Hospital nurses are the front line in any patient’s care. They provide his medications, they clean him, take him to the bathroom, feed him, and dutifully report the night’s events to the physician in charge. OB nurses will take this charge to the extreme. Their years of vast experience tell them that they shouldn’t let medical students or interns anywhere near a patient in labor. Despite my hospital’s policy that medical students should be involved in delivering all babies, the OB nurses will do all they can in their power to ensure that students are nowhere near the event.
For example, two sets of gowns and gloves are required for the delivery—one for the resident and one for the medical student. Medical students are supposed to be involved with every delivery in the hospital. The nurses know this, yet will passive aggressively prevent students from taking part. They will bring only one set of gown and gloves to the patient’s room, and when asked for another set by the resident, they will ignore this request and force the medical student to go on a hapless journey around the labor floor trying to find supplies. In my own case, by the time I got all the necessary equipment together and returned to the room, the patient had already delivered the baby.
The attendings are well aware of this problem. Despite multiple pleas from hospital administration, nurses continue to block medical students at every pass. This weekend was my last day on the labor and delivery rotation. Since I had not delivered a baby by myself yet, my attending told me that I would not be allowed to leave the hospital until I had caught at least one child.
My attending walked me to every nurse on the floor, introduced me, and said, “He’s going to deliver this patient’s baby tonight. Make sure that he has everything ready.” Expecting the nurses to once again have the room prepared for only the resident and not me, I preemptively went around and gathered all the necessary equipment and hid it in the patient’s room so that I would have everything laid out.
At 1:00 a.m., our patient decided to deliver. I threw on my equipment, got between her legs, and prepared to catch the baby as it made its way through the birth canal. The media portrays birthing as the miracle of life. An expectant mother has waited dutifully for nine months for the chance to see her baby breathe its first breath. In the movies, the baby always comes out perfectly clean and very beautiful. In reality, newborn babies look like aliens that are covered in fluid and shit and are very slippery.
The baby I caught came out in just one push. During the entire ordeal the father was holding his wife’s hand and telling her that everything was going smoothly. Meanwhile, I’m pulling out the baby and thinking to myself, oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit! Don’t drop it! Don’t drop it! Don’t drop it!
I managed to hold on to this slippery creature, cut its cord, and handed it over to the pediatrician. After taking care of the placenta, my resident said, “Great, you finally delivered a baby. Now you can go home.” And just think, she’s going to be there for another six hours delivering more children.