CJDaily's Blog

August 20, 2009

Hug a nurse today…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 2:02 pm

I bought two packs of chocolate chip cookie dough on Monday.  And I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “Woah, WOAH THERE Fat Girl, are you about to tell us you’ve already housed two packs of cookie dough by yourself?”  And the answer is no, I did not, although 3 years ago when I lived by myself in Manayunk I would have considered that perfectly normal.  In fact all I had in my fridge in that apartment was cookie dough and wine.  Oh and my bread, because if I didn’t keep it safe the mice would eat it.  And the only other things I had to eat in the whole apartment were frozen waffles and peanut butter, which may explain why I weighed 110 pounds. 

Sigh… the good old days. 

In any event, I bought the cookie dough because of a plan that I had almost two years ago.  22 months ago, in fact, the day after my daughter was born.  I had her at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees and I’m telling you right now if you’re going to go into labor in South Jersey, GO TO THIS HOSPITAL!  My nurses were the most awesome people I could have possibly had coaching me through the hell that was my labor and the following delirious three days.  I didn’t want to leave.  I wanted to rent a room right there on the Labor and Delivery floor of the maternity ward and just have these awesome people guide me through the next year of being a new mom. 

My labor nurse, in particular, was phenomenal.  Her name was Alison.  She was kind, and no-nonsense, and told me exactly when I was pushing with my face and to knock it off or I’d start bursting blood vessels.  And since I had friends who’d had that happen to them, or told me about other women who’d wound up looking like red-eyed vampires after their children were born, I was pretty thankful that Alison was on top of that.  She reassured me that my child was not going to be born weighing 30 pounds, and that no, I was not going to die, and that yes, every baby comes out eventually. 

And when Belle (my darling daughter with her bowling ball head) got stuck and they had to bring in a doctor to stick a suction cup on her head and pull her out of me, they were totally reassuring and competent and sensitive to my needs and desires.  I guess some women have very strict birth plans that they adhere to and get upset if say, they need an emergency C-Section, or don’t want drugs of any kind and have to be given Pitocin, but me?  I was all GET THIS BABY OUT, I DON’T CARE HOW YOU DO IT!  My birth plan was, “Don’t die.”  Given today’s medical advances and procedures, I figured it was a pretty safe bet that I could stick to that plan. 

And then after Belle was born and I was all, “Somebody help me, my boobs have turned into weapons,” they had a nurse available at all times to answer any questions, and give pointers and reassurance.  And those blessed women somehow got Belle to sleep for 3 hours at a time in the nursery, so that I could get some sleep too. 

Leaving the hospital felt like leaving a beautiful island resort to go defend yourself in the slums.  Naked.  In a snowstorm.  I had no clue what to do next, but I had a huge amount of literature provided to me, covering every topic from “Does your baby have colic?” to “Do you have Post-Partum Depression?”  (Answers: YES, and NO, but I sure would like a Zoloft anyway, thanks!)  Again, my plan was “Don’t die,” only this time it applied to Annabelle. 

The second day we were home, I was changing a diaper and suddenly noticed traces of pink on it.  Pink like blood.  BLOOD.  IN MY BABY’S DIAPER.  Suddenly “Don’t die,” didn’t seem so achievable. 

OH SWEET JESUS, HER KIDNEYS ARE FAILING.  SHE IS GOING TO DIE.

It may sound like an overreaction, but I assure you it was not.  If you’ve never had your own infant, whom you’ve only known for 5 days but for whom you would rob a bank, kill someone in cold blood, or even watch Rock of Love for, if, God forbid, it was necessary, then you just won’t understand the terror that coursed through my body.  I was immediately covered in cold sweat, my whole body trembling.  And my first reaction?

I NEED MY NURSES!  I MUST CALL MY NURSES!

With shaking hands I riffled through all the literature the hospital had given me until I found the main phone number.  As soon as someone picked up I practically screamed into the phone, “Get me the maternity ward!” 

“Are you in labor?” a concerned voice asked.

“No! No!  I just need the nurses!  Please connect me to the nurses on the maternity ward!” I shriek back.

A brief pause.  “Oh-kay,” the person said, obviously wondering if they should connect me to the psych ward instead.  But the phone rang as it connected and somebody answered, “Maternity.”

“Thank God,” I almost sob, “Can I please talk to one of the nurses who takes care of the babies on the L & D floor?”

I think the answer I recieved what, “Uh, what?”

I started babbling.  “I just got discharged yesterday my name is Christina my baby’s name is Annabelle she’s only 5 days old and I was just changing her diaper and there’s a little bit of blood in it and I don’t know what to do can someone please help me are her kidneys failing?” 

And that voice, that angelic voice on the other end said, “Ok Christina, take a deep breath.”  I did so, and she continued.  “Ok, now is this your first baby?”

Since she didn’t sound panicked I started to calm down.  “Um, yes,” I laughed slightly hysterically.  “Can you tell?”

She told me to explain exactly what was wrong one more time, slowly.  I did, and she began telling me all about the hormones a baby absorbs when passing through its mother’s vaginal canal.  Enough hormones to make a baby girl have a tiny pretend period, or to swell a baby boy’s testicles. 

“So this is totally normal?” I beg one last time.  “She’s not dying?”

The very kind, very patient woman on the phone assured me everything was fine, and also suggested I breathe deeply for a little while and maybe get some sleep.  And to this day I thank God that I had such great nurses that my first reaction was to call them when I thought my daughter was in trouble.

I’ve had friends give birth elsewhere and complain that no one paid attention to them, or answered their questions.  I know of two people whose babies (I can hardly type it without cringing) got POKED IN THE HEAD with the hook the doctors use to break your water.  I know of some people who were miserable in the hospital and felt totally desolate and alone once they were home.  But Virtua even sent a nurse to my house 3 days after Belle and I were discharged, to check on our health and answer any questions we had.  I felt like we mattered.  I felt like we had people on our side, and as a single mom that meant everything to me. 

So the cookie dough?  I bought it for my nurses.  Today Belle and I took it out of the fridge and baked it.  No matter that now she’s almost two, and is big enough to help me put it on the trays.  I’m sure they’ll understand that motherhood is overwhelming, and sometimes things fall by the wayside, but one thing you should never forget to do is thank someone for being there for you. 

So today when she gets up from her nap we’re going to go to Virtua Hospital, back to the place where she was born, to give cookies to the nurses there.  Maybe Alison isn’t there anymore.  I’m sure none of them will recognize or remember me.  But a thank-you is better late than never, and these women deserve to have their hard work appreciated. 

Thank you.

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2 Comments »

  1. Hi Christina! I saw you post on fb and read your blog. It made me cry! I have had some amazing nurses who are near and dear to my heart also..It was a nurse named Jen who saved Channing’s life when she coded at AI DuPont Children’s Hospital. I bring them cookies every now and again also. I know they don’t really remember us but, they sure play it off like they do. I think I will go back and read your entire blog. You are a talented writer. You’ve managed to make me laugh and cry before my 2nd cup of coffee which is pretty hard to do..xo- Stacy vance Baker

    Comment by Stacy vance Baker — August 21, 2009 @ 9:22 am | Reply

  2. […] Hug a nurse today… […]

    Pingback by Baby name meaning and origin for Chip — August 22, 2009 @ 11:31 pm | Reply


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