I would be lying if I said I wasn't ever offended when I get on an elevator with someone who asks me if I work in OB. I never want to answer that question. Depending on who I am riding with elicits one of two conversations... every time.
If it is with a visitor, the conversation goes something like this.
Visitor: Do you work on OB? (we wear surgical scrubs and have a security indicator on our badge) Me: Sure do. Visitor: Ohhh. I bet you LOOOVEE your job! Me: You betchya! (Notice I try to keep it short and sweet, hopefully, if I'm lucky, like my ride on the elevator) Wait for it... here it comes.... Visitor: It must be nice to snuggle and rock babies all day long.
Of course... all I hear is "It must be nice to work in a department that is always roses and sunshine... happiness and daises! You must have the EASIEST job in town!" Now, if I catch an elevator with another hospital employee (usually a nurse or pt. care tech) the conversation goes a little different.
Staff: You guys busy tonight? (she looks exhausted, probably going out for a "break"... not that I blame her) Me: Yup. (Note the same short answer technique in anticipation of yielding the rest of the conversation) Staff: We are drowning. House Supervisor just gave us 5 admissions! Me: Ouch. Staff: I could sure use a night of rocking babies. (STING!) Ahhh... but, they usually don't stop there, depending on how nice they are... Staff: You OB girls need to learn what REAL nursing is all about! Whoop! There it iz! I will never be one who "one ups" another non-OB nurse. I take it well in the moment to maintain some sort of professionalism. OB nurses in my small community hospitals (not microscopic, but small enough) wear many hats. We are all cross trained in post partum care, labor & delivery and Level 2 NICU (that is one step down from a state of the art big city children's hospital). We are not a dime a dozen... as it take MONTHS to get adequate training in for all three of these areas, and then at least two years to develop some sense of confidence (though a healthy sense of fear is never lost). Not to mention, in my experience, I have seen at least half, and sometimes more, new trainees not make it to the first or second year... usually because labor and delivery scares them to death.
Our Birthing Centers combined deliver roughly 100-50 babies a month give or take, and we do not function with residents or doctors in house 24/7. We essentially operate an obstetrical emergency room. We do all vaginal exams, initiate emergency responses, deliver babies when a doctor can't make it in time.... resuscitate newborns who are unresponsive... all in a day's work. Not to mention teach breastfeeding, infant care and safety, pt. advocacy, answer call lights... not-so-light housekeeping... you know.
What have I seen? What experiences do I carry? (you might need to consult Dr. Google on some of these if I don't elaborate)
Great labor experiences for Mom & Baby (ideal... the sunshine and roses)
Babies who struggle with nursing... (it is not as "natural" as they say... it takes effort and hard work!)
Babies who choke on mucus and turn blue
Mom's who fall asleep with their babies... after being instructed not to... wake up with their babies on the floor (why we are in your room A LOT)
Cord around the neck one, two, or three times... knots in the cord (a miracle)
Thick baby poo (meconium stained fluid) in the amniotic fluid (tells us likely distress)
Placental abruption (bad... nightmare)
Placental accreta (hated that night)
Laboring moms addicted to crack, cocaine, or meth
NICU babies addicted to and withdrawing from crack, cocaine, meth
NICU babies who circle the drain while waiting on transport to big city hospital
Prolapsed cord (umbilical cord comes out before baby... a poop your pants moment)
HELLP syndrome and DIC (Dr. Google that one)
Pregnancy induced high blood pressure (have seen seizures... and worse... from it)
Unable to find heart tones in triage
Resuscitation of a baby... and the baby passes
Moms laboring with no prenatal care (you don't know what you are getting... scary!)
Poverty (spans all nursing departments... harder, I think sometimes, when newborns involved)
Shoulder dystocia (I've seen good outcomes... and bad... living nightmare)
Telling a mother her baby died... telling the father....
Bathing still babies, dressing still babies, preserving memories of still babies for parents
Post partum hemorrhage (can go from bad to deadly)
I just listed a few things I've seen over the span of my time in OB. And, yes, most of the time we have great outcomes. Almost all of the time. Wonderful pink, screaming babies. It's what we prefer... but we prepare for those "what ifs."
So... yeah. I DO ROCK BABIES. And, now, when I do... I thank God that I can rock that sweet smelling baby. I think of how much of a blessing it is to rock that baby...
I am a new NICU nurse and I get that attitude a lot when I chat with my school friends who work in the E.R.
They go on about open chests and saving lives and I have days of diaper changes and feeding problems.
But I also have a 400gram baby getting discharged at 2.400 kilo. And heart defects. And drug babies who grew up with our care and kisses till they are 3 months old to be sent to foster homes and the unknown. And deformed babies who die, or live. And healthy babies who just stop breathing.
I prefer to tell of my days of diaper changes and feeding problems. It may not be as glamorous but its better then the alternative!
I know this is an older post, but hopefully you see this message one day. Thank you, because of people just like you I brought a healthy 8 lb 11 oz boy into this world, without my doctor (couldnt make it in time), with his cord wrapped around his neck. We had a very scary end to my labor when my sons heart rate was dipping drastically before I pushed him into this world. The nurse who delivered my baby did it with poise and confidence, only to find out later that she was new on the job. So thank you again for making sure our kids are safe during very scary moments, and then teaching us to nurse our babies, and then rocking our little bundle of joys after YOU have hand fed us a snack and a drink while we are using what you just taught us to nurse our new babies for for the first.