Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Nurse at the C-section

In a birth culture only recently beginning to turn from myths and abuse to evidence-based, dignified care, it's easy to find discussions about traumatic experiences and hurtful medical assistants. But as we continue to prepare for our births, it's also important to know what a true birth guardian looks like, what she/he does and how that can impact the mama, baby and family.

Elizabeth was preparing to birth at home but in the end consented to an emergent c-section out of medical necessity. What could have been a rocky ride was buffered by the respectful, caring nurse who helped them:

"I've been reflecting a lot on Maxwell's birth and the c-section the last couple days, both the positives and (slowly) letting myself process the few negatives (most of the experience was wonderful but there are a few things that weren't that make me cry). All of my nurses were amazing, but one in particular, Irene, made such a wonderful impact that I wanted to share about her.

After we consented to the c-section it was a chaotic flurry with many people asking me questions, shoving consent forms at me, trying to get IVs started all while I was fully dilated with contractions every 1-2 minutes and trying not to push (and had been for about half an hour+ at that point). Irene though was so attentive to me that within seconds of a contraction starting she would tell everyone to be quiet and to leave me alone until my contraction was over. I was NEVER bothered during a contraction thanks to her efforts.

She also gently talked me through some of them, saying I was doing a great job and to breathe through them and to do what I needed to do. After being told that I would not be allowed skin to skin in the OR I asked Irene if one of my hands could at least be freed after the birth so that I could touch my baby. She told me she would see what she could do for me, and I am not sure who she talked to or anything but neither of my hands were ever tied down. I was able to touch and kiss and hold my baby up by my face for most of the repair.

She also made sure to let everyone know (multiple times before and during the surgery) that we did not know the sex and that nobody was to say anything because my husband was going to announce it, and he did  After nearly 42 long weeks of planning and dreaming about this birth, keeping the sex a surprise and me or my husband announcing it was just about the only thing that we got to experience from our original plan and desires, and it was due to her efforts.

We did opt for the Vitamin K injection but I requested that it not be given until I had skin to skin time and our first nursing session. Irene made sure this happened and when I told the nurse who administered it in the recovery room that I wanted her to do it on my chest (she had never done that before) and that I did not want him to receive glucose water for pain (I told her I'd nurse him if he was upset) Irene kind of "schooled" this younger nurse and told her that her favorite way and the best way was to actually give it while the baby nurses. She said that is what she does and rarely has a baby cry that way. The younger nurse found it very interesting and I think really took it to heart.

In the recovery room, Irene went over a list of things to see what we did and did not want done to the baby. We declined everything except the vit k shot and the hearing test. She told us in the middle of it that she wanted us to know that in no way was she judging any of our decisions (something that I was afraid of and thought we would be given a hard time about) and that she just had to ask for the information and to make sure we got the care that we wanted.

Later that night my husband asked her what the hospital's policy was on where the baby slept, preparing for a potential co-sleeping battle, and she said the hospital advises baby be put on his back in the bassinet, but that she was not going to tell us what we could or could not do with our baby. So except for his hearing test and 2 extremely quick pediatrician checks he never left my bed during the 2 day stay.

And maybe the thing that impacted me the most: After being moved to my postpartum room it was getting close to when she needed to leave. She came over to me and looked me in the eyes and said she wanted me to know that she knew the c-section was the farthest thing from what we wanted. She knew we wanted to birth at home like the first time and wanted me to know that in no way did she or any of the staff take that lightly. It was not "just another" c-section to her, but she took it very seriously and truly cared about and respected the situation in its entirety (and she meant it). She was sincerely afraid that we might think she didn't care or fully respect the situation and needed to let me know otherwise before she left.

She stayed for a little while longer talking with me about the experience and about my first son's birth, about the fears I had had coming to the hospital and all the wonderful things that happened instead. This woman was truly amazing and I wish and hope that all women wherever they birth have a beautiful birth guardian like her."

 © 2013 Elizabeth Hoskins

Elizabeth and Maxwell enjoy skin to skin in the recovery room,
and Maxwell initiated the breast crawl thanks to Irene's help.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this, I loved my home birth and would choose it everytime over a hopital birth. However, my labor nurses were the reason my hospital births were as good as they were and I'm forever greatful for them!