The Nursing Student and Baby Rosebud

My maternity rotation in nursing school was during the heat of a Mississippi summer. It was a relief to spend it indoors in a cool hospital.

Maternity was an exciting rotation full of life and promise that everyone had been looking forward to. Who does not love babies? The hope and wonder that permeate the labor and delivery makes it a joyous place. Most of the time.

With six more months of clinical’s to go I was competing with four other students for class valedictorian. And my nemesis was ahead of me with her GPA so I knew I had to knock it out of the ballpark with post clinical conference grades. So when we were all lined up with our instructor and she asked who wanted to scrub in on a “special C-section” I jumped right out of line with my hand raised. THIS was what I needed to get ahead in post clinical’s!

To my surprise our instructor just glared at me. I looked back at the line of students staring at the floor and thought, “I was the only volunteer, I should get extra points for this!”

My instructor grabbed me by the arm and waved the others off to the nurses lounge. She continued to glare at me and said, “Are you SURE you want this assignment?”

“oh yes Mam! I will do a great job!”

“This is not a ‘JOB’, your patient is a very dedicated nurse who happens to be a friend of mine.”

My stomach did that flip-flop thing that something was wrong but Professor X continued, “Her baby died in utero two days ago. There is no obvious reason why. Her doctor wanted her to labor and expel the baby naturally but she refused and is here today to have a section done.”

She paused and my heart began pounding, joining the party with my flipping stomach.

“You up and volunteered for this so here is your assignment. You are to provide comfort to her and her husband. Stay with her and provide physical and emotional care pre-surgery, during surgery and post op. After she is settled in her room you will be providing post-mortem care for the baby and taking the baby to her family for them to say goodbye. The grandmother has provided a christening gown and you will bathe and dress the baby in this gown to take her to her family.”

I was now in complete shock and GPA or not, I wished I had joined my peers and kept my big mouth shut.

Professor X continued glaring at me. “You asked for this. Life is not a game or even fair.” She looked down at her spotless white shoes and continued, “You do this and do not add to the family’s sorrow. It was a unique gift for them to allow a student nurse in on their personal tragedy. They are in room three. I will be watching you!”

I made my way to the OB nurses locker room to change into scrubs, I was in shock and decided my best approach was to be as professional as possible and keep quiet and stay out-of-the-way.

I went to room three and after taking a deep gulp of air and knocked on the door. To my surprise I heard laughter coming from inside. I was invited in and found a very pretty woman sitting beside the bed with her husband. “Oh you must be my student nurse! I am so happy to meet you!” I was completely taken off guard by how nice and how cheerful she was along with her husband. We all shook hands and introduced ourselves and I asked her if she was ready for me to help her with her hospital gown and getting ready. While I assisted her, she kept talking, cheerfully.

“I believe you know that our baby is not going home with us?”

“yes Mam, my instructor told me that you found out two days ago?”

I helped her get in the bed and to a comfortable sitting position. Then I pulled up the bedside table and laid out the supply’s to start her IV. Students were not allowed to start lines at this private hospital so I pressed the call light for the staff nurse to come in.

“Yes.” Mom continued, “we did a sonogram two days ago to confirm she had died…” Mom looked down and sighed, “There is nothing to indicate what happened, the placenta is attached and in place, the cord was not around her neck…She is just gone.” Another sigh from Mom. “my doctor wanted me to wait and labor naturally, but I told him I was not going through all that and not getting the prize at the end! No way!” she laughed now, “So here we are.” She looked at me expectantly.

I could not help myself. I blurted out, “I am so sad for you! How are you dealing with this? You and your husband?” I looked at him but he just shook his head. I noticed then that he rarely took his eyes off of his wife’s lovely face.

“I do not know. All I can tell you is that I was screaming at God that this is not FAIR! I cried till I could not breathe, then even though He did not answer me I felt peace.”

I just nodded as I felt tears welling up. I did not know what to say. Twenty eight years later I type this and still don’t know what to say…

The moment was broken by the staff nurse coming in to start the IV. After she expertly popped it in she surprised me by leaning over and kissing Mom on her forehead. I realized then that this woman knew the entire staff and they were all friends. What I didn’t know was that they were all sisters, in the society of nurses that one day I would join myself, but at the moment was still an outsider.

