Wisconsin War Bride Diary I, Chapter 7

RN Obstetric Duties

 I’ve totally given up the thought of moving out now that I’m surrounded by sister Mary and my parents. They’ve detected that I’m worth keeping by listening to some of my wants and needs. The unfortunate matter is that I’m still needing to move out because I’m a single adult harnessed by hovering parents and a sister that supersedes me. Mary will never take a backseat to anything that has my involvement. Mary has high priority within our family. If I have a friend over to the house, Mary dominates immediately. She tries to be cool and casual; but eventually takes over the entire matter. She makes my friends more her friends. I should just go to bed and allow Mary to dominate the entire social scene within our family. My parents detect this; but cannot stop any of Mary’s intrusions into my life unfortunately. That is just how matters are; and I’ll just have to cope. I want to enjoy my life with some freedom from our family. If I move out of the household, friends will ask what is wrong. If I stay, then people will create snide remarks regarding my present living situation as not being an adult lifestyle. I cannot win. I will endeavor to just deal with the situation, not allow what others feel is right or wrong for myself and enjoy my family. I will get totally lost in my obstetric nursing duties. I want nothing but the best for everyone including family, friends and patients. I can only do what I can physically and emotionally perform. I’ll just maintain a great job at work and keep my head held high. My obstetric RN duties will keep my body and mind very busy.

 Shelly was a high school tennis player a year behind me in high school We were both on the Monroe Cheesemaker varsity squad. We sparred for many years and won more than we lost. Shelly is now married and has two children. She is far ahead of me in family life; however wants to reconnect. Her husband was in North Africa and within the European theatre of war. He was fortunate to return and has stress war syndrome and many physical ailments. I’ve seen him at the VFW playing cards and having a few beers. Shelly has been a mainstay working as a waitress. Her husband, Halet, has been slow to recover physically and emotionally. As a couple and individually this family is receiving extensive counseling. I don’t know if this family will ever mend from World War II. Shelly wants to return to playing tennis on a regular basis. Neither of us has hit balls for a few years (college). I think this is about playing tennis and staying in shape. Shelly’s voice on the last phone conversation was of near panic. We are both young and she is dealing with a disabled veteran emotionally and physically. We plan on meeting tomorrow at Recreation Park near the pool to play tennis for a couple hours. I suspect she’ll spill her beans to me, the RN.

 Onward and upward the hospital goes. We are installing new anesthesia machines that deliver more exact amounts of halothane for labor and delivery. The copper kettle developed by Dr. Waters at the University of Wisconsin has entered the labor and delivery suite and operating rooms. We are one of the first hospitals to have them installed. We will be utilizing halothane in a more exact delivery system for women having childbirth. Laboring Moms will breathe the halothane while pushing; and this will assist immensely with pain control.This is far better medically than inhaled ether through a mask and gauze pad. The nurse anesthetists have become trained in Madison; and now will impart the improved labor analgesia care upon Monroe, Wisconsin. Shortly after we installed the new anesthesia machines with the new copper kettle vaporizer for halothane inhalation anesthesia, a woman entered the delivery suite complete at 10 cm. dilated. She was pushing to her maximum effort after undergoing a twilight anesthesia technique which had tapering analgesic effect. The halothane nitrous oxide combination treatment worked well. The Mom fell asleep and breathed as the obstetrician used a forceps delivery method to extract the baby with no apparent harm

 The baby needed warming and stimulation due to the drug side effects prior (Demerol and Scopalamine). Added onto the intramuscular drugs was the halothane. This depressed the baby until he was able to breathe the anesthetic into the atmosphere. Medication that Mom receives, baby receives. This was much better for an anxious Mother to be than just gutting and screaming throughout the labor. As a labor nurse there are many new trends that are forthcoming after World War II. I love the general anesthetic because it goes beyond twilight anesthesia. Unfortunately, anesthesia personnel is concerned regarding the aspiration risk. All our patients are maintained NPO (nothing by mouth) and many have an IV (intravenous line) placed for labor. This is risky business. I would hate to have someone die on my shift; however, everyone informs me this is inevitable. That makes me a touch scared to have children myself. In the year 1900 (not that long ago), 10% of Moms and 10% of babies died during childbirth. That statistic is even more scarier than the present 1 – 2% death rate for Moms these modern days.

