Wisconsin War Bride Diary I, Chapter 5

Emerging from Mary’s Wedding

I awaken quickly to my mother’s oatmeal the next morning. I’m a little “bummed out” over the Dot Asper revelation regarding Bernie Sattler. It’s obvious that Bernie is most probably a POW at best. However, based on the accurate military reports he most likely is deceased and never to be found (remains). We’ll all have to live with that reality. I hate it; but that is how modern life is within our democracy. I want it all to change; but we must make the most of our circumstances surrounding all these horrid wars. Everyone will be leaning on the United States to financially assist freedom seeking nations such as West Germany, South Korea and many emerging post World War II countries throughout the globe. I can’t fathom how the United States and even the baby United Nations can support all these birthing countries. There is considerable controversy in the United States regarding endless Communist threats on a daily basis. All this news certainly hit home with Bernie Sattler’s family. I ponder whether the United States sending troops far away overseas and losing our good men is worth the trouble. Would these countries help the United States in time of need? Helping the United States by other allies would be highly doubtful after World War II. Thus, I need to move on and quit brooding over uncontrolled worldly matters.

The oatmeal is quite tasty. Only my mother can make oatmeal to kill. I can’t cook this; nor can anyone else. I want it all; and I’ve got it all right here in Monroe, Wisconsin. It seems bleak around here with my brother, James, entrenched in the Jesuit ministry. I’m home alone with my parents brooding over every voluntary act I perform. It’s better to have them close than not having parents at all or parents far away. Presently, I love my parents to the inner core; but I maintain my growing need to move out of the house. I need a rocket ejectment to another area of our small community for privacy. All my social and work moves are within may parents’ purview. It continues to be just too close.They mean well; however it’s hard to make great decisions based on Mom and Dad’s needed approval for everything other than work. Mary’s marriage is the biggest deal of the year. Next to Bernie Sattler’s probable death, I am not without happenings (both happy and sad). It’s hard sometimes to write in my diary. I fear Mom will discover my inner feelings. I’ve got nothing to hide; but I wanted my personal feelings not discovered until light years after I’m gone. My diary is very special and personal to me. I want to keep it that way. It’s just a matter of time before Mom discovers my secret book. And I know she snoops!

Mary and Rolly are now just settling in Aurora, Illinois (western suburb). Rollie was from Canada and is getting called back by the United States and Canadian military. As a French Canadian, he was the interpreter for Chiang – Kai Shek in China. Rolly is now getting called back as Chiang – Kai Shek’s personal aide along with being the French interpreter. No one is happy regarding the sequence of events; however there will be many goodies in marriage for Rolly and Mary. Nothing would stop the marriage from occurring; and I’m feeling that Mary knew this Asian mission was probable based on Rollie’s French Canadian military role. Rollie’s engineering career will springboard in time. His college training at the Milwaukee Engineering School was superb. Rollie was at the top of his class. His job with General Electric will take him to greater bounds than anyone imagined. I surely hope Rolly is safe while in Asia. He’s leaving over the next 48 hours. Mary has to drive him to Chicago International Airport (soon to be Midway Airport) in Chicago. Once at the airport, Rollie flies to San Francisco, Hawaii and then China. It will be quite exciting, yet lonely. Mary has seen this sequence prior. My life will become closer to Mary since she’ll return to Green County, Wisconsin for some weekends. Mary is working at the local hospital as an RN; and wants to maintain her skills. Thus, I’ll see her some, but it won’t be what my parents feel is a regular weekend visit. My parents will consider Mary returning home to be a more permanent situation. Rollie and her need survival skills learned from experience. Mom and Dad cannot teach them everything over weekend visits. It will be good to see my sister periodically. A full dose of Mary is stressful. The fights between us from many years ago have simmered. At one time, we were in a room together on the upper floor of our family home. Nobody felt that was a fair proposition because Mary always fought over everything. We’d fight over a toothbrush. However, I dearly miss her; and at times wished I lived next door. When we attended Marquette together, we seemed to get along well. Most likely it was because Brother Jim was in the middle of our intermittent boxing match. Now the Zuercher siblings are not geographically close, and we relish the good times and forget the bad skirmishes.

