Hansen believes in encompassing the whole family as she takes them through the birth experience. She received the Compassion Award during Nurses and Employee Recognition Week in 2011.
Polly Hansen has been a labor and delivery nurse for over 12 years, spending the last five at The BirthPlace at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. She works as a charge nurse for the floor, which involves supervising other nurses, assisting with vaginal deliveries and Cesarean sections, administering care to preterm mothers who require hospitalization and providing break relief to other nurses on the shift.
How did you decide to become a labor and delivery nurse?
Before I became a nurse, I worked as a nanny for a family, taking care of three kids who ranged in age from newborn to 6 years old. When the little one was 8, I decided to go to nursing school. I thought I wanted to work in pediatrics, but when I had my first obstetrical shift, I knew OB was what I was made to do. I can't see myself doing anything else.
What are some of the more unusual delivery experiences you've had?
When I first started at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, we had a delivery involving quadruplets. It was incredible. Four babies! It was my job to keep track of the times and sex as they were being delivered. You've got to be organized with multiple deliveries because each one is another human being coming into the world. Another unusual experience: In April 2010, we had a mom pregnant with twins here on bed rest who wanted to get married before the birth. She and her partner had a small ceremony in the chapel. My co-workers and I decorated her gurney with tinsel and balloons and we tied coke cans and a "just married" sign to it. Two TV news crews and the Santa Monica Daily Press covered it.
How do you see your role as a labor and delivery nurse?
I try to include the patient's birth plan as much as possible. When they come to the hospital, so much control is taken away from them. A lot of times, patients don't have a say in what's going to happen to them. But here in labor and delivery, I try to give them as much control as possible so they can have the birth experience they want. I'm a very warm, touchy person who gives a lot of hugs. That's my way of letting them know they are the most important part of my day, so they can trust that they are in good hands. And I try to do little acts of kindness, like including the family or making sure dad is comfortable and that he has his coffee and snacks.
What do you like most about the job?
I love the patients, their families and just being surrounded by little miracles. I love to find out how it all started, how they met, how they decided to have kids, where the baby's' grandparents are. I like encompassing the whole family as I take them through the birth experience. It's such a privilege to be here. And then to see these new lives enter the world -it's just amazing! I also have a fabulous team of nurses here. We are like family. We laugh together, bake together, shop together and sometimes even deliver each other's babies. We have such great times!
What's the hardest part of the job?
It doesn't happen that often here, but occasionally we do have losses. When it happens, it's just devastating - especially when the baby is closer to term or the health problems were unexpected. I let the parents know I am there for them, whether they want to cry or talk. I put together a resource manual for my co-workers, so they know how to handle all the paperwork required when we have a death. I also want to start a class for nurses to teach them how to assist families who have lost a baby. I always say I have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in this job, but whether the families are happy or sad, every one of them is special to me.
What are your other interests?
I was a tap and jazz dancer in a professional dance troupe before I went into nursing. I don't do it professionally any more, but I still occasionally take classes in Zumba and jazz. I also love to bake birthday cakes, pumpkin bread and red velvet cake.