Claire's Story (Chapter 2)

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

Claire's Story: She Didn't Know How to Be a Mom

Part 2, Chapter 1 | By P. Berman, K. Hecht, & A. Hosack

I am being torn apart. This baby is killing me. This baby must hate me. Will anybody help me?

Nurse Karin checks on Claire a few hours later to find her having intense and fast contractions. Karin stood with her and tried to help Claire breath through the contractions. When transition started, and the severe labor pains came right on top of each other, Claire grabbed Karin's hand and squeezed it and Nurse Karin hit the emergency button to get a doctor in the room. The baby is “crowning” which means the biggest part of it, the head is trying to get past Claire’s cervix. Nurse Karin tries to talk to Claire but sees she is now delirious with the pain. She squeezes Claire’s hand briefly and then squats down to catch the baby who she can tell is about to be born. In her delirium Claire screams that she doesn’t want this baby. She hates it. It is killing her. Nurse Karin assures her she will not die and that the pain will be better the moment the head gets passed where it is stuck right now.

The pain just stops. Nurse Karin is saying something, and Claire is becoming aware of what is happening around her again. Nurse Karin hands her a screaming bundle and tells her that he is a little boy. Claire hugs the baby close to her chest, he feels warm again; he stops crying. Claire looks down into his eyes, and says, “your name is Davy.”

After a moment of happiness, Claire begins to tremble as the doctor says Davy had to go to the Intensive Care Unit. Nurse Karin gently and repeatedly explained what was happening and helped Claire calm down. Nurse Karin felt like a real professional whenever she is talking with Claire who listens so intensely to everything she says.

Davy was born at 8 months, weighing five pounds. The doctor knows he wasn’t quite ready to live outside Claire’s body, so he needs help from the prenatal intensive care unit. When Claire first sees Davy in an incubator with tubes up his nose, she feels very cold and hopeless inside. Nurse Karin came by to check on how things are going. She finds Claire trembling and staring at Davy. Nurse Karin took Davy out of the incubator and showed Claire how to hold him. She explained that he would grow faster, and be able to go home sooner, the more Claire held him. Once Claire was smiling again, Nurse Karin left. Alone with Davy, Claire thanked God that he had not only given her this child but that he had given her the power to help Davy grow faster, just by holding him.

Nurse Karin sought out the head nurse. She was very concerned that Claire was completely ignorant of child care and would need help if Davy was to develop normally. Fortunately, the hospital had a relationship with a service that would be just right for Claire. It was called the Nurse-Family Partnership and they could send someone to Claire’s house twice a week for Davy’s first year.

Learning Questions

What does Claire need to know to take good care of Davy? How might Claire’s parents react to a nurse coming to their house?

Claire's Story: She Didn't Know How to Be a Mom

Part 2, Chapter 2 | By P. Berman, K. Hecht, & A. Hosack

Dad is coming but he is mad. What is he going to do to me if Davy cries in the car? How can I survive without Nurse Karin?

Claire felt confused and worried and she sat and waited to be taken home. Nurse Karin noticed how Claire looked and was concerned; Davy was finally healthy enough to come home. Claire and her family should be so happy. Nurse Karin asked Claire if something was wrong. Claire didn’t tell Nuse Karin about her parents. It was a strict law in the house that family business stayed in the family. Claire did admit that she feared she didn’t know enough to be a good mom. Nurse reassured Claire that the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) was providing her with a personal nurse. This nurse would come visit her twice a week throughout Davy’s first year.

Claire really likes the idea of having someone like Nurse Karin helping her. What she can’t say out loud is that her parents might not want any stranger in their house. She had never been allowed to have Larry in the house; her parents have never met him. Claire wonders what Nurse Karin would do if she knew how her parents felt about Davy. She might help Claire but.... what if Nurse Karin is lying whenever she says she cares about Davy and helping her be a good mom.

After all, why would anyone care about her and Davy? What would Nurse Karin be getting out of it? How could this strange nurse from NFP care?