I really do worry about Mary’s husband, Rollie, heading back to China to assist Chiang Kai-Shek as interpreter. There’s always assassination attempts, military coups and turmoil amidst warring countries. The French Indochina area is where some of the fighting is occurring after WWII. Additionally, Chiang Kai-Shek’s party is well on their way to Taiwan after Mao Zedong has apparently overtaken mainland China by force of war and the people. Chiang Kai – Shek was a great ally for the United States and the allied forces during WWII and beyond. We would not have won WWII without Chiang’s Chinese forces supporting our troops and country. Most of the military guys I’ve known had great admiration for China; and the mutual support that occurred between the countries. Chiang by all accounts warred against warlords within China, Communists throughout Asia, French forces in IndoChina, Japan and at times other countries such as Tibet. He is a charismatic figure with endless stories of war and peace. Through all of this, Rollie it appears will be stationed in Taiwan. He’ll have some American support additionally post WWII. The entire area in the Pacific rim is unstable. Who knows how long any political or military solution for the common person will last? My concern is Rollie’s safety; and despite Mary stating that Rollie would be protected with layers of military, there is no safety in time of war. Japan has surrendered (V-J Day); however, there are still conflicts throughout Asia that are unsettled (ie Korea). I’m still nervous for Mary.

I’m back at work on a routine Monday and we have admitted an expectant Mother with premature labor. This is such a controversial subject today amongst obstetric nurses and obstetricians. Normally, we attempt to allow Mother Nature its ability to do what is “natural”. The baby born before 32 weeks or thereabouts may die from RDS, respiratory distress syndrome. The underdeveloped lungs will not allow oxygen exchange despite efforts to increase the delivered baby’s oxygen level. Thereafter, most babies died a tumultuous death in front of the family. I’ve seen this a few times and despite resuscitation efforts, it is very disconcerting to a Mom and family. Today, our Mom is 31 weeks; and is definitely in premature labor. She’s 3 cm dilated (-1 station (still high)), and has a thick unripe cervix. The question is whether to do a Caesarean Section and live with the consequences – hoping the dates are off by a month (she’s really 35 weeks). Other options are bedrest and pray, allow Mom to just deliver with an expected high rate of complications for Mom and baby, or give alcohol to arrest the labor. Alcohol is used by a small number of our physicians and is very controversial. It definitely stops labor in many women; but it also causes immense drunkenness. The most common alcohol is whiskey or vodka; since it has a high alcohol content and works quickly. There are IV alcohol treatments, but that hasn’t arrived in Green County, Wi. as of yet. Therefore, we will treat by giving oral alcohol to this wonderful Mom if she so elects. Dr. Marin is her family doctor, and the couple and Dr. Marin are admitting Mom X and beginning whisky treatments asap. Mom apparently is well aware that baby will also be drunk and risk developmental issues; but this is balanced against the near certainty of the baby dying from prematurity. Mom may have disastrous complications also (including death from bleeding). I’m on my way to meet the couple and her entire extended family.

Standing in front of me is a large gallon of whiskey with a high proof label (90 plus %). Mom has already begun drinking while contracting every 3 minutes vigorously. We’ve checked the fetal heart tones; and they seem normal. And there is only one baby by clinical exam. Despite this, the doctor has ordered an xray and pelvimetry to evaluate Mom’s pelvis by measurements for delivery. This entire scene is serious. It’s my call, but I’m having all the family leave except the husband. Oh, I forgot, they are not married. I’m in a dilemma with the hospital policy regarding births. He is the proclaimed father; so he can stay. However, our Catholic hospital wants only direct family members to be present (rigid). Thus, I call Dr. Marin and he’s okay with the Dad present. There is a wedding planned after birth. I don’t want to lose my job over the logistics of a dangerous birth (happens). This pregnant gal is drinking the whiskey fairly rapidly; and now she is acting drunk within an hour. This seems an odd way of treating a patient. This alcohol method can work for premature labor.

