The Kindness of Strangers

The third family member to see Vivian Katherine, other than myself and Erin, was my mother-in-law, and including Erin and myself, she was the first person to see Vivian outside of the surgical delivery room.

There’s a story here. Let me go on.

Erin had just gone through almost a day of hard labour, and from noon until eight, had reached a stage where she kept on reaching nine centimetres dilation, and then pulling back. She was exhausted, and had to be put on an epidural, with a transfer of care from the midwives to an attending physician. That afternoon was stressful for all of us, even though we all managed to get some sleep at last. It was frustrating, Erin was getting more and more frightened, and there were signs that the baby was getting more and more in distress.

My mother-in-law held it together, and did a very good thing in telling the midwife to page a different obstatrician when the first one was late in coming. But as Erin and I proceeded to surgery for a cesarian section, she admits that she broke down crying. Wendy was very much on her mind, and the whole thing felt like nasty deja-vu to her.

A nurse happened upon my mother-in-law in the hallway, and stopped to ask if she okay. My mother-in-law said she was, but the nurse replied that clearly she wasn’t, at which point my mother-in-law explained what had happened today, and mentioned that she had lost another daughter, and she was having a terrible sense of history repeating itself. And the nurse said, I work at the natal intensive care unit. Wait here, I’ll find out what’s going on.

She went away and, returned less than five minutes later to say that we were all right, but that the baby had some problems which were being dealt with. And then she said, come with me, and she walked my mother-in-law into the neo-natal unit. The other nurses on duty looked askance at her; what was she doing here? But the nurse waved them off, and said that grandma had to see the baby, and there she was. Wired for sound, but obviously doing better. The nurse allowed my mother-in-law to touch her. It was at least a half hour before I got a chance to take those first pictures which appeared on my blog.

We never got the nurse’s name, but she went above and beyond the call of duty that night. She was on her break. She didn’t even have to stop. But she saw someone in distress and she did all she could to alleviate that. And we’ll be forever grateful.

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