IN THE SPOTLIGHT WITH KRISTIN HUTCHISON

Kristin, a Labor & Delivery nurse in Philadelphia is expecting her first child, due in July. Here, she gives us a taste of how her daily life has changed and her increased insight and understanding of her patient’s lives, particularly now that she is pregnant too.

What has your pregnancy been like so far?

I love being pregnant right now, but my first trimester was hard. I had nausea and vomited almost every day, which was difficult during my shifts. If I’m in the middle of helping with a delivery or a C-section, it’s hard to leave! I also had significant bleeding until I was 14 weeks, and they could never find a cause. Each ultrasound showed baby and I were fine (which was a relief!) but it was hard to be excited at first, as I thought I was miscarrying. This experience gave me so much respect for women who have endured the pain of a miscarriage, and it truly changed my perspective on caring for patients who have suffered a loss.

Being an L&D Nurse

I absolutely love the mamas, babies, and families I get to work with! I have always loved women’s health, but specifically was drawn to labor and delivery because I can be part of one of the most important and intimate moments in the life of a mom and her family. I’m amazed at how strong my patients are throughout their whole pregnancy and their delivery – one of the hardest, yet most rewarding journeys. 

The impact of the coronavirus at the hospital

Things have drastically changed at my hospital due to the pandemic. Patients are immediately screened for COVID-19 symptoms and we have to wear protective gear our entire shift. I’m very grateful that we have proper PPE (personal protective equipment), but it’s exhausting breathing through a mask for 12+ hours. Being pregnant, there are no specific policies prohibiting me from caring for COVID-19 positive patients, which is nerve-racking. However, my amazing staff and manager always volunteer to care for these patients, so I don’t have to. I recognize that not everyone gets this luxury, so I feel extremely thankful! 

Patients’ fears during the pandemic

It is super important to remain positive since so many moms and dads are experiencing disappointment or anxiety about their birth. They ask questions like – “Will me or my baby get sick in the hospital?” or, “Why can I only have one support person?” It’s my job to assure them that we’re doing all we can to protect them and their baby, such as wearing the right PPE and monitoring everyone closely for symptoms. We also test every mom for COVID-19. And while many patients are sad that their mom, sister or friend can’t be with them, I have seen that it is a really special bonding moment for mom and her partner as they bring their child into the world.

And Kristin’s own fears

At times, I wish I could totally quarantine for the sake of my baby. But I also am thankful to play a small part in supporting patients and calming their fears. So many women have had their birth plans completely changed due to visitor restrictions and, they’re worried about contracting the virus and giving it to their baby. I have the privilege of providing support during their labor in this unprecedented time. I am alongside them during their most vulnerable moments, encouraging and empowering them. This is truly a gift and reminds me why I do what I do, even during the moments I’m nervous about getting sick myself.

Biggest takeaway from this experience

This experience has shown me how little I can control, and that starting from conception, you love your child and must trust that God will take care of them. I’m also learning to rely on others and asking for help when I feel scared. My nursing staff and husband are extremely supportive and help to ground me when I get panicked – which has helped a lot! During uncertain times, I want to focus on how I can continue to love and serve my patients, rather than going into complete self-preservation mode.

During uncertain times, I want to focus on how I can continue to love and serve my patients, rather than going into complete self-preservation mode.

The greatest lesson for an L&D nurse

Remain flexible. At the end of the day, I just want a healthy baby. Even if it doesn’t go the way I thought, as long as my baby and I are healthy, that’s all I can ask for.

Grateful for…

I’m grateful to be in my third trimester – I’m 28 weeks and feeling great! And I’m super thankful to work in an area that sees life born every day – it is such a needed reminder during this crazy time that there are good and beautiful things still happening in the world. I’m grateful to play a small part in that.