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The Little Blue Button

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A “code” is the term that medical professionals use to describe the orchestrated chaos that surrounds a patient that is on the brink of death.  Depending on the facility a code may be called a Code Blue, Code Red, Code CPR, or sometimes Code 99.  They all mean the same thing.  A person is about to die unless there are medical interventions made immediately.  Sometimes it means that death will come no matter how hard we try to stop it.

 

A few months past graduation I experienced my first code on my own patient.  The man had been verbally abusing me all day.  I had been running around trying to make him happy and also care for my other five patients.  He was bellowing from his bed that he was going to die.  A lot of patients speak in that way, but something about the way he said it terrified me a little.  All his vitals, physical assessment findings and that he was able to yell with so much energy all assured me that he was stable.  I called the physician anyway.  He agreed to assess the patient. I went to check on my suddenly quiet patient.  When I walked into the room I knew something was different.  I will never forget how grey he looked.  I froze in a moment that felt like eternity while I listened and looked for breathing.  It only took a few seconds to confirm.  I reached up above his head and pressed the small blue button.

 

I was the person yelling now.

 

I called above the alarm sound for help. Help came.  Almost before I could lay the patient flat in the bed, a nursing aid, with a football player build, began chest compressions.  Respiratory commanded the head of the bed, bagging and preparing for intubation. A metal crash cart clanked into existence, pushed by my charge nurse.  The emergency room physician and intensive care nurse rushed in together. The ICU nurse asked who the primary nurse was.  All I could think was ‘Oh Crap! That’s me.’  She told me to grab the chart (that’s back when patient’s records were big, clunky, 2-ringed, plastic folders stuffed with a ream of paper printouts and handwritten notes) and call the patient’s physician.

 

I ran to the desk and called the doctor again. He was just getting off the elevator. We met at the patient’s bedside. I calmly answered questions about history, vitals, and labs, all while the resuscitation dance continued.  I was calm only on the outside.  Inside my mind raced, searching for what I might have missed.  This man had been screaming at me all shift.  How could we be coding him now?  I couldn’t think of anything I could have or would have changed.  Even now looking back, with much more experience, I know gave him appropriate care.  I watched the code continue, clutching the hard plastic chart.  I optimistically observed that his color was pink again.  Surely that was a good sign, I told myself.

 

As if someone had flipped a switch, everything stopped.

 

The ER physician called time of death after nearly 40 minutes of trying to coax my patient back to life.  I watched as my patient lost his rosy color while the team waded through the open package wrappers that had been hastily discarded on the floor.  The CNA stayed and helped me to clear the debris and prepare my patient for the morgue.  The aftermath of the code was over quickly.  I think that is what stunned me the most.  The physicians and nurses went on caring for their patients.  Housekeeping came and cleaned the room for my next admission.  I did not have time to cry or sit in disbelief or process what had happened.

 

The shift went on and so did I.

 

I have since been to countless codes.  Sometimes I am doing the compressions.  Sometimes I am the nurse directing the chaos.  Occasionally I am the primary nurse questioning every action I did or didn’t make that shift. Luckily one aspect of patient codes has changed since I was a new nurse.  It is now an expectation in many hospitals that a debrief occurs after a code, regardless of the outcome.

 

A debrief is conducted as soon as possible after the event.  All available team members are expected to attend.  It is a confidential and non-discoverable group discussion of the event.  The purpose is to discuss the facts, problems, barriers, needed improvements and to acknowledge and share feelings.  This is not a time to place blame or try to find fault with one another. This opportunity to discuss the event and acknowledge how we feel about it is a valuable practice.  I never want to feel that losing a patient is business as usual.

 

Debriefing is the pause that we need to take to acknowledge, gain knowledge and make adjustments for the next time we press that little blue button.

 

 


Debriefing Steps 

1. Introduction: The facilitator establishes the group goals and rules and reinforces the need for confidentiality about anything that transpires within the group.

2. Fact gathering: Each staff person describes what happened and facts are gathered.

3. Reaction phase: Led by the facilitator, the group examines its feelings, thoughts, and responses to the event experienced. If the debriefing session happens soon after the event occurred, there might not be any symptoms.