 The new methods of labor pain control have entered a new stratosphere. The anesthesiologists and CRNAs are placing caudal (sacrum) catheters for 2nd and 3rd stages of labor. This is where the pushing and delivery of the placenta occur. These local anesthetics infused through these tubes allow a mom to relax, push without the severe pain of labor and ease a delivery process. The pelvic nerves in the lower epidural space (just outside the spinal cord) become blocked for pain control. We do many Hegar and Simpson type forcep deliveries. Occasionally a baby’s ear or nose becomes squished by the instruments of labor. Rarely does an eye, penis or another special baby part become damaged. Rarer yet are the nerve injuries from a difficult delivery (shoulder dystocia or shoulder difficult to deliver may result in an arm palsy). A labor nurse’s job is never unexciting. Expect the unexpected on a labor ward.

 On many occasions the obstetrician or general practitioner cannot attend the delivery. Saturday evenings when everyone is at Turner Hall or a similar outing becomes a common doctor availability problem. It is embarrassing if a physician comes to the obstetric suite with alcohol on his breath. The patient and their family will perceive not only the smell, but the clumsiness of the practitioner. I”ve personally helped deliver the child when the physician was admittedly drunk. Reporting the doctor for drinking while on duty is not a street smart thing to do. As a nurse you could be blackballed for life. It is just accepted; however things are changing. Physicians are required to be more communicative, responsible, have expected compliance against the use of drugs while on duty, and forego many of the fruits of life (trips/booze/time off/etc.). The hospital is contemplating disallowing smoking in the workplace – especially labor suites and delivery rooms. This is a distasteful atmosphere for a baby to emerge amongst the obstacles of the real world. The problem is that virtually all personnel (techs, anesthesia personnel, physicians and nurses) smoke. It is such a horrible habit that becomes an addiction after using tobacco to initially fit into a clique. I’ve smoked some against my parent’s wishes. I don’t feel I’m addicted; but easily could erode into a chronic smoker. My father smokes; but Mom avoids the habit. She encourages me to avoid the smoking trap. Mom states smoking cigarettes is poor personal hygiene; and the habit is far too costly in terms of money and body damage. There are endless beginning reports of smoking tied to cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. This is controversial at best; because, the tobacco industry fights extensively when a non scientific article is printed. I need to totally quit; but smoking does help my stress of being the young head obstetric nurse. Nobody is perfect; and it is admittedly hard to meet a guy that doesn’t smoke tobacco. Perhaps the next generation will have a better anti-smoking track record.

 I’m called again for a return to the hospital. A difficult forceps delivery is pending. The primigravida (first actual pregnancy) is struggling with a 4 hour pushing episode. The baby is close; but not close enough. We are enduring pushing naturally to avoid an injury when the delivery occurs. Finally, we are able to deliver this big guy (large farm couple). Unfortunately, baby George has an Erb’s palsy (weak arm) from a difficult shoulder dystocia (abnormal birth with shoulder in the way). The brachial plexus (nerves to the arm) are stretched and now weak. Some of the obstetricians take great pains to avoid a Caesarean Section (abdominal surgical delivery). However, many of these Moms really struggle with labor. They want a healthy baby. At times, the RN can barely hear heart tones near delivery; other adverse labor clinical events cause an immense stir when the baby’s heart rate slows to below 50 and then slowly recovers. We know at that juncture delivery must occur soon. If not, the baby may die during delivery. Labor and delivery is a pressure packed generally joyous event. Prior to my arriving, a Mom had pushed for multiple hours only to have a stillborn child. There was blame upon the hospital and obstetrician. Nursing was additionally being blamed for the mishap. I only wish that I would have been present to encourage a C-Section. Surgical delivery is difficult; but can be lifesaving for baby and Mom. I feel the obstetrician has very little choice at this juncture of the case; and the risk to Mom and baby in a strenuous delivery far outweigh the risks of the surgical delivery (C-Section). Some women have 6 C-Sections; so it’s not that big of a deal to avoid the risks of a difficult vaginal delivery.

