I get it. I’ve been there times 3. You are a mom, you’ve given birth, you feel happy, excited, anxious, proud, tired, hormonal, hungry, bleeding, in pain, sleep-deprived, wanting some TLC and the baby is getting all the attention (which you are embarrassed to even consider thinking!)
As your nurse, I always did my best to give you the TLC that you so deserve, but…there are still some things that I wished you knew and some things I wished you wouldn’t do.
In way too many states, in way too many facilities there are way too few nurses who have to give care to way too many patients (I guess I’m a wannabe Dr. Seuss!)
Time, for a nurse, is sometimes elastic. It either consists of waiting, for lab results, for doctors’ orders, for medication to be sent up from the pharmacy, for everyone to complete their work so that documents can be gathered up and patients can be sent home. Or it stretches and snaps back like a slingshot, jolting you into the awareness that you really need to eat, now, and you’ve had to pee for the last two hours, and you still have three patients to chart on and medications to give before you pee and after you eat.
Doctors can be really mean, disrespectful and demanding toward nurses. It can be pretty disheartening to have to suck it up, take a deep breath, put a smile on your face and walk in to a patient’s room with a smile, a greeting, and an introduction.
But…when all is said and done, I am grateful to be part of such an honorable profession, caring for my favorite population which is mammas and babies!
I don’t know about you, but I still remember how grateful I felt toward my labor and delivery, postpartum and nursery nurses.
The image I have in my mind, of myself in the hours after giving birth, still makes me laugh, because I remember feeling mortified. Not because I was sitting on the toilet, knees apart, disposable panties around my ankles, finishing up washing my bottom with the squirt bottle that my nurse had filled for me. Not because I was totally exposed and vulnerable, hooked up to an IV, shaky and shivery from the hormonal shift. I really didn’t care about all that. Giving birth meant I had already flashed my lady parts to more people than I ever imagined possible. No, I was mortified because my nurse squatted in front of me to pull up my panties after she had nicely placed the giant pads that are the accessory of the day after having a baby. I was mortified because she said hold on a minute, let me look at your bottom. Specifically, she wanted to check my anus. For hemorrhoids, which I was well aware I had. I was scared that her retinas would be scarred, but she brushed aside and murmured “It’s ok, I’ve had them for a while now.” She not only looked, she squatted, again (I wondered if she had awesome leg muscles, all that squatting you know) and sprayed numbing spray then put a witch hazel pad on what looked (and felt) like a cluster of grapes. She pulled up my panties, tied my gown, walked me to my bed, helped me get in, fluffed my pillows, handed me my water, smiled and said let me know if you need anything.
At that moment, she might as well have been wearing a cape and flying around the room or walking on the ceiling, she seemed that heroic to me. This woman who looked at my nasty bottom and helped me clean up my bloody messy self without ever flinching or wrinkling her nose couldn’t be a mere human?!? I decided then and there that I wanted to be just like her.
And for the first two years of my career as an RN that is exactly what I did. I squatted in front of moms sitting on the toilet, I looked at their bottoms and sprayed on numbing medicine, applied witch hazel, arranged the pads in her panties and pulled them back up, tucked her in bed and walked out feeling like a hero!
When I said don’t worry about “bothering” me because it’s really important that you not get up and go to the bathroom by yourself I sincerely meant it for a number of reasons one being that I’d much rather help you get there and back then find you passed out on the bathroom floor and have to call the rapid response team because I don’t know what shape you’re in and it’s such a relief that you’re ok that I’m wiping away tears and smiling and saying a prayer of thanks and once we’ve got you back in bed I am still smiling and I say let me make you comfortable, do you need more pillows would you like a snack ok then I’ll be checking on you don’t forget you have to call me before you get up again but…I also want to say:
WOMAN I TOLD YOU TO CALL ME WHEN YOU NEEDED TO GET UP AND GO TO THE BATHROOM NOW I HAVE TO FILE AN INCIDENT REPORT AND BE LATE GOING HOME AND COME BACK TOMORROW FOR ANOTHER 12 HOUR SHIFT.
