I Ain’t Birthin’ No Babies!

“No, Ma’am, for the last time…I cannot just let you smoke near the Helipad. I’m sorry…”

The woman in my chair sighed deeply, crossing her arms over her chest. I shook my head slowly as I looked at her Cheif Complaint:

Chest Pain with Dyspnea.

“Why can’t you just let me smoke? I’ve been here for eight hours!” The leather clad Harpie slammed her fists down on my desk, her chest rattling Smoker’s Cough propelling small flecks of greenish phlegm onto my desk. I pushed away a bit, my upper lip curling up as I felt wet, sticky, and not mine land on the back of my hand.

Reaching for the industrial size bottle of hand sanitizer, I pumped out several judicious squirts into the palm of my hand, rubbing them together.

“Ma’am…we are very busy tonight. If you go outside, which you are more than welcome to do, and we call your name and you don’t answer, we’ll skip over you and move onto the next patient. So, go outside if you want. Also…you’ve been here for less than two hours.”

The woman got up and walked outside. I saw the small orange glow of her cherry bobbing across the parking lot towards the main Hospital entrance. I shrugged deeply and took a sip of my water; I did my best. As I sat at my triage desk, I made a few notes on several patients before I continued with the next one. As I stood up, my phone let out a long, low buzz and I looked at the screen.

Have a good night sweetie. xoxoxo

I grinned stupidly as I touched my phone lightly, then I looked at my list.

“Amanda!”

A very pregnant woman slowly waddled up to me and I smiled, “Are we here for, uh, foot pain?”

Her husband smiled and put his hands on her shoulders, kissing the top of her head. She reached up, holding his hand tightly, “No…I’m ready to have my baby!” I grinned widely as I grabbed a wheelchair. “Well, I’m gonna get you to desk number one and the lovely ladies upstairs will be coming to get you. Has your water broken? How far apart are your contractions?”

“Uhm…they are 5 minutes apart and no. It’s my first. I wasn’t even dilated and I went earlier to see the Doc.” I patted her shoulder, “Well, in any event…congrats!”

I walked back to my desk, picking up the in house cell phone. I habitually looked at the number on my cubicle wall and I dialed 5252 on the phone. “Hey there, it’s Shao in the Bowl. Hey, I have a lovely young lady here who is having contractions about five minutes apart and her water hasn’t broken. She’ll be waiting!” I smiled as Mary acknowledged what I said, then hung up the phone. I looked over my packed waiting room, looking to see if anyone was looking better or worse than when they came in. With my list cleared, I pulled out my Chemistry text and started reading. Within a few minutes, the phone rang.

“ER, this is Shao, how may I help you?”

“Hey, it’s Lewis. How’s everything out there?”

“We’re twenty-four deep, longest wait is two hours. What’s up?”

“We just got a call. A lady is on her way in and she’s having contractions less than two minutes apart, but her water hasn’t broken yet. Can you take her straight upstairs?”

“I can do that. I’ll be waiting for her…” I hung up and walked over to the windows, pulling my jacket on. The February night was getting colder by the minute and I wasn’t looking forward to going outside for anything. Standing quietly, I watched as the security guards started to move around and they started to block off the road leading up to the ER. I watched for a few minutes, hoping to catch sight of the Bird landing; even 13 years into the job and I still got excited when a Helicopter landed. After a while, I wandered back to my desk wondering where the pregnant patient was.

Maybe they pulled over and they called 911 or some unsuspecting Cop got to deliver. That would be a pick me up for the Officer…

Smiling, I got back to work as the gentle whomp whomp whomp of rotor blades filled the waiting room, going from a barely noticeable noise to a loud roar. A throng of kids had gathered by the windows and I gave them each a Lollipop while they stood in amazement over the helicopter landing, still watching eagerly for the patient I was expecting. Wandering back to my desk, I jotted down a few notes from my book when the Valet walked in and over to me.

“Hey…there’s some pregnant lady out front. I think she needs help…”

I got up and walked outside with a wheelchair as a frantic husband waved me down, “Please help me…My wife is going to have her baby!”

“Okay, Sir. Let’s get her out of the car and into the warm…”

“I…I can’t go in.” I cocked my head to the side as I moved around the car, “I have my other baby in the car…I can’t just leave her.” I smiled and nodded, “We’ll get her registered and upstairs, it’s not a big deal…” Parking the chair, I smiled at the young woman in the car. Her blonde hair was matted to her forehead and she let out a gasp, “My water just broke and I’m having a contraction!” I nodded and looked at my watch, “Did it just start?”

“Yeah!”

“Okay. Big deep breaths, just pant…no pushing. I ain’t birthin’ no babies!” We all giggled as she powered through the relatively short contraction. Taking a few sips of water, she collected herself and I smiled, “Let’s get you inside, okay?” She nodded and I helped her stand up. Standing there, she shook out her legs as she began to tell me about their trip.

