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.

Missouri Mommy

Last we met, I was on the cusp of leaving California. Since my last entry, we have settled in nicely to our new digs here in the Show Me State, and I have to be honest about something.

I don’t miss California.

At all.

Wait. I miss the friends I made and the few family members there, but other than that?

Nope.

I bid my job a fond farewell around the first part of March, and I would be lying if I said I missed it. I just don’t. Knowing that some of my former colleagues may read that sentence and take note, I still have to be honest. Working for my current employer is much more fulfilling, albeit less lucrative, than working as a nurse manager. Zero regrets. I learned a lot in the past few years as a nurse and nurse manager, and the biggest thing I walked away from is knowing that I needed to step away from nursing entirely to gain a new perspective and hopefully a better attitude about my profession.

I’ll just leave it at that.

As for my new job? It’s awesome. No set hours. No dress code. No traffic jams. No call lights, either. Is it awesome every day? Well, fuck no. No job is awesome EVERY day. It has its challenges, like any other job, but fortunately the challenges are fleeting and few in between. Julia is a great boss. No complaints there. I am constantly reminded of the time I stayed home with my son, who is now 16 years old. It was great then, and it’s great now. I find myself reminiscing at times to those days years ago with my son, and it never fails to make me smile.

I’m still in the honeymoon phase with being a HOME renter, as well. I wake up every day, surrounded by SPACE, and a wonderful home that I can’t believe we had the good fortune of finding. Life has a funny way of working out, and this was the best punchline yet. I never tire of the chores, the cleaning, the little things. It’s all worth while. Keeping a home has never been high on my list of priorities, but now it has become less work and more satisfying. I love that.

Don’t even get me started on the excitement that ensued after the delivery of my brand new washer and dryer. I fear if I expound upon their merits, some may move to commit me. Needless to say, it’s a deep love.

So, dear reader, life is good. Very good. I am closer to family, surrounded by new friends, and enjoying the adventure of not only a new full-time role as CEO of the Ford Family Homestead, but the comfort of knowing that we made the right decision by leaving California.

And, it feels pretty damn good.

meandjuliabw33115

Me and my boss.

Coming and Going

I find myself typing this entry on my final Friday as a resident of the state of California. In a few days, we will be boarding a plane and heading to our new home in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. I am also typing this on quite possibly the most beautiful and the warmest day of 2015 thus far. The sky is brilliant blue and the grass is green from the abundance of rain we received weeks ago. The sun is warm and shining bright. The thermometer says 72 degrees.

I have had some time to reflect on the things I’ll miss the most about California, and the things I won’t miss at all.

I’ll miss….

The weather. Duh. No shit. Here in Northern California, just north of San Francisco, we are fortunate enough to enjoy a temperate climate almost all year long. Even in the ‘dog days of summer’, any dog can happily exist. The heat is balanced nicely by cooler nights and virtually zero humidity. The sun shines an average of 260 days here in Marin. Hard to beat that. Even the rest of the weather is pretty kick-ass.

The easy availability of ridiculously FRESH produce. Even the chain grocery stores carry local produce. Enjoying produce this fresh has become so nice, and I’ll admit, I am completely spoiled. Many times I opted to not even buy anything in the grocery store, but rather did all my shopping at our local Farmer’s Market each week. The wide variety and constant availability made obtaining even the most obscure item a breeze.

The nonchalance of public breastfeeding. This is a biggie for me. I have been so fortunate to live in a part of the country where breastfeeding is not only encouraged, but embraced. Not one time did anyone even bat an eye on the occasion that I nursed my daughter in public. I was met with smiles, not scowls. I distinctly recall one day in particular. I ventured into San Francisco to attend my first babywearing meeting, and even though I was nervous, I felt so comfortable with this wonderful group of women who freely nursed their own babies. With my daughter being 10 weeks old, I quickly joined their ranks. This was my first real experience of nursing in public, and it was such a positive one, I still carry it with me. I recall wishing that someone would have the balls to chastise me, just hoping to whip out my copy of the State/Federal law, but it never happened. I hope I continue to be this lucky.

The tolerance. I will probably miss this the most. I absolutely love living in a part of the country where people can feel comfortable being WHO they are and being able to display their love openly and without reproach. I’ve seen countless same-sex couples walking hand-in-hand, kissing, embracing, and sharing their affection. I love the fact that I have seen it more times than I can recall. This is how it should be, folks. Love is love, love isn’t anatomy.

Things I won’t miss….

The cost of living. Suffice it to say, my husband and I made a good living, yet home ownership was consistently out of reach. When a simple three-bedroom, two-bath home with no bells and whistles cost upwards of $1 million dollars, you can see how this can happen. I’m sorry, maybe it’s the Midwestern gal in me, but I can’t stomach that. It’s a house. A house and nothing more. Yeah, I understand that it’s desirable to live here with all the perks, but really? When the cost of living begins to squeeze out the true middle class, there’s a problem. To those of you who made it work, my hat’s off to you. If I had stayed here long enough, perhaps I would become privvy to your tricks. However, I won’t miss writing a mortgage check every month for $4,000. I’ll also think of you when I scramble my eggs for breakfast that I bought at the grocery store for a $1/dozen.

The traffic. I think my blood pressure will decrease by at least 40 points when I leave this behind. The Bay Area continues to grow and grow and the traffic multiplies as a result. I can’t count how many times we wanted to enjoy a few hours at the beach only to be greeted by gridlock traffic. We never did make it there. Weekends are a popular time for EVERYONE to venture out to the coast, not just tourists. I chuckled one weekend when my sister-in-law and her husband came over to visit and told us of their dinner reservations the night before. They hadn’t planned on any traffic issues heading into the city and were shocked to discover that it took literal HOURS to drive a mere SIXTEEN miles.

Welcome to the Bay Area, sis. Enjoy the ride. You’re gonna be there a while.

I’m sure I’m missing a few on either side of the pro/con list, but you get the idea. The grass isn’t always greener, and I’m not fooling myself to think that there aren’t issues where we are headed, but I am excited to find out….from our four bedroom, two and a half bathroom HOUSE, as I watch the snow fall.

Remind me to buy a winter coat.

Goodbye, Milk. Hello Babies.

I have come to a big decision.

I am donating ALL of my frozen breastmilk. All of it. Every single ounce.

Liquid gold.

            486.75 ounces of liquid gold

This photo represents countless hours of pumping both at home, while traveling, and at work. I have dedicated the past year to this effort, and I can’t help but beam with pride every time I look at it. It’s hard work. It’s necessary work. It’s the best job I have ever had, and I am proud that I have not only helped my daughter with my efforts, but countless NICU and preemie babies via 1,000 ounces to Prolacta Bioscience. I have also donated locally to fellow mamas who had difficulties providing their own babies with breastmilk. All tallied, I have likely donated close to 2,000 ounces to others.

I now will make my final donation this week.

I came to the realization that I don’t need this milk as much as others do. I will be home with my daughter where she can drink her milk straight from the tap. Rather than risk this precious cargo being lost or damaged en route, I have decided to put it where it can do the most good in the growing bellies of other babies.

My very last donation will go to a local same sex couple who had twins via a surrogate and they are doing their very best to provide breastmilk for them. Being so moved by their dedication, I decided that this would be a great way to end this chapter of breastfeeding.

I’m not even sad. I’m really not. I’m so happy right now. I feel relieved. I feel happy. I feel fulfilled.

In a few days’ time my deep freezer will be empty, but my heart will be full.