Dear Mamas

Only three more shifts remain before the powers that be unleash me on to unsuspecting families and babies in the Postpartum unit. Am I ready? I think so. I mean, there’s really only one way to be sure, and that shift will come on Monday, September 7th, 2015.

In my very brief time on the Postpartum unit, I have made some observations. Some you may agree with and some you may not. I’ll share them anyway.

Safe Sleep

Now, let me preface this post by saying that while I am a co-sleeping, bed-sharing mama, I must beseech you new mamas to please be safe while in the hospital. Being safe means you put your new bundle of joy in their open crib/bassinet when you’re not cuddling, cooing, sharing time skin-to-skin, breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, or otherwise staring in awe at the new human being you just pushed out of your nether regions.

Why?

Because moms drop babies.

Yes. They drop their own babies. Moms are exhausted from the trials and tribulations of labor or surgery or the hormonal shift that begins in the postpartum period, along with medications. You may think you would never in a million years drop your baby, but yes, people do. And it’s sad. And it’s preventable. So, do your nurses a big favor: when you feel exhausted and your partner is across the room snoring in his/her fold out chair or bed, please put your baby safely into the confines of the open crib/bassinet, or better yet? Call your nurse. We will be happy to do it for you.

Not only do moms drop their babies, but they fall asleep with them in their beds. Hospital beds. Beds filled with unsafe linen, quilted pads, sheets, pillows, blankets. Babies can become trapped between mom and the side rail, mom and excessive sheets, and yes, mom and her breasts. Bottom line: please, PLEASE take care when you feel sleepy and tired. When in doubt, take them out…….of YOUR bed and into their own.

As your nurse, I implore you: be safe. Be cautious. Be mindful. When you get home and you can provide a safe family sleeping environment, go for it.

The Milk Maid Cometh

No, mama, you don’t have any mature milk right now. I can’t tell you how many new moms, young and old, experienced and new think that milk is coming immediately after the birth of their baby. Nope. That’s not how it works. That is a fact. I know it may seem that you are putting this newborn to breast for no discernable reason, but believe me when I tell you the importance of it. Every time you bring your baby near, let your baby nuzzle you, let your baby sleep doze safely skin-to-skin, you are sending your milk makers some serious messages. Those boobs are waking up, mama, and before long you will channel your inner Bessie and be the milk maid. It WILL happen. Trust me. I pull up a chair to your bedside at 0300, hold your hand, guide your baby to breast, show you hand expression, gently explaining that this liquid gold you are now producing (colostrum) is all your baby needs right now. No. Really. I promise. Don’t be discouraged. I am here for you. Put your call light on every time you wish to bring that new squish to breast, and I will help you. Why? Because I won’t let you give up quite yet. I’ll look you in your tired eyes and tell you to take it one nursing session at a time. Make it to two weeks, then make it to a month, and you’ll see the elusive breastfeeding silver lining. I know you can do it, and sometimes in the middle of the night when it seems the whole world is sleeping, you just need reassurance that you’re doing ok. And you know what?

You’re doing ok, mom.

Safe Transport

Do your Postpartum nurse a big favor. When you pack for the hospital, please do NOT bring the car seat base. Really. We don’t need to see it. We DO need to see the seat in which you will be transporting your baby, but the base? Leave it in the car. Better yet, make sure it is installed correctly by visiting a local fire station, AAA, or car seat technician. But, please, don’t bring it up to the hospital. Yes, this means you’ll actually have to take it out of the box after the baby shower.