I travel back and check my ward. We’ve just admitted four more active laboring women. Three laboring women are receiving twilight (Demerol and Scopolamine intramuscularly). They will remember zero from their labor experience. One lady wants general anesthesia (halothane inhalation anesthetic). She’ll be delivered in an operating room (OR). All of a sudden my Monday went from quiet to screaming busy. I need to get a handle on myself because I am worried about the Mom receiving the alcohol. Dr. Marin is cool, going through a divorce and peeking around at all the nurses periodically. I want nothing to do with the man. He’s far older than me; and he’s in rebound mode (not for me). My Mom already knows the specifics and has told me plenty through the church gossip. Thus, I cannot concentrate on this obstetrician being nice or not nice. We are still undergoing a rigid medical social hierarchal transition. Thus, if I’m charting, certain physicians want the nurses to all stand when the physician enters the nursing station to write notes or discuss the case. That occurred in some of my training hospitals at Marquette University; however it is slowly going by the wayside. Many of the nurses feel it should be the other way around (doc stands while nurse sits). We all want to keep our jobs. Therefore, I’m not sitting when Dr. Marin arrives. I’ll just slump a little to keep doing my never ending charting. I’m not about wanting to create a rift between the administration, nursing and the physicians. Most of our docs are killer-dillers. They treat nursing and our nursing aides quite well. I just don’t trust Dr. Marin. He’s seemingly in control, but there are just too many stories.

I’m called back to the premature labor and the Mom is vigorously vomiting from the alcohol. She’s nearly in a coma. And now she is breathing a 2-4 breaths/minute. I’m calling anesthesia. Dr. Marin walks into the room and says she’ll be alright. I cannot believe he’s saying this! And the baby is obviously stressed as fetal heart tones are weak and slow (60-80 beats/minute). Dr. Marin has instructed us to not request anesthesia to intubate (tube in the trachea) and assist with breathing. Though the contractions are now slowing (6-8 minutes apart), Mom and baby are now at a critical risk of dying. The family is quite concerned; however, Dr. Marin instructs us to just allow the alcohol to wear off. He’s more experienced than I regarding this alcohol treatment for premature labor. I’m just stuck with a Mom who can barely breathe. We’ve encouraged her to take deep breaths; but she is stuporous and in an alcohol induced coma. This situation is not the best; and will take hours to metabolize the alcohol. I want a nice serene delivery ward; and it’s everything but a calm quiet place for birthing moms.

I rush back to the ward and the one Mom wanting a halothane anesthetic appears ready to push and deliver. She absolutely is very uncomfortable and needs relief. The anesthetist is administering Mom high dose inhalation halothane and Mom is quieting. Within seconds Mom is asleep and the baby is near delivery. The midwife catching junior is also ready to do an episiotomy (cut of the perineum to allow more room for baby). I cannot fathom receiving an episiotomy without a local anesthetic such as lidocaine or a general anesthetic (halothane). Mom pushes unknowingly and baby is delivered easily (multiparous – more than her first baby). This was easy. I’m leaving the room and Mom begins to violently vomit. She has a full stomach as her breakfast is coming out in a rocket projectile. Our suction of her mouth is weak; and it is inevitable that she is aspirating. Aspiration after anesthesia is not uncommon and is a nurse’s worst nightmare. Mom wheezes and immediately enters a pneumonia phase from the stomach contents entering the lung. Last year a Mom died post general anesthesia at St. Claire Hospital in Monroe, Wisconsin post delivery due to pulmonary aspiration. I instruct anesthesia to lay Mom on her side and trendelenburg the bed (head down 30 degrees). This is new nursing treatment for potential aspiration. Considerable more stomach contents from last evening’s meal emerges. The entire bed is saturated with bile, stomach fluids and undigested food. The baby is doing great; but I’m concerned she may not have a Mom. Mom is awakening and appears to be having trouble breathing. I listen to her lungs and they have rales (crackles). We are in big trouble with the Mom.

