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. 


Aunt Beth said...

Congrats!!! You truly deserve it and we are very proud of you.

G'pa said...

You are the most awesome daughter in law I know. Your smile of accomplishment is well deserved.

Love you.

ldupbeat said...

Congratulations Jenn! Prior to becoming a COTA, I wanted to be a nurse. It is a wonderful profession. I'm sure you will never be sorry for your decision to become a nurse. God Bless You!

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