Thursday, May 24, 2012

How I came to be a nurse

I graduated from nursing school last night. It was the culmination of about 4 years of planning, hard work, and sacrifice on the part of my family. 

Gummy Bear's birth was, overall, a pretty crummy experience. I did end up with a perfect, tiny little human out of the deal, so I can't complain too much. The one saving grace of the whole experience was a nurse on night shift who spent hours with me, helping me and Gummy Bear learn to breastfeed. She was patient, knowledgeable, and continued to help me, even through my tears. At the time, I was profoundly grateful. I grew more grateful as Gummy Bear finally mastered breastfeeding and blossomed into a chubby little baby.

For the first year of his life, I learned how to be a mom. Then, when he was about a year old, I started to realize that I had no desire to return to the corporate job I had before he was born. I also didn't particularly know what I wanted to do, but the memory of that night with that nurse continued to pop into my mind.

So I started searching on the internet. I was surprised to learn how many moms were blogging about their birth experiences and about the nurses, midwives, and doctors who changed their lives. And I thought, I could that.

A few weeks later, I nervously floated the idea of nursing school to my husband, fully expecting him to tell me how ridiculous it would be for a woman with a master's degree and a promising career to go back for a nursing degree ... an associate's degree at that. Instead, he told me to look into it, if it was really what I wanted to do. I think he expected that I might take a class or two and that would be that.

So when Gummy Bear was about 18 months old, I took Anatomy and Physiology. It was the first of about 6 prerequisites I had to take that I hadn't taken the first time. That first class I took at night, handing a baby over to my husband twice a week. At first I thought I had no business in science classes, but slowly my brain started to kick in and I finished A&P, excited for the rest of my classes. 

The next semester, we put Bear in daycare 3 days a week, while I knocked out the rest of my prereqs. He was 2, and I was pregnant with the baby that we would eventually call Cheeky Monkey. I am pretty sick in the early parts of my pregnancy. I had to run out of a few cat dissection labs to lose my breakfast. I will never forget getting sick during one of my microbiology lectures. Because I had a sudden urge, I was in a bathroom with automatic flush toilets. I would heave, and the toilet would flush. Heave. Flush. It took about 4 flushes before I realized that I could put one hand over the sensor to stop it from flushing while I threw up. In that moment, I wondered if this was worth it. As I brushed my teeth to head back to class, I decided that I really did want this, puking and all.

I got accepted to the nursing program towards the end of my pregnancy, and scheduled to start when he was 9 months old. Leaving my 9 month old at daycare was one of the hardest things I ever did. I almost quit the day I called the center and heard him crying in the background. Still, after a few weeks, he fell in love with his teacher, and while he'll never be an easy transitioner, he's been doing beautifully in school. 

The next two years are kind of a blur. There were lots of late nights, lots of frozen pizza, lots of apologizing to my husband for passing out on the couch at 9 pm. Still, the further into nursing school I got, the more I was sure that I had finally found my passion. My maternity rotation late in my first year cemented my goal to eventually be a Certified Nurse Midwife.

My transition assignment was with a Labor and Delivery nurse on nights. Those 60 hours were, hands down, the best experience of nursing school. I loved the nurses, the night shift, and the the amount of time I had to spend with patients. While it doesn't look like I'll be getting a job there right out of school, I do know that maternity nursing is my goal ... and I'll get there eventually.

And last night, I graduated. I did it with 2 kids, an extremely supportive and understanding husband, and with honors and the Faculty Award for General Excellence. I can only say thank you to my kids for understanding all the nights and days I was away, to my husband for picking up my slack and encouraging me in my dark moments, to my family for helping us financially and emotionally over the last 2 years and to my friends for being always supportive.

I am one pesky test from being an RN. I am so excited to begin my nursing career. And that is how I got here. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wonderful weekend without work

I took my final on Friday. For those of you playing along, that makes me a graduate nurse! (Provided I didn't score less than 48%, which seems unlikely). I feel ... strange. I went into the weekend without anything to do. I didn't have any paperwork to finish. I didn't have any case studies to complete. I didn't have any tests to study for. It's kind of weird. And wonderful. 

