I delivered a baby last week.
OK, it was plastic, definitely not mine and I was surrounded by my comrades in Lead Culpeper.
It was part of our tour of Germanna Community College and the nursing program which uses animatronic mannequins to replicate real-life situations that nursing students may encounter in their future profession.
There’s something unsettling about being in a room with sick people – even if they are programmed to be that way. Nursing, and health care in general, is a tough profession to start in – long hours of studying, stressful situations and often cantankerous patients who just want to feel better.
At Germanna, they’re making major strides in helping prepare nurses for the real world – as evidenced by the mannequins and the skills they help build.
Each mannequin is a little different and start at around $80,000 – not as valuable as a human life but still pretty pricey.
They can bleed, they can throw up, they complain of pain and they can even have limbs amputated (if programmed to do so).
There’s also one that can give birth.
That’s where my experience comes in.
Yes, I’ve been in the delivery room for both of my girls, but I was just the cheerleader and camera man. Dr. Peter Godfrey was the one with the tough job, pulling out both Mady and Maura.
Mady was the first so a little more difficult. She required suction and her head had a cone shape to it for a while before reforming.
Maura popped into this world looking just like her sister at birth – a point I was sure to mention.
“I would hope so,” Dr. Godfrey said in his normal dry tone. “They share the same DNA.”
Good point, I noted.
So when it came time for us to “deliver” the baby at Germanna, I was excited as I pulled the role-playing card of baby.
“I get to be the baby,” I practically yelled out, prepared to show my team member Steve Barker by community theatre chops as I screamed, cried and made cute baby noises.
I wasn’t the baby, I was the baby deliverer.
We went to work, with Aaron Simmons playing the role of the father, cracking wise to bring levity to a normally stressful situation.
“Push,” I called, “you’re doing great,” as the mannequin mother cried out in pain.
Good reason too.
The “baby” came out head down, facing down, and then turned to the left.
That’s when the program failed.
System error is never a good thing on a computer, especially when you’re trying to safely deliver a make believe baby.
The baby’s shoulder was stuck and well, it wasn’t going anywhere.
After an emergency stomach unstapling (this normally wouldn’t happen in real life I was assured), the baby was reset and we continued delivery.
The rest went without a hitch, as we delivered the baby, I swaddled her and showed off my wicked diaper skills.
It’s an experience I won’t soon forget, and it certainly gave me an appreciation for the training that nursing students have to go through just to reach their goal.
At least I know what to do if I ever have to deliver a baby on the highway…