Being a mom and a nurse means coming home when dinner has already been eaten. Faces have been wiped. Games have been played. A full day is already over. It’s 8 pm and it’s now time for bed for my daughter. When I come home and my daughter first sees me, she knows not to run and hug me. My scrubs are dirty so I need to jump in the shower and change. I need to quickly get my daughter ready for bed to work another 12-hour shift in the morning. Daddy and I tag-team it. Some days, she asks to play with me before bedtime, so we stay up a little longer doing puzzles.
Being a mom and a nurse means that some days I carry the weight home. I think of the emergency I dealt with that day. The quick-thinking that needed to be done and the medical staff who jumped in quickly to help. The question as to whether or not my patient would recover looms over me. I think of the panicked voice on the other end of the phone, the family member wanting an update on the patient. They say you have to leave your work at home, so I compartmentalize those thoughts and focus on the beaming face of my toddler in front of me.
Being a mom and a nurse means that my days off are spent recovering from working 12.5-hour shifts. My feet ache from the miles walked. My body is sore and in pain from the heavy lifting and my mind is drained from the level of critical thinking required throughout the work shift.
Being a mom and a nurse means my schedule is irregular; it likely changes from week to week. An activity like swim school for my toddler sounds nice, but not knowing whether or not I’ll be off every Wednesday makes it an added challenge. My unit needs to be staffed in order to take patients. “Maybe daddy could bring her to swim school,” I think to myself…
Being a mom and a nurse also means that I get more days off than most people; it means I get to plan more trips to the park. I can run errands with my toddler on a Wednesday morning when the rest of the world is at work.
Being a mom and a nurse means that I see life differently. When I see my toddler jump and run and talk, I think of the miracle it is that she is healthy. I have seen sick kids. I do not take for granted that my parents are healthy. Many of my patients are younger than my parents. Some patients are too weak to get out of bed and their health is so frail they will likely not recover. Many of them have multiple chronic illnesses which affect their quality of life. When you work with sick people all day, you don’t take health for granted.
Being a mommy and a nurse is simultaneously one of the most difficult and most wonderful things that I have done.