A Tidal Wave of Karma – From the Nurses’ Station

I was having a great day on the labor and delivery floor.  My assignment was a young couple, Emily and Steven, and they were having their first baby.  They were adorable and easy to get along with. The OB, Dr. Wilson, was a doctor that had been in Emily’s family for years. He delivered her nephew and her cousin’s baby.  Emily was a scheduled induction and everything was going smoothly throughout the entire morning.  Like many first time moms, Emily wanted to know why the doctor was not at the bedside.  I tried to reassure her “he will be here soon” but the truth is, most OB’s let the labor nurse run the show.  There is a certain amount of trust between the labor nurse and the doctor that develops over time.  It works.  It allows the doctor to run his office more efficiently and the nurse to have autonomy.  Emily was no exception.  I started the IV Pitocin and Dr. Wilson called late morning to check-in on her.  “I’ll be by at lunchtime to break her water” he explained to me.  “Sounds good!” I responded.  I let Emily know the plan and she seemed  happy with the news.

We spent the hours before lunch getting to know each other.   As usual, I made lots of bad jokes to lighten the mood.  We laughed a lot.  Why not?  It’s one of the happiest days in a young couple’s life.  As promised, Dr. Wilson showed up at exactly noon to break Emily’s water.   He walked into the room rolling up his sleeves.   He seemed to be in a rush which upset Emily.

Emily: “Hey!  Dr. Wilson!  How are you?”

Dr. Wilson: “Hello, Emily! I’m doing well.  The real question is how are you? Any pain?”

Emily: (Who thought she was giving the right answer..smiling.) “Nope!”

Dr. Wilson: “Well, we need to change that!”

Emily: (Clearly his comment scared her to death): “Oh no..really?”

Dr. Wilson: (laughing) “Yes!  Really!” (He pushed the button on the side of the bed to lower her head) “I’m going to break your water and see if we can get this labor moving in the right direction.  If you have pain, you can have your epidural whenever you want it, OK?”

Emily: “Um.  OK.” (She turns to me and whispers) “Is this going to hurt?”

Me: “It’s going to be Ok.  You will feel some pressure.  Hold my hand.”

Dr. Wilson: (Impatient and rolling his eyes at my compassion)  “Alright.  Can we get going here?”

Clearly, he was in a mood!  Who says men don’t have PMS?  I think they are worse than women.  I walked over to the linen closet and grab a few blue pads and several towels to put underneath the patient to keep her linens dry. All the while, Dr. Wilson is huffing and puffing and carrying on like a spoiled rotten kid.  I think the whole process took me about 3 minutes but he acted like it was 20.  After I protected the linens, I helped Dr. Wilson with a sterile glove and an amnihook (used to break the water) .  My right hand was assisting the doctor and my left hand was holding Emily’s for comfort.  She was a nervous wreck!  Steven, her husband was leaning over Dr. Wilson’s shoulder annoying the shit out of him.  I tried to give Steven the eyes that said “come over here” but he wanted a front row seat.

Dr. Wilson: (Getting aggravated because he couldn’t break the water easily ) “Can you help me out here?”

Me: “Sure.” ( I lowered Emily’s head and had her scoot towards the doctor so he could reach a little easier)

Dr. Wilson: (Barking orders now and getting nasty) “I need you to relax Emily!”

Emily: “I’m trying to. It hurts!” (Now she has tears in her eyes.)

Me: (I whisper to Emily) “You are doing fine.  Take nice, slow, deep breaths.”

Then something happened.  Dr. Wilson snapped. I think it was a combination of a husband breathing down his neck, a frustrating exam and a crying patient. Things were not going as smooth as he had hoped and he took out his frustration on me.  He looked at me right in the eye and said:

 “SHUT UP!”

I felt my blood pressure sky-rocket and all I wanted to do was punch him right in the nose.  I shot daggers at him with my eyes.  He knew he went too far and purposely avoided eye contact with anyone in the room.  I was embarrassed for him.  So unprofessional and downright rude!  The patient gasped at his comment and her husband turned his back and walked out of the room slamming the door.  I think he was afraid he was going to do something physical to Dr. Wilson.  He was confused and wasn’t sure if this was normal behavior for an OB at a delivery.  Emily always had such wonderful things to say about this guy.  Steven was confused and angry.  I didn’t blame him one bit.

Somehow I kept everything bottled up and I remained professional.  Emily was crying harder than ever now but she was trying not to make a sound.  She was trembling.  I held her hand tight and brushed her hair gently with my hand.  She leaned towards me as to say “thank you” without making a peep.  Lord knows we didn’t want to do anything to get him more upset.

Finally, he broke her water.  It was clear fluid and the mission was accomplished.  Thank God.  We all took a deep breath of relief.  Instead of trying to catch some of the fluid onto the towels I provided, Dr. Wilson let the amniotic fluid pour out all over everything.  It soaked through all the pads and towels, soaked the linens, dripped on the floor, pooled under the patient.  He took off his glove and threw it on the bed, washed his hands and stormed out of the room.

Oh hell no..he isn’t getting away with this shit.  Nobody walks all over me like that!  I gave Emily some towels and draped a blanket over her and promised I’d be back in 1 second.  I ran behind Dr Wilson, who was halfway down the hall.

Me: (yelling down the hall) “Dr. Wilson! (louder now) “Dr. Wilson!”

Dr. Wilson: (He turns to me and says with a huge chip on his shoulder) “What?”

Me: “I need to have a word with you…NOW!” (I was fuming!  I wanted to hurt this man.  I never get mad.  This was so out of character for me but I was raging.)

Steven was waiting in the hallway so I opened the door to Emily’s room for him.