I quickly call the on call internist (Internal or Adult Medicine specialist). I inform him that we need help desperately due to lung aspiration. He encourages Anesthesia to intubate the patient and take her to the primitive intensive care unit next to the recovery room. ICUs have recently begun with mechanical ventilation using an iron lung. The pressure changes within the casket appearing chamber change with every breath and allow the lungs to inflate. Our mom will need the iron lung to breathe and stay alive for a few days. She’ll also receive penicillin, our wonder antibiotic of choice. I may nurse her to a large degree due to my ICU experience in Milwaukee Hospitals at Marquette University. We had many patients from tuberculosis and polio that couldn’t breathe. We were able to keep these patients alive until they recovered to a degree from their illness. The issues will be round the clock nursing care and other patients potentially needing our one iron lung. It appears that our Mom will need the respiratory treatment of mechanical iron lung ventilation assistance a few days and possibly weeks. If other patients need treatment, then will need immediate transfer. I’ll slip home and obtain some sleep and not awaken my parents. I’m now thinking I really do need my own place and my own car. I’m making enough money to self support. The only matter that will be a problem is Mom’s cooking and Dad’s constant chiding me. I’ll still be around the community. I’ve grown accustomed to my parents and it’s nice to have them brood over you; however lately it’s a ton of personal questions. Moms want to know everything. I’ll get the nerve to ask them if it would work for them not having me around. They actually may enjoy that aspect since it would be more privacy for everyone.

I stumble home and am met by a quiet light on in the living room. I enter at 1 AM and Mom is up talking to my sister, Mary. Apparently Rollie left earlier in the day and Mary wanted to move back home. Mary appears happy. Additionally, she appears she’s gained weight and has facial browness (chloasma). Everything is big including her buttocks, breasts and tummy. Oh my God! Mary, my sister, is pregnant. And Mom knew that I would pick up on the idea of pregnancy without a ton of help. It also appears to me that she is much happier than normal. I sneak up to the both of them after grabbing a coca cola and say: Congratulations!. She says she’s due in approximately 7 months. Mary is one-third finished with pregnancy! Maybe she’ll deliver in our ward if Rollie is tied up for months in Asia. Who really knows what will happen after WWII? We do know that many factions are still fighting and it may never end. I only wish for Rollie to come home as soon as possible. His job with General Electric has been placed on hold and he’s guaranteed the job when he returns. Mary just may deliver by the time Rollie returns home. After talking to Mom and Mary until 0230, Mary will live with us until Rollie returns or the baby is born. I feel good and bad about that. The attention will now be diverted from myself to Mary by my parents. And they will not care about me moving elsewhere (I think).

Mary was the first of our children in the Zuercher family. I was last and James was sandwiched in between. Mary was always their favorite child, with James in second place and myself again in last place. That is just how it really seemed or appeared to myself. I was the last forgotten child of three. Oh, well, let’s send Jean Suzanne Zuercher (me) to Marquette University. She was a sly troublemaker in high school. Proper Mary and “never can do wrong” brother James have accomplished great things at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jean Suzanne Zuercher can accomplish almost as much a Mary. She won’t be a nun; but Marquette will straighten her composure. I’ll always be in last place; and now that the favorite child, Mary Zuercher or should I say Mary Cote (after marriage) is moving home, she’ll easily knock me off my pedestal surrounding the present household. I’ll be totally ignored. I’m still in sibling 3rd place within the Zuercher household.

The good thing is that my leaving home will bring an excuse to have my own car (highly needed). I’ll have the freedom of my own apartment or rental house. No, I don’t want to purchase a house presently. The future with me is a touch nebulous. I received a call from the Marquette dorm gals who are working in the Wisconsin area. A select group of nursing coeds graduating recently will be traveling to Denver for work and implicitly trying to find a husband. Apparently there are many more guys to girls in the Rocky Mountain region. The ratios are such that you cannot lose unless you’re bottled in a small flat with no social contacts. I don’t know if I can believe all these supposed facts; however I’m on the short list of Marquette coeds who are working post college and have not “settled’ yet. That is comforting to know; and I’m receiving phone calls and letters more frequent as this date is moving up faster than I can imagine. I thought it was a wild fetched idea; however these gals want husbands and they will do whatever it takes. If you want to catch a mouse,.use a mousetrap. My mother would be doing back flips if she knew I was scheming to move to Denver, Colorado. She doesn’t even know anything beyond the Mississippi River. She’s heard of Iowa, but I doubt she’s driven through it. Mom and Dad are just not travelers. They could visit me maybe once a year in Colorado. Oh, why am I thinking this way? I’m back home for good and I know it. Yes, I may be an old maid; but there are others. There just is not a bunch of eligible guys in our county at present.

