to hear something.  When I began tracing her heart rate at 120 beats per minute, for a moment I grasped on to the hope that maybe THIS was the tiny patient that had the baby I just couldn’t find to trace.  But the patient already knew.  I knew.  She began crying and her husband sat in the chair next to her with his head in his hands, not knowing what to say or do.  She asked between sobs for her mother, who was in the waiting room.

I went to get her mother, and when she saw me she immediately said “he’s gone, isn’t he?” Of course, as a nurse, I’m unable to say anything. I held her arm as I led her into the triage room, and only told her that the physician was on his way to speak to them.  My heart ached for a mother who lost her first child, a dad who lost his first son, and a grandmother who lost her first grandchild.  When her physician arrived, he pulled an ultrasound machine to the bedside to visualize the still and silent heart of her baby.  Everyone cried again, because this time they could see his heart not beating.  And the only thing I could be thankful for at that moment was that she had the support of her partner, that she had the support of her mother, and that the rest of my triage beds were empty and that no other woman had to hear the cries of a patient who had just been told her baby was dead.

tumblr_n1g68f61gP1sy59n1o1_400

Not every nurse can labor a patient with a full-term IUFD.  We have all shared this same story in one way or another, and after this kind of work day, we will leave physically and emotionally drained. You have to watch your patient and her family crumble in front of you, with no words to ease their pain or to provide any type of comfort or closure.  On top of that, they have to experience every pain and emotion that comes with labor.  As nurses, we walk a fine line of wanting to medicate them until they are semi out of their misery, and encouraging them to be present for a time in their life that they will eventually want to remember.  There is no other patient that we want to see have a vaginal delivery more than her.  As we labor her, we pray that she doesn’t leave the hospital with a scar across her belly, a permanent physical daily reminder of what she went through. They may not remember everything we said, or everything we did.  They probably did not know that we cried for them, alone in an empty room where no one else would be able to see us.  And even though we all see all too many of these, I can honestly say that I still remember every single one.

So for any mother out there who never got to carry her baby to her due date, or to any mother who never got to bring her baby home, know that your nurse remembers you.  And even though everyone else moves on, your nurse will always know that a part of you was left behind in that labor room.

 

Until my next delivery ❤

 

Advertisements


Categories: Grief Support, Random

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

174 replies

  1. Amen Sister-Nurse. Thanks for documenting so eloquently the downside of the L&D suite. Please continue to bestow your care upon your patients. They need you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great experience it is

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Tsamparada Kennique and commented:
    A very sad and moving short life experience on what our sisters, mothers and wives go through on a daily basis.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So heartbreaking, when i delivered my 1st daughter in the hospital, I did hear ‘never-forgetting” cry from a fellow mother in the delivery room, as i was told she lost her baby while deliver. I am not know the reason, but i know how it feels to loose your baby, being a mother. I remember all the nurse on our maternity floor,eyes filled with tiny tears hiding from me. I couldnt throughly enjoy my daughters birth as i keot constantly thinking about her. Nothing can comfort or give peace ot you

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is why people blog and why people read blogs to get this interior slice of life that often can be shared no other real way. Every mom, dad, grandma, grandpa should read this, knowing it can happen to anyone, and kiss and thank God for each little one in their life. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. How touching! Beautifully written. This brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing and thank you for doing what you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a blessing of compassion you give to so many. God bless you for your love of your fellow women and children.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you for this article, you’re expressing it so good and thank you for this excellent job.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is beautiful. Three months ago, my second son was born with a severe congenital heart defect. We knew immediately after birth that he was sick, but we didn’t know why. My L&D nurse sat beside me for eight hours while a team of nurses worked to get his oxygen saturation up. The whole night long, I sat in a wheelchair, she sat beside me, put her arm around me in the scariest moments, brought me water, brought me tissues… I found her and contacted her a month ago just to tell her how thankful I was for her that first night. What she did, the way that she was there for me, and she literally helped carry me through the scariest night of my life, it was incredible. Thank you for what you are doing for others… You are making a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your story really hits home with me. I am so sorry that you had to experience that. I hope everything turned out okay…

      Like

      • Two open heart surgeries later, he is alive and healing! He has been in the hospital since birth, but he is still alive, and for that we are so incredibly grateful. It’s nurses that have changed my life through this whole journey. I would probably be psychotic by now if it weren’t for nurses that go above and beyond to support, nurture, and love their patients and families.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautifully written 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on tikatikb's page and commented:
    What nurses felt …

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am only about to hit 22 at the end of this year but I hope that I never have to experience that kidn of pain. I know it is all too common to miscarriage, but I want to be a mother. It is a goal and dream of mine. Thank you to people like yourself and all thoae other nurses who love their job through the good and the bad. Knowing that you feel this way with every near birth and delivery makes me feel more comforted to know that I have support when the time comes even if it ever did go wrong.

