No, I did not really have a near death experience. But almost.
Nearly four years ago, the day before our Pickle Pants was born, I came down with a nasty stomach virus. Not that it’s ever fun to toss your cookies, but it’s especially awful when you’re 39 weeks pregnant. The virus was merciful, and went into hiding during my labor and delivery, but returned with a vengeance the next day. I learned that vomiting engages the exact same muscles used and abused during childbirth. I was on my hands and knees bowing before the porcelain throne, praying for deliverance. It wasn’t a good night.
Enter…let’s call her Susan, a very seasoned nurse in the maternal care unit who happened to be in a very sour and unsympathetic mood that evening. My husband had paged for a nurse, requesting an anti-emetic for his pathetic wife. As she entered my room she glanced at me heaving away in the bathroom and commented loudly, “Oh, another patient had this and it lasted for over a week.”
Perfect; precisely what I wanted to hear.
She brought me an anti-nausea pill – which I promptly upchucked – all the while complaining about the new scanners they had to use to dispense medications. A few hours later, it was apparent that I was becoming severely dehydrated, so she came in with an IV bag of saline as well as a stronger anti-emetic medication. She continued to grouse about the newfangled scanners as she worked on placing the IV in my arm. I couldn’t help but notice that there were lots of air bubbles in the line. I eyed them nervously, hoping she would see them and make them go away. Finally, as they began traveling steadily towards my arm, I spoke up. “Um, I think I saw on a movie once where someone offed a guy by injecting some air bubbles into his IV line.” She looked down and said, “Oh, it probably takes more than that.” Comforting. I looked over at Jason, cradling our less than 24-hour old daughter, and lamely waved goodbye, waiting for the room to go forever black. I obviously didn’t die that day, but boy was I nervous, and was I ever ready for shift change!
I’ve held onto that story for nearly four years. Whenever I talk about my first birth experience, that little horror story always gets told. Why is it that we love to tell awful stories? The more terrible our experience, the more we want to share it.
Almost three weeks ago, we headed to the same hospital in the middle of the night to have our little Man Cub. We had a beautifully uncomplicated birth experience and two hours after hearing his first cry, I took a wheelchair ride down to the maternal care unit to recover.
Moments after getting settled into my bed, there was a knock on the door, and in walks our old friend, Susan. My husband and I immediately locked eyes. Our thoughts were synchronized…”Not again!!”
I decided to make the most of it. I immediately spoke her name and told her that she was my nurse when our first was born. I did not mention the air bubbles. She visibly softened and made a sarcastic comment about how she was happy to get repeat customers. Now, I can’t say that Susan was exactly delightful and cheerful this time, because I just don’t think that’s her nature. But she was funny in her own curmudgeonly way, doted over me constantly and didn’t even get upset with me when I accidentally dropped my ultra-thick feminine napkin in the commode and she had to fish it out. At the end of her shift she came by to tell me goodnight and let me know that she had requested that she be assigned to me in the morning. We were officially BFFs.
The following afternoon she caught me packing up my things and asked if I was leaving her. I told her that as much as an extra night of rest would do me good, I missed my other two babies too much. “Fine, be that way” she said with a sardonic smirk. As my husband and I tried to slip away without a wheelchair ride for me (I’m fiercely independent and loathe all the fuss about having a baby), she busted me and insisted that she at least walk us out.
On the elevator ride down she told us that she had been working in the maternal care unit for over 40 years. It was her first and only nursing job. Then she asked us to pray for her kitty that had been missing for a few days. Once we exited the hospital she paused awkwardly and gave us both hugs. I wish I had gotten a selfie with her, but something told me she wasn’t a selfie kinda gal.
I know for a fact that there are younger, more chipper and cheerful nurses in the maternal care unit, but I’m so glad I got Susan again. I think we both needed redemption from our first impressions. First impressions are important, but I think we need to be ready to toss them in the garbage if need be. Because we all need a redo from time to time. 😉
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32