Saturday, January 5, 2008

How do you do it?

Often times people will say to me, "you have the coolest job", "watching babies be born all day", "that would be the best place to work in the hospital!" - and often times it is. Like when you get to care for someone you know and stick to their birth plan. Like when you get to see birth at its finest - with no pitocin, no epidural, no IV - nothing - just plain ole' birth how God intended it be.
Or you see your neighbor and arrange for her to be in with her daughter during her C/Section and then get to see the child as it grows since the family lives right by you...
but the place also has its down side...
Say you need to deliver preterm twins - so you get the C/section organized and get everyone there who needs to be there. You know the babies will need some assistance for they are going to be born early. But hey - St Joseph is connected to a children's hospital by an underground tunnel so the babies get good care and the mom is close and can visit. Nothing to worry about - Right? That's what I thought - until the twins didn't come out so good and the next thing you know we are doing full on resuscitations on both babies. I happen to go in with Baby "A" - see that they are putting a tube down to help the baby breath when I hear "No heart beat - start compressions". Whoa - wait a minute...this isn't supposed to be happening. I have to stay and help, I start drawing up the medications that I think the doctor will ask for - sure enough he does and we continue...when someone from the other room (people working on baby "B") come in and say - "Dr. we need your help next door - the baby is coding". Oh God - what else can go wrong?!?!? How do I get more staff when there are already so many people here? So - I do the first thing that comes to mind and call for any neonatologist stat to L&D...people show up, the resuscitations continue. Both babies survive to get transferred then I looked around the rooms...boy, what a mess I have to clean up - papers, syringes, medications, tubes, bags, blankets, just stuff all over the floor. But that will get cleaned up in a minute - for now I have another patient to get on the section table...
Oh and don't forget to smile at the next patient who knows nothing about the drama you've just lived through.
Later someone commented to me how calm I was during the resuscitation - how I knew the medications and how to draw it up. Was I calm?? NO! My heart was beating so fast and I was so scared that I wouldn't be able to get what the doctors needed. So I thought about it afterwards. How can I do it?? I guess I just get in my zone - and never, never look at the babies face...just do what I have to do - for if I look at the baby and think about the fact that we are doing compressions on a little 3 pound baby then I may just sit there and cry. So don't look! Do your job, stay focused..then crash later.
We talked about it yesterday - after it was all said and done - to see what we could have done better, what we did well. General consensus - "We need a drink!" It is times like these where I wonder what am I doing?? and is this job worth it?? The amazing thing is, is that we always go back. But I sure am learning to take time out too - to say I need a day off to regroup and to value the health of my own kids and family. It really puts things in to perspective....

2 comments:

sarah said...

you did an awesome job that day, deb. i was so glad you were there for that delivery. :) i love working with you.

and yes, downtime IS very important! haha.

Anonymous said...

That was so interesting to read about! I am totally one of those people that envy your job, because I think about how awesome it would be to participate in all those "perfect" birth stories. But I know there is a down side, and some really tough stuff - and even just reading this post brought tears to my eyes. I don't know if I could do what you do, but I'm sure glad there are people like you! And I am glad I got to experience what a GREAT nurse you are first-hand. You were made to do this, Debbie. -Bethany