Rooming In

As a newer mother myself, I was amazed at how much had changed from the time I had my son 16 years ago. Back then, rooming in didn’t exist. Now, it has become the norm. Why is rooming in so important? Well, if you’re breastfeeding, the best thing you can do is keep your baby close by to initiate feeding, learning to read their subtle cues. Rooming in promotes bonding as well. Now, all this aside, please don’t be afraid to put on your call light and tell me that you are absolutely exhausted and need a break. Just an hour or two. Sleep is elusive in the hospital. You’ll never get the opportunity to have a break like this when you go home, and in my humble new Postpartum nurse opinion, a couple of hours away from your baby while you sleep isn’t going to make or break your bonding experience and likely won’t mean costly therapy for your child, either. It’s ok, mom. Need a break? Put on your call light. Don’t worry. We WILL bring your baby back to you when your precious bundle begins to root at your nurse’s breasts or tries to eat their hands.

I’m sure that as I make my way down the Postpartum road, I’ll have other nuggets to share, but for now, these are the big ones. Most of all, new families, be kind to yourselves. Allow yourselves to take a collective cleansing deep breath. Slow down. Rest. Tell the rest of the world you’ll see them later. You just built a family and that takes a lot of energy.

Don’t worry. Your mother-in-law will be waiting when you get home to remind you of all the things you need to do. Until then?

Put on your call light if you need me.

Birthday Blues

Normally, I am pretty excited about all things related to the anniversary of my birth, but this year is a bit different. Today, my 18-month old daughter went off to attend her first day of child care. The tears in my eyes this morning stung so hard as they rolled down my face like a waterfall. I made a valiant effort to keep it together for all of us, but failed miserably. I turned away after daddy strapped her into her carseat. She reached out for me, but I just couldn’t bear the look she gave me as she realized that I wasn’t coming with her.

Fuck. This sucks. This really sucks. I’ve already had to step away from this keyboard twice to grab more kleenex.

I return to night shift tonight as well. Some birthday celebration, eh? Whatever. I don’t mind that part at all. I’ll be glad to get back to my darkened hours.

I sit here with my coffee by my side, an eerily quiet home, and the prospect of having the entire day without a small human tugging at my pants or nursing at my bosom. To say it feels surreal is a complete understatement.

I have to admit, I do feel lucky, fortunate, dare I say even ‘blessed’ that we were able to keep J here at home with us, surrounded by family as her caregivers for the first 18 months of her life. After the first epic failure of our babysitter (I’m still bitter, by the way), it’s been a bit of a journey to find trust in another provider. Luckily, my employer has a fantastic child care center on the campus of the hospital where I work. I feel confident in their abilities, their experience, and I know that our daughter will likely thrive under their watchful eye.

I realize that some of you moms who have utilized group child care are probably laughing at me, and that’s ok. I admit it: I’m a complete amateur here, and I likely will never get into the groove of a daily child care routine. This morning was a joke as I carefully measured out equal amounts of expressed breastmilk into two sippy cups labeled with my daughter’s name. I couldn’t find lids to match cups and vice versa. I almost decided on a thermal carafe filled with coffee instead. My daughter woke up on her own, so after a brief breastfeeding session and snuggle, I did my best to tame her wild bedhead before I handed her off to daddy.

Damn. I miss her. I miss her already. It’s only been two hours, and I’m at a loss here. The house feels empty, sad, devoid of any real activity, which just makes it easier to grab another kleenex and cry.

How the FUCK do you mamas do it? This is all new territory for me, and I can only assume that with time, it becomes easier. All of it becomes easier. It has to, otherwise, nobody would EVER do it.

Is it 5 o’clock yet?

As if this isn’t enough, yesterday at the pediatrician’s office during J’s well child visit, we were greeted with a few concerns. J isn’t walking full time quite yet, although she has walked independently for almost a week now. The doctor didn’t seem overly alarmed, but did classify her as ‘delayed’ as far as gross motor skills are concerned. She will refer us to EI (Early Intervention) for an evaluation and we’ll go from there. Sigh….

