My current employer must have read my last post because I’ve enjoyed ALL of my meal breaks this past week.
Hal-la-freaking-luja! Now I might survive these 13 weeks as a traveling nurse, seeing as I’m a living, breathing human being who needs food and water at some point during my twelve and a half hour shifts.
The Miracle of Birth
Yesterday I attended a lovely delivery. It was great in all the ways that my job as a labor and delivery nurse can be great.
- Lovely, loving, committed couple.
- Supportive, yet non-interfering grandmother-to-be.
- Everybody had reasonable expectations about what labor is (painful) and what labor isn’t (a picnic).
- And, best of all, a cherubic bouncing baby girl at the end.
What could I possibly have to complain about? Let me tell you.
When the Doctor is a Jerk
The doctor of the day was one of those who feels it is necessary to remind the nurses that she is God Almighty and we nurses are just some shit on her shoe. What fun.
Despite being warned about this doctor by my preceptor–who whispered in my ear as the doctor walked away after introducing me, “Never let her smell your fear”–she and I had already had some pleasant encounters. We’d chatted about her book club AND talked about our vaginas–Hey! It’s L&D. We talk about vaginas there. We’d laughed, and we’d bonded, and I thought, “That preceptor doesn’t know what she’s talking about; this doc and me are going to be BFFs!”
But all of that was the set-up. I’ve seen this behavior from doctors before. They lure you in with friendliness only to smack you down and put you in your place later, usually in front of your patient.
The morning got off to a rough start with me following behind her like a puppy as she marched towards our patient’s room mumbling under her breath some probably important information that I needed to know.
Seeing as I’d left all my spidey-senses at home, I couldn’t understand a flipping word she was saying, so I asked her to repeat herself. After the second time I asked, she spun around on her heel and, very loudly, in a condescending voice reminiscent of a pissed off school teacher, or my mother, said, “This is the third time I’ve said this, and I’m only going to say this once more!”
I was so stunned that I just stood there, speechless, staring at her. What I wish I’d said was, “And if I don’t hear you this time what are you going to do? Give me a spanking?”
As we stood there staring at each other, I believe I catch a small gleam in her eye.
The game is on.
I hate this cruel and unnecessary cat and mouse game some doctors love to play with nurses. (And studies show it’s downright dangerous for patients.) Now it is up to me to figure out what it is she requires from me in order to feel good about herself and assuage that angst she feels about her underemployed, alcoholic husband (Hey, nurses talk.) and that massive student debt she’s racked up.
Does she need me to lay down like a dog for her to kick because she’s having a rough morning and she’s looking for some way to show herself she’s still in control of her pathetic excuse of a life? Or is this stand-up-for-myself time so I might win her respect?
I just don’t know!
But as I stand there pondering what to say next, I don’t think I let her smell any fear because I didn’t have fear. I have shock. And shock always shuts me down.
She slowly and loudly repeated her precious words to me like you’d talk to a mentally-handicapped child with a hearing problem. Now I certainly wasn’t afraid. I was mad. And for me and those who know me well, mad is far worse than afraid. Having to deal with myself angry is such a pain in the ass. I’d much prefer fear.
After some more condescending behavior towards me in the patient’s room (which made her look ridiculous, by the way), she finally left and it was just me and my patient. This is the part of my job I LOVE.
The morning passed quickly, and the woman progressed faster than normal. Not long after getting her epidural she suddenly exclaimed the words every L&D RN longs to hear, “I think I have to POOP!”
I yanked on my gloves and performed a vaginal check only to find I couldn’t get even a fingertip inside because there’s a big, hairy head right there. I couldn’t see the head yet, but I could feel her uterus trying on its own to expel the baby, and I knew once the mother added her own expulsive efforts we’d have a baby in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.
I called out to the desk that I needed the doctor for delivery RIGHT NOW!
Four minutes later–a lifetime to a woman who has a baby’s head stuck in her vagina and is being forced to pant and blow by her nurse–the doctor arrived.
She storms into the room…
…and demands to know why I’ve called her.
I tell her the patient is about to deliver.
She puts her hands on her hips, asks me whether the patient’s epidural is working, and how long I’ve been pushing with this patient.
Let me remind you that this is all happening in front of the patient and her family.
I tell her I haven’t pushed at all because I thought she might want to attend the delivery. (Snarky seemed appropriate here since she was now acting like a raving, lunatic bitch.)
Arms akimbo, eyes aflame, she clips out her next words like she’s slicing them off with a knife.
“So let me get this straight. This is a first time mom with a good epidural, and you haven’t even pushed with her once! And you’ve called me for delivery RIGHT NOW?”
The patient is lying there listening to all of this!
As I look into her eyes I know exactly how a rabbit must feel when it has been cornered by a hungry fox.
Do I have fear? You damn well better believe it. I’m stark terrified. And suddenly doubting myself. Despite 20+ years of attending women in labor maybe I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ babies!
And then a miracle happened.
The mother had her next contraction.
I turn my back to the doctor and tell the mother not to pant this time but push as hard as she can. And God bless this patient, but she gives me exactly what I need.
As the head begins to emerge, I can feel the doctor’s fury slam into my back. Involuntarily, a self-satisfied smile spreads across my face. I wish to God there was a picture of the two of us from the mother’s point of view.
Then this doctor, who one minute before was yelling at me for not having the patient push, screeches, “Why are you having her push before I have on my gown and gloves?!?”
You can’t make this shit up.
One push later, a bouncing baby girl has arrived!
I guess I played my hand well because on her way out of the delivery room, she says under her breath, “Good job. Good call.”
Unfortunately she was gone before I was out of the room because now I have to wait until the next time I work to tell her that she can doubt me all she likes, but she is never to treat me that way in front of my patient ever again.
And I promise you when that happens, I won’t have any fear for her to smell.