06 August 2011

My baby luvin' peeps

Charleston, S.C.

When I moved to Charleston many years ago, not knowing a soul, I went to every hospital in town and asked to see their labor & delivery unit. I was an experienced nurse. I'd worked in community hospitals, huge medical universities and ran a free standing birthing center for a few years.

St. Francis Hospital was downtown at Rutledge and Calhoun St. at that time and the Birthing Suite was on the back of the third floor facing Calhoun St. The nurse on duty gave me a tour but was bewildered. She said there were no positions open, there never were. Their nurses didn't leave. Bingo! I knew exactly where I was going to work.

I eventually joined this gang of wacky loving southern women who made me feel welcome and became my family. We worked our butts off on evening shift, delivering babies left and right. We worked double shifts when necessary, came in early and stayed late. We worked hard and laughed until we cried. We caught the babies the doctors didn't make it for and cried with the parents who suffered losses. The Birth Suite has won every "Best Place to Have a Baby" award that Charleston City Paper has ever awarded. Years later people still proudly parade their growing children past the labor unit hoping to see the nurse whose picture is in their baby book.

I left bedside nursing long ago and it seems I keep going to retirement parties or farewell parties of some of the old gang. I'm not sure you can get a closer bond than this - we delivered each others babies and watching each others children grow up.

Miss Elnora Hazel retired this week. She used to sneak in to all my new mothers behind me with extra snacks at bedtime worried that "skinny nurses didn't feed you enough". She was known for giving her patients a real back rub before she "shut" the light. Countless lowcountry mothers and babies have been sent home well loved because of Miss Hazel. It feels like the end of an era.

Sleep in on Monday Miss Hazel. You deserve it!

Sue Veon, Ginger Ballentine, Elnora Hazel and me.