 Shelly calls me late at night after I’ve fallen asleep. I was just thinking of the baby George with the Erb’s palsy. Most of these recover shortly after delivery; however some persist into adulthood. The baby may have a weak, numb arm for life. I just hope and pray he recovers with physical therapy at work upon him throughout the day. Mom will stay over a week (regular time frame). She is bottle feeding; and will use her extra time to self heal and work the arm until it moves normally. Shelly has worse problems. Her husband, Halet, has worsened with depression, frank alcoholism and miserable endless pains and sleepless nights. She has two babies and is now expecting a third child in 8 months. She just discovered she was pregnant again after one encounter with her husband. Halet has been grumpy and probably physically and psychologically abusing her through his own misery. She is calling for medical advice. I state that the lone psychiatrist at St. Claire Hospital in Monroe, Wisconsin is extremely overwhelmed clinically and with large numbers of patients requiring mental health treatments. Shelly is desperate; thus, I will personally talk to the psychiatrist (Dr. Gordon) tomorrow. We agree to get back onto the tennis courts despite Shelly’s pregnancy. What a clinical mess!

 I then enter the kitchen and Mom asks me what in the world is happening? Was that Shelly? I remark that she’s pregnant. Halet, her husband, who Mom knows and dislikes, has issues with alcohol and stress trauma syndrome after being in Europe during World War II. They are receiving some limited counseling; but, there’s only one psychiatrist in the county. He’s overwhelmed. Halet’s case is beyond any social worker, marriage or nurse counselor. Halet and Shirley need desperate help. They want me to intervene. I’m playing tennis with Shirley; and now I’m her counselor. Mom and Dad would say “no way.” I say help whenever and wherever I’m needed. Shirley wants to meet me at the tennis courts tonight. I agree and will bring my racket; however, I suspect we’ll hit few balls. If fact, I don’t have any decent tennis balls. Hopefully, Shirley will have some new Spalding balls purchased from Sears or Montgomery Wards. It will be nice just to see Shirley again. Maybe something good will happen from the Halet/Shirley complex family situation post World War II. I’m just happy the war is over; but now I do miss Bernie (thinking of him always – bombed and killed in Korea). I know I need to move on. War has caused much more extended strife for years beyond the battlefield. It has caused considerable major family disruption. War extends your faith as to why we are fighting amongst humans. There are unexplainable reasons beyond our rational thought patterns. Every medical provider in the world is dealing with post World War II stress trauma syndrome amongst recruits. Maybe the United Nations will have the answers.

 I meet Shirley at the tennis courts and she is barely prepared for a sparring singles tennis match. Obviously, she just wants to talk considerably. I allow her to explain her situation. She definitely wants help for her husband who drinks the local Huber beer daily, has no ambition to work and blames everything on his injuries incurred in the South Pacific. Whoa! This is immense grief and terror at home. I don’t know what you do with this situation when Halet won’t agree to counseling per Shirley. I don’t know him because these two lovebirds connected while I was a collegian. I’m certain he was a good person who now is tainted by war. This situation in Shirley’s husband, Halet, may be irretrievable. Maybe he needs shock therapy. This can be done with insulin to make him seize by lowering his blood sugar to extremely low levels. ECT (electroshock therapy) is being performed commonly all through the world. It has begun in Monroe, Wisconsin with some controversy. It is a brutal method of administering general anesthesia and then observing high voltage current being transferred through the brain to cause grand mal/tonic-clonic seizures. The other method is to administer high fever by placing the patient in hot water causing fever. This has ridded clinical depression in many; but remains in long term studies to be medically proven. Our nursing journals express that many new antidepressant drugs are in the making. I would probably head to psychotherapy asap. Psychiatric assistance can change a person for the better. We left a 90 minute discussion with no tennis and recommendations to obtain psychiatric therapy.