4. Symptom phase: If some time has elapsed since the event, group members may be experiencing symptoms. The facilitator helps the group examine how these reactions have affected personal and work lives.

5. Stress response: The facilitator teaches group members about their stress response.

6. Suggestions: The facilitator offers guidance on how to cope with stress related to the incident.

7. Incident phase: Group members identify positive aspects of the event.

8. Referral phase: The facilitator concludes with this phase, whereby specific individuals who require additional support are referred for individual follow-up.     

Adapted from: Hanna, D., & Romana, M. (2007). Debriefing After A Crisis. Nursing Management (Springhouse), 38-42,44–45,47.


This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival.

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13 Fundamentals for Practicing Nursing

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National Nurses Week is a time set aside for the public to recognize the amazing work of nurses.  Nurses will be the topic and focus of hospitals, newspapers and media outlets.  Our accomplishments, character and hard work will be applauded and we will receive all kinds of tokens of appreciation from employers, patients and family.

This year instead of another pen, coffee mug or tote bag, I want to give nurses something that that won’t end up in the summer yard sale.

 

Rosemarie Rizzo Parse’s 13 Fundamentals for Practicing Nursing

 

  • Know and use nursing frameworks and theories.

You can begin with Parse’s theory of Humanbecoming, which is an insightful nursing theory that describes how nurses and patients co-create the health experience.  Parse marries the art and science of nursing in a beautiful and applicable way.

 

  • Be available to others.

Nurses are busy.  Do not let the fast pace of healthcare prevent you from being available.  Remember to be available for the nurses around you. No one understands you quite like a fellow nurse. Take the time to listen, help and care for one another.

 

It is a poor coping mechanism to view patients as diseases, room numbers or annoyances.  Nursing is stressful, people are not always kind, and you may never hear a thank you, but it is important to value everyone as a human presence.

 

  • Respect differences in view.

Whether you are a new graduate or about to retire, you are a nurse with opinions.  Differences in opinions are good!  Respecting differences of view is important too.  Creating a safe and welcoming environment, for everyone to share their view, will allow nursing knowledge to evolve and grow.

 

  • Own what you believe and be accountable for your actions.

If you believe in something or someone, stand up and speak up.  If you turn out to be wrong, admit it and move on.

 

  • Move on to the new and untested.

Change is hard.  No one likes it, but change is necessary and good for us and nursing.  If we did not push forward and try new nursing interventions we would still be sterilizing our own needles and fetching coffee for physicians. Parse’s theory is a paradigm shift away from medical thinking that embraces nursing as a standalone science.

 

  • Connect with others.

Compassion, caring, respect, understanding are all qualities that nurses help nurses to connect with the healthcare team, including the patients.

 

  • Take pride in self.

You are not “just a nurse.” Being a nurse is exceptional.  Don’t shortchange your contributions to healthcare.  You are brilliant, own it!

 

  • Like what you do.

If you hate your job, find one where you can be happy.  There are endless opportunities in nursing.  You owe it to yourself and your patients to like coming to work every day.

 

  • Recognize the moments of joy in the struggles of living.

Life is hard.  Take time to recognize and feel joy when you find it.

 

  • Appreciate mystery and be open to new discoveries.

Nursing is a beautiful work. We are the companions to humanity throughout the life span and in every imaginable condition. We continue to discover what it means to be human day after day.  Be open to the mysteries of life and embrace what you find.

 

  • Be competent in your chosen area.

            What have you been doing since you graduated nursing school?  Have you been to a conference, read a journal, taken a class?  Choose your nursing niche and keep learning.

 

Taking time for self is vital in order to prevent compassion fatigue and nurse burnout.  Nurses are known for putting themselves last.  Their own health, spirituality, emotion and mental needs are often put aside in order to care for others.  Take care of yourself!  Take a few minutes to meditate, pray or sit quietly during a hectic shift and you will feel the difference, and so will your patients.

 

Thank you to all my nursing colleagues around the world!  This is the week that everyone remembers that nurses are a special kind of awesome. 

Let’s remember this about ourselves the other fifty-one weeks of the year!

 

 

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Bournes, D., & Mitchell, G. (2014). Humanbecoming. In Nursing Theorists and Their Work(8th ed., pp. 464-495). St. Louis: Elsevier Mosby.