    Very beautiful post, I’m glad there are people like you out there! ♡

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Todos los días son una nueva oportunidad: te invito a leer EL PODER DE LO NUEVO http://t.co/K1bH9YDPEE

    Like

  14. As a 17 weeks pregnant woman, I cannot imagine her grief, or yours. Thank you so much for doing what you do, as many of us could not bear the thought of it. You are appreciated and loved.

    Like

  15. Reblogged this on sincerewishes and commented:
    This is beautiful written and so very true.

    Like

  16. You are so right when you say that we remember every single one. As I read through this, my mind went over my families and I saw their faces and I remembered their heartbreak. For them, it is a pain beyond imagination.

    Like

    • Yes it does!!! I have already written something about this, but my family has been affected by infertility and I do not want to post it until she has a baby at home. I know it will happen, I just wish it would happen faster (for her!)

      Like

      • Bless your hearts. My family and my two brothers never had an such issues. My wife’s family has, and that and our age made it really difficult. It took 3 ai and a miscarriage to get our beautiful daughter. I will pray that your family member will get a child soon. 🙂

        Like

  17. Beautiful. This piece captures your feelings of empathy and compassion towards patients for whom there can be no words of comfort. You do an amazing job.

    Like

  18. Very touching. Thanks for writing.

    Like

  19. I lost a baby to ectopic almost 2 years ago. I haven’t conceived since and I almost died. I was bleeding internally and looked more pregnant in 2 weeks than I did in 6 months with my other children. It’s heartbreaking and even more so that I haven’t been able to conceive since. I’ve never emotionally recovered from it and I want more than anything to give my husband an heir to his name. Doesn’t matter at what stage of pregnancy you lose a child it all hurts the same. My baby would be about a year around this time and every month I get that negative test result it crushes me to the point I don’t want to get out of bed anymore. I hope one day there will be an end to my pain and to all mothers who’ve suffered a loss. There is no time limit for healing a wound so deep. I often blame myself, if I had only done this or that or think maybe the drs were wrong and it was something else causing that pain and they mistakenly diagnosed it ectopic. I know I allow myself to stay in this state of mind but I feel guilty just thinking what it would be like not to hurt over the loss.

    Like

    • You are allowed to feel that way. I often tell my mom’s that it’s different for them. Everyone will be sad. Their husbands, their family, their friends…But everyone moves on. Men grieve in different ways. I think the woman is often coping with this tragedy secretly, because everyone else moves forward. I’m sorry that this happened to you. I wish there were more I could say or do, but I hate that this had to happen to you.

      Like

      • Thank you, and you are right when about coping in secrecy. I cry almost daily and I hide in the bathroom or why driving alone in my car. I just can’t find a way to put it behind me. I don’t share my feelings much with my husband because I don’t think he understands. I’m lucky to have walked away with my own life if what the surgeon says is true. I just have a hard time understanding how this could have happened and why to me. I also can’t make sense of why I haven’t been able to conceive since. I had no problem becoming pregnant before so I guess the fact we have been desperately trying really just adds to it all.

        Like

      • You should talk to your OB physician. Sometimes if you have an ectopic, it can scar your fallopian tube. You should still have the other fallopian tube if it is scarred, but that could be what’s delaying things. And your doctor was right, it can be very dangerous when it’s as serious as yours was. Talk to your doctor…And tell them about you bring so sad ❤

        Like

  20. I work with cancer patients and I understand the heart wrenching situations you, as a caregiver, go through. It doesn’t get easier. but the happier moments sometimes outweigh the sad ones. It shows you still have compassion for those you work with and that’s a trait you never want to lose. This was a beautiful post.

    Like

  21. I will never forget the wonderful nurses that helped me through the worst day of my life. My first baby and only son was born 20 weeks too soon. The nurses were so wonderful, bringing me a tiny blanket for him and asking if I wanted them to take a few pictures of him. They knew that would be all I would ever have of him other than the memory of his one and only tiny cry. I found out later from a family member that mine was the first loss one of the nurses had experienced. It has been 12 years and I still remember them and I say thank you to them and to all the nurses that help Mama’s like me through that dark and soul shattering journey.

    Like

  22. Great work, good to know that nurses care too. Its quite sad when you spend time preparing for a baby tha will not get home.

    Like

  23. I’ve so been there many times. You’re right…we do cry for them. We give our hearts as they lose theirs, just hoping to take a little bit of the pain served up and piled high on days like this. Thanks for sharing. L&D nurses are truly a sisterhood forged in the fires of lives of those we care for.