The doctor also noted a tongue tie. I have had ZERO issues breastfeeding, so there was no indication that she even had one prior. With J also not saying much in the way of vocabulary, it was discussed that an option we have is to revise the tie via laser procedure. Needless to say, I spent a good chunk of yesterday researching this topic. The doctor said there was zero pressure to do the procedure at all, and based on discussion and research, we have opted to wait and leave this alone. There’s just not enough credible evidence linking tie revisions and improved speech. Whew. Ok. That’s easy enough to deal with.

But, then there’s the mommy guilt. Of course, the logical and rational part of me realizes that there is NOTHING I could have done differently or done to prevent any possible delays, but does that make me feel any better?

No.

Mommy guilt is a strong and powerful enemy. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t get a little twinge of jealousy when I see pictures and videos of other children J’s age or younger, walking, talking, singing songs, reciting full sentences. What the actual fuck did I do wrong? Why doesn’t our daughter get with the damn program?

My son was a late-talker as well. He chose not to speak much until he approached his third birthday. It was a time filled with speech evaluations, hearing tests, and waiting. I hated that time. The entire period was spent asking myself why he didn’t talk, and what I could have done to help him. When you realize the answer is likely nothing, it just doesn’t make you feel better at all. While the logical side of you knows that all children progress at their own pace, the emotional side of you knows that children are cruel and yeah, sometimes so are their parents, and when your kid stands out for reasons that aren’t too positive, it gets overwhelming and sad.

I hate thinking we are going down that same road again….

I smile and congratulate friends with babies and toddlers who are passing J in these milestones, but deep down I’m bummed and sad that we haven’t experienced these things yet. Call me superficial, call me shallow, but  I’m honest in these feelings, and I look forward to the day I can put them away.

So, today I sit here celebrating my 47th birthday with a cup of coffee and the knowledge that I can likely vacuum the entire house without interruption, and shop online with my son’s wonderful gift card for Amazon without distraction. And with the new watch my husband bought me, I’ll count the hours, minutes and seconds until I see my baby girl again.

Odds and Ends

Once again, a month has gone by with nary an update. Shit. I always aim to do better.

I have been in my new nursing job for about a month now, and I can unequivocally say one thing: I love it. I have definitely found my home in nursing. I was built for this. When nurses wax nostalgic and yearn for a place to call their own, this is what it means to me. Give me all the brand new mamas and babies. All of them.

Of course, part of the process of starting a new job is getting over the new-kid-on-the-block feeling, but I can honestly say that it’s been an easy transition. I have another month of orientation on night shift (thank goodness), and I am actually looking forward to getting out on my own.

In other news, we lost our first babysitter. Well, let me clarify: we didn’t lose her. She quit.

After what seemed like a great start and a reassuring beginning, we were abruptly told via TEXT MESSAGE by our caregiver that it just wasn’t going to work. Our daughter was described as a ‘sweet girl’, but after two and a half short days, she required too much attention and holding.

What the actual fuck?

I have kept my anger in check, and I have taken the high road on this topic since it occurred, but you know what? This is my blog and my safe place. I think this whole thing reeks of something, but it’s not our daughter being too clingy or attached. We may never know what led to the abrupt decision to sever ties, but honestly? I don’t give a shit anymore. I have my suspicions as an outspoken, unforgiving atheist and bleeding heart liberal, but I’ll just be satisfied that we may never know the true reason.

I think the worst part of it all wasn’t being told that our daughter wasn’t perfect, but that someone we entrusted to her care gave us countless reassurances that all was well, that this was a process, and that an adjustment would likely take time. Apparently, all of that was promptly forgotten. It’s hard enough as a parent to take the leap of faith required to let go and let someone outside of your family circle care for your child, but when that trust is pulled out from underneath you like a cheap tablecloth trick, you’re left feeling beyond disappointed.

Honestly, at this point I am happy. I am happy that our daughter didn’t stay somewhere that wasn’t a good fit. We have since found a place that meets all of our needs, most importantly our daughter’s.

Moving on.