“We’re out past the 43 interchange. We were trying to make it into town, but I didn’t think…Ooooh!” She grabbed her stomach and crotch, letting out a small yelp, “Oh, Shit!”

“WHAT?!” Her husband and I said in unison.

“He’s here! The baby is here!”

“No, no it’s not!” I helped her waddle towards the wheelchair, “Can you sit?”

“No! The baby is coming! I have to push!”

“No! No! Just pant! Don’t push! Please don’t push!”

The Valet walked up to me, his eyes wide. I pointed at him, “You! Go inside and get me help…NOW!” I turned around and pulled down her pants slightly, using the light from the lamppost to look…

I couldn’t tell if it was an ass or head. She let out another scream, “I NEED TO PUSH!” The Husband looked like he was going to faint. Taking a breath, I ripped off her pants and put my hand on the baby, feeling around; it was a head.

“Okay…okay…uhm…are you ready?” She nodded. I cringed. Dad leaned against the car panting.

“PUSH!” The head slid out, then slipped back in. I felt around and noticed the nose and mouth were still inside the vagina. Cringing harder, I made the little V shape and I slid my fingers in, giving the baby a bit of room.

“STOP! STOP! IT HURTS!”

“I know…but I really, really need you to push! PUSH!” With another push, the head popped out. I felt around quickly and didn’t feel the cord.

“You okay, Mom?” She nodded. “The head is out. One or two more pushes and he’ll be out!” She nodded again as she gripped the arms of the wheelchair, trying to catch her breath. I looked around; we were alone outside in front of the Helipad.

“I’m having a contraction!”

“PUSH!”

With one more push, the shoulders came out, barely giving me time to angle them before…

Before I was holding a brand new infant in my hands. Mom collapsed into the chair and I stayed knelt on the ground. I was covered in amniotic fluid and was frantically trying to wipe the waxy crap off the baby and stimulate it at the same time. It took forever; I frantically rubbed, flicked, and patted the baby.

“Come on…come on Little Dude…” I turned him over to face me and with a deep breath…he started screaming at the top of his lungs.

I’ve never EVER been so happy to hear a baby cry in my life. I cradled the new person who had just dramatically entered the world in my arms while he sobbed his little brains out and I held him to me, trying to keep him warm and rub all the slimy crap off of him. A car pulled up and a woman ran up to me, pulling her shirt off.

“I’m an EMT! Here’s my shirt!” I looked up to see a middle aged woman handing me the shirt off her back, her daughter throwing a coat over her mother’s bare shoulders. I took the shirt and wrapped the baby up, still trying desperately to keep the baby warm when I heard a voice behind me.

“Shao…is everything okay? You’ve been out here for a while.”

“I JUST DELIVERED A FUCKING BABY!” Gretchen, the Triage Nurse stood there, her jaw slack, then she turned around and ran inside. What seemed like ages later, the ENTIRE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT and OB Nurses were outside with blankets and towels. Dr. Sampson came around the car, a smile on his face.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Sampson…I’m just going to see how far along you are…”

“SHE DELIVERED THREE MINUTES AGO, DOC!!!!!” He looked down to see me cradling a baby that obviously wasn’t mine. OB came running around and they smiled at me, “We’ll finish up…”

“FINISH WHAT?! I HAVE THE BABY!” The message was never relayed that I was actively assisting on the delivery. Gretchen never relayed that I was holding a screaming baby. OB had no idea what was going on. No one had any idea what was going on. We hustled and got everyone inside. I duck walked next to the wheelchair holding the baby since trying to rest the Little Dude on Mom’s belly just wasn’t happening and as we got upstairs, I watched forlornly as they went through the doors, myself not crossing the little yellow line into the OB Unit. Slowly, I trugged downstairs, my phone ringing in my pocket.

“ER, this is Shao.”

“Hey, this is Registration…I have people waiting to get seen…”

“I get that. It’s gonna be a minute, I need to get changed.”

“But there’s a chest pain here…”

“Tell Charge or Triage, I need to get changed. I’m covered in Baby Butter…” The line went dead. I set my jaw and marched to Registration, a wicked smile on my face. The ladies backed up away from me, shocked looks on their face.

“So. I’m going to get changed. Call someone that isn’t me to get the patients seen.”

I stalked to the Locker Room, my hands shaking. I had never done that before. The Hospital just became an OB Hospital, so we had done some deliveries in the ER, but I was surrounded by Doctors and Nurses who knew what they were doing. I even pulled one off in an elevator…but I had Doctors and Nurses who knew what they were doing with me. I looked in the mirror; I was covered in all manners of fluid and goop, my hair was a mess, and I felt sticky. I had a whole world of ‘Wet, Sticky, and not mine’ all over me and it made me cringe. I quickly changed and went back to my desk.