We are supposed to comfort, not need comforting. We are the one’s who care, not the one’s who need care. Role reversal is uncomfortable. The staff nurse swiped angrily at a tear sliding down her face and glared at me, “take good care of her!” she hissed at me on her way out the door. “yes Mam.” I whispered.

All we could do now was wait. I got Dad his scrubs for the OR and showed him where to go change and then I just stood there, scared, afraid to say anything. It seemed Mom felt my angst and she started talking to me about her three-year old son and what a joy he was. I smiled and nodded and tried to look less miserable for her sake.

Then it was off to the OR. Mom cheerfully chatted up the anesthesiologist as he put in her epidural. “Give me some extra!” she joked, ” I am not willing to feel any discomfort today!” But despite her joking the mood in the room was subdued and sad.

Mom’s OB doctor came in and shook his head. “It’s okay J.” she assured him, “lets just get this over with. Please be quick.” The doctor nodded and the surgery began. I was on the right by the anesthesiologist and Dad was on Mom’s left by her head. I heard murmured prayers and “I love you’s” Mom then popped her eye’s open and said, “Its okay, I am okay.” She then demanded her doctor take down the screen that prevented her from seeing her belly. The doctor refused and she sighed and glared at the ceiling.

In what seemed like seconds the baby was out and handed to a nurse who wrapped her in blankets and set her in a warmer. Mom  was sewn up, cleaned up, curtains down. I was to wheel her back to a room. My instructor was outside the OR and directed me to a room away from the post partum unit. “We don’t want her to have to hear or see the new baby’s. This will be quiet and peaceful.”

Again, I could only nod. It seemed I had developed a growth in my throat that prevented me from talking but wanted me to start crying. I could not do that, so nod I did.

We got to the new room that was a nice suite just off of post partum. Mom and Dad’s family were already there, with beautiful flowers arranged on the table. I got the bed locked, call light in place, checked the IV, pump settings, fresh water, coffee for Grandma…Then it was time for me to complete my assignment.

I took Mom’s hand and told her I was going to the nursery and I would be back with her daughter.

She bit her lip and squeezed my hand and smiled at me.

I trudged back to the nursery. My instructor was waiting by the door and put in the top-secret security code for me. The warmer with its still wrapped bundle was off to the side, away from the window where new family’s were smiling, pointing and taking pictures. I picked up the silent bundle and followed my instructor to a side room with a large sink.  Professor X had a beautiful white lacy gown in a plastic wrapper she laid to the side. “Bath her and dress her in here, then take her in your arms to the family. Since she is deceased there is no need to push her in a cart of supply’s that won’t be needed. This is a more personal and caring way to do it.” She fixed her mouth in a straight line and glared at me, “Are you okay?” I barely managed to croak out, “Yes Mam” over the painful lump in my throat.

I saw the nursery nurses watching me in the side room as I unwrapped the bundle. In the blanket was a perfect little baby girl. It did not seem possible that she would never open her eyes, cry or grow up. She was so beautiful…I was thankful for the water coming out of the faucet to mask my gulped sobs and the tears that were now pouring down my face. I bathed this gorgeous baby in warm water, put a diaper on her and then the christening gown. I brushed her scant brown hair to dry it and it curled on top of her little head. Her skin was as white and soft as alabaster and there was not a mark on her tiny body. What I could not stop staring at was her mouth, it looked like a perfect rosebud in miniature.

Her lips were a perfect deep dark pink, almost scarlet. There are no words this side of heaven to describe the perfection of her lips, the shape of her mouth and the extraordinary color that seemed to grow deeper the more I looked. Rosebud, what a perfect name for lips like that…It seemed to me that her lips were perfectly shaped for an eternal smile, even as her eyes were eternally closed in an expression of peace.

Finally I was satisfied that I had her hair perfect, the gown just right and was ready to go. I picked up Rosebud in my arms, got her positioned and fluffed out the gown so she looked just right. I grabbed a scratchy paper towel and swiped at my tear-stained face then headed out into the nursery.

