-I rocked a baby today because she didn't understand the convulsions that her little body experienced as someone else's heroin addiction coursed through her.
-I rocked a baby today, though I had no time to do so, because his mother decided that she didn't want him, and he didn't ask to be born into a world that would immediately reject him.
-I rocked a baby today because just hours earlier I watched as two nursery nurses used their incredible knowledge and unparalleled skill to breathe life back into her when she was born without breath.
-I rocked a baby today because he was born silent, and because the pain and devastation of looking at her dead child is too much for his mother in this moment.
-I rocked a baby today because mine were the hands that pulled her from her mother's arms as life circumstances have deemed her an unfit mother.
-I rocked a baby today, simply because I can, and because no matter how many times it goes right, no matter how many times it's "just part of my job", no matter how many "birth"days I witness, I will never lose sight of the beauty and the privilege of being present in that moment.
I've written about my profession before, but today I write to highlight a very specific area. I am an OB nurse. I'm a "rocking babies" nurse. I write this because while in the elevator, during a rare break in my day, a fellow RN looked at my scrubs, recognized that I worked in OB, and said with pride in her voice,
"I have 16 patients today!"
I replied, "I'm sorry that you feel overworked. I know the hospital as a whole is at capacity right now. I hope your day turns out ok."
She then looked at my uniform again and said, "Yeah...wanna trade? You take my 16 patients, and I'll 'rock babies, or whatever'."
So, today I write to let my fellow OB nurses know that I see you. I know and understand the depths of your dedication and your compassion. I see that you have earned every bit of that RN that you proudly display behind your name. I know that your knowledge and skill goes far beyond what's taught in the classroom. I know that although your experiences seem to others to be full of "baby rocking bliss", that each day that you work has the potential to tear at your soul.
Do not underestimate your ability to make a lasting impact in the lives of your patients. Do not let the uneducated comments of other people, specifically other nurses, undermine the work that you do. While empowering your patient to do one of the hardest things she'll ever do in her life, don't forget to encourage yourself along the way. Don't forget to tell a coworker that you're here for her when something doesn't go as planned.
We always have the opportunity to encourage one another in practice. Consequently, we also have the option to tear each other down. Choose to encourage. That's what REAL nurses do. It's not in the uniform, or the stethoscope, or in the number of patients. It's the act of getting back to why we decided to "rock babies" in the first place. We wanted to make a difference in the health and life of another person. If that means that today I rock a baby...so be it.