Aside from having a C-section when I wanted to go all-natural, my second and third births were everything I wanted them to be and more. My OBGYN has always been incredible, and I give him a metophoric gold medal for a job well done. But let’s be honest, the doctor isn’t what makes or breaks your birthing experience; it’s the labor and delivery nurses.
The good ones hold a spot in my heart that was and will always be near and dear to me. And the bad ones…. well, the bad ones have left a very bitter taste in my mouth.
There was Delaney, who grazed my hands in comfort during my spinal tap and carried my daughter to my husband with a beaming smile and a “she’s beautiful” shortly after.
Mary, who crocheted my newborn a Minnie Mouse hat and made a scrapbook page for our family.
The middle of the night nurses (Lord, forgive me for not remembering their blessed names), but they never made me feel bad about the fact that my vagina gushed blood all over their seemingly brand new, WHITE shoes.
And then there was Kathy, the hoot and a holler, who constantly gave me shit (in a loving, joking manner) for me pressing the call light.
These labor and delivery nurses made my hospital stay and birthing experience joyful, and I can’t say there will be a day that I’ll ever forget their kindness amidst my vulnerability. But in every good story, there is always a bad one.
We will call her Susan. She wasn’t reassuring during my spinal tap, and she wasn’t comforting during my C-section either. My twins were born at 35 weeks, and my son came out first seemingly healthy whereas my daughter was immediately taken to the NICU due to a low Apgar score, partially from inhaling amniotic fluid. My son and I began skin-to-skin in post-op when he began shaking and shivering excessively despite being covered by a heated blanket and snuggled into Mama’s warmth. I uncovered him for a moment and noticed his fingers, hands, toes, feet and lips were turning bluish-purple.
I immediately asked the nurse if it was normal. But being the Susan that she was, she only took a quick glance before glaring back at her computer screen. Still, I knew better, and my mama instincts insisted that the neonatal attending doctor be brought back to the floor.
When the specialist came in, my son’s oxygen levels were in the 80s, and he was immediately taken to the NICU where his sister was already being poked and prodded. As if this wasn’t enough, my pain was starting to take an even heavier toll as my spinal tap began to quickly wear off. I innocently asked Susan if I could be experiencing more discomfort because I delivered multiples or if this was something my provider needed to be notified about. But she just snapped back and argued, “No. I’ve had three C-sections. You’re supposed to be in pain.”
Well, bitch… did I ask or do I care about your previous C-sections? NOPE.
I’d love to tell you that I put my foot down right then and there and asked for a new nurse. That I advocated for myself and my wellbeing. But sadly, I didn’t, because I truthfully didn’t even know that I could. And even if the thought did somehow occur and then slip past me, I feared ill-mannered treatment from new staff if they were listening to what was being said by my previous labor and delivery nurse.
Once I could slightly move my tingly and somewhat numb legs, I was urged to stand up and try walking to the bathroom to hopefully get the recovery process moving along. Being the “not a quitter” that I am, I agreed despite the horrific pain. I was about to stand up when she delicately grabbed my hand like she was assisting a royal into the back of a limousine…. not like she was hauling my limp, twice-her-size ass to the bathroom for the first time post-op.
“You got me?” I questioned.
And CRASH. Big mama (that’s me) took a full-out rumble and tumble onto the hard floor.
I was her responsibility for the shift, and she failed me. Many times. She failed to comfort my anxious fears, she failed to look after the wellbeing of my newborn, and she failed to notify anyone of my fall… which could have resulted in a serious injury if it hadn’t been for a rogue hospital pillow that barely broke my fall. She offered me no physical, mental or emotional support. She shamed me and dismissed my concerns.
I should’ve been more bold. I should’ve stood up for myself. I should’ve demanded a new labor and delivery nurse. But in all honesty, I didn’t know that was an option. Now, I know better. Now, hopefully, you know better too. Though C-sections and vaginal births are incredibly routine, it doesn’t mean that they are risk-free, and it doesn’t mean you and your new baby (or in my case, babies) don’t deserve the best level of care.
If you’re unhappy with your labor and delivery nurse, demand a different one. Express your concerns to your OB/GYN, the charge nurse, whoever you need to. Make your voice heard. Kick the Susans of the maternity ward to the curb, and find yourself a Mary, Delaney or a Kathy.
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