The nurses seemed to be standing at attention waiting for me to walk out with her. The curtain had been pulled down so visitors could not see in and every nurse inspected the baby in my arms. I felt the silent approval that I had done a good job. Rosebud looked like an angel doll. One of the older nurses patted me on the shoulder as I left the nursery.

My instructor was waiting. She too, inspected the baby doll in my arms and nodded. We walking silently down the hall to the room where the family was waiting.  Professor X knocked for me then pushed the door open but did not enter with me.

There was a collective gasp as I walked in and Mom, who had been so stoic, so cheerful, so accepting of this horrible situation threw her arms out towards me and finally started to cry…

I laid little Rosebud in her arms and she wept. “She is so beautiful and so perfect… OH God! She is perfect…”

I had not been dismissed so I just backed up a few steps and stood there. I honestly did not know what to do. Then a man in a suit came forward from the corner and said, “Let us pray.” Everyone grabbed hands and gathered around the bed. Now I really did not know what to do, this was a very personal, private family moment, do I disturb it by trying to sneak out? Do I flatten myself against the wall and try to be invisible? My dilemma was solved by Dad who grabbed my hand and pulled me into the family circle. I held hands between him and a grandmother as the Pastor led this lovely family in prayer. I do not remember what he said, I do not remember feeling comfort, but I do remember feeling confident and sure Jesus was present and listening.

After the Pastor prayed and Mom had stopped weeping, everyone was exclaiming how perfect and beautiful Rosebud was and taking pictures for keepsakes. I still had not been dismissed but the clock on the wall told me I was already late for clinical conference. After a few minutes of indecision I decided to slip towards the door.

“WAIT!” cried Mom.

I turned and ran back to the bedside, crying opening now. “I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t know what to say, but I will always be grateful to you for letting me be your student nurse today.”

Mom hugged me, tears rolling down her face. “Thank you, you took wonderful care of my daughter. You will be a good nurse.”

Still crying I hugged Dad and the grandma’s and slipped out. In the hallway I could actually let the sobs out.

I still could not go to clinical conference without giving report to the staff nurse so I went to the nurses station, let them know Rosebud was still in the room with the family, Mom was stable, left to claim on her IV.  The staff nurse gave me the “nod of approval” and I headed to the conference center.

I did not bother to change back into my uniform, I was already late so what difference did it make? All I wanted to do at this point was get out of there, go to my mother’s house, let her comfort me and have a good cry.

Professor X saw me slip into the back of the auditorium and glared at me then the clock. “I’m doomed,” I thought, “she’s going to give me a clinical U for sure.”

After all the other students finished presenting their patient’s and care plans for the day I heard my name. “Alana had a very interesting case today, come up here and present please!” Professor X bellowed.

I walked to the front hanging my head. I had no notes prepared, no care plan, no idea what to say.

I looked out at my fellow students who stared right back at me. I was a mess in OB scrubs that were wrinkled and still wet in spots, what little makeup we were allowed to wear had long since been cried off and my eye’s were red. I took a deep breath and said, “I took care of a mother today whose baby died in utero. She elected to have a C-section rather than labor with a stillborn.” I wanted to go on about how beautiful Rosebud was, how perfect. But I needed to present the facts of the case and the nursing care involved, but at that moment the tears started again. With no thought to GPA or valedictorian or even a clinical U I just said, “And I learned it’s okay to cry with and for your patient’s.”  Sometimes that is all you can do for them.”


Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Matthew 5:4


Collateral Damage

When I started this blog, I had planned to leave this subject alone.  I wanted my blog to be a place where words are encouraging, inspiring and delightful! Words have so much power, I want words to heal, promote and do good things for the reader or listener. This world has enough negativity in it already.

About two months ago, an opportunity arose to write a series of articles on a subject I do care passionately about: our children’s welfare. And I prayerfully decided that if I do not share this subject with you I am not being truthful or authentic with you and my calling here. We CAN discuss difficult subjects without being overtly negative. I feel we can encourage each other even if the topic is not “warm and fuzzy”. We simply cannot change what we refuse to acknowledge!

So let’s dive in, shall we?

