Friday, December 12, 2014

How Much Of What We Say Is Wasted?

It was early morning. Much earlier than she would like to be awake and I understood...I had a late night the previous evening and I, too, was less than chipper.

She rarely spoke to me, as I cared for her, day after day after day. Her words were always slow and careful, taking incredible patience on any listener's part, to hear her one or two word responses. Generally, a gentle nod or shake of the head, was all you would get.

"Good morning", I said, as I proceeded about my business. I asked if she was in any pain and she slowly shook her head no. I continued on, when I noticed her mumbling something. 

I didn't catch what it was, so I crouched down, now putting us eye to eye and asked, "What did you say?"

"...I...appreciate...all...that...you...do..."

My eyes grew wide and I felt my breath catch in my throat.

This beautiful person, who rarely ever formed a sentence, just took the effort to acknowledge the role I played in her life. She not only noticed, but with incredible work, spoke six words, that I knew would forever change my life.

Speaking is something that most of us take for granted. We do it all day long. To our children. To our co-workers. To our partners. To our parents and friends and the cashier at the grocery store. To the mailman and the woman on the corner and the nurse at the doctor's office.

How much of what we say, is wasted? Wasted on anger or gossip or judgment? Wasted on arguments or stubbornness? Wasted on frustration or spur of the moment reactions, that we later regret?

We have the ability, most of us, to say anything we want, at any time. We have the ability to reassure the young mom in the grocery store, wrangling her screaming toddler, that we understand. We have the chance to tell our daughters how incredibly smart they are and how much we appreciate them. We have the capability of telling our sons we love them and how proud we are of them. We are fortunate enough to be able to use our voices to stand up for those, who cannot stand up for themselves. We have the time and the chance, every single day, to uplift and encourage and inspire those around us.

We choose, at any given moment, to use our words to help...or to use them to hurt.

How much of what we say...is wasted?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thirty Days of Thanks 2014

1. Today I am thankful for French fries and milkshakes at midnight, with teenage giggles. 
2. Today I am thankful for baby snuggles. That stage went far too fast with my own. 
3. Today I am thankful for growth and hard conversations, that aren't so hard after all. 
4. Today I am thankful for unexpected joy at work and for the understanding smile of another person. 
5. Today I am thankful for starting to make new plans. I hate living in limbo. 
6. Today I am thankful for hot chocolate made with milk and for a five year old girl's arms wrapped around my neck.  
7. Today I am thankful for the patience that Avery has had with her siblings and for a Panda Express lunch date. 
8. Today I am thankful for a little boy who tries so hard. 
9. Today I am thankful for opportunities for happiness in my life, including snuggles and giggles with my oldest two daughters. 
10. Today I am thankful for understanding and patience. It appears as though I need more of it lately. 
11. Today I am thankful for my heated blanket. It is the only reason I sleep at all. 
12. Today I am thankful for all of the love in my life. 
13. Today I am thankful for the opportunity to try new things and jump a little out of my comfort zone. 
14. Today I am thankful for lots and lots of blankets. 
15. Today I am thankful when my children are grateful. 
16. Today I am thankful for time. 
17. Today I am thankful for help, reading and twenty questions. 
18. Today I am thankful that I'm feeling better and for a packed lunch. 
19. Today I am thankful for rum. Yup. 
20. Today I am thankful for the chance to watch my girls get pleasure out of volunteering. 
21. Today I am thankful for a tiny peanut and her hand in mine. Happy Birthday, baby girl. 
22. Today I am thankful for the understanding of others and being brave. 
23. Today I am thankful that my children will talk to me about the hard stuff. 
24. Today I am thankful that I didn't have to drive home in snow. 
25. Today I am thankful for progress, open communication and self-acceptance. And not so gentle reminders. ;)
26. Today I am thankful for new beginnings.
27. Today I am thankful for the little things and my children's smiles. 
28. Today I am thankful for the chance to surprise my children with their new home. 
29. Today I am thankful for bedtime. 
30. Today I am thankful for strength. I am thankful for courage. I am thankful for the ability to choose my attitude. Sometimes. Okay...I try. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

She's Bent, Not Broken

About a year ago, at a regular yearly check-up, Bai was given the test for scoliosis. We have all had this simple test; I remember having mine done at school, where I had to put my feet together, bend over at the waist and let my arms dangle. In fact, when I was tested, I actually did have a slight curve in my spine.

But, I digress...

So, as Bailey bent over, my eyes met with the doctor's, over her very uneven back. We had a silent conversation about what we were seeing and the exam continued. We were then referred to Primary Children's Hospital for an x-ray and at that time she was shown to have a nineteen degree curve. Additionally, one leg was slightly shorter than the other. No worries, we would just watch and wait.

Six months later we went in for another follow up. She was now measuring at twenty-four degrees and evidence showed that she was still growing. She denied having any pain, so we opted to wait another six months and re-evaluate.

Those six months passed without a problem. She grew and she ran a half marathon and she never complained of any pain or issues. However, her x-ray at this time measured her with a twenty-nine degree curvature...and she is still growing.

