June 11, 2007

Ups and Downs of working in L&D

I just want to start out by saying that I love my job. I love that I get to witness one of the most important events in people's lives. Sometimes I feel like an intruder looking in on such a huge moment. But, every now and then, things happen that make working in L&D not so fun. For example, pregnant women who have no respect for the gift they have been given. Not too long ago, I took care of a couple in their late 30's, pregnant with their first child. They went through fertility treatment after fertility treatment and finally they were pregnant, with a girl. I met this couple at 35 weeks. For a delivery of a stillborn. It was heart-wrenching, as it always is. The baby was born and looked perfect except for the tight knot in the umbilical cord. Now I cant even imagine what it was like for the parents. I can tell you that there was not a single dry eye in the delivery room that night. It's SO hard trying to maintain your composure enough to take care of the patient. I have no problem crying with the patient and family. God willing, they will have another child they can take home in their arms.
Then there are patients like the one I took care of this weekend. She was pregnant for the 3rd time. She had a 6 y.o. daughter she had just gotten back from DCFS custody. She was 24 weeks (viability) and her water had broken. Now, she had done EVERYTHING she could to cause this, horseback riding, punching herself in the abdomen, cocaine, etc. She had delivered her 2nd pregnancy at 20 weeks by doing the exact same thing. Her reasoning? She didn't want to mess up getting custody of her daughter back. When asked why she didn't have an abortion, she said she just kept thinking that she'd do it tomorrow, and praying that God would take care of it. Sick, sick, sick. Anyway, she'd come in 5 days after her water had broken and was close to delivery. The baby was still alive, and able to live outside the womb, although would have many hurdles to face. She refused any resuscitation. So she delivers a perfect little boy, breathing, CRYING, and all we could do was let him go. He was wrapped in warm blankets as he slipped away. Afterwards, she then says, "Maybe I should have let my Aunt and Uncle take him, since they haven't been able to have kids". It was bad enough the first time she did it, but even worse that she did it twice. Now, it's very, very difficult to take care of a patient like this, but I had to. I had to refrain from judgement and focus on the woman and provide good care.
At the end of the day, the good always out weighs the bad. I can remember the names of the mother, father, gestation and sex of the baby for every stillborn/too early delivery I've had. A month ago, the couple who had been my first delivery of such, a 23 week delivery, came in a delivered a healthy little boy. I doubt that they remembered me after 4 or so years, but I remembered them. Again, I cried with them, but this time they were happy tears. Then I remember, Hey, I do like my job.

1 comment:

Jennie said...

My heart breaks to read of the couple that lost their baby girl at 35wks. I remember the student nurse that came in during my 2wks stay to help me in the antepatrum floor while we were pregnant with our son Erik. I'm all for learning, so she was present when I had my cerclage placed. And two days later she also happened to be there when we found out we were going to be induced (at 22wks due to an inter-uterine infection) and that our baby wasn't going to make it. She asked me if I wanted her to leave, so my husband and I could go through this alone. But since she had been there for me and she was suppose to be learning, I told her I wanted her to stay, so she did. She had the biggest heart, she stayed with me even though her shift was over to help with my delivery and to care for our son. Her name was Mary, and I will never forget how kind and tender-hearted she was. After I delivered Erik, with tears streaming down her face, she weighed him and helped clean him up. My mom said she stayed with Erik and helped bathe, dress and she held him. It is nurses (and students) like you and Mary that make the tragedy of a loss a little more bearible. The tears may be hard to hold back in those heart-wrenching situations, but don't hold them all back. Bereaved parents NEED the validating that their loss is very real, the pain is very raw, and its ok to grieve. The sympathy and soft hearts that my nurses & doctors had that day really helped in my healing process. I can say, that I KNOW my son was treated with respect and dignity by the staff and all those that cared for me. There's nothing that could've lessened the pain then, but now two years later I take comfort in knowing he was treated with nothing but TLC.

As for the woman that made herself go into labor, and didn't come in until 5 days after her water broke... WTF, that's disgusting. What kind of a woman could ever do that to her child?! That's not a woman, that's an animal. UGH, But yet not even animals are that cruel to their babies. Its a shame that what she did, isn't against the law. The pregnancy was viable, yet she intentionally sacrificed a child. It had to be extremely difficult to maintain your professionalism and provide her with care. She's be a patient I wouldn't mind screwing up the epidural on, or "accidently" missing the vein a few times when drawing her blood. (Good thing I'm not in the medical field.)
But anyway, people like her will have their just punishment if not during her life-time, then when its time to meet the good Lord.