Crying. Tiny crying. Newborn sounds. Baby noises.
The room was unfamiliar. It looks more like a bedroom. An empty space where the bed will be. Where’s the monitors and the clean sterile environment that I’m used to. Thermometers? How about syringes and alcohol wipes? I have to find the Pyxis. I’ll need drugs and fast. A woman’s green purse lie open on the side table. Men’s pants in a pile on the bathroom floor. I spot a discolored older monitor with cords spilling out of the attached basket. A newborn’s bassinet with heat lamps hanging over it stood on the other side of the wall. I’m there because of the way the baby came into the world …..C-SECTION done under spinal anesthetic.
The bed (usually it’s a stretcher that I see patients in) came around the corner carrying a teeth chattering shaking woman. She was awake and talking in between the shaking. The Anesthesiologist and two nurses accompany her. After hooking the new mom up to the monitor the doctor and two nurses give me their report. The report includes a rather large blood loss. They leave. Chills creep up my spine. Wait wait wait. No one said anything about hanging blood. She cannot wiggle her toes or bend her knees yet. I take a cold alcohol wipe and slide it down the side of her body to determine the spinal level. The lower I go the less feeling she has. I assess that her spinal is at a level T-11 or 12.
Because I am out of my comfort zone another nurse has come with me. I continue my initial assessment. I look under the sheets. Blood. “Whoaaa that’s a lot of blood!” says my co nurse. Little beads of sweat surface on my forehead. I search for towels, wipes, the sleeves on my shirt…anything. While conversing with the patient my expressive preceptor hands me towels and I begin to clean and assess the patient. Everything is fine. It’s not as bad as it looks. The patient is all cleaned, warmed, and still talking. She is on a “I just gave birth” high. Included in the conversation the nurse apologizes about the “that’s a lot of blood!” statement. The patient is not upset in the least, in fact, their bond appears to be growing.
The mom is 33. This is her ninth, (yes, #9 baby). 7 girls and 2 boys. The oldest 13 and the youngest 2 and of course now a newborn.
While I am charting all of the action the two of them are talking non stop. I’m enthralled with the conversation, but I can’t talk and chart at the same time. Nonetheless I am charting and listening straining to get the jest of her story. My nurse mind is saying the fundus is supposed to be in the middle and FIRM. Boggy is bad. Middle names for the baby are being discussed. The other nurse offers her name or my name, Florence. No bites on either of those.
Finally another nurse brings the perfect little baby in with the proud papa close behind. Baby and mom skin to skin. Everything stands still for a moment. Beautiful….tender….loving…..
After mom was able to bend her knees and sit up slightly, it was time for us to leave. Dad holds his #9 baby girl while we give mom another once over. Knowing that 8 very excited children, plus a grandparent or two, are about to enter the hospital and meet their newest member I encourage the mom to close her eyes and rest…sleep if she can. Lord knows she will not be sleeping or taking a nap or going to the bathroom by herself for the next few years. The pain medication I’ve given her has made her speech a little slurred and her eyes are barely open. But noooo…they keep talking. We exchange a warm goodbye to mom, baby and dad.
On our way back to PACU, our home base, we see a half dozen blonde haired kids with an adult. My charismatic co worker says, “Oh….it’s so nice to see you! We were hoping to see you. We took care of your mom and your new baby sister”. Not to be a total poop I add, “she is adorable!”.
The people look at us like we have two heads. They ask, “where is Mrs. So and So’s room?” It is not the Mrs. So and So we took care of.
We respond, “what…..who? We don’t know.” Pointing to the nurses at the maternity station we say, “ask them.”
Ms. Congeniality RN leans in toward them and says, “it was soooo nice to meet you…..too!” The group of kids plus the adult look at us with blank expressions. They are there for another story.
The scenario suddenly strikes me as “funnier than shit”. I have to turn away because I’m feeling a sweet release of laughter bubbling up. As soon as we clear the area and we are way out of ear shot we both start laughing. Our co workers want to know what’s so funny. We couldn’t stop giggling to explain. You had to be there.
TIDBIT: Through my research on Florence I could not find out if she ever delivered a baby or took care of a new mother. However it’s possible because during The Crimean War enlisted men were allowed to bring luxuries like their own horse and servant. Up to 4 wives (luxury or servant?) for every 100 enlisted men were allowed, by ballot and army regulation, to accompany their husbands. Now doesn’t that sound like a good time….NOT!