We knew all along that a back brace was a possibility if her curvature reached a degree that indicated a need. I honestly never thought we would get there.

I was wrong.

 
As you can see, she curves in two places, which is also tipping her pelvis and causing her neck to be twisted. The vertical red line indicates where her spine should be and the horizontal red line shows how her pelvis is uneven. Our goal at this point? Stop the curve from growing further, correct what we can and avoid surgery.
 
Now that we know the curve is there and have seen the x-ray, see how obvious it is, just looking at her? Running my fingers down either side of her spine, I can feel every curve.
About a month ago, Bai was fitted for the back brace that she will be wearing for at least the next year. When her time wearing it will be completed, is anyone's guess. She will be followed by Primary Children's and the company that fitted her with the brace, while we watch to see what her back will do. Eighteen hours a day, in a hard, plastic shell, is not how a thirteen year old wants to live...but she is a ROCKSTAR and has adapted to it relatively easily. She also has a small wedge in her shoe that helps with her shorter leg and tips her pelvis back into the alignment it should be in.

She was showing Bai her curve and explaining how it was making her stand. The white "body sock" you see on Bai is what she wears under the brace. It is the only thing that can be between the brace and her skin.

It has to be put on while she is laying down. Her body is most in line when she is horizontal, rather than vertical, when she naturally tips.

Teaching Bai where the padding in the brace will go and how it helps align her properly, based on where her curves are.

Teaching me how it should fit and where it should be on her body. Those straps you see are heavy duty Velcro.
When she wears tighter shirts, you can see the obvious curve to her right hip. However, we have found that in most of her clothing, including her school uniforms,  you can barely tell.
 She still has some moments when it sucks and it is hard. It is not comfortable and it can be difficult for her to move in certain ways. She has times that it makes her nauseated and a little claustrophobic, causing her a bit of anxiety. We choose to work through it or take it off for a bit. All she needs sometimes is a few minutes out of it, to stop the panic.

She is amazing. She laughs and jokes her way through even the hard stuff. Talking about it on the way home that day she says, "Wow. I'm probably going to go into high school with no brace on my back and no braces on my teeth. I am going to be looking Uh-MAZ-ing!"

Sure, kid. But you know what? You already do.

And you already are.

Some people never meet their hero.
I'm raising mine.
 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It Had Nothing To Do With Me

We've all heard it. The profound statement from some unknown person..."Never judge a book by it's cover."

Boy, did that ring loud and true for me today.

Now, thanks to HIPAA, I'm gonna have to be real sly with this one...try and keep up, okay?

Let's pretend that I'm a nurse. No, not the sexy Halloween costume dress up nurse. A real, live, covered in spray from a feeding tube mishap gone wrong, wrinkly scrub, can't find my pen in my 52 pockets, nurse. Got it?

Now, lets say that this nurse...me...may or may not have a resident who may or may not be labeled..."DIFFICULT". You can picture in your own mind what behaviors would deem a person difficult to a nurse. Add in crabby and demanding...and you got it.

So one could imagine that when this particular call light goes off, I may give a tiny, itty, bitty little sigh under my breath, because, well...I WAS JUST IN THERE 45 SECONDS AGO and when I was in there, all the resident did was fiddle on their phone, dragging out whatever it was that they were trying to tell me.

This may...or may not...have happened seven thousand times today. 

Except one time, as I was trying so hard to leave the room for the fifth time that trip, because I had a million and nine other things to do, this person hands me their phone and says "Wait. Wait. I want you to see this." I may...or may not... have experienced a tiny, itty, bitty, little sigh...in the very bottom of my soul. 

Until I saw, on the screen, this beautiful, laughing, full of life woman. She was young. Not young like me...you know...25...but young compared to the typical adults I spend my day with. Her hair was blowing in the wind and she was talking to a person off camera. 

I didn't understand at first.

Until my resident says in a humble and tired voice that I had never heard come out of them before..."That's my wife. She passed away and it is the only video I have of her." 

What do you do, when you realize that sometimes angry and cranky and short-tempered has nothing to do with you? What do you do when you realize that you forgot that you are treating an entire person and not just dealing with their less than stellar personality?

I can tell you what I did...

"She's absolutely beautiful. Play it for me again."


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dear Child - Parenting Sucks

Dear Child of Mine,

Parenting sucks.

Stop looking shocked and pretending like you can't believe that I would say that. You will understand one day. I promise.

I have always said that parenting sucks 98% of the time, but that the 2% is so amazingly fulfilling, that it makes it worth it. Granted, that 2% is when you are asleep, most days...but goodness you look cute curled around a teddy bear. Almost cute enough to make me forget about the gum I found squished into your bedroom carpet or the clogged toilet that you didn't tell me about. For days.

Almost.

But, I digress.

Child, don't you know how hard I try not to yell? Don't you understand that the cool, calm, nurse voice you are hearing is masking the boiling rage inside, fueled by your need to nit-pick at your sibling long enough to make them cry? Do you understand what happens to my brain, when you mimic me, when I ask you to stop? Don't you know that if you push me to the point of yelling, that you should be very, very, very afraid?