A few hours went by and I felt a tap on my shoulder as I was deeply immersed in a book. I turned around and saw the new Father standing there, a huge smile on his face.

“Can I help you? Is everything okay?”

He nodded, then he grabbed me and hugged me.

“Thank you. Thank you for saving my baby.”

I smiled softly, digging my toe into the carpet. “It was nothing. Just what I was trained to do.”

“Well…thank you. You will always have a place in our hearts and in our family. Thank you.” With that, he walked away.

I watched him go, a smile on my face, then I set back to studying.

 

 

 

 

Failure is an option.

Today I had a bad day. I was taking a physical fitness test for my new job and I failed…badly at it. Back spasms have plagued me since I got between a 300lb man and a Stryker stretcher. He was trying to jump off, and some how I thought I was going to stop him. In the middle of the sit-up portion, my back locked up tighter than a virgins’ legs and I couldn’t sit back up. I tried, but my body betrayed me at the worst time. My emotions got the better of me, and I stormed off, being followed by Medic Dolphine.

I lived by the creed: “Failure is not an option.” Ask any one of my friends and they’ll tell you that I don’t take failure well…at all. It is not in my genetic structure to fail. I sat and stared at the running track that I was supposed to be running on after doing the sit-ups, and I realized that, failure had become an option in my life.

I knew that failure sucks big eggrolls, and it’s not something I like to do on a regular basis, but because of EMS, failure was an option. It just depends on how we look at it. The sit-ups: There was nothing I could’ve done. My back locked up on me, my feet went numb, and I couldn’t see through the white hot pain. I’ve trained for this day for months, almost six now. I had done countless more push-ups, sit ups, and running than I had to do today, but it was not ment to be.

Years ago, I would’ve fought, argued, and whined my way to never trying again. My mentality was, it’s not me, it’s them. After losing several patients over the years though has taught me that, no matter how hard you try, if it’s not supposed to work, it’s not going to work. I was not supposed to get in today for whatever reason, who knows why.

We as Medics and EMTs put a lot of blame on ourselves when things don’t go right and our co-workers help that process by reminding us of our failures. What we don’t remember are the times the shit went right. Yeah, my back may have spasmed today, but thank my lucky stars it didn’t when I had help get a kid out of a mangled car and I was contorted into a position I hadn’t seen since my Cheerleading days. I stayed in the same spot for almost an hour, yet my back didn’t betray me until I bent to pick up a piece of plastic on the ambulance floor during clean up after the call.

I remember all the large bore IV’s I missed and I think about them constantly, but I don’t pull up the fond memories of sinking 22’s and 24’s on little old ladies who would be poked and prodded into the night because of people rushing to get the line.

I’ve “failed” many arrests, hell, I speak of one in one of my posts. I remember dates, times, places, faces, what have you of the “failed” arrests, but I can’t even remember the name of my very last arrest. While she wasn’t a techincal save (walking out of the hospital), we “saved” her to the point that she was perfusing so her hand was warm when her husband of over 50 years was able to hold her hand and say good-bye while she was “alive” in her husbands’ mind.

I walked to my car, feeling dejected, but at the same time relieved. The spasm abated not too long after it started, keeping me from hours, if not days of bed rest and medication. I was given permission to retest; the instructors figured that I wasn’t lying about the back spasm because of the look of sheer pain on my face. They saw me trying, so they gave me information to reschedule.

I also think my mental shift came from reading. I had been voraciously reading a book by A.J. Jacobs called The Guinea Pig Diaries. In it, he does various experiments about his life. Outsourcing EVERYTHING he did during the day, even reading to his kids, to doing everything his wife asked him to do…no matter what. One section that caught my interest was when he spoke about how he makes a note every time he’s in a fast moving line at the store or at airport security. He’s right; we only notice the bad shit. Sure, for this particular section he researched a Harvard Psychologist (Daniel Gilbert and his book Stumbling on Happiness, but the take home point in all of it was that, we remember the bad stuff well, but never the really good stuff.

So, as I doff my cap to Mr. Jacobs, here is my “mental list” of everything that went right today:

I woke up and the Earth was still here.

I felt great considering my nervousness.

The drive to the hotel we stayed at and even to the test was uneventful and we found the place with lots of time to spare.

I was able to help motivate the girl who was before me into punching out her last few sit-ups; she made it.

I don’t have to get a prescription filled for a steroid because of my back; the spasm went away on its own and I just feel stiff, but nothing too bad.

I didn’t have to run in the extreme humidity which would’ve set off an asthma attack which would’ve been worse than the spasm.

I now know what I’m looking at and I’ll do better next time.

Now I’m going to lay down, get a few hours of rest, and start my process over again.

Have fun and Be safe!
~M. Trommashere~