 I walk home from Recreation Park because I still don’t have a car. I have a few moments off from work and I confront medical problems. I don’t mind since it is Shirley Tompkins, my former tennis teammate on the Monroe Cheesemaker team of a few years ago. I cannot let her down. I’ll talk to Dr. Schilling, the psychiatrist tomorrow at the Monroe Clinic. I’ll think of a strategy to get Halet, Shirley’s beleaguered husband into a therapy. It may be fever (God forbid), insulin shock (more God-forbidden treatments), ECT (more shocks to the brain in sequence), or psychotherapy. I would prefer the latter; and word has it that Dr. Schilling frequently performs extensive psychotherapy based on Freud. I know he has a full practice; but there are always people moving and dying. There has to be room for Halet Tompkins. Now that I’m thinking I discover that The Monroe Clinic would not have existed without my father. Dad led a group of investors to build the first building with a loan from the First National Bank. Dad has been the president of the bank for years; and has helped fund many business and philanthropic projects in Green County, Wisconsin. Dad has offered very low or no interest rates to many entrepreneurs. These people using the bank’s loan return the favor by banking with my Dad’s bank forever. I will mention to Dr. Schilling that the Monroe Clinic was started by my father. Perhaps that will get Halet Tompkins an appointment.

 Mom inquires extensively regarding Shirley; and mentions that she’s heard considerable gossip regarding the Tompkins fights and domestic disputes over the past few weeks. Monroe, Wisconsin in the middle of rural Green County is very small when it comes to knowing other community member happenings. We are so small that news as it occurs travels faster than the speed of light according to Mom and Dad. Bad news travels much faster because it is human nature to garner bad thoughts about people. It is juicier, places yourself in a better light comparably and by analogy makes one realize they have life better than a friend or acquaintance. We are all placed on this planet by God; and must pass the torch along by our actions. The human nature of our existence and God’s plans for us understandably intersect. We must overcome the urge to act for ourselves and always do what is right for the situation. Otherwise, life has no meaning. Money, power and greed are the enemies of our very existence. I need to concentrate on my RN obstetric duties fully; and not concern myself with all the occurrences surrounding myself and other Green County, Wisconsin folks. I need to place my parents into perspective because they are totally nosy about everything in my life. I’m highly accustomed to their tactics; and try to stay ahead of my Mom and Mary at least one-half step. I see my sister Mary and Mom peeking around every corner. I love them to death; however, at times I thoroughly wish I had my own apartment. It is not simply a joke at the hospital that I’m still living at my girlhood home (single). I’m saving money and will make a trip to Chicago, Illinois soon. Letters say there are suitors lined up for me; but I’ve heard that statement prior. I’m game to meeting someone debonnaire, that has a nice family, well educated and wants to raise a family in the Illinois suburbs. Mom and Dad might go for that since Mary is doing exactly that exercise with Rolly (still with Chiang Kai-Shek in the South Pacific). .

 I’m called in unexpectedly tonight as the head obstetric nurse. There is a gal who has triplets. She may have a Caesarean Section (delivery by surgery). She wants to deliver vaginally. Most of the obstetric resources are being utilized in her care. There is a family physician and obstetrician present for the delivery. Planned Simpson forcep deliveries are anticipated. One baby may be breech (buttocks first). This 3rd child may turn during the delivery process while Mom is laboring. Mom has a caudal (low) catheter in with local anesthetic infusing for pain control. She may receive inhalation halothane through our new copper kettle device for general anesthesia. The certified registered nurse anesthetists are still concerning about aspiration. We’ve only begun intubating patients recently (tube in the trachea for surgery). The other problem is that with paralysis and anesthesia, Mom won’t push as effectively. Therefore we need to bolster our confidence in Mom to endure some pain; as the newer methods are quite good for pain control; however, the new medical tactics may lead to complications (inability to push baby through the birth canal).

