If You’re a Nurse, Be Someone’s Superhero

When I initially graduated from nursing school, I thought I wanted to be a nursery nurse. When I got hired in L&D, I thought I had my foot in the door, and eventually I would transition to the nursery. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with OB, and having the baby as my primary patient became the last thing on my to-do list. I quickly learned a golden rule in maternal-newborn nursing: labor and delivery nurses don’t usually like working in the nursery, and nursery nurses don’t usually want to work in OB!

My very first delivery without my preceptor, I felt on top of the world. I was like this hippie, magical new nurse….everything was going my way. I managed to keep tracing heart tones while my patient got her epidural, which was working perfectly (not too much, not too little, and equal on both sides). I had the most beautiful strip…not a single decel, not even when she was pushing! Her family was laughing at all of my jokes, she pushed less than ten minutes, and then she delivered this baby that would just not breathe.

I can still remember my heart pounding so hard, it made me dizzy. The provider did not ask the father to cut the baby’s umbilical cord. She placed the baby limp and lifeless on the mother’s abdomen. Her husband stood at the bedside, his camera dangling by his side. The provider and the nursery nurse did not say anything, they didn’t look frightened, but in my head, I was hysterical. I had absolutely no idea what to do. The mother took one look at her baby, quiet and colorless, and began crying, asking what was wrong, asking for answers. In that moment, that mother completely verbalized every thought in my head. What was wrong with this baby? Why did it come out, with no color or sound, and just lie there, lifeless on her abdomen!?

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In an instant, the nursery nurse scooped the baby up, placed her in the warmer, and calmly suctioned her mouth and began to stimulate her, all while checking for her pulse. She never took her eyes off of the baby. She was so focused, she was so calm…and I just stood there, trying so hard not to visibly shake. I whispered to the scrub tech to go get the charge nurse, and she scrambled out of the room as the nursery nurse began doing chest compressions. Her voice was so steady…one and two and three and breathe…but I was seriously seeing spots. Less than 30 seconds later, the charge nurse walked in to the room to see a crying baby, a nursery nurse smiling at the family, and a labor nurse who was about to throw up.

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I knew right then that babies were not meant to be my primary patient. I still remember wondering WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS BABY, and being slightly irritated that it had given me absolutely no warning of what was coming. And that was the day that I began my love affair with nursery nurses that can pink-up a baby. Thank God for those nurses!

For any nurse out there—whether you’re the nurse that loves to take care of the mother, or the nurse that really loves taking care of those babies (the good ones, and ones that like a little drama!) remember what we are all working for. We all want healthy moms, we all want healthy babies, and our patients need someone to fight for this. Be the nurse that speaks up. Be the nurse who questions things. Be the nurse who wants to better themselves for their patients, their practice, and their profession. We have to find ways to better ourselves, our unit, our hospital, our community, and our profession. We all have to be someone’s superhero. We can’t forget that, and we have to remind others, because the health of our mothers and our babies depend on this. So the next time you’re at work, look at the people around you. Be thankful for the scrub tech who will scramble to go get you help, the provider who allows us all of us nurses to do our secret work, the nursery nurse that can stay calm while pinking-up a colorless baby, and the labor nurse who works so hard for a healthy delivery…and remember that we are all someone’s superhero.

Until my next delivery ❤

Consider joining a professional organization.  If you put me down as your recruiter, shoot me an email or leave a comment, and if I ever get a prize, I’ll enter you in to win it! Why?!? Because I can’t miss what I don’t have! lol  …and I think every nurse should be a part of their professional organization ❤


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17 replies

  1. Totally moved me to tears! Go team! XO


  2. Nothing like a beautiful FHR strip/ bad baby or a heart-attack inducing tracing/ screaming, pink baby to question everything about fetal monitoring in your brain! You soon learn to “be prepared for every scenario.”
    I also found that those innocent little PVC’s I would occasionally have were amplified by 100 when a mom was seizing or we were flying down the hall to the OR with a fetus’ heart rate in the 50’s! That feeling that “my heart was beating out of my chest” suddenly was explained.


  3. Tears! Your Momma (and Cindy!!) took such great care of my little preemie guy. She was a great comfort to all of us during his stay in the hospital. Love our baby nurses!!


