The Blues Are Still Blue

The other day one of my co-workers came back from a vacation and while being caught up on all the hospital happenings at the nurses station turned to me and exclaimed “didn’t you run off and get married?!”

Holy cow she’s right.

So on this blog hiatus I moved (again–that’s 4 times in one year now) and got hitched.  It’s a pretty big deal.  It’s one of those things that there would be so much to spill that the thought of going all the way back to last time we caught up overwhelms my finger brains and I’m about to shut this computer.  So lets start with today.  Today I do not work–needless to say the day has barely begun and it’s already a success.  I woke up to Jonathan’s goodbye kiss before he left for work and with best intentions to wake up then I relapsed into slumber till noon.  Rolled out of bed and did my favorite–wrangled the french press into coffee making and sat in the kitchen under the sun leak.  This morning I woke up to my body crumpled and tired in quite a few ways–physically because I did some wack attack thing and scheduled myself to work 3 nights in a row with a 36hr turn around to 2 days in a row. WHEW.

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So here we are, just kicking it around my kitchen.  Listening to Kanye over coffee…damn, here we go again…

Lets just start with the playlist (this is my back-n-forth playlist to take me to and from work nowadays):

Everything I Am–Kanye West

The Distance–Cake

California Chainshaw–The Steeldrivers

Donald Trump–Mac Miller

To Be Young (Is to Be Sad)–Ryan Adams

Don’t Fuck With My Money–Penguin Prison **I can’t help but dig this groover.*

Ten Cent Pistol–The Black Keys “the laws of man do not apply when blood gets in a woman’s eye” Take. Me. To. Work.

I so want to be the blogger that can tell you every magical detail of her wedding day but to be totally honest sweetness, I cannot remember 85% of it.  It’s slowly coming to me like a dream—not to be sappy and all but it’s true that it went be SO fast!  I remember waking up, sitting on the porch of my parents house and drinking coffee while watching it rain.  Then I remember talking about vaginas with the lady doing my makeup and sweet friend/photographer/bride-babysitter/OB-nurse-buddy.  I remember waiting and praying alone in the bedroom the bridesmaids were stored in waiting to be fetched for the ceremony.   Then I remember a big blur.  I’ll fill ya in as it comes to me.  Definitely the best day of my life.

11053065_2992204972267_1081197462783906288_nLet’s scoot over to something that I’ve been trying to spit on paper for a while.  I have been super blog absent this year for a ton of reasons but over the past few months I have been silent because every time I started to write it would taste sour.  All I could think about was my job.  It overshadowed every other piece of my life—including planning a wedding and preparing for marriage.  I’ve cried a lot about that actually because it felt like I didn’t really experience an exciting period of expectation and joyful planning with family/friends.  Most of the engagement was spent surviving—mentally, physically, spiritually.  The week of my wedding snuck up on me and happened in a beautiful flash but I felt like I just tumbled into the scene, hoping things were going to happen because I sure as heck didn’t know what was going on or if anything would be ready etc… Luckily I have amazing family, friends, and people I didn’t even know really at all but suddenly became my floral fairy godmother (thank you my mom’s wonderful work buddy who came to our house 2 nights before the wedding and led us in unpacking flowers fresh from South American Sam’s Club and creating gorgeous bouquets.  You are fan-flipping-tastic).  But aside from the week of the wedding the majority of my memory is anxiety, anger and frustration in my professional life.  Much of that I’m told is due to being the first year of nursing, but I doubt it’s the full reason.  Since starting my first nursing job in postpartum I have seen several changes in myself—many I do not like.  I’d like to tell you about them because I’m just coming to terms with them myself and to terms with the fact that my actual job isn’t entirely the culprit of my own personal response.

I began chipping away during the winter, progressively bobbing up and down in emotional state regarding work till taking a nosedive in spring which spiraled into regular sobbing and depressive episodes where all I could feel was inadequacy, embarrassment, anger, and suffocation.  So here’s what I saw/see: Nursing is notoriously a ‘saintly’ profession.  When people ask what I do I say that I’m a nurse.  They usually respond with a well-meant compliment to the profession and how nice it must be to work 3 days a week, ask if I rotate shifts (yes I do, days and nights happen in the same week) and then the inquiry of what kind of nursing I do.  This is where I look down and say I’m a postpartum nurse.