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3 Small Ways to Bring Mindfulness to the Bedside

Nurses multitask.  We are expected to be flexible.  We accomplish more than any one person should be capable of achieving in twelve hours. We do it all with a smile on our face, at least most of the time.  Behind the smile, our minds our often far from the bedside.  We are thinking about the patient in another room, when pharmacy will tube up the medication that is late, whether our lunch buddy is back from eating, and the charting that needs to be finished from morning assessments.  It is difficult to be truly present with the people that we provide care.  There are many distractions for our attention and energy.  Nursing is also an emotional career.  Supporting, caring and healing people exposes nurses to intense emotion from patients, family and friends of the patient and the nurses own emotion.  Stress, crazy workloads and intense emotions can be huge barriers to nurses having mindfulness at the bedside.

Three tips to put mindfulness in action at the bedside:meditation-clipart-meditation-clipart-animal

 

  1. It is what it is This is one of my go-to-mantra’s.  This is not a surrender to fate, it is an acceptance of the limits of my power as a nurse.  When I truly have done all the intervening and advocating possible, I accept the outcome.

 

  1. Being present Mindfulness requires us to pull up a stool, sit down and be with our patients.  It is letting go of everything else in the world for a small space of time in order to be present.  It is important to connect with each other human to human.  Being present also allows our attention to focus on this patient’s needs, fears, wants and hopes.  Not being present causes errors and decreases the trust from the patient

 

  1. Suspending judgement Being critical of our patient’s actions, feelings, choices or lifestyle prevents us from being present and having mindfulness. It is important to meet people where they are in life.

 

We will not always be able to be 100% mindful as a nurse.  These three tips can help us be more mindful with our patients for their benefit and ours.

 

This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at The Balanced Nurse Blog. Find out how to participate.

 

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Nursing is Bigger on the Inside

tardis

 

I love Doctor Who.  For anyone that is not familiar with this British television program, the basic premise is as follows.  There is a cool alien that looks human, but regenerates every few season to look like the next actor to play him.  This alien is called the ‘Doctor’ because no one can know his real name.  The Doctor is a time lord from a planet called Gallifrey and he travels in what looks like an old police call box, much like a telephone booth.  This police box, the TARDIS, takes the Doctor anywhere in time and space, but that is not the only amazing thing about the it.  The TARDIS is bigger on the inside.  We don’t know how big, but imagine the Star Trek Enterprise stuffed into a telephone booth and you get close. 

Nursing is like the TARDIS.  

People think they know about nursing.  The public only sees the outside. They see that nurses work 3 days a week and are paid well. They see that nursing is not a glamorous job. They see smiling faces and skilled hands.  

Nursing is bigger on the inside. 

doctor-who-its-bigger-on-the-inside

A lot of nurses look cute in scrubs, but even those scrubs lose their appeal when they are covered in various bodily fluids.  I am frequently told by family, friends and random strangers that they could never be a nurse.  I get it.  Nursing is not for everyone.  

Some of us do work 3 shifts a week.  Those 12 hour shifts stretch into 14 or 15 hour days when you add in lunch, report, extra charting and commute time.  The majority of nurses that I have known work much more than 36 hours a week.  

For the most part nurses can at least fake a good mood and do their best to smile.  Smiling and chatting with patients they perform the technical skills that keep patients safe and comfortable.  

Nurses need to be smart, caring, brave, strong willed, strong stomached and have a sense of humor.  We see the worst and best of humanity in our work.  We are happy when our patients do well and cry when they are not.  Nurses monitor, clean, feed, medicate, assess, educate, entertain, console, listen, advocate for and document about patients day and night.  After doctors, therapists, family, friends and even dietary leave for the night, nurses remain at the bedside.  

Caring for patients is rewarding, gratifying and exhausting.  To be trusted to such a degree by a stranger is an honor.  Helping people meet health goals or guiding them through milestones is an amazing feeling.  Even when our patients pass away, helping the patient and family through the process is fulfilling.  

Nursing is much bigger on the inside.  It is easy to get lost in charting, policy reviews and quality audits and forget the art of nursing.  Nurses need to be reminded of the amazing impact that we have on peoples lives.  Nurses not only impact health at the bedside, but have the power to transform healthcare practice.  