 I have one nursing uniform present which I quickly throw upon myself. I don’t have time for makeup, hair, nails, perfume or shaving. Dad drives me to the hospital and wants information about Halet Tompkins. Apparently Halet has been robbing stores and stealing from homes. He’s experienced the very worst psychosocial reaction to war imaginable. He needs help immensely. I make a point to find Dr. Schilling and plead for him to take Halet Tompkins as a patient. Otherwise, Halet will most likely enter prison for an extended period of time. Dad says that he talked to a sheriff of Green County, Wisconsin. The sheriff said the case was nearly complete; however they cannot exactly pin the crimes upon Halet. Fingerprinting has been in use for years; but is not exact. Most of the fingerprints point to Halet; but there is some discrepancy. Oh, my God! Shirley will be without a husband and the family will be without a father for years. Halet is definitely extremely ill. Shirley cannot work due to the difficult pregnancy. She is preeclamptic (the new term for hypertension, edema and protein within the urine while pregnant). Shirley could die and leave a disabled, mentally ill husband with two or three children. What an absolute mess!

 I arrive at St. Claire Hospital and immediately there is a Code Blue (death impending) in our primitive Emergency Room. I run to the ER and notice a guy my age struggling to breathe. I know him somehow. He looks at me and says; “Jean Suzanne Zuercher.” I inch closer to the action and note that it is Jimmy Spilet, my high school sweetheart. He incurred a farm accident near Juda, Wisconsin. A tractor fell upon him and crushed his chest, abdomen and extremities. He’s in critical shape as we are typing and cross matching his blood with the blood bank and giving him some IV fluids to temporize. I talk to him fondly and notice that his wife and children are nearby in the waiting room. Jimmy incurs syncope (loss of consciousness). The nurse anesthetist is called to intubate Jimmy and assist with the resuscitation effort. He will need surgery to remove his spleen (bleeding within the abdomen). He will also require orthopedic placement of hardware for a crushed pelvis and chest tubes on both sides for collapsed lungs with multiple rib fractures. Jimmy’s older child, Henry, fell off the tractor the other way and was not injured. I talked to his wife, Sara, and she was beside herself. She knew of me because Jimmy occasionally mentioned me while he was drinking some Huber beer. A couple occasions led to a tussle; but Sara understood that Jimmy was not unlike many guys who sometimes veer backwards when they drink too much or reminisce about how things were in a prior time. Sara just wants to Jimmy to get well immediately. I explained that he was being rushed into surgery; and though it will be a few surgical procedures, rehabilitation and a few medical treatments, Jimmy could be essentially normal over time. Jimmy won’t recover immediately. Neighboring farmers will assist with the Jimmy Spilet injury (common for friends and neighbors to plant and combine crops/feed cattle and milk cows). This will be a definite time of need for the Spilets.

 Sara cried endlessly. She remarked at how difficult it had been for the family. She was from a difficult impoverished upbringing in Juda, Wisconsin. Her parents were poor farmers; and never good with finances. Debt was always a strong component of their life. Her father committed suicide over finances and her mother recently died from metastatic breast cancer. Her siblings sold the family farm and all belongings due to debt, foreclosed on all assets and the family split into pieces. The marriage between Sara and Jimmy occurred my first year in college. Sara became pregnant and within a month the two lovebirds were exchanging vows. There is more and more talk of better birth control for women; but it certainly has not arrived in Green County, Wisconsin. Sara and Jimmy raised two wonderful children ages 8 and 6. The couple had only recently begun to discuss having another baby. They were on their feet with a farm of their own near the Illinois border. They purchased the farm during a foreclosure sale and have been prosperous with a good business sense. The Spilet’s have no health insurance; and Sara cries thinking of the medical bills they’ll incur from St. Claire Hospital. I said we’d all worry about that later and obtain some fund raisers. Sara was relieved and wanted to talk further.