I don’t do CPR every other day (haven’t actually done that at all yet) I haven’t successfully placed an IV (we usually take them out rather than place them on this unit, and when someone needs an IV we try but are often swamped and need to call our amazing IV team for help) most of my patients are “walkie-talkies” (they are awake, alert and oriented to what is going on—not to be taken for granted in the medical world for sure).  I don’t really work with what you’d imagine the hospital population being (ill).  We do have sick moms and babies but generally it’s an exacerbation of health issues that existed prior to pregnancy. So, depending on who I am saying this too I either get something about how nice it is to not have to do anything but hold babies all day and/or “lucky you! Happiest place in the hospital!”

I’ve been meaning to chat about my professional life with yinz now for a while but every time I would start a post I would become angry and spiteful in my words–so with caution I’m gonna try this because I miss you so much and want to talk again!  So I am a nurse, I take care of new mommas and babies.  No I don’t deliver babies.  No I’m not a NICU nurse.  I help you walk around after surgery, I tell you to not be scared of the blood on the floor and I flush the toilet with all that blood in it before you turn around.  I wrangle your IV pump around the room, re-arrange your room, take your trays out because we don’t have a useful sign indicating that trays only get fetched if they are outside of the room.  I talk to you either through google translator or a magic blue phone because I was a horrible spanish student and wish I’d just studied useless french in middle school and had 4th period crepe parties like I wanted.  I nestle you in pillows and tell you when we are out of them.  I manhandle that chair and a few blankets into a “bed” for your man (and politely sympathize to his disappointment that the hospital doesn’t provide him a “real bed”)  I also check on you in the middle of the night to see you curled in the chair “bed” while he is sprawled on the hospital bed.  I get self-righteous calls from both of you in the middle of transferring another patient to the NICU complaining about your 3 minute late PRN motrin for 1/10 pain (I do not have time to explain nursing prioritizing over a phone call so I just take your glare when I scurry up to your room after getting lost in the hospital maze).  I find you wandering the hallway with your newborn in arms because you’re afraid to be in your room when “he gets like that”, to which I nest you in the lounge then go cool my jets enough to walk into your dark room, flip the lights on and politely inquire what his issue is while reminding him that it is your room.

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I love handing your your freshly bathed and swaddled newborn.  Speaking of, I strongly believe in the power of an iron swaddle to quell any unruly nugget into stunned silence (I actually feel like I’m performing a magic trick when I quickly silence Tiny Tim in front of his exhausted parents by making him a little human burrito).  I try and organize nap time for you but I cannot control every human who walks into your room–especially your relatives.  I am not afraid to be the “bad guy” and ask them to leave if you are about to fall apart in exhaustion.  Walking into dad changing a diaper, even with nervous hands, makes my heart jump with a high-five, you go Glen Coco!  Hearing your baby swallow with perfect little “fish lips” on your boob makes me want to twirl with delight.  I cannot be there for every single feeding because a lot of moms want me to cheer for their babies too.  I like helping you bottle feed your baby–it’s fun and also totally good—haters gonna hate #breastaintalwaysbest. I want you to know that good parenting is more about the example you set for them in your own decisions, personal integrity, and loving discipline you guide and care for them with over the next 18+ years rather than what kind of nipple you use to feed them this year.  I do believe you when you say what your pain is and am happy to make you feel better but oxycodone can’t take it all away.  I make sure you know to treat your baby like you’d treat your drunk friend when they puke–turn them on their side and make sure they don’t turn blue.  Sometimes I entertain the idea of using the breast pump myself to see if I’m milk-able or at least if I could create some real A-cup cleavage… even though I know that is fruity.  I often wonder if you get ingrown hairs down there when you shave or if you can wax with a yankee candle.   My eyes get hot and sad when I find you crying in exhaustion in the middle of the night because you feel guilty and nervous to let your baby leave the room, your chart saying G2P1 is a dry way to say you were here last year and left without a baby.  I get really excited (and tired) when we start the day with you too dizzy to walk, throwing up, with a bleeding incision and end the day with you smiling, eating, walking, and peeing.  Sometimes I get so mad that I do see white.  Sometimes I have to pray for my mental “daily bread” in the supply room before facing another 12 hours of constant human angst.  I feel guilty horrible when I know I have failed to do something I ought to have remembered for you or your baby and my husband listens to me say I want to shut my hands in the oven before picking me up like a baby and reminding me that I am also human.  I look at babies sleeping in the nursery and think about how the withdrawal baby going home to a drug house will never remember sleeping next to their nursery neighbor going home to a celebrity household.  When I look at a full nursery one of my first thoughts is “just a bunch of (cute) sinners crying for the things they will cry for the rest of their life in different ways”–love, affection, safety, nourishment, pain relief.  It’s the same thing their mothers are crying for from their life–from the father, from their family, from them.  And it’s the same thing the nurses are crying for from our own situations..  Babies are raw humans!