 

Take time to remember how big nursing is and why you do it. Energize and renew your yourself at the Art of Nursing 2.0 event from anywhere in the world.  

 

 

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This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at ElizabethScala.com. Find out how to participate.

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Nurse Burnout: 12 Ways to get Your New-Grad Happy Back

Nurse burnout happens.  No nurse is immune.  If you are a nurse you are at risk for burnout.

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Remember how it felt to be a brand new nurse?

The only thing more shiny than your new stethoscope was your happy face.

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I diagnosed myself with nurse burnout when I started thinking that driving my car off a cliff sounded better than going to work.

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I was able to get back to my nursing happy place and I am in love with nursing again.

Here are some ways to get you back to happy-dancing your way to work.

 

 

1.  BLOG!  I love it and I’m not the only nurse on the interwebs!  If you are not a writer then read nursing blogs.  There are all flavors of nursing blogs, from informative to hysterical.

Some suggestions to get you started: Mine of course!   Adventures of a Labor Nurse   The Nerdy Nurse     Nurse Together     Mighty Nurse     Scrubs     Digital Doorway

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2. Go back to school.  Getting your BSN, MSN or DNP will make you more marketable and open up more options.

Going back to school will reenergize you about nursing.

You will read a LOT about new nursing research, which will get you out of a nursing rut.

You will be so busy making powerpoint presentations and writing discussion posts, you will have no time to think/complain about work.

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3. Get certified in your specialty.  If you are burned out then you probably have been a nurse more than 2 years.  Congrats!

That means that you are qualified to become certified in your specialty.

There is a certification for just about everything nursing related.

Look for your specialty on ANCC or NCC to start.  You will be recognized for your knowledge and add to your credentials.

Maintaining certification means that you will need to keep up continuing education in your speciality, which will prevent you from becoming stagnate.

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4.  Take your vacation days!!  Everyone needs a break.  Nursing is stressful.

If you don’t take vacation for yourself, then take it for your patients.  Being a relaxed and refreshed nurse will benefit them.

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5. Celebrate wins.  We are always focused on what we need to improve and what we are doing wrong.

When you or your team have a win, celebrate!

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6. Take some time for yourself.  Nurses know how important self-care is, but its difficult to find the time. Find it!

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7. Join a committee.  Make changes.  Give your input.  Does your hospital have shared governance or unit representation to make decisions?  If yes, join.  If no, start it! You can change nursing practice.

 

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8.  Be active.  Exercise can help improve mood and is a great outlet for work frustrations.

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9. Go to a Nursing Conference.  

There is nothing better than going to a conference full of nurses.  People think that ComicCon is weird, but they have never been to a nursing conference! We have crazy nurse fun!

It is a great time and it is a place where you are reminded why the heck you became a nurse.

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10.  Spend some time with your work buddies away from the call lights and nurse rounds.

You know you love your team.  An out of work activity can remind you that your work pals are awesome.
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11. Attend a continuing education course or webinar about a topic that interests you.

Will you be inspired by experts talking about the topics that they love.

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12.  Quit.  Not nursing, but quit your job.  Sometimes you really don’t have nurse burnout, but job burnout.

One of the best things about being a nurse is the vast opportunities you have for employment.

If you need a change of pace, location or specialty do it.  Give a proper notice and leave on good terms.

You never know when you may work with those nurses again.  (It will happen.)

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Nursing is a rewarding profession.  If you feel yourself getting disenchanted, actively try to get the magic back.

 

If you are successful you will be back to the new grad feeling which is good for you and your patients.

 

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How do you beat the nurse blues?  Leave your suggestions in comments.

 

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10 Nursing Actions to Bring Compassion Back to the Bedside

Even the most benevolent and happy nurse can forget that every patient is someone’s special person. Some days feel like just another ordinary day at work.  Nurses have bad days just like everyone else. The difference is that a nurse’s bad day can darken a patient and family’s already stressful stay.

When nurses begin to lose sight of the how important their role is a patient’s recovery it is important to recharge, refresh and relearn what it takes to make each day special for patients.

 

Here are 1o ways to bring compassion back to your patient’s bedside:

 

1. Identify something you like about your patient. This may be difficult with some patients, but everyone has some redeeming quality. Find it.