When I came in your room your husband and assorted family members were sitting around chatting with you and I asked if you would like something to eat or drink and you said no thank you and your HUSBAND said me either then turned to the rest of the people in the room and asked them if they’d like anything I literally bit the inside of my cheek to stop myself from saying what the %#&# (use your imagination) instead I ignored him and said to YOU the mom my patient the snacks are for patients only let me know if I can get you anything else then I smiled vaguely and walked out of the room when what I really wanted to say was
WOMAN THANKS FOR NOT STICKING UP FOR A SISTER YOU COULD’VE SAID I THINK THE QUESTION WAS MEANT FOR ME I FEEL FOR YOU HOW CAN YOU STAND BEING MARRIED TO SUCH AN IGNORANT JACKASS AND JUST SO YOU ALL KNOW I AM A NURSE NOT WAIT STAFF WHICH IS NOT MEANT TO BE DISRESPECTFUL I WORKED AT IHOP MANY YEARS AGO AND IT IS NOT AN EASY JOB SOMETIMES I STRUGGLED TO GET THE ORDERS STRAIGHT AND I GAINED A NEW RESPECT FOR ANYONE WHO DOES THAT JOB BUT THAT’S ALSO WHY I WENT TO SCHOOL AND GOT MY DEGREE AND TOOK THE BOARD EXAM TO BECOME A REGISTERED NURSE AND IT WAS PRETTY DAMN HARD SO SHOW SOME RESPECT AND GO GET YOUR OWN DAMNED JUICE AND CRACKERS ALTHOUGH THE SNACK ROOM DOOR IS LOCKED SO YOU CAN’T BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHH
When I explained that you needed to call me before you go to the bathroom even if you don’t need help getting there I sincerely meant it because I needed to check your pad to see how much blood was there because even though RN’s don’t take the hippocratic oath we are still bound by the principle of do no harm and that means doing our jobs properly and to the best of our ability and also as a human being with a soul and a conscience not just an RN who is worried about her job if something happens to her patient I would prefer that you not hemorrhage which can end very badly and I also have to see and record how much you peed and when I don’t hear from you for a while I come to your room and ask if you need to go to the bathroom and you say with a proud smile oh I already went and when I go to check how much pee there is I see that you took away the hat that collects the urine and I say well it’s good that you are feeling well enough to get up by yourself but please do call me next time because as I explained before it’s really important that I check your pad and how much pee there is for a total of three times after that you’re a free woman but I also want to say:
WOMAN I GET IT YOU’RE TIRED AND DISTRACTED BUT I WROTE MY NAME AND NUMBER ON THE WHITEBOARD AND ALSO WROTE DOWN THAT YOU NEED TO CALL ME BEFORE GOING TO THE BATHROOM AND NOW I’M BEHIND WITH CHARTING HOW MUCH YOU’VE PEED AND I HAVE TO GO IN THE BATHROOM AND PICK YOUR PAD OUT OF THE TRASH SO THAT I CAN TRUTHFULLY RECORD HOW MUCH YOU ARE BLEEDING AND PUHLEEZZE CALL ME BEFORE YOU’RE GOING TO GO TO THE BATHROOM AGAIN NOW REPEAT AFTER ME I WILL CALL LIZ WHEN…
When I explained that the best way to control pain is to take medication before pain becomes severe and I offered to bring you some you refused and then you changed your mind 15 minutes later just as I was sitting down to eat and you got mad because I said I’ll be there as soon as I can and what I really wanted to say was:
WOMAN IF YOU’D ONLY LISTENED, THEN YOU WOULDN’T BE IN SO MUCH PAIN AND I COULD EAT MY LUNCH WITHOUT RUSHING AND FEELING GUILTY AND CALLING MY COWORKER TO ASK IF SHE CAN GIVE YOU YOUR MEDICATION ALL THE WHILE CHEWING IN HER EAR BECAUSE I HAVE TO CHEW AND CHEW MY FOOD BEFORE I SWALLOW IT’S NOT SOMETHING I CAN HELP SO EVERY MINUTE OF MY LUNCHTIME IS PRECIOUS (and…I hope you don’t say bad things about me on the survey you’ll get in the mail!)
When I told you to call me if you need anything I didn’t mean for you to call me and say my baby was crying “profusely” and now I think she might be choking and you’ve got me running down the hall thinking oh no no no, hold on baby girl I’m coming to save you and I walk in your room and your baby is whimpering and you say actually I think her diaper needs to be changed and I am so relieved that the first thing I say is well I’m glad you were mistaken then I say let me show you again how to use the bulb syringe so if she ever does choke you know what to do and then I say in case you didn’t know the diapers and wipes and extra t-shirts and blankets are here in this drawer of the baby’s crib but what I really wanted to say was:
WOMAN DON’T EVER PRETEND YOUR BABY IS CHOKING SO YOU CAN GET ME TO COME RUNNING TO YOUR ROOM BECAUSE YOU ACTUALLY WANT ME TO CHANGE YOUR BABY’S DIAPER YOU SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME AND ALMOST GAVE MY CHUBBY SELF A HEART ATTACK CAUSE I ALSO HAD TO RUN AND I HAVE 5 OTHER MOMS TO TAKE CARE OF SO GET USED TO CHANGING YOUR BABY’S DIAPERS NOW CAUSE I AM NOT FALLING FOR THIS AGAIN.
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