This transition from being an at-home mom for 17 years to working two days a week has been mostly good, I think. But it is interesting how back and forth my emotions can be about my job, depending on where I am in my work week. Just for fun, I decided to document my thoughts throughout a normal work week. (This post ended up SO long that I think I’ll break it up into 2 or 3. Feel free to skip them all if you’re not interested in life as a nurse. 🙂 )
My ‘week’ varies wildly in length. Often I work two days in a row and then have 4-5 days off before my next ‘week’ begins. But since I work every third weekend, sometimes I’ll only have a day or two off between sets of days, and other times I may go 12 days without working.
At the start of a long stretch of days off
Me: “I love my job. Who’d have thought that I could work and make good money and still have so much time at home? This is awesome.” Kids and hubby: “When do you work next? Not for a week? Awesome!”
3 days before a chunk of work days (which are actually nights)
I start getting obsessive about getting to bed on time. “Gotta sleep. I only have three (two…one) more night(s) to sleep before I work.” Also: “Gotta get stocked up on groceries so my people have food while I am working/sleeping.” Also: “Gotta get things done because after this I’ll be
in zombie mode sleeping all day for two days.”
When I’m scheduled to work that night
Me: “I better be chill today, save my energy, just in case it is crazy at work tonight.” The kids and hubby: “You work tonight? That stinks…” (Mournful puppy eyes, which of course assails me with ALL the guilt. Should I really be doing this?)
Getting ready to go to work
Me: Telling myself positive things
My family: looking glum but resigned.
On the way to work
I start remembering all the things I love about work: the babies, the mommas who need help, the super awesome coworkers on night shift. I start thinking about where I will be assigned this evening, and can’t decide if I’d rather work on the labor side (the excitement! the drama! the one on one care) or on the postpartum side (the steady scurrying, the teaching, the task-juggling, the fussing over the mommas.) Ah well, it’s up to the charge nurse anyway. I’ll happily take whichever assignment I get.
Almost always on my way in, I crank up the music and usually there’s some inspirational song along the lines of being salt and light, making a difference in the world. And maybe it’s utterly corny but my heart swells, because, wow, I want to make a difference for the moms I serve. I want to be a blessing. By the time I get to work, I’m ready to go. I hit the elevator with a smile, and am happy to greet all the truly awesome people who are my coworkers.
Night shift, 7-10PM
When it’s slow: “Ohmygoodness, it’s only 9 PM? How can that be?” But as a nurse you (superstitiously) never wanna wish for it to be busier, because pretty soon then you’re faced with two moms trying to race each other to deliver first, another who’s threatening to need a c-section, and another whose family has the labor room so packed that you can barely walk through without tripping over 3 or 4 people– the kind of night where you can’t keep up no matter how fast you scurry and you find yourself charting til 8:30 the next morning. So no. When it is (sh) quiet, you don’t wish for more.
When it’s comfortably busy, I scurry around contentedly doing my thing. It is a nice feeling of contented usefulness. I love my job: interacting with the moms, helping with breastfeeding, encouraging them in their learning to be moms, admiring their babies, helping the dads find their place in supporting the moms…I just really enjoy it all. Whether I’m helping a well-educated mom who already knows a lot about mothering, or encouraging a 17 year old taking her very first steps into motherhood, I try to meet the mom where she’s at, affirm her ability and her good instincts, and just help her a little way down the path.
When it’s crazy, I still try to fit in as much nurturing as I can, but it is harder and I don’t have time to think about whether I like my job or not. I just work as fast as I can, while trying not to look rushed as I care for each mom.
Night shift, 10PM-2AM
When it’s slow: I’m taking advantage of the pace, fussing over my patients, charting well, looking for ways to do a little extra, maybe even getting some assigned e-learning done on the computer. Staying busy at this stage of the game feels productive and isn’t too hard yet, because the night is still young.
When it’s busy: Ohmygoodness, hustle, hustle, and grab a yogurt when I have a minute because it’s not looking like lunch is happening tonight. And please, please don’t let anything really hard happen because, eek, if it’s something I’ve never faced before, I won’t know what to do.
Honestly, that fear of the unknown is always in the back of my mind. In my previous life as a nurse, I worked in a birthing center where most of the patients were very healthy. That’s not always the case here. After working 10 months, I’ve gotten to the point where probably 4 out of 5 shifts I feel capable and prepared to take care of my patients well. But that 5th shift, when my patient’s blood pressure is too high or her baby is looking distressed, or somebody needs a blood transfusion, I am incredibly glad to have super-knowledgeable coworkers to walk alongside me, allowing me to continue to provide good safe care using the wise ones around me as backup.
The night shift nurses at my hospital are THE best at being that extra set of hands and sharing their expertise and wisdom in supportive and encouraging ways. And that true, gracious, kind teamwork turns even a hugely stressful shift into something where there’s lots to be thankful for.
My coworkers are true friends to each other– trading shifts to help each other out, sharing hand-me-downs and making handmade gifts for each others’ babies, even hanging out together after work hours. I so much enjoy the group of talented, wise and kind women who are my coworkers.