 Sara relayed that her marriage had been very difficult at times because of Jimmy’s drinking, occasional abusive behavior and need for living beyond his means. Jimmy’s family attends St. Victor’s Catholic Church in Monroe; however, they have shunned the Spilet family in southern Green County because of Sara’s heritage (Polish) and her religion (Methodist). My living in a metropolitan city (Milwaukee) cured me of any origin prejudice. The inner religious battle with Catholicism unaccepting of mixed marriages in today’s modern spheres is difficult and still illuminating for myself. Sara relayed that Jimmy’s marriage to her was a problem from the start in small town USA. The couple was blackballed by family and friends ab initio. The grandparents, parents, cousins and siblings of Jimmy were all opposed to the union. JImmy’s family cited Catholicism differences with the Methodist religion; and Sara was Polish. Jimmy’s family was Swiss. It’s hard to imagine why we have maintained these biased thoughts after World Wars I and II. Despite the differences and issues, love conquered; and the Jimmy/Sara relationship survived and flourished. Things were just beginning to turn around with a positive cash flow from the new farm. Last Thanksgiving was the very first time that Jimmy’s family seemed to “accept” Sara . After years of humiliation and under reacting to the situation, Sara was accepted at the Thanksgiving dinner and beyond. She was invited to family picnics, school events and social clubs.

 Life throws unexpected and unpredictable events at families. This farming accident was unforeseen; and will potentially forever change the lives of Sara and Jimmy. Jimmy presently must live. I saunter back to the OR because Obstetrics (my unit) is unusually quiet. Things are not going well for Jimmy Spilet. X Rays have confirmed major pelvic fractures. Jimmy’s spleen is being removed with an abdominal cavity full of blood. The blood typing has been difficult because Jimmy has an unusual antibody precluding conventional transfusion. His blood pressure and other vital signs are poor. He is receiving large amounts of epinephrine (adrenalin) just to keep him on the surgical table. JImmy has two large chest tubes draining air from torn lungs and rib fractures. The only fortunate aspect of his case is that he is young. Young trauma patients survive the very worst (farm accidents). The head nurse of the OR asks me to inform Sara Spilet that the patient is not performing well under anesthesia and surgery. There is a chance he may die or be injured for a long period of time. The surgical crew and anesthesia are concerned regarding the poor flow status and Jimmy’s brain. Hopefully, Jimmy can tolerate the circumstances for a prolonged period of time. I”m on my way to waiting area.

 I encounter Jimmy’s parents, Sara (wife), extended family and children. I proceed to discuss the situation with the family in a nice cordial professional manner. I’m interrupted by Jimmy’s brother, William, asking a number of questions. William already remarks that he will sue. The mean brother questions the surgeons, ER physician, nurses and anesthesia. William remarks that Jimmy should have been transferred to Rockford or Madison, Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin) hospitals for modern day trauma care. I counter that the general surgeons working on Jimmy were World War II surgeons and well trained in trauma (the worst cases). The surgeons we have in Monroe are better than many of the Milwaukee and Marquette University surgeons because they were working in primitive conditions with antiquated anesthesia and surgical instruments while in the war. In the field they had no blood; and it was clearly decided in minutes if that soldier was to die or not by the surgeon’s decisions and care. If Jimmy were transferred by ambulance for an hour to another regional hospital center, he would have died enroute. St. Claire Hospital in Monroe, Wisconsin is Jimmy’s only chance of living. Jimmy has the very best caring for him. The meanness subsided quickly.

