I remember my first few days on 4 Women’s. I had my monitoring three times daily which are called NSTs (non stress tests). They were my window into the world of my boys. Those tests told me everything I needed to know. Were they under stress? Were they feeling particularly active? Who was who? Where were they laying? Who was being a stinker and running from the monitors? Every time I was hooked up there was a moment of dread. I hoped they would find two different heartbeats every time. I wanted them to pass their tests so badly. They both had to have two separate accelerations in their heartbeats to a certain level for a certain amount of time. If their heartbeats went down below 110 for longer than 10 seconds that was a deceleration. That meant someone was in distress because their cord was cramped or kinked. They had to have their accelerations within 20-40 minutes or they wouldn’t pass their tests and more drastic steps would have to be taken. I became an expert in no time on these particular tests.
The sweet nurses were gracious enough to answer all my ridiculous and repetitive questions. They shared previous experiences of treating mono mono twins like mine and helped me to realize it was going to be ok no matter what. They read me my doctor’s notes if I wasn’t confident I understood a particular discussion. They never lost their cool when I started to get nervous during a test. They never acted like searching for my babies on the monitor for an hour was an inconvenience to them. They called my babies by their names and not simply “A” and “B”. They were as invested in my boys as my family.
Most of the staff on 4 women’s has worked here for a few years. They know how it is to have patients that are here for extended periods of time. They joked, shared laughter, teased, comforted, and reassured when different levels of emotion flooded my days.
4 Women’s is a special floor for many reasons. They do it all. They are an antepartum unit, which means they take care of high risk pregnancies like mine. This could mean mothers with preterm labor, ruptured amniotic sacs, placentas that are pulling away, mothers who have trouble keeping their cervixes closed enough to keep the pregnancy going, and many other high risk situations. They also care for women’s oncology patients. Patients who are here to have any kind of female related procedure or surgery. One of the hardest jobs, I’m sure is their care for mothers who have lost their babies. Fetal Demises, as they are called come to this floor after either a procedure or to labor and give birth to their children who have passed away in utero. The amount of compassion these nurses have is something only experience on this floor can teach. They love their jobs. They love their patients. They go the extra mile to care for women. They comfort patients in mourning. They comfort patients who may not make it out of the hospital. They deal every day with what most of us couldn’t stomach.
I had my birthday here recently and over time I have met all the nurses on this floor. I can tell you a little bit about each of them, not because they talk about themselves a lot, but because these men and women have been caring diligently for my boys and I want to tell Beckett and Foster how lucky they are to have that care so early in life. As I sat in my room with my friend who I had met on this floor, nurses from day shift filed in and began to sing. Tears welled my eyes as 6 nurses sang a birthday tune. They were so sweet to care for and think of me. Nutrition services brought me a huge chocolate bar and two of my favorite night shift nurses brought me ice cream cupcakes and a cheesy chicken casserole.
When the news reached me that my precious dog had died, my nurses hugged me and handed me a washcloth as tears streamed down my face. They cared. I’ve spent 8 weeks on this floor. Enough to know they all have their own lives and their own challenges. They put that aside day to day and take care of those on their floor. Maybe they’ve faced losing colleague over the very cancer they treat, maybe they’ve faced a fetal demise themselves, maybe even a high risk pregnancy, but every day they put those things aside and care for their patients with a compassion only the best have.
I’ll tell my boys. They will know about the nurses who spent hours searching for them on the monitors, calling doctors when something in one of my tests concerned them, comforting me when I worried over a test result, rejoicing with me when I heard good news about the babies’ health, and every other thing they do behind the scenes. Beckett and Foster will know of the men and women who cared for them for weeks on end and comforted their mother. Because all the patients they have deserve to know how much they care.
Especially the babies that make it out of this hospital thanks to the staff on 4 Women’s.