I did certainly discover after Mary was at Marquette University that she met Rollie while sneaking out of the dorm at night (10 PM curfew). The resident nun had fallen asleep and the back door was wedged unlocked to deter campus police from thinking that anything was wrong. Mary led the league of late night charges by the nursing dorm escaping to find fun and guys. My sister had wool over my parents’ eyes constantly. Mom and Dad still have the same wool over their eyes when it comes to Mary as a now full fledged adult. I’ll never remove this sibling rivalry from our house. Mom’s constant insertions and innuendoes regarding I wonder what Mary and Rollie are doing are getting old. We are adults and my parents don’t even realize there is favoritism. The reality is I can only escape the comparison to Mary if I marry a true knight in shining armor. And bearing 5 – 7 children with a knight would only get me in the ballgame to compete for my parents attention equal to Mary Cote. Why I am I repeatedly thinking in this manner? I’ll always compete with my beloved sister; and we may become close friends instead of competitors while she is lying in wait.

I grab a Monroe Evening Times newspaper. I filter through the classified ads and discover a small attached apartment for rent behind a nearby house. This is very close to our church (St. Victor’s Catholic Church). It is close to Recreation Park for swimming and I can watch baseball games in the evenings for freel. Who knows? Maybe hanging out at Recreation Park may bring out the best in Monroe’s social life and maybe I might meet a nice guy. I do need and am daily feeling the inner struggle to settle down, marry and have children. I’m surrounded by Moms and their babies. It’s fun planning their lives after the babies are born (when clinically everything works well during labor and delivery with a normal baby exam). I really can’t wait until it’s my turn – if I ever get the chance. My parents constantly are asking about this guy or this social clique which apparently I’ve not been included within. I’m left out of certain social circles with college graduates in Monroe, Wisconsin because I didn’t go to the University of Wisconsin. I’m just not a Badger! I’ve been snubbed because I snubbed all of Wisconsin and Green County by attending a private Catholic college. My dad being President of the First National Bank has not helped either. Dad is an esteemed guy in town. That’s another jealousy factor. People are nice, but I’m not included in some real lively meetup social events. I’ll just keep my head into my job and good things will occur eventually. Good attitude will prevail.

I’ve been tagged Bernie Sattler’s widow by many within Green County, Wisconsin. Everyone in our community knows that the war for Bernie most likely led to his demise. If he is alive or a prisoner in North Korea, then he most certainly has major injuries. I’d love to nurse him back to health. That will most likely never occur due to the military reports that he most likely is MIA and never to return based on the military field reports. I certainly miss him; but can’t feel sorry for myself because there are many widows and near war widows like myself. I wish I had known Bernie longer; but then again Dot Asper’s relationship with him may have been competitive. I’ll just bury myself in so much work that the rest of my life will take care of itself. I cannot allow my older sister to dominate my life. She’ll be reviewing and commenting on my social life and what I need to do or not do to enhance my life. My parents will agree; and it may be considerably too much stress for myself. Burying myself into my Obstetric nursing practice will occupy my time, enhance by career and I will end up far ahead. Perhaps, I’ll obtain a Masters or a Doctorate nursing degree. I’ll let the guy thing find it’s way onto my platform insidiously in time. Dr. Marin has made some subtle moves towards me again. I feel he’s an excellent physician and takes really great care of his patients. He is a social monster; and I wouldn’t want to be near him after work. Thus, I’ll just keep plugging away and learn to adjust to new social relationships as they enter my new life. I need to be a touch away from Mom and Dad. .

