Recently, I celebrated that universal holiday enjoyed by each of us who sports a belly button, reminiscent of our entry into this world.
My birthday was nothing special. After all, each of us experiences that phenomenon on an eerily regular basis as the calendar pages turn ever-so quickly from year to year. But this year, I tried to imagine that first birth-day, the day I was born.
I can envision a few characters in the cast who played out my birth story. My mother and father were there, as was our family doctor. I was there, of course, although my mother says I did little to assist in the process. Other than that, I don’t know much about other “supporting actors” in this little scene.
I can imagine a few nurses were part of the story. Surely one of them cleaned me up shortly after my birth, wiping my wiggling arms and legs free of the detritus that accompanied me from the womb. She may have been the one to weigh and measure me, and pay close attention to my signs of health.
Another nurse might have shampooed my hair, dried me briskly with a soft towel, and wrapped me in a warm blanket. She may have commented on my feisty temperament, or the fact that I was born with my dad’s chin. She probably gave me a cuddle, mindful of her opportunity to help me become comfortable in my new surroundings.
It was likely a nurse who brought me to my mother for my first feeding. She would have helped my mom get positioned to receive me, recognizing that this young woman was exhausted from her delivery but eager to spend time with her baby.
As an adult, I’ve gained great admiration for obstetric nurses. My opportunities on mother-baby hospital units has given me a front row seat to the work they do. Now I understand that these professionals are scholars who’ve learned a great deal about both the physical and emotional processes of new parents and babies. They’ve honed techniques to deliver a high quality of care to families. And they truly love supporting families at this moment of significant change in their lives.
As I celebrate my own birthday, I want to offer my thanks to obstetric nurses everywhere who make it their goal to help our newest ones celebrate a joyful birth-day.