Mrs. Downing, head nurse,
appeared on the scene at work after her vacation. This woman exuded
confidence and strength. She had the appearance of a mature woman with
hair as white as her starched uniform and nurse's cap. White hose and no
nonsense comfortable shoes made a person believe she was all business.
The whole staff was more relaxed. Something about the strong woman must
have given them a security and I was soon to learn how she did it. Maybe
things would have been different if she had been on duty the day before.
On this visit she was
carrying Rhonda, my child, in her arms. When she handed the baby to me,
I could hardly believe the injuries of this tiny person. Her eyes were
swollen shut, black, and blue. All about her forehead and head she was
bruised with the imprints of the forceps.
"Will she be blind?" I
"No, the swelling will
soon go down and her eyes will be all right." The nurse reassured me.
This wasn't exactly true because Rhonda has had trouble with her eyes
from the injury. There are no corrective glasses to help because her's
is a brain injury. Mrs. Downing helped me to cope and that was more
important than any fearful prediction.
"For the first time
someone is exercising intelligence," I believed.
"You had a reaction to
the anesthesia. Instead of working as is should, the drug reacted in an
opposite way. This can happen." Mrs. Downing tried to explain.
"I've never felt anything
like it. There seemed to be a dark dungeon where I was being held by
strange wicked forces. Once in a while the light would come and I was
able to follow instructioms given to me, but for the most part
everything was black," I didn't want to remember but couldn’t seem to
stop sharing the horror of the event with this nurse.
"Once in a while the
doctor called my name," I told her. "For a moment an awareness of my
situation surfaced," I went on. "Just as quickly everything was gone
again and once more there was a need to get away and to fight in any way
possible. I do remember waking up once and my arms were cuffed to the
table, I suppose to restrain me." This quiet kind woman became my
confidant and my trust in her allowed me to talk through the ordeal.
We are feeding Rhonda
through an eye dropper with the breast milk you have pumped. She
probably can't nurse yet because her mouth and throat are still sore and
swollen from the oxygen. You did say you wanted to breast feed?" Mrs.
Downing looked directly at me.
"Yes, I do." This woman
was moving on, and made me feel I wanted to do the same. "Yes, I do." I
repeated and was certain about that.
"Our Native American
mothers always nurse their babies and we are proud of that." Mrs.
Downing voiced her admiration.
Emotions and feelings of
anger were strong but even in youth there was the knowledge that this
was not the time to fall. This poor child was beautiful even in her
injuries. Her golden, reddish, blond hair curled over some of the
bruised places. She had battled for her life so valiantly what a
cowardly thing it would be not to help her. Slowly but ever so slowly,
Rhonda began to take the breast and it was as if that sudden ray of
sunshine darted a shaft of light onto us. She immediately began to
improve. It was miraculous.
The next few days, Mrs.
Downing gave me instructions about caring for my child. I made notes and
kept them for many years. Somewhere they have been lost, but I do
remember one thing she said I have used with all my children and my
grandchildren, as well.
"Loving a child is not
spoiling them. Allowing them to have bad manners is what one can call,
spoiled, " she said. These words came from a wise, sympathetic woman,
and I have valued that wisdom for all my life.