 I spoke with Sara for a few minutes as she was preparing her children for the very worst (death). The family seemed to begin to accept that Jimmy may not live. He may die from this simple farm accident. There is guilt regarding years of neglect by Jimmy’s family towards Sara, Jimmy and his immediate family. I could sense this in the surgical waiting room. Monroe is a very small town with tentacles that transmit information faster than the speed of light (my Dad). Many of Jimmy’s farming neighbors were beginning to arrive and express condolences. There were nearly 100 people in the waiting area and beyond that were concerned regarding Jimmy’s immediate condition. It was overwhelming. I kept praying and saying to myself that I hope he would live. Finally, the general surgeon arrived in the waiting area and explained to the family and friends that Jimmy was alive, but extremely critical. The surgeon who normally performs orthopedics (including trauma) wanted Jimmy transferred due to humeral, femoral and pelvic fractures. A call was completed to the UW. The trauma orthopedist from Madison is well on his way with temporary emergency St.Claire Hospital privileges to assist in the repair of these complex fractures. The family and friends are immediately relieved of the stress. There is a God; and I’m witnessing it full force.

 I arrive back on the OB unit and we’ve become in an instant a unit full of laboring patients. We have one preterm pregnancy/premature labor of 30 weeks of which we are subduing with alcohol treatments. The parturient is expectedly drunk; and labor has been subdued. The baby is tolerating the alcohol treatments with good fetal heart tones. Thankfully, the other laboring patients are doing well with twilight treatments (Scopalamine, Phenergan and Demerol Intramuscularly). I hate to judge, but one woman has 12 children and is working on delivering number 13. Hopefully, her labor is minutes once she enters transition (4 centimeters of cervical dilatation advancing to 10 centimeters). We hopefully can entertain sterility for her husband post delivery. As a Catholic hospital, we cannot perform tubal ligations on women of any sort in or near the hospital. Most women are traveling out of state (Rockford or Freeport, Illinois) for tubal ligations. Thus being close to the state line between Illinois and Wisconsin, patients are required to break state barriers to obtain services. We laugh at our parents who are required to break the law and enter Illinois to purchase oleo. Wisconsin state law disallows the purchase of oleo within the state due to the butter business. Eventually I’ll be required to obtain sterility and oleo across the borders if society and laws don’t change.

 One woman down the hall in active labor is progressing rapidly as the obstetrician is on his way to the hospital. I’m asked to assist as the stirrups are placed and she’s in delivery position. I see a head sunny side up (occiput posterior). This is the wrong way to transcend the birth canal. Thus, I assist the nurse as we gently rotate the baby’s head for the delivery. All is well, and Mom delivers as the obstetrician enters the room. There is some perineal repair work to be done. The OB then performs a pudendal nerve block along with local anesthetic infiltration of the torn posterior vagina. The repair requires one- half hour and Mom is quite happy. Life is good. The birthing experience of a new nurse (me) is never boring. The birthing process itself is a big deal in a woman’s life. It transcends money, time, relationships with other people and past negatives within a woman’s life. There is no second place when labor and delivery occurs. There is some pressure upon our birthing moms to perform perfectly; but the labor process by itself is far from ideal. Women deal with pain, weight gain, returning to work if necessary, and hundreds of sleepless nights while breast or bottle feeding. The birthing process easily trumps all else in life because you are bringing another human into our world. It is God in action on earth. When matters don’t go accordingly to the natural birthing and labor process everyone assumes it is something wrong with the Mom, baby, medical personnel or it was not meant to be.It is just not that simple to deliver a baby!

 I don’t have the answers for women who we cannot stop early labor and deliver with a premature infant. These babies are transported by ambulance to the University of Wisconsin neonatal unit in Madison, Wisconsin. Occasionally a baby is transferred to Rockford, Illinois (same distance). However, we at St. Claire do everything humanly possible to avoid a bad outcome in a Mom and baby (unit). I only wish the final determination of pregnancy could be known so we could prepare for prenatal complications. There is intense amounts of research ongoing to stop premature labor, help on the way with mom’s who have their water break early and stopping other bad perinatal injuries. My very worst experience is the placental abruption. This occurs unexpectedly and causes immense vaginal bleeding (generally painless). An immediate Caesarean Section can be life saving if done in time. Placental abruptions are the very worst because in the very best medical hands, both the Mom and baby can succumb. I’ve seen a few close calls; and it’s enough to make me think about surgical floor nursing again. I don’t arrive at work feeling that something like a placental abruption is imminent; however, it is on the back of my mind when I perform a vaginal exam and notice large amounts of fresh bright red blood. When this occurs, the baby needs to be delivered quickly or else there will be consequences for Mom and baby.

