Saturday, July 6, 2013

Expecting Kindness at work...a birth story

I am on call, high call.  A few families this month and one who's original due date was next month went rogue last night and gave birth ahead of schedule by about 3 weeks.  I was sitting on my sofa watching what my family adoringly calls "Kristin Crack" which is "The Avengers"...don't know what it is, but I love that movie.  At one point in the film it was paused for a phone call and I just bellowed out " I want a baby!!!!", and I'm serious when I tell you that within 10 minutes, I was on the phone with a moaning, pushing Mama.  To simplify the story and get to my point, The baby was born, unattended at home as I was blazing up I-5 towards Everett.  Upon arrival at their house I hopped in the ambulance with Mom while Dad was organizing childcare, talking to the kids about what they had witnessed and gathering necessities for an unknown timeline at the hospital.  Baby was pink, beautiful and quite a healthy size for being a little early.  Once at the hospital, there was the anticipated level of urgency in checking out Mom and baby.  This family, having planned an out of hospital, birth center birth was thrust into (after having given birth with only about 10-15 minutes of labor) an intense environment with staff (understandably) trying to make sure that everyone was ok and also making sure that they were covering their own liabilities.  Some of the staff had a wonderful, calm disposition, 2 ladies from the NICU in particular, I wish I had gotten their names to give them my thanks. nurse, however medically competent, was less than comforting.  I'd go as far as to say abrasive.  I know she was probably stressed out by the situation, I know she felt responsible for the well being of the baby.
I did my best to calmly explain the circumstances, the intended birth, the wild changes, and asked for understanding.  It went pretty far, we were able to resolve some of her concerns by bringing the Midwife into the conversation and baby did an awesome job resolving some of the concerns himself.  When it was determined that the blood sugar level was too low and a move to the NICU was necessary, this nurse did an odd thing.  She started to try to embrace Mom by telling her that they have the baby's best interest in mind and that they don't wish to take anything away from her experience.  That she can have total access to the baby, rooming together, touching and breastfeeding and skin to skin as long as baby is stable.  Sounded good, until she told mom that she needed to not be "belligerent".  She used this term several times.  Now...Mom was questioning, she was cautious, she was worried, she was overwhelmed...but never belligerent, and even if she had been, it would be understandable under the circumstances.  No matter what, after that conversation on their way back to NICU while Mama and I were waiting for discharge papers for her, Dad "enlightened" the nurse in the elevator, stating clear expectations for the language and care that he expected for Mom, and also made it clear that NO ONE had the baby's best interest in mind more than Mom does.  Being Kind, Honest, and stating clear expectations for your care is powerful.  Of course with staff shift changes, they may have to have continued conversation stating a clear expectation of being treated with respect and kindness, but hopefully they will leave the hospital (as soon as is healthy) feeling empowered, like they waited and insisted upon being a part of the decision making process, that they made wise informed choices on behalf of their baby and can get to the good stuff.

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