Wednesday, February 11, 2009


"BAY-beez!!! You get to work with BAY-beez!! Oh, you must have the most FUN job in the WORLD!"

A typical response to my line of work. Of course, I would probably say the same thing if I were someone else talking to me. Yes, the miracle of new life, unfurling regularly around me. Soft, warm, pink babies and happy families. "That baby smell." Bliss and excitement and love.

When people said this to me when I worked in the NICU, it was like, oh my word. I don't even know what to say. The babies there deal with far more than most of us will deal with in a whole lifetime, and almost deserve a nod of respect for the people they would be if they were grown-ups going thru the same thing.

But oh my goodness, postpartum is such a different story. That place can be downright hilarious. Walk down the hallway with me (due to the delicate nature of, names have been withheld):

Room #1: First-time mom, wants to breastfeed. No. Matter. What. I'm all about breastfeeding: you know what they say..."Breast is best!" Here we go. The baby's screaming. SCREAMING. The screaming only increases the closer the baby gets to where the food will come from mom. Put your fist in your mouth and scream as loud as you can - that's what it sounds like (on a baby level, of course). We've pulled out all of the contraptions to make this feeding a success: a silicone shield (so baby has more to "hold on" to), a syringe filled with a bit of formula connected to a little tube that will be placed behind the shield, so when the baby DOES grab on, I can give a little squirt of formula, the baby will think he's getting something grand, and violins will strike up in the background and breastfeeding will take off.

Nope. The baby continues to scream, formula is dripping all over the mom, mom's bawling about how her baby hates her...and no one can hear the violins.

I would rather stand dripping wet in the worst blizzard of the century chewing broken glass while a bear gnaws my face - than deal with breastfeeding problems!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Room #2: Me: "So what's your baby's name?" (I saw it on the profile sheet but I have NO idea how to pronounce I'm trying to find out in a roundabout way.)
Mom: "It's said how it's spelled." (Alrigghhhhhtttt...)
Me: " do you spell it?"
Mom: "It's SPELLED how it's SAID!!!"
Never mind.

Room #3: This lady's in labor but it's a bit high-risk so they pulled me to help out for a minute. I run in with my Neopuff (oxygen-administration device). Well, I try to run in. There are 16 people crowded in the room, cell phones and digital cameras held aloft, and they're NOT taking pictures of the mom's face, I'll just say that. Jerry Springer's bouncers are breaking up a fight in the background on the TV. (The father of the baby is sitting in a recliner watching Jerry.) The baby is born, the room lights up like the paparazzi just jumped out of a bush, and Jerry's canned voice announces, " are NOT the father!"

Room #4: Back to postpartum again following the paparazzi event.
Me: "So, what's your baby's name?" (I know the answer to this again, but this time I want to see if mom says what I THINK she's going to say following the baby's name...)
Mom: "Nevaeh (neh-VAY-a)." (A pause...please don't prove me wrong!)
Mom: "...It's 'heaven' spelled backwards!"

YES!! She didn't let me down!

*Every. Single. Person. Who has named their baby Nevaeh has pointed out that it's 'heaven' spelled backwards. That's why this is so funny. I'm not knocking that Nevaeh is a lovely name...just that it seems to come with a script.*

BTW - What do you think of Nevaeh Gouveia? (It's heaven spelled backw...DOH! EVEN I'M DOING IT!)

Back to Room #1: Oh, your baby's hungry again? Oh, I'd LOVE to help you breastfeed! AGAIN! Oh, no no no no no no...I have lots of time. Now where is that shield and the syringe and the tubing and the Boppy and the seven sets of hands we need to make this happen again?

Room #5: This mom broke up with her boyfriend a few months ago and is dating a new guy. The first boyfriend is the baby's father. She requested to be a full confidential (meaning if anyone asks, we've never heard of her) because she doesn't want the ex-boyfriend to know she's delivered. Her chart's flagged, Registration is aware, an alias has replaced her name on the board at the nurses' station, and Security is on alert should this ex-boyfriend happen to come thru the door. So who did she call first when the baby was born?

Her ex-boyfriend.

Room #6: This baby had been having blood sugar issues, but we're past the twelve-hour time frame that our protocol requires for regular blood sugar checks. So I don't have to be quite so hyper about making sure the baby is fed every three hours, but I had popped my head in the room to give a friendly reminder that the baby needs to eat soon and I'll be back later. This again at three and a half hours. Then four hours. Okay. We're rolling up on five hours - don't want to go much past that. Grandma's holding (clutching) the baby now. I kindly announce that it's past time for the baby to eat and we're going to start rustling her awake. Grandma says, "But she's sleeping!" (Of course she's sleeping...her sugar's probably -4 by this point.) I explain again the method to my madness. Grandma says to the baby, "Oh, the mean nurse is going to wake you up. I'd never be mean and wake you up."

Thanks a lot, lady.

Room #7: This mom is just out of recovery from her c-section. An assessment shows me that she's hemorrhaging and I need to intervene yesterday. Her mother-in-law is in the room, even though I just asked everyone to leave pronto. The dad is standing there looking awkward. I'm looking at the mom. She's looking at the dad. The dad's looking at his mom. Mom makes a pointed look with her eyes to the dad. Dad says to HIS mom, " The nurse here needs to do something with Ann." Grandma says, "Oh, I just need to get one more picture." (snaps a picture) Dad: "Okay, mom, time to go." (did I mention the mom is hemorrhaging?) Grandma's arranging the blanket around the baby, snaps another picture (stillllll hemorrhaging), says, "Oh honey, how do you think that turned out?" I'm ducking to dodge the daggers coming out of the mom's eyes. What on earth is Thanksgiving like with this family?

And Room #8: This mom did NOT like it that her baby cried when we squirted the routine antibiotic ointment in his eyes after he was delivered. So she refused any other treatment that might make him cry (can you refuse diaper changes and baths...and breastfeeding? That's my question). Hence, the routine Vitamin K shot was refused, the Hepatitis B vaccine, etc. Imagine how flummoxed I was, then, when I go in her room and the baby's not there. Oh, did she send him to the nursery? "Yes," she says coolly. "He's getting his circumcision."

Oh, I could go on and on and on. The dynamics are so interesting. I never want this blog to turn into a snark-fest, but dang, the everyday stuff is really so interesting sometimes. I just couldn't resist. I love working with bay-beez. ;D


sarah.simpson said...

Ah Jenny, you gave me a good laugh.Unfortunately, I know the frustration behind the scenes.You must have been ready to go home immediately and kick the dog, or your husband, or the couch, depending on which one you saw first! However,the sad truth is that so many patients, especially those having BAY..beez feel entitled, and what is happening to them is the only thing that matters. And, by the way, Nevaeh Gouveia, not so good. I prefer something more like Emma, Grace, Ellen, or Elizabeth. Even if the initials are EEG, EGG, or even EMG or EKG. I love you, CA Mommy

ali said...

HAHAHA Jenny that was fantastic!! Well baby nursery is something so very different than NICU! The family issues are something else! You totally crack me up!

Lizzy said...

hey jenny! it's lizzy...what a fascinating (and humorous) post!! =)