Tag Archives: nurse

What Do I Know? I’m Only Her Mother.

18 Feb

“Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.” ― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

After Oli settled down it was time to transfer her to a room on the pediatric floor for an overnight stay. As they wheeled her upstairs I am staring down at my daughter’s beautiful face. My mom calls her a china doll because that’s what her face looks like. Especially when she was a baby and sleeping. Her face was so peaceful. Chubby cheeks, little porcelain nose and a perfectly round head.

The nurse notices me staring at Oli as she settles her into her new room and comments on how beautiful she is.

I know that she is beautiful but I’m a little taken aback by a stranger saying it. I just wasn’t that used to it. She was very beautiful, but because of her eyes most people just didn’t say anything.

“Thank you.” I tell the nurse.

“Let me know if she wakes up and seems like she is in pain. She has some medication ordered for her, but I don’t want to give it unless she absolutely needs it.” the nurse finishes up and leaves the room.

I was thinking “Oh good. This nurse won’t make her wait forever when she is hurting.” I breathed a sigh of relief and settled onto the chair to watch TV.

A little while later Oli wakes up crying. I pushed the nurse call button and tried to comfort her as I waited. The doctor had warned me that she might be a little more uncomfortable because he didn’t put in a G-tube so there was no way for gas to escape. Because the top part of her stomach was now wrapped around the bottom part of her esophagus (a fundoplication) she could no longer throw up, but she also could no longer burp. The doctor told me that if the pain the reflux was causing her was worse than the gas pain then it wouldn’t be too bad for her and she would adjust quickly.

Looking down at her now, I started questioning my decision not to put in a G-tube.

The nurse finally comes back into the room and has to raise her voice above Oli’s wailing. “Yes?”

“Yeah, I think she needs some of that magic juice ordered for her. I think she is in pain.”

“Oh I think she’s okay. She’s probably just hungry.”

I stare at her incredulously. Ummmm, no. I think I know her. First of all I have taken care of this little person while she lived INSIDE my body for 9 months and second of all I have taken care of her OUTSIDE my body for 7 months. That is 16 months 17 days 10 hours and 15 minutes longer than you have taken care of her. Besides, I think by now I know the difference between a cry of pain and one of hunger.

“No. She’s not okay. You need to give her some medicine.”

The nurse gives me a disproving look and then leaves to get the medication.

I couldn’t believe that she was actually going to argue with me!

She came back in the room and gave her the medication. Throughout Oli’s 2 day stay this was an ongoing fight with this nurse. I’m not sure what the problem was?

By the next morning Oli was much better and didn’t seem to be in pain at all. I got to feed her Pedialyte first which she inhaled (as much as I would let her. I had to be careful that she didn’t suck in too much air). Then once she was tolerating her formula we took her home.

The surgery was a success and I was so happy that Oli was feeling better. The doctor was right. The gas pains didn’t seem to bother her at all. The only downside is when she gets the flu she isn’t able to throw up unless the pressure is very great. So instead of feeling crappy and just barfing everywhere and feeling better she dry heaves for hours. It’s no fun for her.

As for the nurses I’m not sure what the problem was. They really should learn to trust parents and understand that they know their children. I didn’t want my baby doped up either but I knew that she was hurting and isn’t that what the medication is for?

Somehow being just a parent is equivalent to being stupid in some doctor and nurses eyes despite your credentials. What do I know? I am just her mother.

Even though I have not eaten, slept, or breathed, unless she has first, from the moment she was born. I can’t possibly know more than someone who has met her. . .once. . .for 15 minutes. . .and can’t remember if she is a boy or a girl. . .

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Total Mommy Meltdown

17 Feb

“There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids.”

― Stephen King

Finally after what seemed like hours of waiting in those little blue plastic chairs and watching cartoons on the Disney channel in the kids play room, the nurse called my name from the doorway.

“You can go back and see your daughter now. She’s awake, but we just got her into the recovery room. Normally I wait to bring families back until the kids have been there a little while, but since you work here I made an exception.”

I thanked her profusely for letting me go back early, but then was wishing she had waited a little bit longer as I rounded the corner and could hear Oli screaming at the top of her lungs from the end of the room.

I quickened my pace to get to her bedside and then looked at the recovery room nurse as she straightened out cords and tried to get her connected to the monitors.

“Aren’t you going to give her some pain medication?” I ask the obvious question when ones child has had surgery and then is screaming like they are still slicing off some major body part.

“Yes I’ll get her something in a minute.”

In a minute? Can’t you hear her pain? This purple color is not the normal hue of my daughter’s face.

I know what it’s like to be the nurse and have anxious parents breathing down my neck, but come on lady. I understand that you are busy and it is obviously important that you straighten out these cords (for some reason unknown to me), but give her something. I think she might be dying.

She finally untangles the last knot in the stream of medical cords and saunters off to get Oli pain medication.

By the time she came back I don’t think I had ever seen Oli quite the color that her face was now. I had no idea, until that moment, that human skin could turn that color. Her face had a kind of red, purplish tint that only the truly pissed off baby can become.

Now I am quite familiar with it. Now I know that when Oli turns that color I better get the hell out of her way in about 10 seconds because she may spontaneously combust. Or try to bite, scratch or beat me to death. Good thing my peanut is only 40lbs soaking wet and has yet to actually hurt me. ( She is usually very sweet. I promise… Except when she’s not. )

The nurse gave her some medicine and Oli eventually quieted down and went to sleep.

“This is normal. Sometimes children have that kind of reaction to the anesthesia. She should be better after a little while.” The obsessive compulsive nurse tells me.

“Okay.” I am thinking yes, I realize that, but it does not give me any comfort because I am watching my baby have a total and complete meltdown and therefore am well on my way to total meltdown phase myself. Watching her scream louder than I have ever heard her scream does not in any way feel “normal” to me.

