Monday, August 3, 2009

Many and varied

Hello Monday.

Another weekend on night shift was had. Friday night shift will go down as a bit of a doozy, for busyness, for grace under pressure and under fire, for teamwork. I'm not sure how many babies were born, but it was probably about 10 on Friday night alone, and around 22 all up over the 3 shifts I worked. There were Code Blues, abruptions transferred in from other places, flat babies, newly birthed women being shipped back to hospitals closer to home, lists of which hospitals could take what cases (antenatal women, postnatal women). There were births in the assessment unit, successful VBACs, unsuccessful VBACs, and more. There were tears (sniff, sniff), and tears (ouchy). It was pretty mad!

I had a tough situation on Friday night where my woman ended up with a CS after a long and difficult labour. By God she was brave and tried so hard to get that baby out, but in the end it was a good decision to bring her out 'through the sunroof'. Such a beautiful baby, such a lovely couple, so close and a great team, very practical and down-to-earth, after a long few nights. I lost the plot briefly, very emotional about the decision for CS, but the family were great as I returned to the room, red-eyed, and accepted my warning stop-signed hand 'DON'T talk to me about it' gesture as a sign of solidarity as we just got on with it, and I was fine after that. It was a good decision, and I feel much better about it all in retrospect than I did at that moment. It was a rare thing for me. Once again, although we had threatened to have words with that baby when she was born, young Bella was too beautiful and soon had us all completely under her spell with no hard feelings.

Saturday night was pretty hectic as well. Arriving at work feeling slightly anxious about the thought of another stressful and emotional night, I walked into my room expecting to get a baby as the coordinator had said I would be getting one soon in that room. The curtain was drawn and I waited behind it to be invited in after announcing myself in a low voice. I could hear the familiar sounds of instruments being handled and clamps being applied, but no words of encouragement, or congratulations, or, worse, baby crying. I peeked around and asked if they had a baby yet and was told tersely 'Yes at 2104' I could see a purple baby and grabbed some gloves and followed the second midwife to the cot in the corner behind a tangle of the woman's possessions. The heartrate was low, bloody low, so I got started on cardiac massage without delay as we called for a code blue paediatric. The baby was very blue, but had some tone, and responded well to the CPR. At 3 minutes she was just starting to gasp a bit, and with the improved cardiac output was starting to pink up as we pumped the oxygen around her little body, and the team were arriving as she started to cry a little. By 4 minutes she was breathing independently, with some facial oxygen. By the time she was 8 minutes old she was in her Mum's arms, although she needed to go down to the nursery for observation.

Phew! That shook the cobwebs out! And restored my confidence in my skills. Phew. The woman was a tricky and complex case with a major history, and it took a bit of time to sort out the whole backstory, but she was up and showered and on the ward by 11pm.

As I returned at 11.20pm I was almost mown down as a trolley containing a young woman was brought around from assessment, her eyes wide with shock. I was available and thrown in to a just vacated and clean, but unreplenished room with her as she screamed in panic for an epidural. It was her second baby and it was determined to be born by midnight it seemed! Each contraction brought on a fresh bout of ear-splitting and sustained screaming. As it subsided the young Mum turned her bulging eyes on me and begged for an epidural. Then the next wave came and she would scream again in panic and say 'what do I do?'

The other staff were great. I asked for a doptone, and if there was another midwife who could stay for 20 minutes (there was, luckily) so she opened delivery sets, and drew up oxytocics, and within 2 minutes we were ready for a birth, and after 5 minutes we were ready for anything. While they organised the technicalities I stayed seated at Mum's knee, soothing her in a gentle voice, reassuring her that she was very clever, and very good at this, she didn't need to do anything, just let it happen. I could see some twitching and unflowering (accompanied by a bit of freaking out) and gradually she settled down and surrendered to it. It was actually a very nice birth once she let go of the panic and stopped trying to hold it in. Once the irresistible pushing reflex kicked in she was superb, and listened really well to guidance and at 2343 she gently pushed out a daughter (with a compound hand tucked under her left ear) with an intact perineum. The baby was vigorous and was chirping before she was fully out. Mum was a bit shocked and her first instinct was to say 'yeah great take it away, I'm tired' but after a minute or so she took a look at her and showed a bit more curiosity. She had heaps of black curls and big dark eyes, and was very interested in looking around, so soon had her stunned Mum under her spell.

What a remedy for my soul. A quickie! Just what I needed! I skipped off to tea with number 52 on my mind. I spent the next 2 hours sorting out her paperwork, and getting her up to the ward (where she apologised for being 'rude' to me - nothing of the sort - and admitted her throat was sore some screaming). She had been visited by her family including hubby and her 1 year old - who was incredibly beautiful with the same dark curls, big blue eyes and the most incredible eyelashes I have ever seen - she looked like she had been in a beauty parlour all afternoon!

The rest of the shift was spent on paperwork from the previous 2 births that had been unattended while we dashed around. I then went down to the nursery to see some twins I was caring for 3 weeks ago, and sadly the smaller twin had died. It was not unexpected, but still I was a bit tearful. His parents were very pragmatic about his chances of survival, and were grateful to have a few hours with him, not expecting him to survive the birth, and he lived for just over two weeks. I visited him and his twin brother 3 times, and will never forget him. He was the smallest living little person I (or any of us) had ever seen. He was such a fighter. Our nursery staff really are terrific. They managed to have the surviving twin attend the service in an incubator on portable breathing support, an accommodation that I know will mean alot to his family. They have been very brave. I hope to see them soon.

As we prepared to leave there was a birth underway where the trace had looked really crap for the last 40 minutes. We were gloved up outside the door to rescuscitate again if necessary, which would have been a fitting bookend to the night, but the day staff arrived before the birth and shooed us out the door. I wonder what happened.

Back to the real daylight world this week. I will miss the night staff. All our staff are great and we have terrific teamwork, but the night girls are a special crew. I will see them, and work with them again, in a few weeks.

I love being a midwife.


Lesley said...

More fabulous true tales! You're a legend.
I read every word!

Lisa L said...

my god. just reading your post pushed my BP up 20 points! you are awesome in what you do...those mums and babes are lucky to have you...

Stomper Girl said...

Gosh you must have nerves of steel to get through all that tension and emotion every week.

Kerrie said...

Hello Laura...

Lovely to meet you and "know" you further via your blog.

Kel from Taurus Rising sent me your way. I'm hoping to go back to study next year to undertake a Bachelor of the "mature" age of 45.

Being a midwife has always been my long held heart's know, the one dream career that you have that you would do IF the time was right and all the planets aligned correctly on a Tuesday afternoon. Well, it seems that it is going to happen. I'm beyond excited, I just cannot wait to get partner is hugely supportive and eager for me to undertake something I am passionate about. I'm in Brisbane so will be studying at the University of Queensland. I met an amazing woman at the UQ Open Day last week...she was so encouraging and also undertook her degree when her children had grown up.

Now, I'm rambling. I'll be a regular visitor here to your corner of the Blogosphere. Lovely to "meet" you.

Warm regards,


Kel said...

Im so glad you've met! i love blogging!