Zettler didn’t dislike obstetrics but being female and seeing the birthing process always produced ambivalent feelings. There was both like and dislike for childbirth in her opinion. She had entered the Navy directly from nursing school. The Navy paid for her education and she owed the U.S. government 3-years of service. Last year was her first year practicing as a Registered Nurse. She had been Ensign Minerva Zettler then. After Navy nursing orientation at Bethesda Naval Hospital in the Washington DC area she received orders to Queens Naval Hospital in Long Island, NY. Her first rotation at Queens Naval was obstetrics. Zettler got her OB training during her last 3-months of nursing school. That had been a good thing, she often thought, because she went directly into full capacity as an OB nurse in the Navy dependent wards.
“Good morning Zettle.” Dr. Myron Silver greeted her as she came into the delivery room Nurses Station. LCDR Myron Silver looked like a Jewish teddy bear. He was wearing a pink scrub suit which was the working outfit used in the OB suite. He had a white surgeon’s cap and a white surgical mask tied at the neck but laying open on his chest with the other two ties for his mask dangling down his scrub top. Silver’s shoes were specially made with conductive soles for the delivery area in case volatile anesthetics, like cyclopropane, were needed. The shoes used to be white but were now of indeterminate color because of iodine stains, blood stains, and pink merthiolate adherent drippings.
“Good morning Dr. Silver.” Zettler flashed him a warm smile.
“Get yourself into some scrubs we need a lot of help right now.” He disappeared into one of the labor rooms.
Zettler grabbed a set of pinks and a pair of disposable green shoe covers to protect her footwear from a fate like Silver’s shoes. The Navy used different color scrub suits to code the different medical specialties. It really was done to help identify where they were stolen from when they found patients or staff wearing them away from their assigned area. Yellow was for urology, brown scrubs were used in gastroenterology, green was surgery and blood-red was from the tuberculosis wing. White scrubs were worn in the nursery and blue scrubs were for other clinic specialties like dermatology, internal medicine, neurology and radiology. Orange scrub suits belonged to the Dental Department.
“Oh John No. No. No. For Christ’s sake John, I’m not in the mood.” A patient let out a loud verbal directive to Dr. Silver who had his Betadine-covered gloved-hand in her vagina to determine the degree of cervical effacement. The cervix or tip of the uterus was usually a half-inch thick. During labor the uterus contracted spasmodically at shorter and shorter intervals thinning out the cervix and dilating the uterine opening. The process was called effacement and dilatation as the baby’s head moved closer to exiting mother’s warm environment.
Zettler smiled at the woman’s expletive. The medications used during labor made the patients delirious and disoriented. This patient obviously was confused and interpreted Dr. Silver’s internal examination as a prelude to romance. “Scopolamine and Demerol will do it every time.” Her obstetric instructor at school had taught that the combination would also wipe out the memory of the labor. “The most important nursing aspect is to keep the patient from harming herself. They thrash around, kick, scratch and bite. When we restrain and pad off the rails of the bed we are practicing nursing at its best. Many ladies in labor will not sound ladylike and often some obtuse language surfaces. But do not judge. It’s 100% due to the drugs.”
“John, you no good motherfuckin’pecker-faced bastard. You did this to me you thorny prick. I hope your balls ache for 10-thousand years.” This was followed by a sudden loud scream from the patient and then she was quiet for a full minute until her next contraction occurred. Zettler looked at Silver as he emerged from the labor room. He had been the brunt of the verbal tirade.
“I ruptured her membranes and the kid is going to come out in less than 15-minutes. Zettle can you help set up Delivery Room-3? The pediatric nurse is on her way.” Silver removed his rubber gloves and deposited them in a small chrome plated flip-top trash bucket. The lid of the trash bucket made a metallic clunk as he released the foot pedal.
“Glad to see you LT Zettler.” Thelma Dunkelfinger was the OB duty nurse and a veteran of both Navy and OB nursing. “I’ll circulate between Del rooms #3 and #4. I’m glad they sent you. You always have your act together.”
“Thank you. I think.” Zettler remembered the 50-something year-old nurse. She must have assisted in the birth of thousands of babies in her lifetime. She was a good nurse and an excellent teacher.
The lady in the labor room screamed at the top of her lungs with her contraction. “Oh Jesus mother of God. This is the last baby I ever have, John. I swear it. Oh my god. AHHHHHHHHHH.”
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