Now, if my yelling causes you to walk/stomp/run away from me and I have to chase you down, you better hide...and you better hide so well that I have to call the local law enforcement to find you. I promise that you are going to want police protection, when I do.

Why, oh why, must you make me turn into this raving lunatic of a person? I hate yelling. I hate taking away privileges. I hate having to remember to follow through on your punishment, when all I really want to do is have a glass of wine and go to sleep. Can't we stop the madness? Could you maybe, just maybe, listen when I talk and do as your told?

I won't apologize for yelling. Or for the consequence you now face. I won't apologize for being your parent. Just know that one day...when you have a child of your own...and you call me and vent about all the absolutely insane things that she did that day...I won't laugh. Or say I told you so.

Until I hang up the phone.

Love, Mommy

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Sunday Morning Lesson

"Maybe we should have Dad do it."

Oh, my lovely, beautiful and amazing daughter...those words alone will make your Mommy attempt (and succeed) at whatever it is that we are doing. I promise you.

Yes, I am stubborn.

Yes, I feel like I have something to prove.

But, really...I want to show you. Show you that you can do anything that you put your mind to. Once you get over the frustration of the moment and pause to stop and think...you can do it. You already have the knowledge and grit inside you, to figure it out.

Do not grow up to believe that you have to rely on other people. Do not use other people to validate your worth, because I promise you that you are amazing, just as you are. You do not need another person to complete you; you need another person who compliments you. A person who can grow along side you and propel you to be a better you.

Do not change my words into believing that you can never ask for help. I know that pitfall far too well and that is not what I'm saying. There are times that your knowledge or experience or drive will not be enough to fix the problem at hand. When you recognize this situation, then please ask for help. What I don't want you to do is to give up, before you've given it a shot. What I don't want is for you to assume that because you are a girl or you are young or you see yourself as weak, that you cannot do something.

Don't give up...and don't give in...before you have given it your all.

(For the record...we fixed the closet shelf...without hammering any of my fingers.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Who I Am

When I'm being really, really...really...stupid...I wonder what people think of me. Who they think I am. What they think I stand for. Believe in. Want in life.

My story is my own...very few people on this planet know the real answers to those ponderings. So, why do I do it? Why do I worry about what other people think of me?

Because we all do it.

Admit it, or not...we do.

So, who am I?

I am a 33 year old woman, working through a divorce. I am a Mother, above all else. They are my reason for being alive and raising them to be better than I can ever be, is my ultimate goal. I am a nurse with hopes that I can save the world, while knowing that all I can really strive for is to make a difference in one person's life. I am a woman, with all the insecurities and strength that come along with that title. I am a daughter who probably didn't turn out the way my parents expected. I am a sister and an aunt and a cousin who falls short, far more than I probably realize. I am a friend that disappears off the grid more often than not, because I crawl in a hole when the world gets too loud.

I have so many hopes, that I can overwhelm myself. I want to be independent, knowing that I can stand on my own two feet. I want to love intensely and be loved wholly. I want to display a strength that my daughters and son look up to and strive to emulate. I want to give back, because I have been given so many opportunities. I want to never stop learning. Ever. It doesn't have to be a formal education, but I pray my desire to learn about others and their experiences is a flame that never dims.  I believe that everyone has good in them and they just desperately need someone to recognize it.

I am scared. Scared that I will leave this earth, having never made a difference. I'm scared that I am unlovable and difficult to handle. I have control issues that make me hard and I'm incredibly sensitive to things, making me too soft. I get depressed and stuck in thought patterns that aren't healthy. I tend to relieve my stress in unhealthy ways and lash out at those that don't deserve it. I am scared that I will never amount to anything, yet I push myself to conquer every obstacle in front of me.

I am figuring me out and realizing that this process will be ever-changing and life long. I am recognizing that I am a contradiction. I am patient...and I am not. I am strong, while I am weak. I am scared, while I am brave. I am driven, even when I want to give up.

I am Me.

And I have never been more me, than I am right now.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

It Really Does Matter

We make excuses for our decisions, every day.

You do it.

I do it.

Everyone does it.

We tell ourselves that this choice or that choice doesn't really matter. That it isn't a big deal.

That's a lie.

It really does matter.

This is never more apparent than now, as I mother these five little humans. My choices and actions teach them, a million times a day. How I respond to their needs and wants tells them how important (or not) I feel that they are. Now, of course they are important, but do my actions show them that?

How I react to their fights, their fits, their own poor choices...it really does matter.
How I show them I love them, not just with words, but with time and attention...it really does matter.
How I choose to acknowledge and praise...it really does matter.

If they really are my greatest pleasure and accomplishment and blessing...I better be making choices that support this.

It really does matter.

 
 
 


My Kid Is A ROCKSTAR

This summer, Bai and I made a goal of completing a half marathon. Well, after less than stellar training (read that as we DIDN'T train)...we decided to do it anyway.
 
Hey, don't judge...we had a crazy summer.
 
