labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Call me naive, but....

I realized as I was walking out of a patient's room my last shift that I have a soft spot for the underserved, the ones on the wrong side of the track, the ones that were dealt choices that all lead to nowhere. There are many nurses who have no sympathy for the women who have unstable home lives, who are 23 having their 4th baby, or homeless and pregnant. They think they should just be able to get their acts together and all will be well.

But it isn't as easy as that. Take the girl whose room I was leaving. Twenty seven years old, admitted at 27 weeks for premature rupture of membranes. No prenatal care. No stable home environment. A 4 year old she was turning over to different people every couple of days because she had no one stable to take her. I asked her why she hadn't started prenatal care. She gave me the most honest reason.

"Seeing I was homeless, going to the doctor was not on the top of my priority list when you are wondering where you'll sleep at night."

Point taken.

She was living with her mother, who is an active drug user and her apartment had a turnstile of a front door for transients. She didn't feel it was good place to have her 4 year old. She felt unsafe. So she moved in with her boyfriend's family, but because they couldn't pay the rent that was being asked of them they were kicked out. They would sleep at friends here and there, but for the most part they pitched a tent in a local park. By this time it was getting cold out at night, so they sold their car to pay for a motel for a couple of weeks. But now they didn't have any transportation, and the boyfriend had to quit his job. It took him awhile to find one he could get to by public transportation; she couldn't work because she didn't have childcare.

So, I ask those who think people like her should just get her act together, how that is possible? How does one get ahead by living on the fringe of society, homeless, wondering where you'll be keeping warm at night? When you don't have childcare, how can you work? And if you can't work, how do you pay rent? And when your days are filled with trying to secure a place to sleep that's safe and warm for your 4 year old, how do you have time to fit in a doctor's appointment?

Call me naive, but I don't see how people in these situations make it out and above.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

You know, its quite easy to judge when you're in your own home, have all that you need and are off to work in a secure job. I know I have judged without all the fact. I have never walked an inch in those shoes and hope I never do.
It must be so hard, when you're hanging on by your fingernails day in day out. You can't secure your future when your scrapping by each day.
Thanks for writing. AJ

Shipper Girl said...

Thanks for bringing that to peoples attention. I have seen many friends without anything but us. (and we can really only do so much)

Hard to get on your feet without a hand up.

CrazyCath said...

Hi/ I called over from Nervus Rex. This is a great post. I am a nurse too (UK) and I totally agree with your point of view and AJ's comment before me.
There but for the grace of God...

Sometimes, life sucks. You are not naive. You care.

Hilary said...

What a wonderful post. Women need more sympathy when they are pregnant, not less. People look at pregnancy and motherhood as a great opportunity to judge people, sometimes, instead of helping them.

Catz said...

This was a wonderful post and right on the money. I work for the government right now, but I was dirt poor for many years raising two kids and I was always lucky enough to have a roof over my head. We didn't have much else. I try and explain to people how you get there and how hard it is to get out, but so many people only want to see and hear what they want. If we could be open to listen to others we could all learn alot and maybe we can find away so people don't have to live on the streets in our respective countries ever! Thank so much for this post.

Diane J Standiford said...

My ex sis-in-law had/has (divorces are awful) a job like yours---where would mothers and babies be without people like you? Thank you.
Oh, and congratulations on your E award.

Anonymous said...

Ok. I'll bite. I come from a 3rd world country and have been living in the US for only 4 years so this may come off as being ignorant.
But let's start with...
how about stop having babies until you can provide a stable environment for your child? I understand the first one. Everyone makes mistakes. But shouldn't one learn from them? When you can't provide/secure a safe and warm place for your 4-year old daughter, then why are you having more kids?
It's not like birth control is hard to come by. One can get them for free at planned parenthood or at the public health office. Maybe get some family planning counselling while you're at it.
I guess I don't get it. The United States may not be the land of milk and honey as, we 3rd worlders think it is but it sure does provide one with a lot of opportunities to get back on your feet. Or at least not commit the same mistakes over and over and over.

Anonymous said...

You rock. As a social worker, I see this all the time. It's hard to understand where the anger many people have towards poor women comes from. Fear? Guilt? I wish there were more people like you.

Angi said...

Your post both took my breath away and made me cry. The story you shared is exactly why I'm a doula for free. So many women need extra support during labor without judgment. They get enough judgment from the rest of the world (apparently even the third world. Blessings to you.