 

2. Smile. If you smile your patient will feel welcome and it can change your attitude as well.  Fake it till you make it.

 

3. Acknowledge and speak to all the people in your patient’s room.  The patient’s family is important and they will appreciate being recognized.  Also they can be recruited to help get ice, hold emesis bags and feed the patient.  The people in the room will be the ones that will be there to support the patient at home when he is tired and needs help. Include the whole family in patient education so that the transition back to home be will be successful.

 

4. Include the partner or loved ones in conversations with the patient. A patient’s support person needs to understand and give input on the patient’s plan of care. The decisions are the patients to make, but they often look to their partner or loved ones for guidance.

Including the partner in the conversations with patient establishes trust and is an element of family centered care.

 

5. Take lunch off the unit. This may be impossible at some hospitals.  If at all possible, leave the unit for your break. Go outside and breathe real air. Take a walk in the sunshine and absorb some vitamin D.

 

6. Use your relaxation skills to relax yourself.  You teach these techniques to patients every day, those same relaxation techniques can benefit stressed nurses!

 

7. Use your vacation days! Don’t hoard vacation days. People that take less vacation days have less job satisfaction.

 

8. Join your professional nursing organization. Keeping up to date on new research is exciting and stimulating.  Challenge yourself and continue to grow in your specialty.

 

9. Go out of your way for your patient at least once a shift. They may not thank you, but you will know that you put in extra effort to make your patient’s stay better.

 

10. When the family is visiting take a few seconds to look away from the IV pump, computer and thermometer.  Witness how the family comforts and supports each other. Watch as a daughter holds her mother’s hand for the last time. See the happiness when a husband is told he can take his wife home.  These moments are what make us human.

 

Take the time to make every day special for your patients.

For nurses it is just another day at work, but for each patient it’s a day that can change their life.

 

 

 

 

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10 Ways to Bring Back the Magic to Labor and Delivery 

All babies are special, but first babies have the unique gift of changing a woman and man into a mother and father.  There is something extra special when a family is welcoming their first child or grandchild. There is also something special about the first baby of the year. Nurses, all over the world, are betting on which mom will deliver the first baby of the new year.  Each hospital wants to be the first in the area to claim the New Years’s baby.  Newspapers will feature photos of the star newborn. The lucky first-of-the-year babies will be showered in gifts from hospitals and companies.

There is a lot of focus on the first baby of the year and nurses ensure that the birth is special and celebrated.  This is a fun tradition, but that feeling fades quickly as the never ending line of pregnant mothers stream in for delivery. Even the most benevolent and happy nurse can forget that every delivery is someone’s special day. Some days feel like just another ordinary day at work.  Nurses have bad days just like everyone else. The difference is that a labor nurse’s bad day can darken a family’s memory of their birth forever.

When labor nurses begin to lose sight of the magic of birth it is important to recharge, refresh and relearn what makes each birth special.

 

Here are 1o ways to bring magic back to labor and delivery:

 

1. Identify something you like about your patient. This may be difficult with some patients, but everyone has some redeeming quality. Find it.

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2. Smile. If you smile your patient will feel welcome and it can change your attitude as well.  Fake it till you make it.

 

funny ctm

 

3. Acknowledge and speak to all the people in your patient’s room. The mama is not the only one welcoming a baby into the world.  The patient’s family is important and they will appreciate being recognized.  Also they can be recruited to help get ice, hold legs and fan the patient.  The people in the room will be the ones that will be there to support the mom at home when she is tired and needs help. Include the whole family in patient education so that they can help mom and baby transition successfully.

 

CALL THE MIDWIFE - SERIES 3 - EPISODE 8

 

4. Include the partner or coach in conversations with the patient. A mother’s support person needs to understand and give input on the patient’s plan of care. The decisions are the patients to make, but they often look to their partner or labor coach for guidance.

Including the partner in the conversations with the patient establishes trust and is an element of family centered care.

 

lunch

 

5. Take lunch off the unit. This may be impossible at some hospitals.  If at all possible, leave the unit for your break. Go outside and breathe real air. Take a walk in the sunshine and absorb some vitamin D.

