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A Reader Writes by Trini Vea: A labor of love

February 11, 2002

"Are you crazy? Why have you wanted to work the night shift throughout your nursing career?"

In the middle of the night, as mothers sleep in the maternal-child unit, I ponder the joys of my work. Contrary to what others say, I am not crazy for choosing this unit or these nighttime hours.

Memories flood my mind. In the obstetrics unit, for example, I often face women giving birth. During their painful, terrifying moments I know they need compassion … a touch of kindness … a gentle, considerate and soft-spoken word of assurance.

I am not just there because it is my job … it is because I care.

In the delivery room where everyone feels joy, mom smiles. Then, when I hear the first cry of the newborn baby, I love to say: "Happy birthday, precious one!"


I am touched when I see the picture of a family with the father, who's eager to hold the baby. The bonding begins.

Some days, we have to take care of "undelivered" clients with some pregnancy-related medical problems. I can offer comfort and understanding. I try to be always available to anticipate their needs, such as giving a back rub or massage, repositioning them, providing water and giving them an extra blanket or an electric fan to cool off.

"Why do you like to be a maternal-child nurse? How can you stand screaming or moaning women?"

Sometimes I just smile. Other times I say, "God so loves me that He gave me the patience, skill and working hands that can help the people I take care of."

Maternal-child nurses must have the power to share. I take advice from Joan Lunden's book "Wake Up Calls: Making the Most Out of Every Day (Regardless of What Life Throws You)." As she suggests, I try to give a kind word or smile to everyone I meet and make time for a worthy cause. I also try to offer hope, happiness, cheer and pleasant responses.

"Isn't it stressful in the labor room? What do you do to cope with it? Aren't you too old for the job?"

At times the working environment does become stressful, but I've learned some relaxation techniques. Chuck Swindoll, founder and speaker of the radio show "Insight for Living," offers some suggestions on how to develop a workable plan in his book, "Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life," and I strongly agree.

As Swindoll suggests, I reserve several evenings each month for my family and I do nothing but what we enjoy. I try not to take myself or the troubles on the job too seriously. Some things are serious, of course, but not everything. I try to laugh aloud several times a day and really relax when I need to.

In addition, I do not think I am too old for this. As author Deepak Chopra says, "Aging is not something that happens to us, but rather something our body has learned to do." I can try to find how to age successfully by finding my passion, such as playing tennis at least twice a week, staying active and being involved in my children's school so that my life has purpose, vigor and vitality. Then I can meet friends, too.

Happy Valentine's Day to my family, colleagues, tennis friends — Phoebe, Betty Jo, Lora, Esperanza, Minnie, Kim, Celia and to all the educators of our three children.

>> TRINI VEA is a registered nurse and has a bachelor of science in nursing.

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