In America today, marriages are a mess, divorce is a disaster and in to many situations, children are the collateral damage.

It is the children who suffer, first and foremost, the breaking of family ties as a covenant relationship is destroyed… I don’t think anyone plans to get divorced as they contemplate marriage. I know I did not, I already had fantasy’s of grandchildren swimming in our pool while the cookies baked. But for me this was just that– a fantasy.

My marriage dissolved in a dysfunctional stew of alcoholism and codependency that was as conducive to “happily ever after” as a nuclear bomb.

It was not what I intended to have, it was not what I wanted, but it was what I got.

Due to his illness, I was a single parent long before the paperwork officially said so. I had struggled through years of baseball games, parent teacher conferences, church events, dance recitals, doctor’s appointments alone…I was adept at making excuses to any and everyone who knew I was a Mrs. but had no Mr. present.

It was once the paperwork was official that the real battle began. I had let him keep the house with the pool, I agreed to his “parenting time” demands: one day per week so as not to interfere with his work schedule, no summers and one holiday, if he had the time off… Even though I did not want the full amount of child support due per the income calculator and kept detailed records of how the money was spent with receipts for the two months he actually paid child support, nothing satisfied him or stopped his relentless accusations.

My husband showed up at our final divorce hearing, voluntarily unemployed, and insisted to the judge he could not pay ANY child support (and had not been paying throughout this divorce process he dragged out a year and a half, AND had canceled the medical insurance on our children 9 months prior to this date). The judge set the child support amount at $500 for two children, this would have been the amount owed on a full-time minimum wage paycheck for two kids in Texas. Then he informed my husband that “this was ridiculous!” and ordered him back to work in his actual profession and to return to the court in 30 days with a paycheck stub so he could amend the amount.

My now ex-husband responded by leaving the state.

I did not know that at the time, and I thought that with the paperwork officially filed in court, and the Attorney General of the Great State of Texas now in charge of collecting my child support that all problems were solved and I could go on with the business of raising my children and re-building our shattered lives.

I was wrong.

Even as I sit here typing this, years later, the arrears owed to my children for child support are in the tens of thousands and they have never received any medical support. I am owed close to ten thousand in medical bills alone and have one child facing surgery again.

I had no idea that in America you could throw children away like an empty beer can and legally get away with it.

My quest for answers to this baffling situation have put me in touch with single parents, MEN AND WOMEN from all over our great country in the exact same boat. I have attended support groups and participated in online forums.  The stories I have been told are heartbreaking, the arrears statements are horrifying…

The lack of attention to this subject by our elected officials and the media is mystifying. How can it be that in America children are throw away toys, Easily discarded when you are done playing with the other parent? To allow your precious flesh and blood to do without while you have cigarettes, smart phones and vacations? For your child to have to give up a beloved sport because you refuse to pay for half of the participation cost, uniforms and other expenses?

There arrears nationally are now over $115 BILLION DOLLARS– 30 states on record with over a billion in arrears on the books. According to the most recent Report to Congress from the Federal Office of Child Support about $30 Billion of that is owed back to the federal government for children receiving TANF,EBT and Medicaid benefits who would not have needed or qualified for any of that if they were receiving court ordered child support by their parents.

THIS is how we treat children in AMERICA?

Wow, let’s “adult” for a moment, take the “battle of the sexes” out of this: if you helped to create a new human being with another person, you have a connection to that person! Like it or not, it’s TRUTH. Children are not pets, or cars to be traded in on a better model. So let’s “adult” and do it right! I don’t care who cheated, lied, spent all the money, was on drugs, drinking, got religion, or who is just a lousy miserable human being that you cannot stand to share air with for another second!

Is your CHILD that person?

Of course not! So don’t make your child pay for your failed relationship! If you “punish” your ex by withholding support or paying late or inconsistently who do you think is REALLY paying the price?  As yourself, “Did little Johnny get a yearbook this year?” or, “Was little Sally able to go on her field trip?” or even, “I wonder why Johnny quit playing soccer, (baseball, piano, debate team!)”