I'm happy to report that at 13.1 years old, my beautiful and amazing daughter completed her first 13.1 miles. It wasn't easy and she wanted to give up around mile six...wanted to kill me around mile ten...but she did it. I couldn't have done that at thirteen years old. No way. Her perseverance astounds me. 
 
We did the half with a couple friends of ours. There is no way we could have done this, without them!

My beautiful girl. I'm so incredibly proud to be her Mommy.

Mile 10...can you see the joy on their faces?

Me, Bai, Braidy and Alisha
I hope these three know how incredible I think they are. I have done this race before and I know the mental hurdles that you have to overcome to even attempt it, let alone the incredible physical toll it is on your body. I swore to myself around mile eleven that I wouldn't do it again (same thing I said the first time I participated in this foolishness)...but I would.

And I will.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Starting Over

No one expects to turn 33 and have to start their life over.

That's what I'm facing.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end...or some sappy lyrics like that.

I'm not going to get into the details. Those are mine and the people that share the story with me.

But I know this...it will be okay. I am strong. I have been through hard before and I have prevailed. I don't know what is coming around the bend for me, but I'm strapped in and hanging on tight. Here's to amazing and new.

I got this.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thirty-two...and counting...

Wow. Has it really been 5 months since I last posted? This blog used to be my world. My way of capturing life as it unfolded.

Then...life got messy.

I'm on the brink of recreating my life, if you will. Nearly everything in my life has changed in one way or another in the past year and it has been a lot to swallow. Some of it shitty, some of it great...all of it changes.

As I approach my 33rd birthday tomorrow, I'm hoping I can reclaim this blog as my way to vent. My way to let go of all that swims around in my head on a daily basis. My way to rebuild and march forward with my head held high.

Hello, world. I'm coming back.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Different Kind Of Throwback Thursday

While looking for a picture of my cute kids to post for Throwback Thursday, I came across a post that made me smile.

It also made me realize just how far I've come.

September 29, 2007

So, I am struggling with a decision. I cannot decide if I should enroll in school for spring semester. I would have to do online classes for now, because of Josh's work schedule. Those darn kids require 24 hour supervision...where was that in the manual? Huh? :)

I have been thinking about it for years and even got accepted to a local university a few years ago. Then, I discovered I was pregnant with my 3rd daughter and decided to put it on hold.

However, now, I am realizing that if I am ever to achieve my dream of being a RN in labor and delivery...I'll need to just deal with the challenges of being a Mom in school. But, at the same time, I don't want to over-stress myself to the point that I am impossible to be around.

I know that all my pre-requisites can be done online and at the rate I will have to take them, will take me at least a couple years. Then, I will have to re-evaluate my life before applying to nursing school.

To add to it, Josh also wants to go back to school. He realizes that a degree will take him further in his job and *BONUS*...his work will pay for it. We are hoping that we can qualify for enough grant money to off-set my schooling costs.

So, I pose some questions:
-Can we be effective parents while attending school?
-Will my children suffer by having parents that work and attend school?
-Will we even be able to handle the stress of this added responsibility?



Roughly six years and seven months from the day that I posted that...I will be graduating, with honors, from nursing school.

Crazy.

So, were we effective parents? I think so. We added Peanut to the mix since then and didn't lose any of the others in the process. That's not too shabby.

Have the children suffered? Yes. I won't sugarcoat things by pretending that they haven't. There are days that have been hard and days that I have been in a bad mood. I know that I have been hard to handle at times, for everyone in my life. Did they also learn independence and what determination can do? Yes.

Did I handle the stress? Yes.

I didn't say I handled it gracefully...but I handled it.

 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

That's Who I Am

I don't know how to sit down and shut up.

It's not who I am.

I don't know how to not argue for one side or the other. I don't know how to not stand up for myself, when I feel that I'm justified. I don't know how to not stand up for others, when they need a voice, too.

It's not who I am.

I don't know how to let things go. I don't know how to ignore a situation and pretend it doesn't exist. I don't know how to brush things or people or feelings under the rug. I don't know how to be quiet.

It's not who I am.

I don't know how to accept pleasantries as an answer. I don't know how to deal with feeling pushed aside.

It's not who I am.

Give me words.

That's who I am.



Saturday, March 8, 2014

I'm Telling You...You're Okay

There are a lot of things I, as a parent, have to teach my children.

I have to teach them how to tie their shoes, write their name and the days of the week. I have to teach them how to balance a checkbook and how to budget for things they really want. I have to teach them how to make scrambled eggs and how to pick a ripe pineapple. I have to teach them how to drive a car, pump gas and change a flat tire. I have to teach them how to make Grandma's chocolate chip cookies. I have to teach them how to make a bed and how to work the washing machine. I have to teach them how to use an ATM and how to file their taxes. I have to teach them how to properly dose and take medication. I have to teach them to recycle and reuse. I have to teach them to buckle up. Every single time. 