I am rapidly approaching the 47th anniversary of my debut on the planet, and while I realize that number is edging closer and closer to 50, I find myself eerily calm. Whatever. Life is a journey, and as hard as we try, we can’t slow down the bus. I always say that my children keep me feeling young, but at this point, that might be a bit of a white lie. And it’s ok to sometimes FEEL my age.

And just when you think you have it all figured out, you decide to throw one more thing on the pile.

I’m heading back to school.

I’ll be officially starting my RN to MSN degree on September 14th. It will be a three and a half year journey, but hey, what’s the rush? I’ve got nothing but time anyway. After all the thoughts that I’d likely never return to school, I remember something I always say: never say never.

So with that, I’m off to read a book. For pleasure.

180 Degrees

What’s that trite saying about teaching an old dog new tricks? Well, this old dog is about to learn a few.

I have officially re-entered the nursing workforce. I’ll admit, it is a bit sooner than I anticipated, but when an opportunity comes knocking, and it’s one that you’ve been waiting for, it’s usually best to open the door, greet it with a smile, and let it in.

I am returning to the bedside.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted out of my future nursing career, and after a nice break, I thought long and hard about what I didn’t want as well. I think it takes a strong nurse to know what he/she wants, and an even stronger nurse to know what he/she can never do again.

I can’t do geriatric nursing anymore. I just can’t.

And I definitely can’t do management. No. Fucking. Way.

Those two combined were enough to make me seriously consider leaving the profession entirely. I wasn’t even sad at the prospect of never feeling my stethoscope around my neck again or wearing a white management lab coat. I wanted out with a passion. At the very least, I knew I needed a lengthy mental and physical break from both of those pursuits.

Geriatric nursing is its own animal, and that animal isn’t always inside the walls of an assisted-living facility or nursing home. Geriatric nursing likely resides in just about every area of adult nursing, but when it came down to brass tacks, I just couldn’t be the nurse to care for these patients.

I realized I could no longer face a shift where my patient was unable to either communicate or comprehend teaching. I could no longer allow myself to be used as a punching bag. I could no longer watch these patients in the wee hours of the night hang on yet slip away. I could no longer manage the compassion needed to deal with unrealistic familial expectations. As a manager, I could no longer look my nurses in the eye and feed them a line that I felt was complete bullshit. I could no longer allow myself to spew the corporate tag line as a way to justify the bottom line. I felt my nursing self slipping away bit by bit. I very literally nearly lost my nursing soul. I lost the will to survive as a nurse. I hated every second of it and didn’t care if I ever returned.

I was blissfully happy as a mom and a housewife, and I still derive great enjoyment out of it. I didn’t miss nursing one single bit, but there was this small part of me that wondered if there wasn’t something out there that was meant just for me. The nurse was in there gnawing at me to find my sweet spot.

Back in mid-April I applied for a Postpartum nursing position at a local hospital. I told myself that if I were to return to the bedside, it would only be in THIS capacity. I was finally beginning to feel those pangs of anticipation and excitement that can only be found when applying for a nursing job that I REALLY wanted. I realized quickly that THIS nursing, THIS population, THIS position was the one I desperately wanted. Time moved slowly, but finally I got the call I had been waiting for.

I got the job.

I. Got. The. Job.

Shit.

This changes everything. I am re-entering the nursing world in a brand new capacity. I am doing a complete 180 and will now be caring for new moms and babies. It’s rare when life and career meet, but I feel that this is exactly what is happening now. I’m going to get paid to help new moms with what is possibly the most important event in their lives. Postpartum nursing just got its newest nurse.

And I couldn’t be happier.

To the nurses and managers I leave behind, I thank you. Thank you for being some of the best I have ever worked with. You know who you are. To fellow managers who survived many a corporate meeting with nary a side-eyed glance or heavy sigh. I salute you. I hope you institute powerful, much-needed, positive change in the organization, and you know what? If you don’t, that’s ok, too. Sometimes it’s just enough to survive the bullshit and come back for another day. To the bedside nurses I had the pleasure of working with at the geriatric bedside as both a nurse and as a manager, I will miss you, but I won’t miss the kicking, spitting, shouting, expletives, falls, unruly families, Care Experience, Rounding for Excellence, GRASP acuity scoring,  shenanigans.