 I walk home around 9PM after completing essentially two shifts of work with no time in between. I’m tired, dirty, have some blood stains and evidence of an obstetric nurse in my hair, nails, and on top of my clothes (dirty socks). I feel refreshed though tired. I contemplate where I’m at in life. There are really no guy prospects. I’m living in a small town and may settle for a guy that is not Catholic (issues with parents/family guaranteed). Maybe I should consider moving. Instead of the move to an apartment on my very own (or share), I should consider the job offers in nursing from Sheboygan to Chicago. I like the Lake Michigan waterfront, weather and progressive thinking. Rural Green County will never change; and I’m stuck in the middle of a non progressive community where people abhor change, desire no new businesses or people to enter the community and only allow favorite sons (me) to return because we’re already known. This is small town America at its best. There is more politics within Monroe, Wisconsin than Washington DC. I know and respect the life that people want to maintain. We are, however, emerging from World War II. There is spirit in the air despite the setbacks with Korea. The masses want change to education (GI bill), clothes (shorter skirts) and eventually modern music. We need to move onward from the swing era of World War II into something different that more dancing and singing occurs. All the songs from our swing era are adequate; but realistically they are all highly similar. It’s accepted, and these tunes will never leave Monroe, Wisconsin. My parents want me to find a Catholic guy, reproduce 3 – 5 times and settle in. That would be ideal; however, I honestly don’t envision that occurring.


I received a letter from the single gals in our nursing dorm. We were so close and held no feelings within our minds. We freely discussed matters such as guys, babies, families, moving and politics. President Truman appears to be a strong President and leading us to a better world. I strongly believe that he has the very best interest of everyone. Though we are entering a cold war phase of life with the communist countries, we are not actively fighting (except Korea). I could enlist; however, Dad would have an adult cantankerous fit. Dad balks if I wear a short skirt or any blouse that has any cleavage remotely revealing. He doesn’t understand girls. He only believes that I’m still in 6th grade and wants to corral me forever. Mom is beginning to get where I’m at in life. This is a long walk; and I’ve given some thought of a move (earth shattering). The letter from my dormies essentially said they were also frustrated about the bad dates, not having children yet, and no promise of not being an old maid. Many of these girls are quite attractive. They are within much more populated areas than Monroe, Wisconsin. The talk has been to move to Denver, Colorado. Apparently the girl/guy ratio is far in a girl’s favor, the guys are cute cowboys and real (non-pansy) guys. Jobs are plentiful as the Denver, Colorado medical workforce is expanding coincident with the population growth. I’m certain my parents would object; however, it is my life. Living 1100 miles from Mommy and Daddy is not ideal; however, at present I’m nothing more than an experienced obstetric nurse with no guy.

 I’m tossed regarding these Denver, Colorado plans. Initially, I felt that some of the dormies were dreaming. They unmistakably are not fantasizing. They want to settle, raise a family and it doesn’t matter where. They all want me to come. I would have job within five minutes with my clean RN track record and experience. I’m now at home and it’s 920 PM. I cry as I ascend the steps. Mom and Mary (pregnant sister) are closely observing me. I quickly go inside the house and run up the stairs. I need a plan and don’t have one. Mom and Mary knock on my locked door and ask if everything is okay. I say thank you for asking and I’ve just had a long double shift. I open the door and instead of receiving a lecture I obtain hugs from Mary and Mom. How could I ever go to Denver, Colorado and leave my family?