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About My Postpartum Nurse and Friend

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

I found something out yesterday that rocked me a little. My girlfriend who’s been a postpartum nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for 15 years just quit. She is no longer working at Prentice Women's Hospital, the maternity ward at NMH, as of last Saturday; she starts her new job working for a private group of physicians next week. I’m thrilled for her, as I know this is a good career move for her, but I can’t help but think: Hey, but what about me?

That was my first reaction when I saw her post on FB last night announcing her last day was Saturday, as I’m sure it was a lot of people’s who know her (one comment she got: “[My wife] is 9 ½ months pregnant, seriously??”). I’m sad for everyone who never gets to experience my friend as their postpartum nurse. It’s such a precious time in your life, and also such a vulnerable one, it’s hard to imagine going through it again without her by my side.

But on the flipside I am extremely proud of her for making what I’m sure was a very tough decision; I am genuinely happy for her, and I know she’s going to be just as amazing in her next job. Selfishly, though, since I’m not done having kids, it made me think about the next time I’m at Prentice for four days, recovering from c-section surgery, and how the hell am I going to survive it without her taking care of me afterward!? She assured me last night that she would still be there for me for baby no. 2, and I’m holding her to it.

Not sure how familiar you are with Prentice or Northwestern’s facilities, but in case you haven’t heard? They’re probably the best in the country. I can’t imagine anything nicer than Prentice (my husband calls it “Apprentice” like the show because it’s so nice it might as well be a Trump property). I’m talking private rooms with flat-screen TVs and spectacular views of Lake Michigan. And if you get lucky (or happen to have a friend who works there) you could wind up in a corner room the size of a studio apartment.

I had a very tough recovery after my c-section—I was anemic and had all sorts of issues—but having my friend as my postpartum nurse made things infinitely easier. She took unbelievable care of me, as she does all her patients. I was fortunate that she happened to be on duty three of the four days I was in the hospital, by coincidence (fortunate for me, not so much for her). I looked forward to seeing her face every morning, laughing with her while over-ordering food from the hospital cafetaria (they have unusually good food for a hospital, and room service!). I dreaded when the end of her shift was near, but I knew she was handing me off to the next nurse with painstaking instructions and care. There are good nurses, and there are nurses with horrible bedside manners—I’ve had both—but there are also nurses that will change your life; she was the latter for me.

Those first four days of Preston’s life were four of the best days of my life, and she’s very much a part of that experience and one of the reasons that memory is etched in my brain the way it is. She became family during that period (whether she likes it or not!). Our family and friends were at the hospital with us the entire time, we had a lot of people entering and exiting at all hours; they got to know what an amazing person she is, too. I trust her with my life (not to mention my baby's life). When things got hectic in the hospital during the chaos of visits, and nurse transitions, she always looked out for my well being.

She’s been the postpartum nurse for almost all of my friends, at one time or another, as well as their friends, sisters and cousins. I don’t know if she realizes the mark she’s made on so many of our lives. So I wanted to dedicate this blog to her—Nurse K, you’re the best in the biz, hands down. There’s no one like you. Thank god we still get to be friends (as soon as you forgive me for writing this post about you...).

So, what was your postpartum experience like? Did you feel you were in good hands? Did you love or hate your nurse or midwife, and why? I know there are some unfortunate stories out there, but I hope you got to experience at least one caregiver during that time that made a positive impact on you.

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