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I'll never get tired of L&D.: Working on the labor floor - what an adventure!
Posted by Elizabeth L, Oct 26, 2012. 918 views. ID = 5969

I'll never get tired of L&D.

Posted by Elizabeth L, Oct 26, 2012. 918 views. ID = 5969
This post was written in 1 minutes.
This post has been awarded 14 stars by 3 readers.
This post is Part 11 of a writing series titled Life as an Interpreter.

People-watching is always an interesting pasttime, but in the delivery room, it reaches a whole new level. I see many couples come to the unit, deliver, and head back out to the floor, and they are all so different. It's a stressful place - I've witnessed a whole gamut of reactions and it's quite interesting what we human beings will do under pressure. I haven't a clue what non-Hispanics do, obviously - but my patients are fairly fascinating.

There's the adorable couple - the ones you find holding hands down the long hallway as she is rolled back to a labor room; the one husband we found actually snuggled up on the bed by his tiny wife before it got too terrible and she needed her space; the worried pacer who stops every few minutes to feed his wife ice chips or wipe her forehead with a cool cloth; the antsy, hand-patting, cheerleading husband to whom every push is an amazing feat. (He's right, you know.)

There's the we've-been-through-this-before couple - dad sits on the couch, calmly, or has run the kids home, because we all know there's plenty of time. By looking at mom, you'd think this was a routine clinic visit - no stress, no worries, just a let's-get-this-done look on her happy face. No surprises, no complaints, just happiness.

There's the missing couple - conspicuous by the fact that they aren't there together. The relationship didn't outlast the pregnancy - mom is alone in a quiet labor room, with only the interpreter and medical staff for support. They break my heart, those shattered couples. I always wonder how the coming child will feel about and deal with it all.

There's the freaked-out couple. Always the most interesting by far. Millions of questions, afraid of needles (I'm not sure how you get to the end of a pregnancy and still fear needles after the billions of blood draws), afraid of the sounds, not really sure why baby isn't coming NOW. The ones you can't even say 'C-section' in front of for fear of sending them into a panic (but of course in a sue-happy, paperwork-loving world, we have to say it at least 2 or 3 times AND sign a consent, just in case). These couples aren't necessarily noisy about their freaking out, but you can see it on their face all the same. They tend to break into sobs when it's all over, which is very cathartic for everyone in the room.

One little couple caught me completely by surprise - I have a bad habit of attaching the adjective 'little' to all adorable or short people. Maybe it has something to do with the suffix -ito in Spanish, which technically makes something 'smaller' but can actually just be an endearment. Hmmm. Anyway - they couldn't have been more than 19 years old, 'babies' everyone called them. Babies having babies - the world will go round. I didn't peg them as the freaking-out type; Dad was very, very quiet through the whole ordeal. But once his little girl finally made it into the world, he turned around and faced the wall, perfectly still, perfectly silent. We've had plenty of fainting dads, so the staff quickly rushed over to make sure he was OK. He waved us off, and I realized he was crying. It was adorable - he couldn't hold the tension inside anymore, but darn if he was gonna let anyone see it!

They are all great patients, and I've seen staff handle each one carefully and wonderfully. Every baby is different, yes - and so is every family. Beautifully and delightfully different.

What I can't help but wonder is if patients don't see staff the same way - and in all the same groups. What an article THAT would be.

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth L. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 14 stars by 3 readers.
This post is Part 11 of a writing series titled Life as an Interpreter. The next part of this series can be found here: You don't think I'm crazy, do you?.

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