A Nurse's Story: To Witness Life As It Starts
When I was a little girl I loved to take care of people. I played with my dolls and cared for them using bottles, baby carriages and anything else I could get my hands on to make sure they were always neat and clean. Long after I should have outgrown my doll years, those little dolls were still placed neatly on the shelves, practically in mint condition. I’d like to think that the years I spent caring for my little dolls was a sign that I would eventually go into the nursing profession. I graduated nursing school in May 2008. With the profession being in high demand and school becoming increasingly competitive, the feeling of accomplishment starts at graduation. Whilst my fellow graduates were frantically applying for jobs at every hospital within a 50-mile radius, I deliberately filled out 1 application to 1 institution, Texas Children’s Hospital, with 1 specific goal in mind... "To witness life as it starts.” What better place to experience the beginning of life than by working in obstetrics? I had the sole objective of committing my "Nancy New Nurse" passion to the blueprint of Vision 2010: Texas Children's Maternity Center, now called the Pavilion for Women. With Texas Children’s reputation as 1 of the best institutions for medical care, I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to take part in the organization's groundbreaking decision to add obstetrics to its long list of specialties. Much to my parents' frustration, I patiently waited through 5 jobless months until I finally got the call from the postpartum unit at St. Luke's, which at the time housed the staff of Texas Children’s obstetric employees. The most unique aspect of Texas Children’s philosophy that I learned the moment I hit the floor was family-centered maternity care. I hadn't learned this concept in school nor during any of my clinical rotations, so the focus was both foreign and intriguing. We were, and are still to this day, the only hospital in the Texas Medical Center to offer this approach to the birthing experience... "Where a new kind of care is born." Though the change to the new model of excellence was quite difficult for some of the seasoned staff who had been familiarized with the classic "baby straight to the nursery" outlook of the birthing process, we all eventually saw how the shift to the new perspective benefited the very core of those consumers that the institution was trying to satisfy. Personally, I saw more tears of joy, a calmer and more controlled experience for the moms, and a sense of achievement for us caregivers in having complete confidence that we were sending home a happy and well-bonded family. The most rewarding facet of being a nurse is knowing that a 12-hour shift can mean a lifetime to your patients, whether circumstances turn out well or otherwise. The patients’ responses you receive are dependent on how you approach the outcomes. I worked for a few years as a staff nurse for both mother and baby on Postpartum and as a Newborn Transition Nurse in Labor and Delivery, applying the family-centered concept in every aspect of care. The family-centered concept not only helps families as they start out in happy circumstances, but in harder ones as well. By working for a high-risk obstetrics hospital, it is expected that we would have our occasional losses. The most difficult part of being in the forefront of "life as it starts" is the fact that I also have the ability to see "life as it ends." One particular experience is etched in my heart and mind. A set of twins was born prematurely. Although they were considered unviable, those 2 strong souls sustained heartbeats for 5 and 8 hours, respectively. In our family-centered care model, the wishes of the family are respected and fulfilled. The couple wished for their family members in the waiting area to see, hold, and bid their goodbyes to the twins. I willfully obliged. In the seemingly thousands of deliveries I've participated in, the individualized care the staff gave to that dear couple proved that each family has their own unique needs that we, as caregivers, should be able to provide. That experience solidified for me the benefits of family-centered care in any situation. After 3 years in the OB department, I decided to transfer to Texas Children's renowned NICU last October with full intent on dedicating my services to the Newborn Center at the Pavilion for Women. I firmly believed in our vision and I wanted to be involved in the family-centered care translated to the families of those newborns with more advanced care needs in a long-term setting. I believe the services that Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women offers to the expectant moms and their unborn children are truly remarkable and incomparable. I saw this hospital built from the ground up, and I observed the numerous changes unfold in order to better serve our patients, and I heard the words of gratitude from the many families we've attended to. I believe wholeheartedly that every staff member employed at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women has that same mentality. What I love most about the Pavilion is being in the company of such an impassioned group of colleagues who work for a common goal. Together, we’re leading a new era in maternity care, advocating for the mothers and their babies, and caring for the family as a whole.