I do hear periodically that our Swiss relatives will be visiting us in the near future. They reside from Ulm, Switzerland. There is a family tree dating back to the 1300s involving the Zuercher family. My aunts who live in Brodhead, Wisconsin (still in Green County) have been a large part of maintaining the family name.They are involved with a cheese factory, farm and other related businesses in Green County. I need to remind everyone that the Zuerchers came to Ellis Island as a clan in the late 1800s. We split as a sect into North and South. Some Zuerchers stayed in the Chicago area, while other relatives advanced to Green County, Wisconsin. I’m the Green County sect. Many people comment that they know Zuerchers in Chicago. There are Zuerchers in many areas throughout the midwest modernly. The most notable relatives are the Zuercher Cheese Company in Chicago. Eleanor Zuercher is a big part of this along with her father. She’s married to Frankie. My uncles include Charles, Albert and Joseph. Albert and Joseph (Jesuits) are now in South Dakota Indian Reservation land spreading the word. My Dad’s sisters (Bertha and Lydia) reside in Brodhead and make their living assisting at the cheese factory and farm. They work hard and continue to yodel at Turner Hall and New Glarus on weekends. They attend mass daily and play the organ, sing and 100% donate their care to the parish (St. Rose of Lima) in Brodhead, Wisconsin.

We’ve got a tight knit hard working family. I really don’t want to move to Denver. I just need to move down the street from Mom and Dad. I love them to death; however I need my own adult life. I cannot bring myself to live at home while single in the foreseeable future. The place with the attached apartment appears better everyday. Mary may make life rough on me if I move. She’ll claim I need Mom’s and Dad’s approval. I’ll always remain in the shadow of Mary; and now that she’s moved in for the rest of the pregnancy and possibly beyond (depending on Rollie’s mission), we will somehow need to cooperate. I love my sister as much as anyone. I’ll just always be in second or third place with my parents. Mary can do no wrong. Therefore, I need to deal with not only work related issues as the head Obstetric nurse at St. Claire Hospital in Monroe, Wisconsin, but my family and home situation. Attempting to deal with Mary, her pregnancy and the combination of my parents interaction of myself and Mary within the same household places the biggest stress upon myself. I don’t feel anyone in our family realizes these facts.

Our phone rings and the hospital needs me to drop everything and come in for a stat Cesarean Section. A woman is abrupting her uterus and placenta. The baby is in distress and needs the real world more than being inside Mom. I’m on my way without my hair done, make-up on, or fresh clothes. I maybe slept 4 hours last evening. I’m still worried about my place at home now that Mary has returned. I fly out the door and tell Dad that I’ll get the car back somehow. We need another car in this family. I’m chasing down the street going the back way. I stop for a youth softball game that extends from the yard into the street. These kids are all yelling at me not to disrupt the game. I need a break. The Dad comes out and I inform him that I’m a nurse and a baby is threatened. He moves the kids out of the street and I’m back on course. I run through a stop light and a policeman sees me. He turns on his blinking lights and I keep going. Now I hear a siren. I cannot believe this is happening. I drive into the hospital front entrance with the policeman on my tail. I emerge from the car and inform him I’m a nurse. A baby and Mom may die! I look at this guy again and it was my long lost neighbor, Alexander.

We say hello and he’s apparently good with my excuse. I ask him if he’d give my Dad a ride to pick up my car and he agrees. I don’t care about the traffic ticket. I immediately run upstairs and a family doctor and an obstetrician are scrubbing vigorously. They instruct me to scrub in. I’m scrubbing and I look into the OR (Operating Room). I see poor vital signs on a morbidly obese patient. The patient is resisting going to sleep; however the nurse anesthetist is finally able to get the woman to sleep with cyclopropane. She’s intubated and we’re into her belly quickly. The baby doesn’t look good. Oh no, there’s not one baby, there’s three (triplets). I cannot believe this poor gal was struggling so much. There wasn’t enough time to obtain an x ray examination of her pelvis (we would have noted 3 bodies on x ray). The admitting nurse said the fetal heart tones with her stethoscope sounded like horses galloping (all three baby heartbeats plus Mom’s heart interspersed). We are ready to deliver, and the babies appear pre-term. The babies are by my estimation 32 – 34 weeks. The genitalia, facial features, size and overall tone appear under developed (prematurity). We have oxygen for one baby, but not three preterm infants. This case belongs in a University center like the UW in Madison. We have one pediatrician on call and he’s overwhelmed in the ER. I call all the nurses from OB and pediatrics and have them attend to the babies as best they can.

