It's four in the morning and I just finished nursing Lucas and put him back in his bassinet to sleep. The house is still except for the sound of my typing and the breast pump running a cycle to clear the rubber tubing of any moisture. Outside, the rain is lightly falling.
For the last few nights since coming home from the hospital where Lucas and I roomed in post partum, I've been thinking of the wonderful nurses at Women's Miller Hospital, especially the night nurse named Irene.
Even though I already have a 20-year old, going about having another one is a totally new experience for me. Besides, I had Lucas in another country, where laboring mothers were put in one room, all in a row to labor till it was "time" to be wheeled into the delivery room where they administered something that allowed you to labor till you delivered, but have no clue whatsoever later on whether you were conscious or not throughout the procedure. To this day, I have no clue.
This time around, Leo and I were wheeled into a special labor and delivery room reminiscent of a hotel room. It had a nice recliner for Leo to sleep in, as well as other chairs for visitors, and it was very spacious. We also got our own dedicated nurse named Margaret who explained every procedure to me, and treated me with such compassion.
Night time can be such a scary time for anyone. I've heard horror stories of patients hitting the call button for help, only to be ignored because the nurse wa too busy taking care of twenty other patients on her shift. Being alone with no one there to help you is a scary thing and when I ended up in the postpartum wing and rooming in with Lucas, night time was especially scary because now I was alone with my baby right next to me. How on earth do I nurse him? How do I change his diaper?
My night nurse for the three out of four nights postpartum was Irene, a Filipino nurse who was softspoken and by the way she treated the new mother with whom I shared my room with, and myself, loved her job. She came to check on me whenever I rang the buzzer and helped out as much as she could, seeing how exhausted I was. She urged me to lay Lucas in the bassinet and go to sleep.
On the third night, when Lucas was screaming at around 3 am, she took one look at him and said, "He's hungry." She returned with a bottle of formula and Lucas quieted down. However she stressed how important it was to nurse first, and then use formula if the first flow of breastmilk didn't seem like it was enough.
I hope new nurses take a note of Irene and her attitude, and her compassion and empathy for new mothers like me. I truly felt lost and alone during those first few nights at the hospital - so many people go in and out of your room, telling you to get up, walk, sit here, stand there, hold the baby so they can prick his heel for some blood and you have to sit there and listen to the poor baby scream - that knowing that someone actually cared in the true sense of the word, and made you feel special made me realize that if I ever decide to be a nurse, that's the department I want to be in - and be as compassionate as Irene.