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!?
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.
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 ♥