I’m giving instructions for oxygen and suction. These little guys all look alike; and they are all acting alike. None of them can breathe well. The cyanosis is evident and the color is deteriorating rapidly. Obviously their lungs are underdeveloped. We need help fast. The Mom has continued to bleed and a decision is made to do a Caesarean hysterectomy. This is my second case of a hysterectomy performed at childbirth. We are a rural hospital; and I sincerely understood that these clinical anomalies only occurred in big cities with lower socioeconomic populations. Mom has lost at least half her blood volume and O negative blood is on order. The pathologist is coming from home to cross match the blood and determine if the typing and cross matching are correct. Mom is so large that she will be a high risk for pneumonia and blood clots postop. I’m living big city medicine in rural Green County, Wisconsin.

Nursing help has arrived for the three infants. They suffer from RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome). These triplet babies lack chemicals to ensure that the lungs will properly recoil and exchange oxygen. I’m fearing that the babies are so young that they indeed may die. High flow oxygen is being administered across the face with a mask. They all are improving and Mom’s traveling to the Recovery Room. I’m drenched in sweat, have no car to get home and am now in charge of a group of women just admitted into labor. Amidst these clinical stressors, I am crying from absence of sleep, fatigue and my sister arriving home. I had great nursing training while at Marquette University in all the Milwaukee hospitals. Nothing prepared me to be in such a leadership position with so many critical patients and sick Moms and babies. I need a break. Maybe I should go to Denver with my friends and take a floor job. It would be easier, I’d meet a guy and have the mountains for time off. Why am I thinking this way? Nothing is easy in nursing. Everything is falling apart at the seams. It is one emergency after another with no end in sight. Mom’s in labor have a ton of needs (mostly pain). Thankfully, we are able without a phone call to administer the twilight anesthesia when the gals hit the door in escalating labor. The decibel level in the room goes down considerably. Husbands are happy; and generally just leave the room. Our policy is still the doctor, nurse and patient in the room for delivery. We allow Dad to visit, but not remain. Many modern birthing techniques allow many others to visit the birthing suite frequently or stay for the entire process. I prefer no Dad, because Dad’s historically incur syncope (fainting spells). We have enough to deal clinically without rescuing fathers to be.

The policeman left a note at the Obstetric nursing station that my car is home and there is no formal ticket. There is a warning to drive with safety and obey the traffic signs. What am I to do? Should I travel through the stop signs and be there when I’m needed? Should I obey every traffic sign and be late with a dead Mom and babies? I’ll just live with the traffic tickets and save Moms and babies. The obstetricians are essentially left alone. The police know their cars, and when they are traveling fast realize it’s an obstetric emergency. These physicians also know the backways where cops are not present. There is street smarts of how to practice health care in a rural hospital. I just need to adapt. It is either feast or famine. I like famine occasionally. I’m checking all the laboring Moms. One of them was a classmate of mine. She was from the other clique which was a group of mean spirited gals. They rebelled against everything including boys, school, prom and wars. I didn’t care for any of them; and assumed they’d all recover and be civil or just die. The one true meanie was Stephanie. She is now in labor as a single parent. She’ll be shunned the rest of her life in Monroe, Wisconsin. A girl doesn’t deliver without a ring on her finger. That is the unwritten law. Apparently, giving birth as a single parent in a rural county also shuts off the spigot from your own family also. Your family has to live daily with the scorn of being part of a family that has a child born out of wedlock (bastard). In Monroe, Wisconsin and rural America, that thought never goes away. You are reminded of being a single Mom and committing endless sins. You are not welcome in many churches (certainly not St. Victors Catholic Church). Maybe the post war era will change this thinking.