Me: “I’ll be there in just a second, OK?”

He nodded and walked into the room shutting the door behind him.  It was only a matter of seconds and Dr. Wilson was standing in front of me with his hands on his hips.  He was a tall guy. 6’2″ or so.  I looked up at him and put my finger in his face and with a stern, nasty, some might argue bitchy tone I told him what I thought.

Me: “Don’t you EVER!  EVER! EVER freaking tell me to SHUT UP in front of a patient again!  I was trying to help her and keep her relaxed so you could break her water!  You have some nerve talking to me like that!”

Dr. Wilson: (Eyes wide.  He relaxed his arms by his side now and then he said something that shocked me) “I’m sorry.  You are right.  I am sorry.”

Me: “OK” (I noticed a crowd of nurses watching from the nurse’s station and other ones popping their heads out of labor rooms to see what the heck was going on in the hallway. I felt like this was my moment to really give him a piece of my mind but Dr. Wilson was experienced with pissed off women.  He diffused my anger with a sincere apology.)

He walked away and some of my nurse friends gave me a thumbs up. I felt better.  An apology was what I wanted.  I didn’t think it would come so easily though.  He must have seen the crazy in my eyes.  Instantly, I thought I was going to get fired.  I don’t know why I thought that.  I guess it was because I have never yelled at anyone at work.  I couldn’t help it, he pissed me off.  There comes a point and time when you have to put somebody back in their place ya know? I took a deep breath and calmed down and then opened the door to the patient’s room.  Steven had a huge grin on his face and gave me a high-five.

Emily: “Oh my goodness, Ronda!  Love it!  He soooo deserved that!”

Me: “Uh oh? You heard that?” (Oops.  I guess I was loud.)

Emily: “Every word!  Awesome!  You are the best nurse ever!  He sucks.  I’m glad he won’t come in my room again until delivery.”

For some odd reason I defended him.  I guess I wanted Emily to have peace of mind that we wouldn’t have a Jerry Springer scene at the delivery.

Me:“Aw!  He is a good guy, he was probably stressed about something else.  We are fine now. Are you OK?  Let’s get all this wet stuff out from under you and get you comfortable.”

The rest of the day went smoothly.  We continued with the induction process and she eventually got her epidural. The epidural must have relaxed her body because she progressed nicely.  It was only an hour or so when she started to feel the urge to push.  Emily’s moment had arrived.  In the next few hours she would become a new mom.  I instructed her on how to push and we practiced.  Shockingly, she moved the baby way down in her pelvis with one push!  Usually, first time moms push for several hours so this was very exciting for a labor nurse. We did a few more pushes together and before I knew it the baby’s head was crowning. I called Dr. Wilson and prepared Emily for delivery.

Me: “Ok, Emily.  When Dr. Wilson arrives, I do not want you to be nervous.  All I want you to do is to push hard.  Exactly like you were just doing.  You are going to do fantastic.”

Emily: “OK. I can handle that.”

Me: “I have no doubt!”

A few minutes passed and a transformed Dr. Wilson entered the room in a good mood.

Dr. Wilson: “Alright, Emily!  I hear you are a great pusher.”

Emily: “I hope so.” (She didn’t want to disappoint this guy again, that’s for sure)

Dr. Wilson: (He put on his gloves) “Let me see you do the next push and then I’ll gown up for delivery, OK?”

Me: “She is very strong, Dr. Wilson.  You can go ahead and gown up!” (I tried to warn him)

Dr. Wilson: (He smiles a condescending smile and decides not to put on a gown and mask). “OK, Emily.  Give me your best push!”

And then…at that very moment.  All the planets aligned and everything seemed right in the world.  Emily gave a huge push and her beautiful baby girl came flying into Dr. Wilson’s arms. As if this didn’t shock Dr. Wilson enough…he also got completely soaked with a  huge pocket of amniotic fluid hiding behind the baby.  It was like a tidal wave of karma.  He had amniotic fluid dripping off of his nose, his mouth, his eyes.  It was awesome!  He gasped for a breath the way kids do when they stay under water too long.  

Dr. Wilson: “Ronda?”  He called for me in a panic with his eyes closed.  I answered promptly.

Me: “Yes doctor.  Do you need my assistance?”  I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.

Dr. Wilson: “Yes? Towel please!”   He opened one eye and fumbled for a bulb syringe to clear out the baby’s airway.  He caught a glimpse of me laughing and he had to laugh too. “Oh, I see.  you think this is funny.” I wiped off his face for him.

Me:  I think this is hysterical.  Hey? I warned you to gown up.”

Dr. Wilson: “Yes..yes, I guess you did!”

Me: “What can I say, Dr. Wilson.  When I talk, I have very important things to say.”  (I love a good dig)

Dr. Wilson: (Laughing) “You are a good nurse Ronda and you are a good pusher Emily!”(He smiled at the newborn)” I’m telling you. This little girl got me good! I am soaked!”

I wrapped the newborn in a warm blanket so Emily could snuggle with her beautiful baby girl.  Who says a newborn can’t teach us some of life’s most important lessons?  Emily deserved this perfect newborn and I think most would agree that Dr. Wilson deserved a little splash in the face.

winking baby

“Don’t worry.  I got your back nurse Ronda!”

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One thought on “A Tidal Wave of Karma – From the Nurses’ Station

  1. Being a nurse in a teaching hospital—this brings me some fond memories of teaching new residents. Like don’t piss off the nurse or your pager will go off at weird times. Or you will be paged for EVERY LITTLE THING. And as a peds nurse–NEVER EVER wake up the sleeping baby or you will stay with said baby until that baby goes back to sleep.

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