I have to teach them how to be kind to others. I have to teach them that nothing is a substitute for hard work. I have to teach them that showing up on time is a sign of respect and that standing up for yourself is okay. I have to teach them that saying "please" is always appropriate and to only say "I'm sorry" if you truly mean it. I need to teach them that although it takes big amounts of brave, they need to admit when they are wrong. I have to teach them that offering a helping hand in society is part of being a responsible adult. I have to teach them that loving someone else isn't easy and that loss is part of life. I have to teach them that people are different and that their approach with people needs to vary just as much. I have to teach them that they need to follow through on things they start. I need to teach them patience. I have to teach them how important it is to say, "I love you.", every time you say goodbye. I have to teach them how to laugh at themselves.

I have to teach them to question everything they've been taught, to be sure it is right for them.

Lately, I've had the recurring thought that I haven't given much time to one other important thing. One thing that maybe wasn't a factor when they were toddlers, running through my house, with their only need being Cheerios and hugs. One thing that maybe has only cropped up as they have gotten older and started becoming their own people.

I need to teach them that they are okay.

I have had song lyrics running through my head all day today; "She's just the way she is, but no one's told her that's okay."

I need to teach my children that they are okay.

Whoever they grow up to be, they are okay. Whoever they grow up to love, they are okay. Whatever they choose to do with their life...they are okay. Their choices, their feelings, what they want out of life...it's all okay. I do not have a mold I want them to fit into. I do not have expectations that I need them to meet. I just need them to know that they are okay.

So much of our lives are spent trying to be okay. Trying to be what we were told we needed to be. Trying to react to situations the way we were taught to react. Trying to be, what we were taught to be. Trying to be okay.

Instead of just realizing that  we already are. 



Friday, March 7, 2014

I Take Them Home

When I left my previous job and started my new one last August, I knew the change would be a transition.

I had no idea how true that statement would be.

One of the changes that I was most excited about, was the prospect of not working from home anymore. Anyone that works from home knows the challenge to separate work and home. There really isn't a graceful way to do it. As long as my computer was there, my work was there. Don't get me wrong, I loved my job. I loved the flexibility it afforded me, when I had five kids under the age of eight. I loved being able to essentially do my job from anywhere with wifi. I loved not needing to call in sick, because a kid was home with strep.

I just struggled with my work always being present in my home.

This new job afforded me the ability to separate work and home. I could leave work at work, and be home when I was home.

Damn, was that the biggest misunderstanding I have ever had with myself.

I take my work home. All the time. Every day.

I take home the resident that won't eat and is declining and I wonder...did I do everything I could have? Did I miss something? I take home the resident that is sad and depressed. I can make them smile. Did I do it enough today? I take home the resident that is lonely and just wants someone to talk to. Did I give them enough time today, or did they feel brushed off? I take home the resident that is actively dying. Alone. No one should have to die alone. I could be there to hold their hand...offer a simple gesture of comfort that tells them that someone cares for them. I take home the resident that is angry with their situation. I would be angry, too. I take home the resident that no longer recognizes their spouse. How scary for them and their family, to see decades of memories just slip away.

I take them home.

I stare at the ceiling at night and I think about this one, or that one. I worry on days off that I forgot to do something or that I could have done something more. I know full well that they are in good hands when I'm not there, but I care. And I worry. I have met such amazing people and been privy to part of their incredible stories.

I take them home.

I know no other way.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Words


I love words.

If you ever want to know what I am afraid of losing...pay attention to what I write about.

I love the way I can string together any number of words and they create feelings. Words can elicit anger, power, passion, or love. Words can encourage or motivate or inspire. Words can cut and hurt and tear apart. Rearrange the same words and the meaning changes. The intention changes.

Change the person reading the words and the words change.

It is magical.

Words can be personal. Something that I only write for myself. Never to be seen or shared. Call it venting or dumping or screaming with a pen (or keyboard, in this case)...these words can be beneficial.

I rarely write those kinds of words. Writing those kinds of words means admitting them. To myself. Admission can be difficult and cultivate feelings that are uncomfortable. Worthlessness. Anger. Guilt. Shame. Denial. Any combination of the above. I have these kinds of words, we all do, but I don't like to write them.

Words can invoke conversation with another person. We live in an age where texts trump phone calls and emails come before face to face. This is both amazing and damaging. I feel far more comfortable typing words into a faceless device, than I do using my voice. This can help me overcome fright and worry...but it also allows the possibility that I will hurt someone else. It is easier, right or wrong, to react to a situation negatively and without thinking, when I don't have to see the face of the person I am hurting.

Words, when shared with someone else, instantly make me vulnerable. Everything I write and share, is open to interpretation. I can't control how the party reading my words will understand them. I can't predict what they will associate them with, or the feelings and emotions that my words will elicit. That is challenging for me. It is hard for me to accept that my intention isn't always what is received by the reader.

I struggle between not wanting to share words and sharing too many. One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes sums it up pretty well..."There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." There is no greater anguish than needing to give life to words, before they overcome you, but feeling unable.