  4. Man, I wonder how much less stressful my life would have been if I had a newborn nurse for each delivery. While I was in the military, I didn’t even know that in some places the L&D nurse handed the baby off to another nurse. We went from the delivery bed to the warmer and back and forth, doing it all if we had a crappy tech, or thanking our stars if we had a good one. But if either mom or baby went bad and exceeded the tech’s capacity, we really just had to do the most urgent and hope someone took good care of the “other patient.” I loved OB, but I’d love to give it a try in a facility with enough people. The only other nurse on shift? Lucky on days if she was OB. We only had the luxury of two OB qualified nurses per shift on nights. And on days, the OB nurse had to take her share of the med-surg load, too. We were a rockin’ team, for sure, and I still loved my work, but we were all working scared shitless a lot of the time.


    • I know there are places like that out there, but that is so so crazy to me. I have NEVER been to a delivery without a transition nurse (they catch the baby and transition the baby) unless the woman precipted. I can’t live without them, or a good scrub tech! lol I still know what it’s like to be scared shitless though. lol Thanks for the comment!! ❤ xx


  5. I’m not a new nurse, but I’m a new L&D nurse (two weeks in to my new position) in a small rural hospital in which we function (sometimes simultaneously) as L&D, nursery, and postpartum nurses. Fortunately, we have a great team of nurses (including our house supervisors) who are well-trained and work well together. I’m currently going through my NRP certification and your story gave me chills. I’ve really enjoyed your blog – it inspires me! Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I worked L&D at a small hospital. No techs. No nursery nurse came down unless we anticipated problems. It was usually me and the doc, unless we only had one patient. Then the 2nd nurse could join us to assist. I remember more than once wishing we had another set of hands to help. I loved it because I didn’t know any better 🙂


  7. It’s funny how when you’re in nursing school you get a taste of many specialties and seem to migrate to certain ones. For me it was L&D and OR. I started in medsurg at the bedside to get my skills ( I recommend that for everyone unless you start in ICU) then went to L&D. The unit I trained in gave you more than 1 pt so you had to be alert. One evening I came in to a 2 pt assignment. “1 pt in active labor, 1 in early labor “, ha! I went into my first room, to find her transitioning and prepared for delivery. Within 30 minutes we had a baby. One of the nurses came into my room, told me she was taking over the recovery and told me to go deliver my other patient. The second pt delivered within the hour and I recovered her and seem to remember having little to do the rest of the night besides catch up on the charting. A few years later I moved to a hospital that had a 1:1 nurse pt ratio for laboring patients. It was better and they didn’t allow docs to just tell pts to just show up for inductions without first checking if a bed was available. Much has changed and I loved L&D. It gave my the best of both including the OR where we were taught to scrub and assist the Dr in CS. No longer allowed, but fun while it lasted.


  8. Dear Adventures, I absolutely love your open honest descriptions of those terror moments – moments all the ‘cool’ nurses don’t like to admit to feeling. Thinking it would make me look inadequate in a world of nurses eating their young, it took several years for me to admit to those heart stopping moments that seemed like hours. Of course I came to realize that that same sweat laden fear is just what keeps us on our toes, always on the lookout for our moms’ and babies’ well being. Keep blogging – I love it.


  9. I don’t remember much about my delivery experience, other than they asked if a student nurse could observe the last few hours of my labor and delivery, but I’m so grateful for you guys. I don’t remember my nurse helping that much but I was in my own world so who knows! The student thought I had an epidural because I was so calm (although how could I have walked around at all with an epidural? Hehe). My baby inhaled amniotic fluid after she took a huge breath at birth and turned a blackberry color. I wasn’t happy with not getting my wish for delayed cord clamping but you guys know what you’re doing, and there’s probably enough hysteria from attending family members and mom that it’s good you keep your s*** together! 🙂 i love reading your blog!


  10. As a nursery/transition nurse, I can tell you that your nursery nurse in this scenario probably wanted to throw up too, but was keeping it on the inside. I am still nervous going into every delivery!


  11. I agree with the above poster-how much less stressed out I’d be with a baby nurse in deliveries! We don’t have nurseries anymore as our hospital is practicing rooming-in but as the L&D nurse we take care of mom & baby through recovery until we pass both off to the postpartum nurse. I remember the first truly gray (then blue) baby I had seen delivered.. I was still on orientation but can relive every emotion you just described. Spots in my eyes, ringing in my ears, my feet planted in the spot I was in, unsure and terrified of what to do next. The only thing I could do was grab a piece of paper and start recording what everyone did. I love your blog-I feel like it gives me a place to validate a lot of my feelings (almost hitting 1 year in L&D this month!) and a lot of great education!


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