The Labor and Delivery unit included several areas that may be divided at other hospitals. We had our labor & delivery & recovery rooms, the mom & baby unit, and the nursery. Each day when I showed up to work I would be assigned to work in one or more of those areas. One of the first deliveries I recall seeing at the Air Force Academy Hospital made me very nervous to be at more deliveries for quite some time.
My supervisor, Brian, wasn't one to leave me out to dry. He had taught me what supplies needed to be ready to resuscitate the babies. We had gone over the supplies on the warmer cart and made sure everything was ready. Oxygen and suction were connected, oxygen turned on, intubation supplies were available and ready for use.
They must have known the baby was in some distress prior to the birth, because a pediatrician was summoned and showed up about the same time the baby was born. The OB doctor cut the cord and handed the baby to the pediatrician. The pediatrician ran the 10 feet to the baby warmer and laid the baby on the warmer. His hands were shaking as he said, "suction"....."suction please"..."SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!" I was sure the baby was dead. The baby was dark blue and the eyes reminded me of a dead fish. One of the nurses in the room had taken my spot at the warmer and was the only person in the room who could reach to suction to turn it on and hand it to the doctor. She was standing there with a dumb look on her face. It was as if she was watching an interesting television program, her mouth drooping open. She didn't respond to anything this doctor requested. Brian came in the room. Not one to hang me out to dry, he had been quietly standing outside the curtain listening the whole time.
Brian grabbed the nurse by the shoulders and moved her to the side. He then quickly and calmly took over the nurse's job, handing the suction to the doctor and assisting in the resuscitation. The baby soon began to cry and change colors from dark blue to light blue and then to pink. I was wrong. The baby was alive.
Later we discussed the case. Brian pointed out that the experienced nurse didn't do what she had been trained to do and urged me to not let somebody like her get in the way, just because they outrank me or have more schooling. After all, she had a Bachelor's degree, while Brian and I had less than a year of training for our jobs. He taught me a valuable lesson that I would not soon forget. I must admit though, that I had to help resuscitate many more babies before I got comfortable with it. Eventually the nervousness decreased and I learned to rely on and trust my training. In the 6 months that I worked in that unit, before they contracted with a birthing center downtown, I never once saw a dead baby. Part of it was being in the right place at the right time (people do die after all) and part of it was using my training correctly.