I had a dream about when I worked in the PACU. I only worked there for a few months while transitioning out of L&D. Honestly, accepting that position was the dumbest move. I wanted so desperately out of L&D, they were the first job offer…I did not care who or where the job offer was for…I just wanted out.
Well in my dream, I saved someone’s life by recognizing a blood clot or something before the docs could…the dream was vague in medical details, all I know is I did what bedside nurses do best and I saved this persons life! It was the same rush and beauty of birth.
Bedside nursing is amazing. It requires a learned judgement to make the right call, to even notice what is going on, long before it does damage to the patient. It’s a very special position to be in.
Before my world came apart, I had been in this special position in a coveted spot in a labor and delivery unit. My dream job. I wanted this job so much, so much that I missed huge portions of Ava’s little life going to school and working. In my senior year, a great friend of mine got me an interview there. I thought I completely bombed the interview. I was sick, but I didn’t want to reschedule. I shadowed. I loved it. I got the job! After I started, I was so scared, so intimidated. My new coworkers were SO GOOD at their jobs. How could I be like that?! My fellow coworkers were amazing and supportive. Doing a crash c section never felt difficult, everyone helped and did something, supported each other. It was a fabulous team. I learned so much.
There are patients I will always remember. Critical, sad situations, situations that no one ever wants to be in. As a newer nurse, I sometimes didn’t know what to say, but as I grew into my nursing, I learned exactly what my patients needed before they even knew. I thought I would never leave that job.
After Harrison was born and maternity leave was coming to an end, I came back to work. He was still sick as ever, every week was something new, a positive culture, a collapsed lung, a new medication, a possible (fatal) diagnosis. It was difficult choice, but what else could I do? Harrison was right down the hallway. If he needed anything, I could be there quickly.
Being in critical situations was no longer easy, they were triggering. Many of my patients provoked such emotion for me, happiness, sadness, feelings of hopelessness. The beauty of birth was no longer the same for me. I struggled in dealing with certain people and things. I met with my boss on a regular basis. They were accommodating. Whatever I needed.
After Harrison went to heaven, I took an additional 8 weeks off. Labor and Delivery was no place for me at that point, I didn’t even think of going back and what it would be like. I knew it would be different. But how? I envisioned eventually being a resource for our HEAL program. Taking care of people like me. Sad, terrible events that no parent ever thinks of being in when they see the positive pregnancy test. However, going back was not easy. Flashbacks occurred in critical situations and I called off a lot. I NEVER called off. I was terrified of making a mistake. My mind was foggy, literally like clouds in my brain. I couldn’t see straight or think right. I had very little energy to deal with difficult patients and I cried ALL the time. I felt burnt out. I felt I could never be the nurse I was. How could I care for others when I was barely hanging onto myself?
Deciding to leave L&D wasn’t really my choice. I initially wanted to drop my hours while I grieved Harrison, take care of my mental stability and be with my family, but my manager had other ideas. She said I was miserable. I was. Who wouldn’t be? She said there were no safety concerns yet, but was worried about me. She would be able to give me off unit chart audits temporarily, but not for an extended amount of time. What did that mean? I bawled in her office. I mean hysterical, ugly cries of sadness. Was I being fired or let go? Was my dream job vaporizing into thin air? I wasn’t sure how to take it. I had been there for 2 years with no plans of leaving, but attempting to work through it. Did I really want to stay there though?
I applied to a bunch of very different jobs and jumped on the first offer. PACU seemed like a good place, I had a lot to learn but maybe it would be a good distraction.
I hated it. I hated every shift. I came across many triggers. I remember crying while suctioning someone’s breathing tube. I dropped everything on the patients chest and ran into the bathroom. I tried my best, but it wasn’t a good fit. I bawled going into work, I bawled leaving work. I didn’t want to be there. I thought why am I even a nurse? I told my husband I hated being a nurse. And honestly I did. I felt like I was grieving the loss of my son, my dream job, my work family, it felt like my life was unraveling. I was angry, even with counseling and medication. I felt like the world was against me. Why am I even a nurse?
I took a chance on my current job, and I’m so happy I did. I thought What if I don’t like this job either? What if I don’t want to be a nurse anymore? Sometimes life leads you on an awful, difficult path. There are peaks and deep, treacherous valleys, slow, easy curves and routes that take you to places you never dreamed you would go, good and bad.
It was really challenging to leave L&D. I hope one day my life leads me back to it, but for now I don’t think it’s where I’m meant to be. I miss it so much at times. Having this dream made me miss the adrenaline rush and beauty of birth. The ability to care for people in unspeakable situations. The new knowledge EVERY day. The passion I felt for taking care of women and babies. The joy of watching a dad cry when he hears his baby crying for the first time. Taking pictures and caring for the dear babies too precious for earth as if they never left, their tiny, fragile bodies, sweet and perfect. The love of bedside nursing is still there and may never leave my heart. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