Except, maybe...just maybe...when the words that you carefully give birth to...the words you unabashedly give away...do not extract the response that you intended. Maybe...that hurts more.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's Over

My hours have been completed for my preceptorship and all I'm left with is a pile of assignments that I need to tackle. I don't know where the last four weeks went, but I know that I spent much of it in the car and most of it in blue scrubs.

I will never forget my hours in labor and delivery. So many things touched me, in ways that I didn't expect. I was welcomed by the other nurses and they willingly taught me. They were patient and they answered my questions, no matter how silly I thought they might be. I experienced birth, in so many forms. Birth of babies...of mothers...of families. I experienced death. I experienced heart ache and the realization that I will carry the memories of some of these babies with me, for a lifetime. I experienced frustration at situations that tie nurse's hands. I experienced how incredibly miraculous birth is and how amazing women's bodies are.

I'm thankful for the jokes and laughs at 3 am that kept me awake. I'm thankful for the opportunity to work with some amazing people. I'm thankful for my preceptor for taking me on as a personal shadow. I'm thankful for the many, many hours that I got to cuddle the newest people on the planet. I'm thankful to have experienced all that I did...even if it wasn't all pretty and shiny and happy. It gave me a glimpse into an area that I know will be my home one day. Not yet...but one day. I have a lot more to learn, clinically and emotionally, before I want to venture there.

To my family and friends that had to endure my crazy...I love you. I couldn't have done this, without each and every one of you. I'm sorry. I'd like to tell you that I will now return to my regularly scheduled chaos...but even that is pretty intense. ;) Just know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I applied for graduation today and in just 71 days I will walk for my diploma.

Then you just have to love me through boards.

Oh. Did I mention I applied to the Bachelor program, too?

Who still loves me? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Happy Birthday, Avers!

My beautiful girl,
You have been a fighter since birth. You fought to be born early and you fought to live at six weeks old. You fight rules and you fight expectations. I love it. You are your own person and I love the strength in which you portray that. Being your mother is the most challenging thing I have ever done and for that, I thank you. You have taught me more about patience and love and determination, than anyone else on this planet.
Happy 9th birthday, my darling girl. I hope this next year brings you all the happiness you desire, all the lessons you need to learn and more love than you can handle.
Love, Mommy
 



Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Baby Should...

A baby should know from the beginning of life, that they are loved. That they are wanted. That they are the most miraculous thing to ever grace the planet.

A baby should be paid attention to. Every need met. Every cry answered.

A baby should be held. Wrapped in loving arms and held tight against warm skin. A baby should feel safe and protected.

A baby should know the sound of humming and your heartbeat. The sound of lullabies and fairy tales.

A baby should know the feeling of soft blankets, kind hands and gentle kisses. There should never be enough kisses.

A baby should be whispered to. A baby should be told how amazing they are. How beautiful they are. How one day, they are going to change the world. How they have already made the world a better place.

A baby should change your life.
...and if it doesn't...it breaks my heart.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hell Week

I'm just over half way done with my preceptorship. Ho.Ly. Crap. Crazy how time flies when you're...loving on cute babies and walking around like a zombie.
 
I am currently in the middle of what I am lovingly referring to as "Hell Week". Between Saturday night and Friday night, I will work and precept 72+ hours. In addition to my homework. And trying to see my kids at least once a day.
 
Sigh.
 
This is what I wanted, right? This is what I thrive off of?
 
It's true. I like pushing deadlines. I like exhaustion. I like feeling like my world may explode at any moment. Ridiculous as it sounds.
 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Night Shift

Night shift is not for the weak, my friends.  I go to my shift exhausted and then, by some cruel twist of fate...I come home wide awake. Sleeping during the day, when life is occurring for the rest of my world, is damn near impossible. So far, I've managed to get 3-5 hours of sleep, before giving up. Then, I just wander through the rest of the day in a near catatonic state.


Precepting in labor and delivery has been interesting. Far more entertaining than the actual work I'm supposed to be doing, is observing and being a part of, the silliness that occurs around 11 pm, followed by the hysteria that hits around 2 am, among the other staff. By 5 am, my eyes glaze over and I barely know my own name. 

Working a night shift at my actual job is a different story. The hustle and bustle and crazy that occurs during the day is put to bed by 10 pm and the building is eerily quiet. There are no extra staff walking around, there are minimal resident requests and my eyelids grow heavy by 1:30 am. Being able to do homework is about the only advantage to this shift. Otherwise, I miss the interaction with my people...listening to their snoring just isn't the same.

If anything, I've discovered that night shift is not for me. I require far too much chaos, in order to function. I don't handle down time well; I would much rather be running my ass off for 12 hours, instead of fighting to stay awake. Bless the night owls that enjoy this shift. I will remain happy to relieve your sleepy corpse at sunrise.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Journey

I have used this blog as a journal. As a venting place. As a way to remember the silly, little things, that may otherwise slip through the cracks. I have documented pregnancy, miscarriage, depression, school, funny stories, death...LIFE.

I used to be driven by the comments and the views. I wanted to write to my audience. I wanted to entertain. That was easier when I could tell stories about the 2 year old dumping fingernail polish on the carpet, or the 6 year old asking LOUDLY if I got pregnant in Walmart. People LOVE a good "stay at home mom loses her shit" story. (There is something to that whole, "misery loves company" thing.)

