Infertility and the Nurse’s Role in Providing Solutions
by, 01-23-2009 at 12:51 PM (4333 Views)
By Mary Ellen McLaughlin
I was a practicing nurse for 10 years before I moved into the world of infertility. As a nurse, I had been asked by Robin von Halle, the owner of a local egg donation agency, to perform injections on egg donors. It was an extra job at the time but I began to get to know the patients and their stories. I loved the personal interaction, which was at a different level than what I’d experienced during my 10-to-12-hour shifts at my position at the doctor’s office.
When I decided to leave hospital nursing, it was difficult but the choice was made for me: I broke my back (literally, not in the sense that nurses practically kill themselves for their job). When I decided to leave my position at the doctor’s office, it was time. I then asked Robin to lunch to ask (read: beg) for a chance to expand my work at the agency, Alternative Reproductive Resources (ARR). I also wanted to thank her for the opportunity to make such a huge difference in the lives of others. I guess Robin appreciated me, too, because she took a chance and gave me a position at ARR.
It was meant to be. As a nurse, I took my role as a patient advocate very seriously, and now that’s a huge part of my job. I talk to egg donors and surrogates about medications, procedures, complications, medical histories, OB/GYN records, red flags and flukes. Because of my training as a nurse, I know the medical aspects of their experience and I can also interpret and explain it to our clients. If an egg donor or surrogate has an emergency, they usually call me first to ask whether they should call the doctor. It’s a role I relish.
And because the existing healthcare environment is not particularly conducive to lengthy personal interaction, and empathy and a nurturing spirit are requirements for both nurses and gestational surrogates, I get to work with nurses every day who sign up to be surrogates. In fact, we have had 10 or 15 women in the healthcare field, ranging from nurses to interns to X-ray technicians, involved in our agency as either surrogates or egg donors.
These are caring women who often have been exposed to how patients struggle with infertility, and feel the need to help. They’re surrounded by medical practitioners, they have insurance, and they know what they’re doing. Intended parents frequently worry about nurse surrogates who continue working during their pregnancy but I assure them that the medical community rallies around these women and would never expose them to anything harmful.
My experience at ARR has been exactly what I was looking for in nursing. A recent nurse-surrogate just gave birth to twins for a couple who wanted children very badly. I got to be there every step of the way – from the moment she walked in the door to the introduction between her and the intended parents to finding out she was pregnant to the day she gave birth. Nursing may be a profession I love, but I’d choose this over another 12-hour shift any day.