Monday, January 14, 2013

December Self Portrait

Yup, yup, it's mid January.  I know.  But I promise, although I didn't have my blog post finished, the picture was taken in December.  December 31st to be exact, because I worked New Year's Eve...and New Year's Day....and Christmas Eve.  The joys of being a nurse.

I returned to work in December after a three month long maternity leave, and I surprisingly had very mixed feelings about returning this time.  There was never any doubt that I would, I just wasn't super excited about it.  And that's a new feeling for me. 

I have always loved my job, and even after having Addy I was excited to return to work.  Excited to get back to myself, back to some adult interaction, back to using my college trained brain.  I was ready. 

This time I kind of dreaded it.  But I thought for sure once I got back I would be glad that I did.  Wrong again.  And this totally threw me for a loop.  Even on days that I dread going to work, I am usually fine once I get there.  But my feelings are different this time.

Most everyone that reads this blog knows that I am a Pediatric ICU nurse.  My job is tough.  That is nothing new.  But my job gets much, much tougher once you have children of your own.  It gets much more emotionally difficult.  I can't help but compare every baby to my baby, every toddler to my toddler.  I think a thousand times per shift that I would completely fall apart if it was my child lying there attached to multiple tubes, wires, and lines. 

Now I had all of these feelings when I returned to work after having Addy, but I think that I had really mentally prepared myself ,and I was just so excited to get back to myself again, that it wasn't as tough as I thought it would be.  It really wasn't.  This time, when I returned to work after having Emma, it was much harder than I thought it would be.  Because there was no "returning to myself."  Being a mom is myself.  No, it's not all that I am, but to me, it is one of the most important parts of who I am.  I was such a new mom last time, that coming back to work felt right and felt back to normal.  Now, having already been a mother for almost two years, that is a my new normal.  Staying home with my kids is my normal.  It's what I love.

When we had Addy, we were the first of our local friends to have a child.  I literally had no friends with children.  And that was an extremely isolating experience for me.  I think it was a big part of why I was so ready to get back to work last time.  Now, fast forward two years, and we have several friends with children.  I also joined a mom group filled with people that I really like a lot, and I take the girls on play dates at least once a week.  I have friends in the same stage of life now.  I get out of the house now.  I no longer need to fill that void with work. 

But back I went, because I know that I really have the best of both worlds.  I am essentially a stay at home mom who is able to work outside the home occasionally.  I get the schedule that I want.  I have seniority at my job.  I can work as much or as little as I want to.  It's an awesome gig and I am not denying that.

But I am struggling this time and I just need to acknowledge those feelings.  I think I was so blindsided because I expected to be fine.  It's my second baby after all, and if I fared OK going back after the first, the second should have been a breeze.  But it wasn't.  It isn't.  I am on the verge of tears on a daily basis at work at some the awful things I see.  I think of my girls and my heart hurts.  Hurts for those poor little innocent children and the families that love them more than anything on the planet.  People say being a mother makes you a better pediatric nurse.  Maybe (hopefully) so, but it sure doesn't make it any easier.

But on Christmas Eve this year, one of our eight year old patients reminded me of why I love what I do.  She made little red and green ribbon decorations for all of the babies cribs, because she wanted to brighten up their Christmas.  Things like that make my heart smile and remind me of one of the many reasons I love my job.  Children have such a giving spirit.  Was this eight year old girl feeling sorry for herself that she had to be in the hospital on Christmas?  No, she was thinking of the babies.  Children are truly amazing and we could all learn a lot from them. 

Then, right when I was feeling most emotional about my return to work, I stumbled across this on Facebook:

That statement is totally true.  Children are amazing for so many reasons.  Which makes working with them amazing for so many reasons.  Yes, my job is hard.  It is long hours, weekends, and holidays.  It is too little pay for way too much work.  It is often infused with tears of sorrow.

.... But there are so many tears of joy too.  The feeling of knowing that I am helping these amazing children recover is incomparable.  Children deserve the best because they always they always give the most.  I am blessed to be able to do what I do.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go!


  1. Great self portrait! I had no idea you were feeling that way about work - maybe you should just move to PA, and that would solve all of your problems:)