 

6. Use your relaxation skills to relax yourself.  You teach these techniques to patients every day, those same relaxation techniques can benefit stressed nurses!

 

7. Use your vacation days. Don’t hoard vacation days. People that take less vacation days have less job satisfaction.

 

vaca

 

8. Join your professional nursing organization. Keeping up to date on new research is exciting and stimulating. Challenge yourself and continue to grow in your specialty.

 

Call the Midwife - Ep 4

 

9. Go out of your way for your patient at least once a shift. They may not thank you, but you will know that you put in extra effort to make your patient’s stay better.

 

lice

 

10. When the baby is born take a few seconds to look away from the IV pump, computer and delivery instruments. Witness a new person take his first breath. Watch as a mother holds her baby’s for the first time. Look at a father’s complete reverence and amazement at the miracle that has just occurred.

 

Doris Aston CTM

 

My New Year’s wish is for all nurses to be reenergized in 2015.

Take the time to make every delivery special for your patients.

For nurses it is just another day at work, but for each mother it’s a day that she will always remember.

 

 

 

 

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The Villain of Labor and Delivery

One of my favorite parts of being a labor nurse is to help a mom through unmedicated labor. Not all experiences are the same. It can be the best of time and the worst of times. The labor nurse has the supporting role in the drama of birth. She plays her part and then melts into the background so that the stars, mom and baby (dad too) can shine.

The best of times.

A mom was having terrible back labor. My arms shook with each contraction as I gave her counter pressure for two hours. Every time my arms would ease up on the pressure she begged me to please keep going. I usually would have her partner take over this physical intervention, but there was not partner in this delivery. That hurt my heart and made it more important that I help my patient in the way that she needed. When the baby changed positions the back labor subsided. She progressed into transition. Transition is the time that women change their minds about wanting an epidural, being pregnant and that they ever liked the baby’s father. Her eyes locked with mine and she reached for my hand. She asked me to not leave her. So I stayed. I stood by her side and tried to forget that I had not eaten all day, that my bladder was full and my charting was getting farther and farther behind. I was present with her through every contraction. I praised her through every break in the pain. When it was time to push she did amazing. Soon she was rewarded with a quick pushing stage and a healthy baby on her chest. It was easy to forget my aching arms when she asked me to lean in and take a picture with her and her new baby. I was pleased with her satisfaction with her birth. I was thankful that everything went well for her and her baby.

I love when I can play my designated part in the story. I don’t like when I am forced into the villain role.

 

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The times that test.

Another nonmedicated mom was not the grateful variety. She was suspicious of everything I did. This is always difficult for me, as a nurse. I am 100% supportive of my patient’s birth plans. I do everything in my power to ensure the safety of the mother and baby, provide an environment that the mother desires, carry out the doctor’s plan, and fulfill my legal and hospital mandated responsibilities. These are difficult responsibilities to juggle at times. When I am crouching on hands and knees, chasing fetal heart tones while a mom is bouncing around, changing positions and barking orders to her family, I deserve a little respect. When I am plunging my hand into the bath water mixed with vernix and other bodily fluids to make sure your baby is not stressed from the heat of the water, I am not trying to control you. When I am holding your hair while you vomit and it gets on me, when I wipe away your poop so you don’t know it happened, when I breathe in your body odor right next to my face because you need someone to lean on, I’m doing it because I am on your side. When you get to the point where you are asking me for narcotics and its dangerous for the baby I am going to say no. When this mom got to her breaking point she demanded I give her medications and it was too late. She was so angry I stepped back a bit because I was afraid she might hit me. I knew that the baby was coming. I knew that if I gave her what she wanted the baby likely would not breathe when he came out. I let her rage and continue to labor. Her baby was born within 30 minutes and was perfect and beautiful and breathing.  She never will never know that I was scared of her or that her words hurt me or that I gave up time with my family to stay late to help her.

Not every birth is fun or rewarding.  Sometimes my thighs hurt from squatting by my patients side. Sometimes I’m exhausted from trying to help.  Sometimes I stay after my shift for an hour to finish the charting that I couldn’t do while I was helping my patient accomplish her goals. When my patient is happy with her delivery it makes me happy.

Mamas thank your labor nurses. We are on your side. It is our job and we love it, but it is not easy.

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