My newborn daughter was delivered by emergency caesarean, the start of a massive learning curve for me not just as a dad but as a student nurse.
As we speak, my month old daughter is looking up from her moses basket, happily listening to the sound of me typing on the computer.
She’s a beautiful, healthy colour and she is coming on a bundle! She was born 7.5lbs on the 19th December and we named her Reese Jai Whitehead.
However, she did not always have a healthy colour to her skin. Nor could she breathe adequately to begin with. After three days of labour, she was delivered by emergency caesarean. Unfortunately, she did not breathe for two minutes when she was delivered as she had aspirated merconium (ingested foetal faeces into one of her lungs) which caused her lung to collapse (a pneumothorax). She needed resuscitating and whisking up to NICU (neonatal intensive care) to be ventilated and also have a chest drain inserted to help re inflate her lung. My wife had also caught sepsis and passed it on to Reese.
This was the beginning of a huge learning curve.
I have always appreciated and fully valued the importance of compassion and caring in nursing. Inasmuch, this experience would teach me the importance of how valuable it is to have a highly professional medical team, who know exactly what they are doing. It would also teach me how important it is to come across as confident and competent as a nurse.
At a time of medical emergencies and life or death situations, compassion is not the main thing required of nurses. Instead it’s probably quick thinking. At this point, I feel relatives are not really concerned with whether you care or not. They only care whether you are good at your job, and you know exactly what you are doing.
The medical staff at my daughter’s birth demonstrated a confident, professional attitude with plenty of compassion to go alongside it. They offered up more information than they needed to at times and they seemed to be able to answer every query I threw at them (and believe me, nurses make the worse patients so I was keeping them on their toes, poor people!).
Whether or not they actually were confident in the prognosis of my daughter was irrelevant as, they came across as confident at the point of care and that instilled me with feelings of wondrous relief that she was in the right place. Eye contact was made with me at all times and I was even offered a chance to read her X-Rays.
Finally, a nurse told me before I left that she had called for a paediatrician to be present at the birth, because “she had a feeling”. Inevitably, the doctor saved her life. I would like to end this blog with: “As a nurse, always follow your intuition”.
Mikey Whitehead is the student nurse editor for children’s nursing.