OB Nurse in the Old Days: Lord, Take Me Now

When I was a brand-spanking new GN, that's Graduate Nurse, (in those days we got to work as a nurse for the 2-3 months it took for us to received our board results), I was told I would have a minimum of 3 weeks working with another nurse on orientation. Three days after I started on the OB unit one of the other nurses got sick and was going to be out of commission for 6 weeks. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

OB Nurse in the Old Days: Lord, Take Me Now

Without another thought, I was thrown into the mix. Deliveries, I had help with but the normal day to day stuff I quickly learned on my own. In those days we not only did OB but we had a floor full of "clean surgical" cases that we were responsible for as well. On a good day, we might have 20 surgical patients and an OB in labor and two nurses (or three, if we were really lucky) to take care of everything. You can imagine how busy those days were, especially when one of the nurses was a newbie.

During these early days of my career working in OB fetal monitors were rarely used and our old docs weren't very impressed with them (and I assume they weren't that competent in reading strips). I mean, they had delivered babies for 30 years without them, so why did they need them now, I'm sure they thought.

I remember the time when one elderly physician did inductions of labor by having us start a Pitocin drip and he sat there with one hand on her belly (to feel for contractions) and had a lit cigarette in his other hand. He turned up the Pitocin according to how strong the contractions felt to him.

Nurses nowadays would be horrified at anyone coming within a mile of their laboring mothers with a cigarette, let alone monitoring Pitocin without continuous fetal monitoring and a controlled IV pump (me included)! Can you imagine the lack of charting that occurred back then? I can guarantee you that doctor didn't write down every time he turned up the Pit and vital signs were done sporadically by the nurse while she ran about taking care of her 20 other patients. Luckily, I don't recall ever having an adverse outcome from the way the old doctor did this new procedure years ago. We must have had a guardian angel, or two.

Nurses often had non-nurse duties even more so than nurses today it seemed. Our small rural hospital was run by Catholic nuns at the time and occasionally, on weekends, evenings, nights and holidays if a mother had a miscarriage we (nurses) were expected to baptize the fetus, or at least offers it to every Catholic mother. On one particularly busy day, a patient came in having a miscarriage. We weren't so quick to do a D & C in those days and the young patient wanted to make sure her fetus was baptized. She wasn't more than a few weeks pregnant, however, so the fetus wasn't visible to the naked eye. She passed small clots all day. When the call light came on for what seemed like the hundredth time, in exasperation, the head nurse said, "Oh great, I have to go baptize another clot!"

Our head nurse wasn't afraid to jump right in and help us when things were hectic. One day was extremely busy. It was almost at the end of our shift and she came running up to the nurses' station with her hair sticking out in odd angles from beneath her starched, white nurses' cap and lay flat out on the floor face up with her hands folded. "Lord, just take me now," she prayed. I'm sure we all have that feeling from time to time, but as a new nurse, I was shocked by this. It broke the tension, however, we all laughed and made it through another day.

Staff Education Coordinator Specialty: 27 year(s) of experience in OB, Gen. Hosp. Nursing, Staff Education

8 Posts

Share this post

Specializes in Alzheimer's, Geriatrics, Chem. Dep..
When I was a brand-spanking new GN...

Cute story! Thanks :)