by Bernadette M. Bailey, R.N.
I was working in Labor and Delivery about 2 years into my nursing career, when I was assigned to a young patient who was in labor. This young girl had a hard life, was poverty-stricken and surrounded by friends and family who abused drugs on a regular basis, and she had given in to this temptation.
I happened to go in to check on her when she began to cry. When I inquired as to her cause for tears, she explained that the Nursery nurse had just informed her that they had called the state agency and were going to remove her new baby from her care as soon as she was discharged from the hospital. She explained that her new daughter, her first child would be going to a Foster Care family.
I asked her what her thoughts were on this and she said she was upset, that she loved her baby and wanted nothing more than to take her home with her. She said she loved her more than anything else on earth. I told her if she loved her baby then her battle against drugs was already fifty-percent won. I told her that the Foster Family could be like a babysitter while she recuperated, and that it didn’t have to be a negative thing at all, but that she had a very tough choice to make. She would have to leave behind all those people who use drugs, in order to live a clean and sober life, and to provide a good home for her and her baby.
She said she was ready to make that choice. I asked her if she wanted to have me call the Social Worker to get her into a free program so she could begin right away, so the time separated from her baby would not be wasted. She agreed to this plan and the Social Worker came to see her. I helped her through her labor and delivery, and wiped her tears after the birth, and encouraged her to press on. Even though they were taking her baby, I reminded her that it was temporary and that the tiny child would not remember this time but would remember later in life, after she was clean and sober, offering her a good life.
The young girl had her baby, was discharged, promising to me to change her life, and vowed to get custody of her baby. I reassured her that she could do it and off she went. Months passed and I sometimes thought of her. The other nurses didn’t think she could break away and told me my efforts, while appreciated, were of no use. I said that if I only ever reached one single new mother in this condition, that at least I would have changed one child’s life by trying, during my career. One day she walked off the elevator. She looked so good I didn’t recognize her! She presented me with a photo of her baby and hugged me, telling me that she was clean and sober, and was getting her baby back. She was happy and all my nurse friends were surprised and happy. It was a day I will never forget.
Always remember that no matter who doesn’t believe, just one person who really does can change a life!
Thanks to Bernadette for her wonderful submission to this month’s Nurses On The Go segment. If you would like to have the chance to get published in our monthly newsletter and be eligible to win a $50 VISA gift card, we would welcome your submission. All submissions should be between 500 and 800 words. To submit a story, send an email with the subject line “Nurses On The Go story submission” to firstname.lastname@example.org.