I have been an L&D RN for nearly three years and for the first time I cared for a woman whose baby died in utero at 24 weeks gestation. There was a large part of me to be busy with the paperwork and the necessary function of the process. That is the "nurse" part of me. My heart was another story...
I initially walked into the room, introduced myself to my patient and the family and established a rapoir (sp?) with them. As my night progressed, in relating to this grieving woman, I understood my role clearly. I am there to provide emotional support, present both woman and father of the child with labor options and give them what they need---space to feel their loss. I felt my role is and always will be to these aching souls is to focus on this: their angel's presence, though brief with us, had a definite purpose. We not always aware of their purpose, but they are gifts to us just the same. And these precious babies are perfection, their physical bodies might not be, but their essence of who they are is perfection.
I did share this with my patient that night---and I did share my tears of sorrow with both parents. I told her that the whole night I had a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat and I felt her pain. But what I was feeling paled in comparison to what she was feeling and how her heart ached.
I felt I needed to be professional in dealing with my patients and I know I am a good RN. But I also was dealing with another human being whose heart was full of pain. My gut told me that spilling tears with my patient was a good and empathetic thing to do. Not losing control kind of crying, but tearing is ok! And as an L&D RN, we are taught to trust our gut, our intuition---because it is usually the right thing to do.
I did encourage my patient to have an epidural to diminish the labor pain after she decided to deliver baby vaginally. Also I did encourage the family to hold baby after being cleaned up and placed in a soft cotton flannel baby blanket. We have a friend of an RN I work with make baskets that baby's nameband, lock of hair, and clothing, etc. go into and the family can take home. We do footprint and provide the family with our unique baby birth certificate. The baby's cribcard with its footprints will in the basket as well.
I have the best job in the world---and for the most part it's happy. And for the other, it's still very satisfying and rewarding. I wouldn't do anything else.