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A ‘Labor of Love’ for Valentine’s Day

Published on February 16, 2024 - 5 p.m.

When you’re Southwestern Michigan College School of Nursing and Health Services, you celebrate Valentine’s Day not with flowers or chocolate, but a “Labor of Love” — a guest speaker who is a labor and delivery nurse.

Lisa Pulling, BSN, RN, who has taught obstetrics at SMC for three years, has for eight years been delivering babies at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.

Pulling attained a bachelor’s degree in business from Davenport University, then decided “that’s not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” She entered nursing school at Indiana University South Bend (IUSB), graduating in 2012.

Pulling first became a cardiac nurse at Memorial “because OB was really hard to get into. People who went into it retired there. Everything happens for a reason, so it was a good stepping stone that gave me some good critical skills until a labor and delivery position opened three years later. I’ve been there eight years this past August, and love it. We are a Level III NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).”

That means her NICU provides comprehensive care for infants born at all gestational ages and birth weights with critical illness.

“Level III is a step below Level IV,” Pulling said. “I do something different every day. I can be a triage nurse, which is like an ER nurse, I can do OR or PACU.”

PACU nurses are highly trained critical care nurses who work in a hospital’s post anesthesia care unit. They care for patients who have just gotten out of surgery and are recovering from the effects of anesthesia.

Memorial does the most deliveries of area hospitals, she said, “which gives students opportunities to see and experience more things. We do about 200 deliveries a month. Elkhart General is next at about 100. It can be slow one minute and crazy busy the next.

“OB gets this reputation that we just hold and cuddle babies and it’s always this fun and glorious time. My goal with students is to give them a different perception. Viability for babies is like 22 weeks and change when you figure full term is 40 weeks.”

“I think it would be an amazing job once you get comfortable,” one of her students observed. “It can be a scary job at the same time because there’s so much in your hands.”

“In labor and delivery, you never really have one patient,” Pulling said, “because they’re pregnant. I always tell my students, ‘Picture going into your patient’s room and trying to figure out what pain or complications they’re having. They can’t speak your language and they’re blind and deaf. But you still have to figure out what’s wrong with them and why. You have a baby misbehaving on the monitor, but you can’t ask them. It’s like moving things around in a snow globe. It takes a good year of doing the same things over and over to become comfortable and confident.”

Pulling works 12-hour shifts three days a week with a half hour for lunch, from 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

“I get up at 5:15 a.m. to allow 30 minutes for the drive to get to work at 7, then with the drive home, it’s almost 8 o’clock,” Pulling said.