Sunday, November 8, 2009

Man, I'm tired Part 2

Please see part 1 below if you haven’t read it yet.

We returned to the station at about 11:00 and half-jokingly I told Warren that I’d see him in the morning. Fat chance. I almost had my boots off when the dispatcher told us to respond to a woman-in-labor run. Great, my favorite. (Can you smell the sarcasm? Good because I’m laying it on thick).

The rain had stopped, leaving only raindrop-warped lights of the big city to reflect off the puddles and wet pavement. As we pulled into the apartment complex, I immediately saw a crowd of people in the vicinity of where we were heading.

“Over there,” I said.

Warren headed for the crowd and the now frantic bird-doggers (a name we call people who wave us down).

Seeing the frantic wavers with fear in their eyes actually triggered me to calm down. I tugged my blue latex gloves over my hands, gave Warren a quick “here we go” nod, and pushed my door open.

“Hurry, hurry,” someone yelled as a tall, skinny man met me at the truck. I looked past him to the crowd from which he had come. I saw a young woman, 25 or so, bent over at the waist.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Engine 24 pull up behind our medic.

“How far along are you?” I asked as I leaned in to make eye contact. She answered “9 months” with a painful moan.

“The baby’s coming,” her boyfriend or husband shouted. His angst told me that he believed what he said. That was good enough for me.

I waved to the engine crew as they sauntered past the medic. “Cot!” I shouted.
Warren asked her if she could start walking so we could get to the truck faster. She grabbed my arm and squeezed to let us know that she couldn’t. As the engine guys approached with our cot, Warren and I grabbed her arms and legs and carried her to meet them.

We shoved the cot into the truck. I told the lieutenant to give me a second to figure out how close we were. We pulled the doors closed and told her we needed to check for crowning (which is when the baby’s head starts to bulge from the cervix). One look told us. It was time.

We covered her legs with a blanket, hollered for another medic into the back with us and someone to drive. We prepared for work. Warren and I donned our paper gowns as the other medic, our lieutenant, opened the sterile wrapping of our OB kit.

As our driver hopped into the front seat, he asked, “Ready to go?”

I told him not to move, that we were delivering this baby before we started bouncing down the road. As much as I’d hoped we could get to the hospital first, I knew there was no chance.

The lieutenant put a nasal cannula into her nose for oxygen.

“Go ahead and push,” Warren told her. Luckily for me, Warren had delivered about 100 babies (OK, 5 or 6 but still) and he was as calm as an OB doctor. She groaned and pushed. The baby’s head popped out. But with his head came the umbilical cord which was wrapped around the baby’s neck.

Oh no!

Just as I felt panic rise into my chest, Warren reached down, grabbed the cord, and slipped it over the baby’s head. He grabbed the bulb syringe and suctioned the gunk from the baby’s nose and mouth. Just then, she pushed again and the slimy newborn boy shot out into my arms.

Let me take a break from the story for a second to say it was awesome.

We took an APGAR score to evaluate the baby’s health and all of the numbers were good and getting better as they should.

Warren clipped the cord in two places and then cut it with a scalpel. We wrapped the baby in a towel and I set him onto his mother’s chest. She looked like she’d won the lottery, which actually she had. Somebody started an IV on her, I can’t remember who (maybe I did), and we told our driver to start for the ER.

“Take it slow and easy,” Warren told him.

While we transported mother and child to the hospital, she delivered her placenta which we caught it in an emesis basin.

I called the hospital and let them know we were coming with a newborn and mother, both of whom were doing well.

I’m sure you could see my smile from down the hall as we passed through the ER and up to the OB floor. The father walked alongside, ecstatic and thankful.

When the elevator opened to the OB floor, the waiting nurses were all grins. I gave them my verbal report as nurse after nurse came in to see the new baby. Nurses on OB floors are a different breed of nurse. They mostly deal with joy and it shows.
The doctor told us we did a good job before we made our way back to the elevator.

As you can tell from part one and part two, a medic’s life can go from some of the worst sights imaginable to some of the greatest. Stay tuned for part three coming soon.


  1. This time I could feel your panic about the cord AND your joy (you know I'm a sap so I got all teary when you said it was awesome). In Part One, it felt a little emotion-less (about the foot) until you told the patient it was going to hurt.
    I like reading the action, the play-by-play. But what makes your non-fiction writng good to me is your true emotional reaction to it.

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  3. Kara, after all these years, not very many things at work get me emotional and my writing might show that. It may be a flaw but as bad as her ankle looked in part one, it was really just business as usual to me. But you are 100% right, it is the emotion that makes a good story and I try to remember that. Sometimes I might come up a little short.

  4. This actually makes me a little less scared about having kids--the birthing part, I mean. I suppose it shouldn't, but in some small way, it gives me a little peace of mind. Weird huh?

  5. I agree with you about the emotion makes the story, but I think, to put it more precisely, the emotions are what make it REAL.

    *I* could write a (fictional) story about a medic run. I've heard & seen enough that I could. But my story would be so flat compared to someone who was there, felt the anxiety, the fear & the rush. I mean, even if you push aside or hide all those emotions, they're still THERE, still part of the experience & still part of you.