National Nurses Week is May 6-12. It ends on May 12, which is Florence Nightingale’s birthday, the founder of modern nursing. The nursing profession is truly unique with all the different types of nursing. Nurses are in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, home care, doctor’s offices and they care for patients of all ages from prenatal to end of life. All nurses have a story to tell about their career and how becoming a mother changed even their nursing career.
Nurse before Kids
Before my children were born I put my career first. I would work overtime and holidays. Several times working overtime during the holidays. I remember one of my first interviews for a nursing job I was asked where I saw myself in 5 years and 10 years. My answer was career-driven. I said working as a nurse in that job role. The interviewer was surprised I had said nothing about marriage or children. At the time I was a 23-year-old, barely a year of nursing experience trying to finally get a hospital job in 2010. I was single. Marriage and children were the furthest things from my mind as I was focused just on figuring out my nursing career. Five years later, I was pregnant with my first child and working as a unit manager in a nursing home. Ten years later, I now have two children and work as MDS nurse in a nursing home. My children have definitely changed how I work, from the type of job and hours.
How being a nurse prepared me for motherhood
I do think being a nurse has eased some of the shock of certain situations of motherhood such as the loss of sleep and babies waking at all hours of the night. It was reminisce of night shift, when I would be awake all night even on my nights off, hello Nick at Nite and DVD movies. There were many times where I had to sacrifice sleep to be able to attend special events such as weddings, bachelorette weekends or holiday events with family.
Nurses have increased safety awareness. Out of habit, I can walk into any room and find potential fall risks and other potential dangers. When my son was first walking, I had all the fears, that he fall and have a head injury. I had to put aside my anxiety and remember I was doing a good job and to not always think worst-case scenario.
I spent most of my career with the geriatric and dementia population. I have found myself using techniques I learned while on my job, to help my toddler at times. I’ve helped my toddler by promoting independence, breaking down simple tasks such as getting dressed, learning to feed himself. Also, to allow validation of feelings, such as frustration, like not being able to do everything you want to do or used to do.
The Nurse as a Patient
There is a saying that nurses make the worse patients. My only experiences with being on the other side of nursing are the birth of my two children. As every first mom, I really had no clue what to expect for my first birth. I was grateful for great nurses that quickly got me to OR when we thought my son’s heart rate dropped when my water broke, to thankfully find it again and it was stable. To the nurse who just came on shift and helped me through two hours of pushing, when I was so exhausted and wanted to give up.
My second birth experience ended up being short and sweet. It was quick labor and delivery with an epidural. The nurse was just hoping the doctor would make it in time. I did make a small request to the nurse admitting me for my second child’s birth, if at all possible do not put my IV in the bend of my arm as my IV had been in my first birth. Due to the location, I spent nearly an hour remembering to keep my arm straight in post-delivery so the medication could infuse without listening to a beeping IV machine at three in the morning with a fresh newborn. Even though I never said I was a nurse, I’m pretty sure that post-partum nurse had an idea that I was one.
The Current Life of a Nurse Mom
Nurses everywhere have so many emotions about the current state of the world. Personally, it feels like life is at a standstill, holding my breath, waiting for the storm to hit.
I work with a vulnerable population. I can’t stay at home with my family. I am anxious every day I go to work, if that will be the day, we are told the news that I will have to self isolate from my family.
I think of my nine-month-old, my last baby. Will this night be my last time to rock her to sleep for weeks due to the current pandemic? That I could at anytime have to miss her milestones of first steps, words, and walking as her first birthday inches closer. I think of my almost four-year-old whose life has been turned upside with the loss of the rest of his preschool year, spending time away from family, no playgrounds and zoo adventures with his little friends. His end of May birthday, most likely a simple celebration with just our family, compared to the bigger celebrations of the last three years.
There is a lot of uncertainty but I have been enjoying the extra time with my children and husband and taking each day one at time. As I go into work each day, I focus on bringing cheer and a smile to our patients who also can’t visit with loved ones.