Nurse Karin asks Claire when she is being picked up. Claire can’t admit that she doesn’t know when her dad is coming so she says he could be coming at any moment. Nurse Karin helps Claire get ready to go and wheels her, holding Davy, down to the front door of the hospital. Claire isn’t smiling. She wants to live up to her promise to God and be a great mom, but she is afraid her parents might treat Davy meanly like they do her; she can’t let her dad’s belt hit her Davy. What if her dad arrives drunk to pick them up?

Will the hospital staff notice?

As she sits and waits, Claire reads and re-reads the brochure Nurse Karin gave her about NFP. She sees that it is designed for first-time moms like her who not have a job, might be struggling with their finances, or even kicked out of their home and homeless. Claire is relieved the program is completely free because she has no money. She sees all the smiling moms and nurses in the brochure and begins to dream that this program with its amazing, caring staff, will like her and help her with Davy; they would have even helped her when she first got pregnant! Claire doesn’t want Davy to ever be afraid of her, like she is of her dad. She doesn’t ever want to call Davy a waste of space – like her mother does her.

Learning Questions

Do visiting nurses make a difference?

The Nurse-Family Partnership has been carefully tracked and tested, and the results show healthier children, happier moms, and thousands of dollars saved through preventing ER visits and hospital stays, in addition to lower crime rates for both mothers and their children involved in the partnership. Claire wondered what the other moms might be like who used this service.

Would you or someone you know benefit from NFP? Do you want to know more about it?

Check out the NFP website at https://www.nursefamilypartnership.org/about/

Claire's Story: She Didn't Know How to Be a Mom

Part 2, Chapter 3 | By P. Berman, K. Hecht, & A. Hosack

I will not just get used to it. I became a nurse to help people. There must be something I can do.

Nurse Karin is still worrying about Claire even hours after she wheeled her downstairs. She usually helps the new mom and baby get into the car, but Claire’s dad hadn’t arrived yet and she got an emergency call to rush up for a delivery. The delivery took about two hours; of course, by the time she checked downstairs, Claire and Davy were gone. Nurse Karin wished she had met Claire’s dad. She still felt uneasy that no one in her family had contacted Claire in the hospital.

Nurse Karin graduated with her LPN last summer. This is her first position at a hospital, and she loves it. However, she isn’t loving it now. When she checks in at the nursing station, the head nurse warned her that she just couldn't spend this much time with all her patients; she had to learn to pace herself and not get overly involved. New mothers were always in labor, giving birth, staying overnight, and going home. The older nurse told Karin that after she had worked at the hospital for two years, she would have grown accustomed to the many, “Claires” who come through the maternity ward, and learn to just check their vitals and move on. Just check vitals and move on? It had been the “extra time” talking to Claire and educating her about Davy that she had found so rewarding. Maybe the head nurse was wrong? Karin had a lot of paperwork that had built up on her desk while she had been checking on other mothers, she realized she had two hours left on her shift yet already felt bone tired; maybe she had spent too much time with Claire and the other mothers?

After a good night sleep, Karin decided, “growing accustomed,” and only checking the vitals of the young mothers in her unit was not an option. She called the Nurse-Family Partnership and asked if they could ever come to the hospital to help mothers before they were released? She was told that they didn’t have the funds for this and in fact, always ended up turning mothers away every year because they had spent all their funds. It was strange, unlike the discouragement Karin felt when the head nurse had talked to her, this bad news just energized Karin. She was going to do something to help young mothers. She logged into her computer and sent a message to her state representative asking him to support the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act of 2018.

If you feel energized like Nurse Karin, consider supporting expanded funding and research for mothers with premature infants. Click this link: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s3029

After clicking, you will have to do a few more clicks (like identifying your local representative through zip code) but you get what you need in less than two minutes. If you want to support the NFP but don’t know what to say, you can copy the letter below and use it.

Dear Representative, I am writing to ask you to vote for S. 3029, the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act of 2018. It costs a lot to keep an infant in intensive care (approximately $3,000 per day based on an article by Drs. Michael Kornhauser and Roy Schneiderman, 2010) so expanded research for premature infants and pregnancy support is critical. Please help reduce health costs for mothers and the public while supporting human life. Thank you for your time.

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