Monday, August 10, 2009

Confessions of a Coffee Crazed Nurse

I've had many people comment that I should write a book on my experiences as a nurse. The stories I could tell . . . so I figured, 'why not share some of them here!' On Mondays I'll share a story with you all. Every story I tell will be true, and I'll try to present it in true story-teller fashion. Some will be funny, some heart-warming, and some will make you marvel at how crazy people can be.
A little background on me first: I worked as a medical/surgical nurse for 2 years on a busy medical floor in a local hospital here in Colorado Springs. But now I'm doing what I love. For the past year I've been working in the Birth Center. I work both post-partum (mom/baby) and in the nursery (where I attend deliveries). I love my job.

Now, sit back for the first installment . . .

This story takes place about 6 or 7 months ago, on one of my last days orienting into the nursery. There wasn't much going on in the way of deliveries that day. Two or 3 in labor, and they were taking their time. I happened to look at the Obix screen (computer program that we use to monitor the baby's heart rate and mom's contraction pattern). One gal, who we'll call J, was now at 10cm and pushing (she had gone from 4cm to 10cm in a matter of minutes). I logged onto Obix to check how the baby was handling the labor. What I saw scared me. Baby was not doing well. With each contraction the heart rate would drop dangerously low, taking it's time to come back up. I motioned for LP (the other RN I was with that day) to come and look. We looked at each other with a little sense of dread. A baby having decels (dropped heart rate) isn't a terribly bad thing. Every baby does that at some point. But the degree to which the heart rate drops and the length of time it takes to get back up is what we look at. These decels were bad. Down to the 40's and taking a minute or more to recover.

We get the call to come for the delivery. LP and I head to the labor room, my heart racing and adrenaline pumping. This looks like it could be bad.

In the room we set up the warmer. Hook up the oxygen mask and check the O2 levels. Hook up suction and check the levels of that. The OB is getting worried, coaching J to push, we need this baby out. The tension in the room is palpable. I look at LP, a little nervous, as the head comes out. The umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby's neck twice. And tight (what we call a nuchal cord). The cord is cut, the baby comes out, she's blue, limp and not breathing. I take her immediately to the warmer and LP and I get to work. Drying her with warm blankets is doing nothing. She lays there limp and blue, not so much as a whimper. I grab the umbilical cord to feel her heartrate as LP puts the O2 mask on her. We breathe for her, giving her PPV (positive pressure ventilation), her heart rate is dangerously low, barely palpable and I have to listen as I'm yelling for the L&D nurse to call the neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP). Heart rate is still too low, in the 30's and we need it above 100. LP is still giving PPV and I move into postition to start chest compressions. The baby's grandma is watching us the whole time, J is frantically asking if her baby is okay, why hasn't she cried, why is she blue, the room is chaos but in slow motion. As I start a compression, grandma asks "how much does she weigh?"

I swear you could hear the sound of a needle screeching over a record as LP and I look at grandma dumbfounded. Wait, what? Your granddaughter is limp and blue, we're ressusitating her, breathing for her, calling for the NNP, and you need the weight? Really? Okay. Hang on. Let me go get the scale so we can weigh her. She really doesn't need to breath anyway.

I sound cynical, I know. I have to say though, that question nearly stopped me in my tracks. When a baby is born, the weight seems to be the only thing that people are fixated on. The weight is the important thing, above all else. I mean, we need to send a text out to all of the friends and family with the time, sex, and weight. I think the expectation that everything will go smoothly and be perfect can cloud what's really going on. Thankfully, the baby girl started breathing and crying right as the NNP arrived, and did perfectly fine. The whole fiasco only lasted about 3 minutes, but seemed like an eternity at the time.

And here's my son with a light saber. Why not. :)


Kate8085 said...

Oh, the stress of that must be grueling.
Scary stuff!
Look at that little Jedi.
Too cute.

Jenni said...

Wow wow and more wow. Great story and thank you for doing what you do!

Sycamore Moon Studios said...

My best friend was an OB/GYN nurse forever. You gals have the best stories!

Bonzai Beadwear said...

wow, great story! Would love to read more!