Lately, I have been writing more for me. I don't know who my audience is anymore (or if one really exists on a consistent basis), but this blog has become more of a dumping ground for my thoughts. I see and feel and experience so much lately...that I need a place to get it out of my head. It may not be as popular among the bloggy world to read...but it is great therapy for me.

Sometimes...sometimes I KNOW I need to write. I need to get all the crazy out of my head, before it eats me alive. Before it drowns me. I constantly have a million things pinging around and it can get quite tiresome. With that said, sometimes I sit down to write and...nothing. It's not a writer's block. It's not a lack of material. It's more that all the thoughts and opinions and venting that I want to do just won't. come. out. The thoughts won't bubble to the surface and explode, like I really wish they would. They get all tangled and I end up just sitting...staring at the screen.

At the end of the day, I'm thankful for this blog. I'm thankful for the stories and pictures I have captured. I'm thankful for the people I have "met" because of it's existence. I'm thankful for the timeline of my life, that I've created. I'm even thankful for this...the ramblings of a woman who has too much going on in her head...so she doesn't really say anything at all.

It is all part of my journey.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ninety-nine Days Left Before I Can Bawl...

Ninety-nine days left, before I can bawl.
Ninety-nine days left and still...
I may drown,
Fore it comes around,
Ninety-eight days left, before I can bawl.

Sing it to the tune of "Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall" and it becomes a fun little ditty.

I'm less than one hundred days from graduation. Whoa. Time flies when you're running on empty.

For the next four weeks, I'll be living my preceptorship. Prior to this semester, that word was always spoken with the hushed reverence that I thought it deserved. Now? Now it is said with disgust...typically with descriptive profanity before it. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy. I'm excited to spend 135 hours in labor and delivery. No, seriously, I am. I think it is going to be an amazing experience and I will have learned so much, by the end of it.

What I wish, is that I wasn't balancing 36+ hours a week of preceptorship with 24+ hours a week of work and homework. Oh and those five little people that keep calling me Mommy...they are still my top priority. That is a whole lot of things needing my time and attention.

(night shift(work + school + preceptorship) - caffeine intake)/Leeann = insanity
 
I know. I know. You're rolling your eyes because I'm complaining again.
 
Sorry.
 
Would it help if I mentioned that not only am I juggling 60+ nursing hours a week, but I am also doing all of it on night shift? Can you muster up a little bit of sympathy for me now?
 
I am worried about the people in my life. Every single one of them. I worry about the people I love...will they feel pushed aside? I worry about my residents...will they be able to tell I'm extra tired? I worry about any random person who pisses me off...will they survive me losing my shit on them?
 
I am already burnt out. I am already exhausted. I want to scream, more often than not. I feel distant from everyone, at times, because there is this constant internal awareness of the steep slope I still have left to climb. How many times will people accept my apology, before they give up on me?
 
I know that the light at the end of the tunnel is growing closer and brighter every day...
but how many times will I get run over by the train, on my way there?
 


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Whole New World

I started on a new floor in my facility this week. It is a whole new world. I typically work on floors that are all long term care, but this hall is a mixture of long term care and rehab patients. It is scary for me, because it requires more than "just" handling medications and redirecting. Typically, long term care halls have residents that are pretty stable. Your infections are going to occur. Your falls are going to occur. Your need to referee the residents because they can fight with each other on a level that rivals my children, is going to occur. Perhaps my perception, or fear of the unknown, is what makes me believe that our rehab patients are a bit less stable than our long term care residents. A lot of them are full code, not DNR, which means the handling of a situation occurs on a completely different playing field.

Monday and Tuesday were rough. Things happened. Chaos clustered and piled up. I felt like I had no. idea. what. I. was. doing. I second guessed myself, multiple times. I felt like crying multiple times. I have an extremely hard time with not being in control and I felt out of control at times. Not only was I trying to learn how this hall did things, which is different from how other halls do things, but I was trying to shovel my way out of the pile of shit that kept getting thrown at me.

Now that it is the next day and I'm not there, I've had the time to sit down and breathe. I've had the time to reflect on the past 48 hours and realize...I learned a lot.

It's okay and necessary to ask for help. I know that I'm new. I know that I don't know everything there is to know and I probably never will. I need to be able to ask for help. I'm so thankful that I did, or yesterday could have had a very different outcome.

I'm a new nurse. I embrace all that that means. It means that I have a drive and a determination that perhaps veteran nurses don't always have. I'm still very much in my shiny honeymoon phase and I have this desire to save the world. It also means that I still have a lot to learn.

I learned that I do okay under pressure. I can feel like I'm going to hyperventilate and die on the inside, but for the most part, I can handle my outside. I can still delegate what needs to get done and I can still focus on the important for the moment.

Not all people have common sense. Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not walk up to me and hand me your TB paper to sign, when you can plainly see that I am standing over someone who is unresponsive. Breathing and pumping blood is vital to life, folks and I'm trying to encourage my patient to keep doing that. Me administering your TB test is not important right now.

