Nurses Don't Have to Take the Hippocratic Oath

by Irene Zutell

This story comes from Durenda Wilson, a mother of six from Burlington, Washington. Her story is filled with action, adventure and a surprising twist.

I had a scheduled c-section for my second baby on New Year's Eve. At this time of the year out here in Burlington, it's usually fifty-five and rainy. But that year we were caught by surprise with a cold snap and snow. Our Isuzu Trooper had four-wheel drive, so we thought we were fine. What could go wrong?

We're up really early for our 5:30 a.m. hospital check-in. Actually, I had tossed and turned the entire night, but I am running on adrenaline. Soon, though, we're in the car and heading the one and a half miles to the hospital.

We're cruising along trying to make it up a steep hill when one of our wheels freezes up. Before we realized that we're operating on three-wheel drive, our car spins out of control. On one side of us there's a cliff with a fifty-foot drop – on the other side is a ditch. It happened so fast, but we starting praying. Our prayers worked because instead of plunging down the cliff, the tail end of the car skids right into the ditch. Darryl, my husband, guns the engine, but there's no way this car is going anywhere. We're stuck.

Next, I'm behind the wheel and Darryl's outside trying to push the car. He's yelling, "Okay, honey, gun it! Gun it!" I do, but I know we're not going anywhere. I turn around and see that he's completely covered in the mud spitting off the tires.

"Gun it," he says again and again.

"Honey, you're covered in mud."

"It doesn't matter! Gun it again!"

After a few more all-out shoves, he accepts that we're not driving anywhere and decides to walk the half-mile back to the house to get a neighbor. I'm sitting in the car with the engine running and the heat on. The road is deserted, but a few minutes after Darryl leaves, a car drives by. I'm thinking, "This car will stop and help us. I mean, how could somebody see an occupied car stuck in a ditch and not stop to offer some assistance?"

They drive right by. Where could they be going that is so important? After what seems like an eternity, Darryl and my neighbor return. Our neighbor couldn't stop laughing. He thought our whole predicament was hilarious. My husband had changed his clothes. And he wasn't laughing.

We're an hour later for the c-section. These two surgical nurses greeted me by saying, "You're late." A c-section is planned right down to the minute; so being late throws off a lot of people's schedules. They don't like tardiness when they have all the post-op people waiting for you.

I start to explain what happened. "Sorry, but we got stuck in the ditch."

As soon as the words leave my mouth the nurses simultaneously say, "What? That was you?"

My mouth hangs open. They had driven right past me! I'm incredulous. "Why didn't you stop?"

The say in unison, "We were late for work."

"Ha! I was your work."

I couldn't believe these two women were the surgical nurses. Now I'm thinking, gee, if something goes wrong, I hope it doesn't happen during their coffee break. But little Jenna came out fine, weighing exactly 6 pounds.

I've been to the hospital for four more babies since then, and every time someone says, "Weren't you the woman who drove into a ditch?"

Irene Zutell has been a staff writer for People, US Weekly and has written for The NY Times, Wall St. Journal and many other publications. She and her husband, Larry Bleidner have co-authored "I'll Never Have Sex With You Again!": Tales from the Delivery Room, a crazy collection of birth tales.

Copyright ©Irene Zutell. Permission to republish granted to, LLC. with permission from the author.