I’m able to perform another double shift and crawl home. I’m walking home (half an hour). I have blood on my nursing uniform and my cap is full of surgical stains. This will give me time to think. I never imagined that Obstetrics would be so difficult. It is highly rewarding when the delivery is completed and Mom’s post partum. They live for a week in our hospital post delivery. Occasionally we have a baby with an RH blood typing issue from Mom’s previous exposure to an RH + baby if she is negative. Most of these jaundice (yellow) babies are eventually doing well. We use sunlight extensively for baby’s recovery. This makes a yellow baby normal quickly while the yellowness (bilirubin) breaks down from the sunlight. I’m so exhausted; but now somewhat refereshed by emerging from the hospital. The rebellious Stephanie was a good patient and delivered a nine pound baby boy. This was her second boy; and her family seems so happy. She’s changed for the better; and now has a growing family. She’s nursing and will be with our staff for a week. Normally, I don’t attend to post partum gals, however, I’ll certainly attend to Stephanie as a past acquaintance. She doesn’t need lactation assistance since she’s been through thorough training prior. She may have seemed a touch jealous now that I’m the big shot head Obstetric nurse at St. Claire Hospital. Already, I’ve developed a reputation around town. It bothered me a little that Stephanie mentioned to me that I was still single. That is a bit rude, but honest. I can’t escape anything in this small town. And I’m not paying attention to this stalking Dr. Marin. He would date anyone at anytime for any reason. I’m supposed to be clearing my head with a positive attitude as self therapy.

I arrive home and notice that the neighborhood has tons of cars surrounding our house. It’s similar to Mary’s wedding. I’m tired but gather my thoughts that most probably this is another post marital celebration with Mary at the helm. There will be endless showers for the baby, clothes, visits and anything my older sister desires through my parents. I’m still in third place; and will never climb the hurdle of my sister (1st place) and brother (2nd place). I’m just me, Jean Suzanne Zuercher RN. Rather, I’m Jean Suzanne Zuercher HEAD OBSTETRIC RN at St. Claire Hospital Monroe, Wisconsin. That sounds excellent; however, I’m still competing with Mary for family attention. Maybe I should have taken that Milwaukee suburb floor job that actually paid more salary. What would downtown Chicago be like? There are Zuerchers in the Windy City. It’s over. I cannot leave without leaving a trail of tears and a legacy of being single forever.

I enter our family home and at least thirty women all a little older than me are there with kids. It is loud and suddenly soft. The kids quit crying and the talk goes to zero levels. Everyone stares at me with my tattered white RN uniform. I don’t know what to say. Mary asked, how are the triplets? Another gal asked if I had a boyfriend (how totally rude plain smack in front of the entire community). Then Mom came in and said I had a blind date established by Laurel, Mary’s friend. It’s not nice to just say hello and how was work. It has to be a somewhat condescending rhetorical remark about my private life. Mary will always dominate me. Now the entire town is dominating me; and I’m the gal who drove away and returned with some big league clinical skills. I’m not normally sensitive; but I am now. I wish my sister (despite hubby Rollie overseas with Chiang Kai – Shek) to return to Aurora, Colorado. I’d take my brother James sandwiched in between Mary and I any day of the week. James is gone for good on a mission of love for God. He is immensely more happy than I am now. I’m tired, tearful, hungry and thirsty. I had thought of having a beer; however rumors in this town travel faster than the speed of a telephone. I want isolation, privacy, my college friends and peers, and just a normal guy to quiet this community and my parents. I need to sleep; and maybe I’ll steal one of Mom’s sleeping pills. No, I can’t do that because she counts pills. I’ll just suffer while Mary’s party goes on forever. I’m in third place and never climbing to the top of the league. I’ll cry myself to sleep. I’ve done it before and can do it again. I should get used to this because Mary will have a never ending celebration of her life, her baby,marriage and her #1 position in our family. That is just how it is; and I need to deal and accept. I’m falling asleep and will awaken to happiness. Good night!