Yes, I realize I do have that pesky NCLEX still looming, but I decided to take the weekend off, completely, from nursing. It was truly, truly lovely. Since the boys were in school Friday, and my love was off work, after my final we went to see The Avengers, which is the best kind of campy awesome. I enjoyed it so much, that we spent the past few evenings watching the Iron Man movies (which I refused to watch with Ry the when they came out). My bad.

Saturday dawned sunny and warm, so we decided that our inaugural visit to Sesame Place was in order.  They've done some really cute stuff with bushes this year. Sadly, the kids don't know Snuffleupagus. He's not on Sesame Street much anymore. Do you remember when only Big Bird could see him? That was awesome. Big Bird had schizophrenia. I digress.

We went to see a show called "Lazy Town." It was essentially propaganda for eating healthy. Not a bad message, but Cheeky Monkey was less than thrilled. Also, a bit concerned that his parents had finally lost it. That is what 2 years of nursing school will do to you, folks.

Gummy Bear was in Gummy Bear heaven all day. I really think that Sesame Place is his happy place.

 They both had fun trying to get to the top of the climbey, slippery thing.

And this may be my favorite picture from the day. There is something really funny about watching toddlers slide down a giant rubber pyramid. I don't know why.

The day pretty well wiped them out. They are so sweet when they are unconscious.

Sunday, of course, was Mother's Day. It was the first Mother's Day that I've actually gotten to spend with my mom in years. It was lovely. We decided to spend the morning at the Azalea Festival. It's held every year on Mother's Day in a gorgeous little park with loads of gorgeous flora. It's a perfect Mother's Day destination.
We somehow managed to get some good shots of the kids with us.

And then the boys got to play in some .... interesting bouncy contraptions.

 After the festival, the men took the kids so mom and I could spend a few hours together. We went shopping and ate yogurt. It's also been a while since we were able to just be together ... so that was great.  Greg made us a delicious dinner of ribs, sweet corn, quinoa and pineapple. Cheeky Monkey, like his mother, eats ribs so that there is nothing left on the bone.

It was a great weekend. How was your Mother's Day?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Um ...

Someone searched "Chinese people eat babies" and got to my blog. What?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

He's a funny kid

Our boys are, by and large, not Disney movie kids (too scary). Recently, we've started having a semi-weekly movie night, and we got the boys to watch Finding Nemo. Gummy Bear was tickled by the shark support group, where "fish are friends, not food."

A few days later, we had tilapia for dinner. With each bite, he said "fish are friends, not food!" And then, "he is delicious!" Totally not weird, right?

Monday, May 07, 2012

Aaaah, the cute!

Every once in a while they are so cute that it makes all the ridiculous squabbles, bad attitudes, and temper tantrums worth it. This is one of those times. D'ooohh.

My transition wrapped up beautifully. I had a truly wonderful experience and found that I really like the night shift. This is good news both because my first job is more likely to be a night shift job and because it will lead to better work-life balance for our family. The nurse I worked with was great, getting me in to see everything she could and allowing me to perform procedures galore! She also agreed to write me a letter of recommendation.

On the downside, it is incredibly unlikely that there will be a position available in the department when it comes time for me to look for one. Right now, the system has two hospitals with a Maternity Department. The rumor is that they will be combining the two departments in the next 3 months. They'll be over, not under, staffed. Le sigh. I can't regret choosing this for transition though, it was a phenomenal experience.

Back on the upside, I am one final away from being a graduate nurse! If you've been following along, that means I am one final and one NCLEX away from being an RN. I am looking forward to being done with school for a while, even if it's only for 6 months or a year. I am also looking forward to what is likely to be a summer off with my boys. We have our Sesame Place passes, our inflatable pool in the basement and some tentative summer adventures planned. Now if only the weather would cooperate.
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