I was her first

I was her first

I wonder how it all sat with her when she went home that night after the birth.

We were so much the same, both 24 years old, both in braided pigtails, and both new to the hospital.

But I was the labouring patient, and she the resident nurse.

And I was her first.

When I arrived at 7am we were both justifying ourselves- me, in asking for an epidural after having endured 36 hours of early labour, and she, for not knowing how to set it up but ensuring she was eager to learn, for after all, my birth was only her first.

I wonder what she thought of my nixed birth plan and my rating of pain, with my bewildered dozing boyfriend at my side and my mother rocking in the chair in the furthest corner.

I wonder if she sensed how bewildered we all really were.

I wonder if she had read the part of my birth plan that specifically read ‘No students,’ and whether she debated about bringing it up. Either way, she did not, and once she and the charge nurse got that epidural figured out, I wonder if she assumed that then I couldn’t have cared less. Because I truly didn’t.

I remember the way she moved about the room and the colour of her shoes. I remember her stud earrings and her nervous laughter. I remember she was wearing blue elastics in her hair, and I can hear her voice. I remember the way she deferred to the charge nurse, but the way she also quietly ensured I knew that she knew her shit.

I remember everything but her name.

And I wonder if she remembers mine.

I wonder if she remembers my boyfriend’s commitment to playing music throughout the labour, ensuring our daughter was born to Stevie Wonder’s voice. I wonder if she realized it was his comfort measure and not mine, as I hadn’t heard a single note.

I wonder if she remembers the way my eyeglasses fogged up from sweat while pushing, or what she thought about it taking me three hours to eject my nine plus pound baby.

I wonder if she felt the weight of holding my twitching left leg tiresome, and I wonder what she truly thought of the smell of birth- the one that rings true for each and every one- that salty, yet sickly sweet smelling birthing bodily fluids smell that signifies the end is near.

My fluids were her introduction- and I think about that.

I wonder if she thought anything about the name we gave our daughter, or about having kept her sex a surprise.

I wonder if she found me to be remarkably unemotional upon our daughter’s birth, too sweaty and exhausted to shed even one more drop of a tear.

I wonder if she hated my mother for asking her to get in a picture, in close against my bloody baby and my sweaty brow.

Then I wonder if she went home after her shift and stayed awake that night pondering her day and her life’s path. For being a labour and delivery nurse is a specific calling, suitable to only the most generous, giving, compassionate of humans, with the gift of having both the scientific know-how and the emotional competence to garner a patient’s unwavering trust.

I wonder if my story was highlighted for her by my strength or my weakness, or if they both coalesced into one seamless event.

I wonder how my story sat with her, and I wonder if she knew then, like all nurses ought to, that she would have a huge impact on me. That her memory sits in my bank still.

Because nurses have a way of doing that- of being that person for someone.

I wonder if she knew that at 7am, as she fumbled with cords and hovered while the charge nurse inserted my IV, I was judging her. Judging her for being at her beginning- but then she proved herself and turned it all around.

I wonder if she was judging me in the beginning, too- and most importantly I wonder, if in her eyes, I proved my birthing worth for the benefit of future women and children.


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