Even veteran nurses will admit that they are worried or nervous or aren't sure what to do. Thank you. That makes me feel like I'm not a complete failure.

Nurses can still joke with each other, in the middle of a crisis. Not everyone will find us funny, but it sure keeps us sane.

I learned more clinically, in those two shifts, than I have in the last month. Pushing myself outside my comfort zone is going to make me grow.

Growth can hurt. It's okay. I will survive.

I have people in my life that believe in me. Even when I don't believe in myself, they can see in me the nurse that I want to be.

I  am stronger and can handle more than I think I can.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Unexpected Changes

I don't like change.

I am a creature of habit and I'm perfectly happy staying that way. I have my routines that I stick to, my obsessions that own me and I really, really like my comfort zone.

So...I became the mother of five and a nurse. Smart move on my part, eh?

I am learning to embrace change. I am learning to be pushed step out of that awful comfort zone. I am trying, my hardest, to let go of expectation and fear. My life has been full of the unexpected and, one way or another, I have grown because of it or learned a lesson or at the very least...survived it.

I have had a plan for my life...specifically my career...for the last decade. I was warned a million and a half times not to focus on a specialty area, because it would change. I would always laugh and tell the person whose opinion I hadn't asked for in the first place that they were wrong. That wasn't going to happen to me. Labor and Delivery. Babies. Mommas. That was my calling and nothing was going to persuade me otherwise.

I still think it is my calling.

But...I think I'm going to end up taking a little detour first.


I swore up and down...twice...that I would never work long term care. Nope. No thank you. That is not for me. Then I got my LPN and who would hire me? Long. Term. Care.

I have fallen in love with my job. In. Love. I love the people I work with. I love the people I care for. I love their families most of the time. I love it all. That's not to say that it isn't hard work and there aren't days that I question why in the world I ever chose nursing. On the good days I remember why I love it. On the great days I know that I didn't choose nursing...it chose me.

Another area I swore I would never work in is hospice. Dying people...no. thank. you. Watching Jared and Mom go was hard enough. No.

We have many hospice patients at my facility. Whenever we have someone that is close to passing...I am drawn to them. I want to give them all my time, all my love and all my attention. I sincerely love their families and I want to care for them, too. I love talking to them. Holding their hand. Listening. They have amazing things to say.

I think I will take a little detour into hospice, once the craziness of school is over. I want to care for those with not much time. I want to make their passing peaceful and perfect. I want to be a landing place for their families and do everything I can to comfort them.

(Don't tell all those people that they were right not wrong and I really did kinda, sorta change my mind.)

It's a selfish decision, too.

Maybe...just maybe...if I can take away the mystery and the fear of dying...living  won't seem that scary anymore, either.

"Life begins...at the end of your comfort zone."


Thursday, January 2, 2014

On Her Own Two Feet

Every day after I pick Peanut up from school, we head over to the charter school, to pick up her siblings. We have about twenty minutes of free time while we sit in carpool, so she usually asks to go play on the playground. I love watching her run across the black top and instantly make friends with any unsuspecting child that happens to be around.
 
One particular day a couple weeks ago, the playground was iced over. I contemplated telling her to just sit in the van with me, because I worried about her getting hurt. "Sit with me, Peanut. Sing me a song. Tell me what you did at preschool today. Do you know any funny jokes?" But..I didn't. Something in me decided to let her go.
 
So, off she ran...little pony tail bouncing with every hop, skip and jump...and you know what?
 
She fell.
 
Climbing up the ladder (because the stairs wouldn't have made more sense, would they?), right at the top...she fell.
 
I jumped. My hand on the van door, I was prepared to run to her. Scoop her up. Check her over and make sure she hadn't bumped or bruised or scraped anything.
 
But...you know what?
 
She didn't even look back. She didn't look for me to make it better. She didn't look for me to brush her off. She stood up, on her own two feet, adjusted her coat...and climbed that damn ladder again. I eased off the door handle, sat back and tears filled my eyes.
 
My job as a parent is to raise them to stand on their own two feet. I'm raising them to be self sufficient. I'm raising them to trust themselves and their own judgment. Good decisions are great...poor decisions come with lessons. Poor decisions also come with the chance to try again. I'm doing my best to teach my kids to always try again.
 
That comes with the parental price of not being needed anymore. Not all the time, anyway. One day she no longer needed me to tie her shoes or to help her put on her sweater. One day she no longer needed me to pour her a bowl of cereal or a glass of milk. One day she no longer needed the training wheels on her bike.
 
One day she will no longer need me to help her spell "Merry Christmas". One day she will no longer need me to help her comb her soft little curls into piggy tails. One day she will no longer need me to help her reach the top of her closet or to cut up the chicken that my little vegetarian child won't eat.
 
One day, that day, she did not need me to catch her. To fix her. To stand her up and brush her off.
 
She may not have needed me that day...but I know there are other days that she will.
I'll always be behind her, cheering her on, as she stands on her own two feet.