Okay, maybe a little….

A Moment of Silence, Please

I type this with a heavy feeling in my heart and a slight frown on my face.

I am mourning the loss of a special friend today.

The nap.

Not just ANY nap. My daughter’s nap. It would appear that at almost 16 months of age, she has decided, much to her mother’s chagrin, that she simply doesn’t NEED or WANT TWO naps per day on any sort of consistent basis.

WHATTHEMOTHERLOVINGEFFAREYOUTALKINGABOUT???

Wait, wait…..it’s not up to her, is it? IS IT? NOOOOOOO….I’m the boss. Right?

Shit. Hardly.

I am sorta bummed, I won’t lie. I love naptime. As any stay-at-home-mom or daycare provider will tell you, naptime is akin to bliss. It’s that sweet time of every single day where the focus is off of diapers, food, play, kissing boo-boos, wiping pouty tears, and it becomes a wonderful transition into adult time. The best part? It has happened with precise consistency TWICE per day now for almost a year.

I admit it. I’m a routine FREAK. I am, to my detriment, a clock-watcher. I base almost everything on a daily basis on the clock and time everything. The boss wakes up between 7:00am and 8:00 am, naps begin promptly at 10:00am and again between 2:30pm or 3:00pm. Bedtime is between 7:30pm and 8:00pm nightly. J’s naps have always been gloriously long and usually span a two-hour, sometimes longer, time frame.

During these respites, I find myself doing domestic tasks or sitting right here at the computer. I might not be implementing the wonderful things I see on Pinterest, but I’m sure as shit pinning more for the future. Yeah, I cruise Facebook and all other outlets social media-related, but it’s MY time, and the boss is occupied catching zzz’s.

Recently, we traveled to Michigan where J napped beautifully twice per day, in a pack-n-play no less, at least two hours each. We traveled back home and all hell broke loose.

DID I MENTION SHE HAS MORE TEETH NOW THAN I CAN COUNT? She has two brand new molars; four-pointed sharp stars twinkling in her tiny mouth, with yet another one on the pink horizon. This may be grasping at straws, but could that be it? DAMN YOU, TEETH, DAMN YOU. I swear they are flipping me the bird from their cozy gumline.

The only comfort I take during this apparent transition is that when J isn’t interested in napping, she’s interested in hosting a really fun party in her crib. She chatters, giggles, chrips, squeals, and jumps up and down instead of sleeping. She methodically throws every single buddy out of her crib, including her pacifiers, and then stands at her crib peering down at her work. When I go in to hit the reset button, she immediately starts laughing at me.

Sucker. I got you. Again.

Hey, at least she’s not crying and screaming, right?

Naptime is a beautiful, peaceful, coffee-fueled nirvana. And I am sad that half of that time is coming to an end. Yeah, it’s a definite first-world problem, but it’s one I cherish, and I already miss it. A lot.

When I started this post, J was in her crib, chattering. Now, 10 minutes later? She’s silent.

My daughter is so brilliant. She already knows the meaning of the word irony.

Savor and Sip

Coffee. Computer. Music. Sitting down. Relaxing.

It’s 10:15 a.m., and this is the best part of the day.

I just laid my boss down for her first nap, and with nary a protest, all is silent. Thus begins the elusive ‘me’ time. A time in the day that all stay-at-home-parents cherish and savor.

I’ll be honest, I don’t usually accomplish much during this time except for social media and perhaps a bit of reading. On occasion, I’ll get really motivated and start the laundry, dust or clean some random item, but usually?

You’ll find me right here.

mecoffee

Doing nothing, and making zero apologies for it.

Call it my union break.