However, thank you for trying to reassure me.

I don’t feel any better.

I Still Remember How You Made Me Feel

14 Feb

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Despite my negative experience with some of the doctors when Oli was born there was one more nurse who would make a profound impact on my memories of those 4 days in the hospital.

Her name was Sharon and she was my labor and delivery nurse.

She was a little bit older than me with exceptionally long, dark blond hair. She seemed to be just a step out of time with today and wore her bangs in a feathered style around her face. She was very sweet and one of those warm, compassionate people who make you feel like you’ve known them forever.

She encouraged me through out my labor and didn’t even bat an eye when I threw up moments before Oli’s birth.

“It’s okay. Happens all the time.” She reassures me, even though I am completely mortified having displayed my dinner to her and my OB/Gyn not to mention the NICU doctor I worked with.

After Oli was born she let me spend a considerable amount of time with her before taking her to the

nursery. She even apologized when she finally laid her in the bassinet to wheel her down the hall.

“I probably should have taken her down 20 minutes ago since she’s a little early, but it’s so important to bond with your new baby. Besides, she looks perfect.”

Two nights later as I’m sitting on the hospital bed I hear a faint knock at the door. Sharon peeks her head inside.

“Mind if I come in?”

“No. Please, come in.” I’m nervous as she sits down on the end of the bed and am wondering if she heard about Oli. It quickly becomes apparent that she has when I see her eyes fill with tears.

“Oh Shannon. I’m so sorry. One of the other nurses told me about your baby. I just couldn’t believe it.”

“I know. I’m still in shock. Thank you for visiting us.”

I’m trying to control my own tears now. Not just because I am again reminded of all that has transpired in less than 48 hours, but because I’m overwhelmed by the amount of empathy radiating from this woman who was a stranger to me two days ago.

“Do you need anything? Can I help you in some way?”

I just gave her a hug, told her thank you and assured her that it was okay and I would be fine.

I should have told her that the simple act of having the courage to walk into my room, cry with me and tell me she was sorry had done more for me than she will ever know.

I wish I would have known then, how that moment would make me feel 5 years later.

A Young Nurse

13 Feb

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As Oli began to eat baby food I realized that her GI reflux, which I had been assured would dissipate when I introduced solids into her diet, did not diminish at all. The only difference now was that the things coming out of her mouth and nose were colorful instead of milky white.

When I think about her reflux I remember a young nurse assigned to us in the mother baby unit in the hospital.

It was a few hours after Oli was born and I was finally asleep. The nurse came in to check on us and woke me up indicating that something was wrong with her. I sat up and saw her turning Oli onto her side as she gasped and snorted through a nose full of milk.

“She is spitting up pretty bad. You have to keep an eye on her and keep her on her side. Here, use this to suck the milk from her nose and mouth.” She says as she hands me the little blue bulb I would become very familiar with.

Although this is fairly common and happens to newborns something about the way she looked at Oli that night sent alarm bells ringing through my heart. She had that look in her eyes of a nurse who knew something was wrong, but couldn’t quite put her finger on it. The way she looked at me as she turned and switched off the light said more than her words could have expressed.

I’m concerned about your baby girl. I’m young and intimidated because I know you are also a nurse, but look at me and recognize that something is off.

Of course, I was still deeply submerged in denial and ignoring those alarm bells. I wouldn’t find out until the next day that Oli was blind and I wouldn’t know for another three years that her reflux was linked to another devastating diagnosis.

I just smiled confidently, tucking my covers under my arms as she walked out of the room and assured her that I would watch her closely.

I wonder if that nurse heard later that her instincts were correct?

Fix her

21 Jan

“Once you had put the pieces back together, even though you may look intact, you were never quite the same as you’d been before the fall.” -Jodi Picoult

I used to get so mad when people would try to talk to me about “fixing” her.

They would say things like “You never know what the future holds. Someday they will invent a way for her to see”. I didn’t want to hear any of it. I knew they were just trying to give me hope and trying to get me to see the rainbow at the end of all this but, I couldn’t hear it.

I again, being a –worst-case-scenario- girl, wanted to make myself believe that she would never be able to see. Secretly, this was only part of me.

Secretly, I wanted to have hope.

Let’s face it. I am a nurse. I wanted them to give her some kind of magical pill or hook her up to some kind of machine and fix her. I just wanted so desperately to wake up one morning to a baby with vision. I wanted someone to tell me what her future looked like and that she would be okay.

I had that tiny seed of hope for a little while. Until one day I didn’t.

Until one day the growing list of things wrong with her outweighed any hope I had of her living a “normal” life and the disappointment became too much. Until one day, another doctor, another specialist, another therapist unknowingly squashed that little seed of hope like an insect they didn’t even notice. They never noticed that little seed of hope that I had for her future.

Let’s talk about all of those specialists.

Let’s talk about how to approach new parents of a special needs child. First of all, if you’re the pediatrician delivering devastating news to parents about their newborn, you should probably wait until both parents are present in the room. Not tell the new, already hormonal mommy by herself in the hospital room. You are changing somebodies life forever. You need to be compassionate and gentle. You need to have some kind of emotion.

Also, sometimes parents need a break in between all of the bad news. You can’t just sit parents down with a newborn and give them a 4 page list of everything they think, might be wrong with her. I don’t know. Break it up a little. Give us a coffee break. Offer us some pastries. By this I DO NOT mean send us back into your tiny overcrowded waiting room where we have already been sitting for the past 2 hours. Your waiting room is not that cozy and I do not enjoy your uncomfortable chairs or your rude receptionist. Obviously I’m not exactly sure how this should be approached with new parents. But, I do know this. They way it was done with my husband and I wasn’t conducive to acceptance.

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