    Like

  24. Reblogged this on nooofh0 and commented:
    جميله جدا

    Like

  25. Congratulations on being freshly pressed! This was beautifully written, and very touching!

    Like

  26. Its hard for me to read these things but I find myself doing it often…I lost my first child a daughter at 37 weeks at the very young age of only 19…I will never forget my obgyn’s nurse…I found out my baby had passed away in the obgyn office on the morning of sept. 6 2011,,,My doctor had never had a paitent loose their baby so late in the pregnancy…I was the first…And his nurse talked me threw everything…Sat with me as my doctor exsplained what would happen after this and that I was to be induced that night at 6pm…And then me my doctor my sister and his nurse cryed together before leaving the room and my doctor told me that he knew there was nothing he could say or do to make this better…He had had a stillborn his self…The nurse comferted me and stayed in that room with me until my mother could get there to drive me home because me and my sister where to shaken up to be driving…She sent me flowers to the hospital and a card that said kind words telling me that she was praying for me and if i needed anything to let her know…She is the person who made me want to work in labor and delivery…To help some mother some day if they ever have to go threw this…I am currently in nursing school…And have scence had a son and am pregnant with another daughter…And I see that nurse often…I believe she helped me more than alot of people…You dont realize until you go threw it the harsh reality that this world can bring down on you…But maybe just being with that mother offering kind words and knowing that they can can cousion the blow just a little…

    Like

  27. As a mom whose first baby ended iufd at 12 wks, it’s nice to hear the other sides perspective, because in that moment–and even now two years later to some degree–it’s easy to feel like no one cares since life does move on. The fact that I was alone in the ER probably didn’t help (husband was out of town and all my family lived out of town). Being our first, my dh was so excited that he had told everyone we knew, so for weeks I was a crying mess in the cereal aisle and all over town when yet another friend asked me how the baby and I were doing. People were mostly awkward toward me and couldn’t wait to get away. Thank you for your compassion. A little truly goes a long way.

    Four weeks ago, we welcomed a healthy baby boy and had a great L&D, but I still to this day wonder what our first might have looked like, what he/she might have been like, etc. thank you to all the nurses who share these intimate moments!

    Like

    • I’m very sensitive to your comment. I try to tell all my moms before they leave the hospital…their friends and family may be sad now (in the hospital), but they all move on and you’re left just trying to deal with everything. Dads experience differently. They usually feel like they have to be strong for their partners, so even they get to the point where they stop talking about it, even if they still think about things. That’s very difficult for the moms. So I do understand what you are saying. I’m so glad that you were able to celebrate recently!!

      Like

  28. Reblogged this on PCOS and the Mommy in ME and commented:
    I just read this beautiful piece and am grateful for the support.

    Like

  29. Reblogged this on Sophia's Story and commented:
    Beautiful reflection of the toll our losses take on nurses. After experiencing firsthand the professionalism, empathy, love, and deepest concern our nurses expressed for our wellbeing during the toughest days of our lives, there aren’t many other professions I respect more.

    Like

  30. As a woman who lost a baby about 2 months ago this brings me a little sense of peace knowing that someone else has remembered my baby boy.

    Like

  31. When a baby dies so far into an otherwise healthy and normal pregnancy, is there an autopsy done to determine cause of death?

    Like

  32. Beautiful. I cannot remember the names of the nurses present for me as we said our goodbyes. Their kindness and compassion is very well remembered though. Recently a dear friend invited me to attend the birth of her daughter. I took care to make sure to remember their names. Everything went mostly well and my friend has a fantastically healthy daughter. Their compassion toward me during that night/day of her labouring helped me help my friend.

    Like

  33. I have had to give birth to two of my children after they had passed away in the womb I was 21 weeks pregnant and that was so difficult so I can’t imagine how much harder it would be doing it at full term. My two surviving children were both early traumatic births as well with my newest addition only coming home last week after arriving 13 weeks early. She was born by an emergency c section and I’m just so glad the midwives listened to my concerns and realised something was very wrong because it may have been a third tragedy and could have lost a third child. You do am incredible job and it was the nurses that have kept me sane during my difficult times.

    Like

  34. Beautifully stated. Those are the things no one thinks about when they say “you job must be so much fun”, Sometimes it is…. and sometimes you go home crying and wishing more then anything you could take your patients pain away and give them the happy ending they so desperately hoped for. Tis is the life of a labor nurse…..

    Like

Trackbacks

  1. Essential reading: Articles published prior to 20 July 2014 - Pers J RP
  2. Essential readings published prior to 20 July 2014
  3. When There’s Nothing to Celebrate « Adventures of a Labor Nurse
  4. The Quiet Culture of Pregnancy Loss | Adventures of a Labor Nurse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: