There are certain experiences that the average person might consider intense, such as coaxing a watermelon-sized human out of a stranger’s vagina. For a labor and delivery nurse, that’s all in a day’s work—so one can only assume it would take truly extreme circumstances to faze an obstetric professional during the birthing process. Just to be sure this assumption is correct, we asked nurses across the country to share their wildest memories from years on the job. Here’s what they said.
“We’ve had some interesting social situations. Nurses are incredibly diplomatic and capable of managing very complex dynamics, but one of the most memorable situations was when a patient came in with a boyfriend, a father of the baby, and a husband. We had to keep them all straight! They weren’t allowed to be in the room together, so it wasn’t always clear who we should let in when. The patient got along with all three of them, but she tried to keep them separate. I don’t know how she managed it!” —Jamie Vincent, a labor and delivery nurse.
“Once we had a mother come in to the hospital complete [10 centimetres dilated and ready to deliver]. She had no prenatal care during her pregnancy and when the nurse checked her she discovered the baby was breech, so they rushed her back to the operating room for a C-section. After the doctor delivered the baby, he realised there was another baby in there. The mother was pregnant with TWINS! Since she had no prenatal care, there was really no way of knowing anything about her pregnancy. Twin deliveries call for double the equipment and NICU nurses, but in this case the staff was not prepared for two babies.” —A labor and delivery nurse.
“One of the funniest grandmother stories was when a baby boy was born and the grandma announced, ‘Oh look, he has a little penis just like his dad did!’ The dad turned every shade of red. That was super-funny.” —Shelly Lopez-Gray, a labor and delivery nurse.
“Once there was a patient under the care of a seasoned provider whom everyone called 'The Bear' because that describes his personality at 3 a.m. He was grumpy and fairly old-school. I was caring for someone having her third baby. She was complete [fully dilated] and starting to push, but she was struggling with the traditional reclined position with the feet up. She was not comfortable with that at all, so we brought her an apparatus called a 'birthing bar' that would allow her to push while standing on the bed. When the provider came in, she started to crown and he asked her to get into the traditional position to deliver the baby. She looked at him and said, 'Can’t you just catch it?' I looked over to see his reaction and he complied! So he sat down behind the patient, trying to figure out how to best position himself. She stayed in that same standing position on the birthing bar and soon delivered the baby. The doctor was there to catch the baby but in the process he got completely soaked. He was just covered in blood and amniotic fluid from his mid-chest down, his scrubs were totally soaked through like I’ve never seen before!” —Jamie Vincent, a labor and delivery nurse.
“Once there was a mother who was having a scheduled C-section and her husband was in the military overseas. We actually got to FaceTime him during the whole thing so he could be 'present' while his son was born. It was a very touching moment. The whole OR was in tears.” —A labor and delivery nurse.
“A woman having her eighth baby came to the unit in a wheelchair. She announced loudly, 'I think I have to pushhhhhh!' and as she said it, right then and there, a baby came out, under her legs, in the bag of water, clearly visible between the wheels of the chair. This was the fastest delivery I've ever seen and thankfully she was already in the L&D [labor and delivery] unit.” —Diane Dengate, a labor and delivery nurse.
“A woman came into L&D thinking she was in labor. It was her third baby and on examination it was determined that she was in very early labor but wasn't even dilated. The mom was determined NOT to go home. She'd had two previous very fast labours and didn't want to take the chance of getting caught on the freeway. She settled in and took out her Nintendo DS and proceeded to play her game. We checked on her frequently but it seemed like labor had completely stopped. Two hours later she started shouting for help and moments later her baby was born. She was so focused on Mario Brothers her brain couldn't process pain signals (she used the exact same labor 'technique' with her second baby too). Wish she'd shared that minor detail with the rest of us!” —Tracy Donegan, a midwife.
“A couple in my childbirth class worried that they would be like their friend who 'pushed with her face.' The friend ended up with two very bloodshot eyes, according to the couple, and they didn't want that to happen to them. I took care of them during their labor and the husband kept saying, 'Don't push with your face. Don't push with your face!!' His wife stopped dead in her efforts and told her husband she would push with HIS face unless he stopped badgering her.” —Diane Dengate, a labor and delivery nurse.
“We had a couple belt out Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Sounds of Silence’—the one that starts out ‘Hello darkness, my old friend’—as the baby came out of the birth canal.” —A labor and delivery nurse.
“During C-sections we use a retractor called an Alexis O, which basically holds the abdomen open during surgery. The patient was fairly thin, she didn’t have much fat. The baby was delivered, but then the mom became nauseated and vomited. The retractor was still in place so all of her intestines just bulged out through Alexis O! Her intestines were just blooming out of the retractor. When her husband saw it he told her what was going on and everyone was laughing. We gave her some anti-nausea medication and it was a pretty quick fix.” —Jamie Vincent, a labor and delivery nurse.
“One time we had somebody who tried to have an orgasm every time she started to have a contraction. I was still in orientation at the time and I had no idea what was going on, but apparently that’s a pain-relief technique some people use!” —Shelly Lopez-Gray, a nurse.
This article originally appeared on Womenshealthmag.com.