So that’s a mind-barfing way to say what kind of nursing I do.  And that I’m dealing with strange self-administered guilt about how I’m not a “real nurse” on med surg, ICU, ER, TCU, NICU. LDR, ABCDEFG…but that’s my failure to remember what nursing is.  I do get a little sad when I get a patient from labor&delivery who hugs their LDR nurse in thanks for all the amazing things they did (because they do! Cripes they do.) but know in my mind trenches that they won’t hug their postpartum nurse because they will spend more time with us and they will experience waves of frustration, stressors, and pain in many ways that we cannot fix or that take a lot of time and people coordinating to fix.  We have to help them rehabilitate to life now and that can be tedious, silly, confusing, tiring, and hard.  We do not give epidurals for life.  That is my failure to remember that nursing isn’t about thanks–that is a pride issue—nursing is about caring for people where they are to the best of your ability where you are.  And that patient satisfaction shouldn’t mean customer satisfaction, just because a patient is happy doesn’t mean that the right needs were met in the right order.  I can’t say I love my career or that I was just “meant to be a nurse”.  In some ways I wish I had chosen to alter my career path, in fact a I have thought about that a lot lately.  The glorified image of nursing isn’t the career, it’s an image of a saint person.  Being a nurse don’t make you no saint O.K.? If anything it makes me realize that I’m a real creature of fear and selfishness.  But learning to understand that humbly and not self-destructively is good, and right now I think God is working on my eyesight.  I may not be totally sure of my professional situation but it is exactly where I am right now and I have more to learn from it.

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I do think that God makes all things new and allows things to pass that he will ultimately use to glorify himself and that includes our work lives as well as home lives.  I do think that the work I do now is important and very much so a molding experience for me and I have learned a lot from it already and have a long ways to go.  I also think that it is important for us to  remember that we are not our work and that regardless of where I work or what I do I should be going about it with integrity and the will to do something well and to leave people better for it.

How are ya doing buttercup?  Gosh I missed you.  I had a lot more written after this but I deleted it all because we will talk again about this and that and other things and I will tell you more about the wedding, how I still feel like a doughnut married or not, how I miss playing violin something terrible, how I miss cornfields and trees but love the Pittsburgh skyline and my happy kitchen filled with two people cooking up a beautiful messy relationship.  Lets have a treat sometime eh? By that I mean a well-rounded meal of cookies, wine and laughs.  Till next time sunshine!

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The Blues Are Still Blue–Belle And Sebastian

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5 thoughts on “The Blues Are Still Blue

  1. Oh my gosh, Rebecca. Tears all over this post. I love your honest, raw, beautiful words. Thank you for writing again and inviting anyone who comes across this post into the fresh air of Truth. Please keep writing!!! (that’s kind of a command. kind of. 😉 Sending love to you & the hubs & the ‘burgh. ❤

  2. Friend-photographer-bride babysitter- Ob nurse friend

    I love you. Gave me chills. God is on to something. Also, I will help you remember the wedding once I’m finished with all your photos!! That’s why you hired me!!!

  3. Sue Hunter

    Congratulations on getting married….all nurses are saints no matter what they do. They all care for those who need them. Better than them good old days back at PSU in the
    AESP program…LOL

  4. Rebecca, thank you for your honestly. I am so happy to see your love for your specialty, and never let anyone tell you that you are less of a nurse because you work OB. Many other nurses, myself included, could never do what you do on a daily basis. You are a fabulous nurse…. keep loving what you do.
    Miss you. Hope all is well.

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