It’s night-time as we crowd into the handover room,
The day staff look weary but they smile as they discuss their day.
A5, B3, C6 and side rooms 1-4; we scribble on our sheets of paper,
Rhesus negative, AF, BF, 3°, EBL, OBs due at 1215, 0200, 0430.
Somewhere a baby is crying and a mother’s voice is gently hushing.
The day staff bid farewell to us and the ward, the double doors swing,
Firmly closing behind them as they walk into the dark, bleak night.
Inside the ward, we’re still tucked up warm and cosy.
We begin introductions, enquire about pain and any support;
We offer cups of tea and coffee, coo over babies and offer congratulations.
The swing of the night shift begins with a chart:
It’s colour coded, with stripes of white, yellow and red.
Observations, observations, observations – the wheels of a dynomap.
Blood pressure, pulse, MAP, 02 saturations, respirations, temperature.
Paracetamol, oromorph, lactulose, peppermint tea.
The chattering of families’ members fades as bedtime comes around,
They go home to their homes – the women of the ward stir gently,
Then begin to close their eyes in the quiet and peaceful night.
Rain patters outside and we lower our voices to hushed tones,
Plot our evenings on scraps of paper: OBs 0230, 0630.
The night is punctuated by phone-calls from the delivery suite,
From beds being pushed from one ward to another, pushed buzzers,
Women groggily emerging from the wards for this, that, or the other,
Slippers dragging along the floor, doors swinging shut,
The tinny buzz of the lights overhead.
Slowly, one by one, we each go for an hour of rest,
Slipping between crisp, white sheets and closing our eyes.
Meanwhile, apologetically waking up each woman for medication,
Observations. Would you like a new jug of water?
Assisting with feeding support, or a few nappie changes.
Then sun starts to creep around the edge of the windows,
Yellow and orange, then slowly but surely a bright blue fills the sky.
Handover sheets are typed and printed, and the ward slowly comes to life.
The sound of slippers across lino; the milk kitchen a hive of activity.
The last few words of the shift are scrawled in notes.
The doors start to open more frequently as staff appear,
Bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, ever-ready to tackle the day ahead.
We crowd into the handover room once more, and begin our reports.
Pockets are checked and keys swap hands, goodbyes are waved.
We greet the sun and file home; to return in less than 12 hours.