Retirement a new life for veteran OB nurse

January 17, 2019 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

After 34 years of helping parents welcome new babies into the world, Edward Hospital’s Sandy Bumber, RN, an obstetrics (OB) nurse, put away her stethoscope for good on October 20, 2018.

The Lockport resident marked the occasion by taking off on what she called Sandy B.’s retirement tour, covering Atlanta, Orlando and Myrtle Beach, SC. In addition to more adventures ahead, her retirement will call for some adjustment.

“I’ll miss my babies and the many friends I’ve made in my 20 years at Edward, too,” says Bumber.

Not long after graduating high school, Bumber married and started a family with husband Jim. When the youngest of her five children was about 12, she decided it was time to pursue her other lifetime goal: a career as a labor and delivery nurse.

She knew school wouldn’t be easy while working and raising a family, but she persevered, earning an associate’s degree in nursing in 1984. This was soon followed by a job offer in labor and delivery at Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet.

When Bumber came to Edward in 1998 with 14 years of nursing experience, she was hired as a charge nurse in labor and delivery.

“From the beginning, Sandy was seen as a leader and resource for others,” says Diane Fitzpatrick, RN, Director of Patient Care, Obstetrics. “I can’t even tell you how many new nurses she precepted (guided).

“As well as being tender and comforting to patients, Sandy was compassionate with the staff. She wanted to give them every chance to be successful. She also wanted them to remember to have fun. She even organized a Fun Committee.”

Bumber says the biggest joy of her career was being on hand when a baby was delivered.

“I loved seeing little families form and watching the awe,” she recalls. “I noticed it even more with the dads – maybe because the moms have had more opportunity to feel a connection with their babies. It’s something to see the dads when the protectiveness and love come across their faces.”

She described one especially memorable time she was able to share a new dad’s experience. Equipment was set up in the delivery room on that occasion to allow a dad deployed in the Middle East to witness the birth of his baby.

Of course there are sad outcomes sometimes, such as the early loss of a baby.

“These are so difficult for the parents, like a lost future,” says Bumber. “Long after these incidents I can remember every detail of what was happening and who was in the room. But I’ve been very glad to see the many ways that Edward’s SHARE program helps these families.”

Bumber has received the best endorsement for her role as a labor and delivery nurse from her own family members. She was invited to participate in the delivery of 11 of her grandchildren when she worked at Silver Cross Hospital and 10 of her great-grandchildren during her tenure at Edward.

“I’ve been so blessed to have a wonderful family and great co-workers.”

Bumber’s close-knit family includes daughters Cindy Eaton, 55; Trish Ruzzini, 54; Jami Swearengen, 50; Becki Beal, 48 and son Shane Bumber, 52, and their spouses. In all, Sandy has 16 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

And at Edward, says Fitzpatrick, “Sandy is already missed.”

Learn more about pregnancy and baby services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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