Caring Nurses Deliver Babies, Confidence, And Hope

There are so many things people don’t tell you about having your first child — or maybe they do, but you don’t understand. For example, yes, it hurts; and, no, you don’t forget; or how, instead of being filled with joy when you get in the car to go home, you’re actually petrified, mentally shrieking, “Wait! Is there a responsible adult who knows I’m leaving with this tiny baby? I have no idea what I’m doing!” Another aspect of pregnancy you might not realize until you’re in the moment is how you’ll cling — emotionally, and sometimes literally — to the nurses who get you through everything.

My first child didn’t give one flip about my “birth plan.” I was in labor for 39 hours and ended up delivering via C-section under general anesthesia. I almost missed that magical first glimpse of my child because, when I woke up, I barely knew where I was. It was obvious that the nurses knew how important that moment would be to me later, because they talked me through it, helping me focus on eyes, hair, and weight so I would remember. They endured being summoned for every little baby twitch, patiently repeating, “Yes, honey, that’s normal” more times than I care to remember. And they sent my husband and me home feeling confident that we could do this.

But life had one more prank in store. After our first sleepless night at home, I woke up with the worst headache of my life. I had headaches throughout my pregnancy, so I didn’t think much of it at first. But it kept getting worse, so I called the hospital where I delivered. The nurse asked me if my vision was blurry. I hadn’t thought of it until that moment, but I realized that I was indeed having trouble focusing on what I was trying to read. Her voice changed instantly to that voice you use when you’re trying not to let a child know how much an injury is scaring you. She asked, “Honey, is anybody there with you? Can he drive you?” So we packed up and went straight back to the hospital.

When we got there, my blood pressure was an alarmingly high 172/116, and the nurses explained to me that I had edema, or swelling caused by fluid in my body’s tissue. They and the doctor agreed that I needed a night of complete rest and easy bathroom access (to get rid of that edema), so I had to send my husband and new baby home without me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so desolate in my life: I was exhausted and hormonal, my incision hurt, my head hurt even worse, I missed my husband, and I was convinced my baby would never bond with me. Not surprisingly, it was the nurses who got me through that night. They were sympathetic but upbeat. The fact that they weren’t acting like this was a catastrophic situation gave me hope. Thanks to them, I went home the next morning ready to embrace my new life.

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