“This is why I’m a nurse.”

“This is why I’m a nurse.”

Many people across the world experience infant loss. In the US alone, 24,000 babies are stillborn every year. Since infant loss is not commonly talked about and shared, many people do not know how often those around them are affected by these deaths. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, and one nurse shares her experience and support for those across the globe, and close to home, who have experienced this specific loss.

As I walked onto the Labor and Delivery unit at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, IL, greeted by my co-workers and ready to receive my hand-off report from the previous shift nurse, I took a look at the patient board. I instantly saw that I was assigned to a family whose baby was a still birth at 34 weeks gestation… my heart immediately sunk as I listened intently to the report from the night shift nurse.

The report indicated that the family had arrived sometime between 12:30 am and 1:00 am with decreased fetal movement. The night shift nurse said she had seen the look on the mom’s face, as if somehow she had known the baby died. The nurse applied monitor pieces and started searching for fetal heart tones; she could not find the baby’s heart beat and informed the patient that she would call the in-house obstetrician (OB) to do an ultrasound. I am quite aware of this panicking feeling; when you can’t find the heart tones and you are trying to reassure the patient as you call the in house OB to do an ultrasound. The ultrasound confirmed that the baby’s heart had stopped, and at this point, the only thing to do was for the nurse to give the family some time to digest this grief-stricken news.

I walked up to the patient’s room at 7:30 am, and I could hear the sobbing of the mom, even from outside the door. I took a deep breath as I knocked and entered the room. I introduced myself and gave the family my condolences. As I explained to them the plan of care, the room became very quiet, and it was in this instance that I was reminded why I am a nurse in Labor and Delivery.

I do this work because I have lost six of my own babies and I remember how I was treated. Some nurses were in and out of my room so quickly that they didn’t even have time to acknowledge what was going on, and others didn’t leave my side. I remember one particular nurse sitting with me on my bed, with her calming touch. The feeling I received at that moment gave me a sense of hope that I was going to get through this.

So I sat down with the patient holding her as she sobbed. I give her some time before I started her IV for the induction of labor. We had to endure the next seven hours; crying, laboring, and getting the epidural. I then prepared the family for the delivery of their son. She pushed for almost 2 hours, and then her baby was born. The doctor immediately dried off the baby and handed him to the mother, as we had previously discussed. The mom hugged and kissed her baby and told him how much she loved him. The room was calm and quiet. I left the delivery room after I made sure the patient and family were comfortable. I walked into our break room and cried. This is why I am a nurse; I comfort because I know and care.

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  1. Very sad and moving story – I got emotional reading it.

  2. My heart is breaking! How can you not feel for these moms? The staff makes all the difference. God bless to all!

  3. rosario pecoraro October 27, 2016 at 2:38 pm · Reply

    Giovanna, I am so proud of you for your accomplishments and especially for the care you give your patients. You have a special gift.

    Love Dad

  4. Your work and this story are sources of comfort for those of us affected by this type of loss. My second granddaughter was stillborn in January, The way the nurses ministered to my daughter-in-law and son helped our whole family. Thank you for the work you do.

About the Author

Gia Vandiver
Gia Vandiver

Giovanna (Gia) Vandiver is a registered nurse at Advocate Sherman Hospital, and has 16 years of experience in their Family Birthing Center’s Labor & Delivery. She has been the bereavement coordinator at the hospital since 2008.