AS A PUPIL MIDWIFE.
The father stared in horrified silence at the infant.
At last he croaked, ‘Is that it?’ ‘yes,’ I said sympathetically, ‘I’m afraid it is.’ Then the staff-nurse, trained nurse and midwife, a V.I.P. bustled up, glared at me with concentrated loathing and smiled cosily at the father. ‘Isn’t she lovely, such a beautiful baby and so good’ - throwing a melting glance at the red squashed features in the cot she dribbled on ‘and just like her daddy, isn’t she. Your nose and mouth.’ The proud father looked stricken and my heart went out to him.
It was his first glimpse of his daughter aged about 24 hours, a normal and beautiful child apparently. I agreed with the father. It was hard to believe. The staff-nurse accompanied him out of the bath room. ’Get on and do her,’ she hissed at me in passing. Well, it looked easy enough when she showed me - just rip off the clothes, do the eyes, nose and ears, dress wash the cord. On with the clothes again. I should be through in ten minutes at the most. I would show that snooty devil that I was after all a trained nurse and able to cope with a baby.
But doubt reared its ugly head when I attempted to balance the infant on my lap. With legs apart the baby folded like a jack-knife and disappeared and yet with legs together it’s head hung back at an alarming angle. I got the nightdress over it’s head just in time; it’s face soon changed from purple back to red again and I was pleased to find the head and limbs (find it’s legs and arms ) were still quite firmly attached when I’d finished the undressing act. I was doing all right. Half an hour later when I’d done the washing part I was wet through and breathing hard, but it was the naval engagement that nearly finished me. Dressing the cord would be quite simple if there was no baby attached. I performed quite remarkable acrobatic feats to see if the umbilical cord was going on all right and when I uncurled myself I knew that what lay ahead would require nerves of steel and the courage of a lion. I had to ’blue’ it. Taking a deep breath I liberally charged a swab with Bonney’s Blue and prepared to strike. This was cheating for whenever I approached the target the baby behaved as one hideously possessed. It’s arms and legs milled around madly as if it thought it was riding a tiny bicycle, finally gathering into a bunch over the field of operation. So at last in desperation I had to plunge blindly through the melee of waving, weaving limbs.
Again and again I dabbed in the mild hope that some of it might get on to the cord perhaps some did, but when I was through mother’s little angel was a genuine blue painted ancient druid. And I never even punctured the baby once sewing the binder on, but it was a titanic struggle. So it was with a feeling of triumph and relief that I surveyed Smith, female afterwards. But my exaltation was short-lived. For at the moment of supreme satisfaction, Miss Smith with an unholy expression of derision showed her contempt and scorn by colloquially known as plastered from head to foot in the process. It was just then that the staff nurse returned she looked and her face hardened and she said acidly ‘Nurse, whatever have you been doing all this time. That baby should have been done by now. Now come along. Get her washed and the cord dressed.’
No words could describe my feelings.