Instead of anticipating the New Years ball drop Monday night, Patsy Pitts will ring in 2013 by being on the lookout for women in labor.
Shes been a staff nurse at the birth center of Tacoma General Hospital for about 20 years, and has worked almost every New Years Eve during that time.
Thats long enough that shes starting to see babies shes cared for having babies of their own.
Pitts helped with some of the first infants of the year at different hospitals where she worked since the 1970s. She will be working the holiday again this year, starting at 7 p.m., to welcome into the world some of the South Sounds first babies of 2013.
Question: Whats the atmosphere in the birth center like on New Years Eve?
Answer: Theres a lot of anticipation. Theres usually competition throughout the area to get the first baby. You definitely feel that on New Years Eve. Some hospitals will call around to see. Usually were so busy we dont have time for that.
Q: Within the hospital, do nurses compete to have the first baby of the year?
A: That nurse is usually with the patient eight to 12 hours. They get to know who you are and trust you, and you get to know them. I dont know if I have (had the first baby of the year) at this hospital, but I know I have in other hospitals. Its exciting. Even though its maybe not our patient, were always excited when we have the first baby of the year at Tacoma General.
Q. Share some war stories of unusual deliveries.
A. When they had the old emergency room, security was right outside the door. We got a call one night that a patient was in active labor and could we pick her up. The poor security guard was terrified. It was kind of cute. (The mom) almost delivered in the elevator, in fact.
Another one, I couldnt even get her out of the elevator. I had to deliver her baby. We prefer a physician there, but sometimes you cant get them there fast enough. Back in the 70s (in Michigan), I went out and delivered a woman in the back of a Chevy van, in the back of the parking lot.
Q. Have you seen parents go to any lengths to try to have the first baby of the year?
A. Ive never really run into that. Youll have women who try to walk around and have more active labor and things like that. Some people want the first baby of the year, and some people would prefer to have how can I put it? I dont want to say tax write-off. I think most people just want a healthy baby.
Q. Do you do anything to celebrate New Years with the other nurses?
A. Sometimes we have nonalcoholic cider and we toast the New Year, but were usually pretty busy at that time.
Q. Is New Years Eve a busier night than others in the birth center?
A. Holidays are family times, and we sometimes get more (extended) families. With the anticipation, maybe it does seem like its busy. Christmas night was kind of slow this year. I wont know until I go in that night.
Q. Why do you choose to work the holiday each year?
A. To me its one of the happiest units you can work in. Most labor and delivery nurses love it and they stay there forever. The parents will remember me, and they bring the kids in, and thats a lot of fun. To me its kind of a party, and its fun to get the first baby and all that.
What better way to celebrate the new year than to have a baby?