ADULTS– anger is NEVER an answer, and it’s not something we need to carry around with us or dump on other’s. Especially our kids. We can do better! And for the sake of future generations we need to “do better” quickly.  The family courts and IV-D courts are a failure. WE MUST DO BETTER– our kids are depending on it…

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.       1st Timothy 5:8

For further information please read:      This article shows the effects on children of unpaid child support.                   This article highlights the status of divorce in America, the history of child support and why arrears are now at over $115 billion dollars nationally…Contains link to the most recent Report to Congress from the Federal Office of Child Support showing arrears by state.           This article highlights cases where child support, paid and unpaid, has been and is being used as a tool of abuse. #endfinancialabuse            If any of this touched your heart as a parent, or your pocketbook as a taxpayer, please consider signing this petition to end the non enforcement of child support that allows the states to continue to collect federal dollars while single parents suffer financially.           This is a heartbreaking blog post from a single parent that highlights what it is really like to do it all alone. Children are not throw away toys…      poverty does not make for many good outcomes for our kids…..      Our family courts and IV-D courts are in a complete mess…    My friends, we simply MUST do better by our children. The time is NOW, to stop ALL forms of abuse and raise our future.


I would personally like to thank the editor’s at for having a platform for sharing all issue’s that affect our children and the hard work being done by them to improve our kids lives! Please visit them online and join them and  all parents working to make this world a better place for children! BRAVO MFB!   One more time! Please sign and share! We can be heard, our kids NEED to be heard! Thank you!




The Culture of Disrespect


There has been a lot of talk over the past weeks about burning the American flag. Our President Elect has stated that there must be consequences for burning the flag, perhaps a year in jail or loss of citizenship.

This has sent the social media world into a twitter with people screaming about the right to free speech and other issues.

What I want to know is this? WHY would you burn our flag in the first place?

And why is an action, burning a flag, protected as “speech”?

That beautiful red, white and blue flag is the beloved symbol of this great nation. We love it so much it has familiar nicknames, Old Glory, Stars and Bars, the Star Spangled Banner.

Federal Law provides us with the United States Flag Code to protect this flag. Section 8 of this code is even titled RESPECT FOR FLAG.

I simply can not imagine any reason for a rational person with one ounce of decency or respect to burn the very thing that defines and represents our Nation. This flag has flown proudly over blood soaked battle fields in the name of Freedom and adorned coffins of our lost veterans to this cause as well as Presidents and first responder’s who also gave of their own lives to save others.

Perhaps it is as simple as a lack of respect.

We are living in a culture of disrespect. This is seen in schools, ER’s, on TV and towards our law enforcement officers and any figures of authority.

In times gone by, teaching was a profession of respect. Teachers were persons of respect. Now it seems our teachers are no more than glorified babysitters who are not allowed to have rules in the classroom and if a precious angel is failing it is the teachers fault– not little Bobby’s for refusing to do his homework.

About three years ago my daughter got home from (middle) school and said, “Guess what happened in Mrs. So&So’s class today?” Mrs. So&So was her favorite teacher at the time. Princess went on to tell me that “Little Bobby” was talking while Mrs. So&So put the assignment on the board and she asked him to be quiet, please. Bobby stood up and said, “B*tch, I don’t have to do what you say.” as he threw his pencil at her.

I stood there staring at my daughter, praying to God to please provide funds to get my kids out of public school and hoping this was a horrible joke my kid was playing on me.

I asked what happened next? My daughter shrugged and said, “he got a referral to the office.”

Where I’m sure Lil’ Bobby sat through a lecture on proper classroom behavior and speech and was sent back to the class with his bad attitude intact.

Had I dared use a word like that towards one of my teachers the referral to the office would have included a phone call to my parents, who would have requested extra licks applied via wooden paddle to my fanny by the principle and I would have spend the rest of the day in detention so I could properly anticipate with dread what was going to happen when I got home and faced my parents.

My father had told me more than once that my teachers were educated and hardworking people who worked very hard to make sure I did not grow up to be an idiot.

In the medical profession we showed our doctors respect for the many years of learning and practice they endured for the title of M.D. You were of course, allowed to ask questions or request a second opinion, but you did not show up with your print out’s from the internet, self diagnosed and demanding the drugs and treatment of your choice. Then threaten to sue if the actual doctor disagreed with you.

