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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In Gratitude for Good Nurses and Modern Medicine

My new baby is now seven weeks old and as I think about everything that happened throughout my pregnancy and labor and delivery, I feel a great sense of gratitude. This was my fourth pregnancy and I thought I knew what to expect, but it ended up being the hardest and most complicated pregnancy I've had. Nothing major, as it turned out, but a lot of unexpected things. All those things made me grateful--again--for the blessings of modern medicine. I don't always agree with how things are done in mainstream medicine and believe it's important to educate myself about all things health related, whether Eastern or Western, herbal or pharmaceutical. But because of my body's inability to produce enough oxytocin--or whatever it is that prevents me from dilating naturally--I have to give birth in a hospital, hooked up to a "Pit" drip. (See a detailed post on this topic here.) Knowing how close to death my maternal ancestors came during childbirth who had this same problem, I am grateful for Pitocin every time, even though everyone tells me it makes the contractions much worse. Without it, I would not have been able to have otherwise natural deliveries. This is just one aspect of modern medicine that I am thankful for.

I am thankful, too, for another wonderful Certified Nurse Midwife (my fourth) who is so caring and respectful, knowledgeable, and experienced. I am grateful to have options in modern medicine and be able to decide whether I want an OB/GYN or a CNM to deliver my babies at the hospital. I have always had great midwives and OBs whom I can trust with my care.

There are also many, many good nurses out there who make a positive difference in the lives of their patients. Some of my favorite people are nurses, including one of my sisters, and I know how much they do--very often beyond the call of duty--for those in their care. Such was the case this time with my baby's nurse. After the baby's initial feeding shortly after birth, she couldn't seem to latch on again. I tried not to worry, as I remembered how sleepy my other three babies had been the first couple days after birth. And, just like them, this one had also swallowed a fair amount of fluid before she was born. In my experience this was all "normal." But her nurse didn't accept these normal problems. Not only did she work with me and the baby for quite a while to get her to latch on when she really preferred to sleep, but the nurse also worked with her in the nursery. Because I couldn't sleep with the baby in my room, since she coughed and spit up fluid about every 10 minutes, I opted to have the nurses take her to the nursery in between feedings. It was such a relief to be able to give my baby into their hands for a couple of hours at a time, knowing she would be well taken care of while I got some much needed rest. And while that first nurse was on shift, she worked with my baby in the nursery, getting her to spit up a surprising amount of fluid. Her theory was that because the baby's stomach was full of fluid she felt no need to eat. I think she was right. By the time her shift ended, my baby was latching on again and starting to eat as if she were hungry. And by the time we left the hospital, she was actually 2 oz above her birth weight, which has never happened before with any of our other babies. I attribute it all to this diligent nurse who took a personal interest in my baby and determined to figure out the problem and fix it if she could. What a blessing it was to actually have my baby latching on well and gaining weight as we returned home! I felt like that got us on the right track from the beginning, which has made all the difference. I will always be grateful to that nurse.

So here's to all the good health care providers who are invested in improving the lives of those in their care, and here's to all that is good and helpful about modern medicine.

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