I ended this rollercoaster week with an evening in on Friday night. I had just submitted my lottery choices, and needed a day off from Midwifery Education Program. I felt emotionally and mentally exhausted.
But! All was not lost. Going to bed early made it easier for me to get up at 5:30am for my first ever labour and delivery shift. And let me tell you, this shift gave me what I needed, when I needed it most.
6:30am, Saturday October 10
Trying to convince myself that I was awake and alert, I grabbed a bike and made my way through the silent Hamilton streets to the hospital. There’s something serene about biking through city streets, in the peaceful and dark hours before most people have woken. I’m sure there will be many more hours alone with the night in my future.
I arrived early, asked for directions a few times, and finally got myself to the birthing unit at the hospital.
I timidly walked up to the nursing station where a nurse helped me get some scrubs out of, what I can only describe as, a scrub vending machine. I changed into the oversized professional pyjamas and then lurked around the nursing station until an opportune moment arose to introduce myself. The nurses all gave me funny looks, but very soon absorbed me into their care.
“We can never understand why they make you shadow a nurse on your first day in a hospital. But, welcome anyway,” said one of RNs.
After the awkward introduction, I was partnered with a very experienced nurse, who showed me all the labouring tricks of the trade. Her client was young, early 20s, and having her first baby. Normally with first babies, labours are longer and sometimes more difficult, but when I walked into the client’s room she didn’t even seem like she was labouring!
“Let’s have a baby before noon, shall we?” the nurse said to the client. The client smiled, eager for that to be the case. She didn’t disappoint; the baby was born quickly and in good health.
It was so rewarding to be a part of this birth, and the subsequent one 10 hours later. I was able to listen to baby heartbeats, administer some medications, chart observations, watch perineal repairs, and provide labour support. I soaked in procedure for charting records, learned how nursing banter contributes to interprofessional teamwork, and jabbed in every clinical teaching I could force into my brain.
As I left the hospital I felt grateful for every teaching. Some good things, some not so good, but everything reinforced for me that I was in the right place. This is where I’m meant to work.
I needed this day.