Violence towards Emergency Room staff– Nurses, has reached epidemic proportions requiring new laws to be put in place in an attempt to protect our angels of mercy. One of my former co-workers had her arm broken by a patient who got angry with ER wait times and slammed her up against the wall.

Television “talk” shows have become so rude and hateful I do not watch them any longer. The clips shown on social media and the news reinforce this decision for me.

The attitudes towards our law enforcement officers absolutely horrifies me. Are policemen and women perfect human beings wearing a blue uniform over their wings? Of course not! But they are human beings who for the most part, take very seriously their vow to “serve and protect”. They are put into life and death situations where decisions must be made in a nano-second… and mistakes do get made. I will not argue that.

But the fact remains that the number one way not to get your fanny kicked by law enforcement is to obey the officer, be still, and keep your mouth shut! Wait until the situation is under control and diffused before trying to argue with the police about your rights! How hard is that?

I can tell you as a former ER nurse if you want to learn respect for police officers and first responders– spend a Friday or Saturday night in a busy city ER and watch what these guys have to deal with. It will  open your eyes.

I think back to those terrible days in mid September, 2001, hundred of first responders lost to us forever, as they rushed IN, where other’s ran out and never returned.

Their caskets were draped with our beloved Old Glory and they were shown the deep respect and appreciation they so deserved.

Fifteen years later, it’s like we live in another country.

Where has the respect gone?

I got a glimpse of where it has gone from my son. He was very angry he had gotten in trouble at high school for correcting a teacher. It seems that the school had to make coaches teach in order to keep them as coaches, so a football coach with no teaching experience was now the history teacher. He had put down the wrong dates for the American Revolution. My son, the history buff, corrected him and got a referral to the office for his trouble.

I let him vent then told him he may well be smarter than the “teacher” but he was NOT the teacher and he needed to show respect for the teacher.

My son informed me respect had to be earned and he would not show respect to anyone who would not show him respect first. What?

But this is prevailing attitude of teen’s and young adults. “Don’t Dis me Man!”

I was so concerned about this I went and talked to a friend of mine, a LMHC who works with mostly kids and teens. She told me she was noticing more attitudes and actions of not only disrespect but complete disregard for other’s. So she took a day off and spent it watching TV. She watched the popular kids cable channels all day long.

The prevailing theme on every single show was that the kids run the show and are in charge. The adults were portrayed as idiots and the canned laughter that accompany’s comedy shows was used every single time an adult was made a fool of by the kids.

In addition to this subtle theme of adults as stupid bumbling idiots was the fact that on several of these shows it was either a single mom or a single dad as the “head of household”. Only one of the popular shows had both parents and the father was the step-father and the butt of most of the kids pranks and laughter.

Not one show presented both parents as a unified front to control the little perpetrators of mischief.

My blood ran cold as she named the shows, my kids had adored and watched several of the shows named daily after school. Like a lot of us, the electronic babysitter had served us well as we worked and came home exhausted.

I was blind, but now I see…

The first Commandment attached to a promise is “Honor thy Father and thy Mother: that thy days be long upon the land”  Exodus 20:12

So it begins at home, with us.

Even as teen’s it’s not to late. Put your foot down and state, “you will not speak to me that way.”  Point out on the TV,  “do you hear how rude that was?”  Even in public you can point out that manners and respect get you much better service than behaving like an impatient jerk. Show, tell and do not allow disrespect in your home. Teenagers have very good eyes, and if you remove the ear buds, those ears of theirs will hear you. Cutting off thier smart phones works like a charm!

We’ve got a long way to go to re-establish respect, both in our homes and in our country.

So perhaps “consequences” for burning our flag is not such a bad thing. You can SAY you hate this country, hate the flag, hate everything it stands for, your speech is constitutionally protected by law and millions of American servicemen and women have died to protect that right for you.  But your ACTION of burning our beloved Star Spangled Banner is not…

How about this ACTION: Let’s bring back our Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools. Lets go back to teaching our young people what is  worthy of respect. I believe if the Pledge was brought back, along with teaching on why we show respect,  there would be fewer young people who think flag burning is okay.

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