Monday, March 31, 2014

Life Lately

It's raining today and I could not be happier. I know so many people struggle with feeling more depressed when it is gloomy outside but I am not one of those. I love the rain. Right outside my kitchen window I have a ton of greenery and trees. I sometimes sit and watch the rain pour down all of leaves. It's incredibly peaceful. My mom always used to call it "snuggle weather" and I can't help but to think of what it will be like when little Benny comes and I can bundle him up in feet pajamas and just cuddle him all day long.
He has been moving a lot lately. Full on ninja style, alien moving in my belly, kicks and twists and turns. In fact there have been many times he has made me jump clear out of my seat or straight up in bed. This kid is strong and super active, which makes me so very happy. It is the best part of this whole process. As I wind down for bed each night I often sit there for an hour or so just holding my hands over my belly, smiling to myself and just feeling him move around. It is truly amazing to know that my child is in there, growing and being his own little person.
I have grown a lot over the past few weeks too. I am officially 30 weeks along now and I cannot fathom how I will last another 10 weeks with this little munchkin inside of me. I already feel incredibly huge and heavy and it can be hard at times. I've been feeling better when it comes to my depression but the anxiety is still there. My asthma has been bad during pregnancy and having a baby growing up against your lungs makes it very difficult to breathe sometimes. It's a big panic inducer for me when I have those severe shortness of breath moments. I'm sure all of you mamas out there know what I mean. The third trimester really slows you down and makes you feel so out of shape!
I worry a lot about the postpartum period too. I know breastfeeding is hard and the lack of sleep is really tough but I actually think those aren't my worst fears. My worst fear is the crazy fluctuation in hormones you have after giving birth. I feel like that has been my issue this whole time... the complete lack of control over my body... physically, emotionally, and mentally it is all so unpredictable. Especially being a first time mom I just have no clue what to expect. Hopefully, the fact that my little man will finally be here and in my arms (and also able to hand over to dad when it gets to be too much) will help.

For now, I am just trying to enjoy having Benny to myself. Carrying him with me everywhere I go and feeling his little feet in my side and his hiccups in my hips... it really is so special and miraculous. Ten weeks left to savor... or survive. :)

Happy Monday Friends. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How to Survive Night Shift Nursing

For five years I have been a night shift nurse in the ICU. I never thought I would make the transition to day shift nursing but this past month I made the leap and for me it was the best decision I have made in years. I think I forgot how wonderful it is to sleep when it is actually dark outside and my days off are now actually days off! I'm not perpetually catching up on sleep or trying to rotate my schedule to accommodate work or my pathetic attempt at a social life.

Despite the horrors that the night shift bestowed on my life I do know that for many years I was happy on nights and I think I can share a few tips for those of you venturing into the graveyard world. Being a new grad nurse almost inevitably means you will start out on nights... even a seasoned nurse who moves to a new hospital starts at the bottom of the food chain and has to usually work the night shift. So, for those of you looking for some help in surviving beyond the land of the living... here goes.

1) Your schedule has to be the most protected aspect of your life. Whether you choose to work multiple days in a row or not, this is most important. You have the choice to stay on the night shift for a stretch and then switch your sleeping to match day shift on your stretch of days off or you can work one or two days in a row and then just stay on a night shift schedule always. Most night shifters I know work 3-4 days in a row (I never recommend more than 4) and then have 3-4 days off in a row to flip their schedule and live among the land of the living for those few days.

2) Plan your meals ahead of time. Sleep is the most important part of surviving night shift and what I found to be most helpful was planning all of my meals the day before I started a long stretch at work. The less time I'm worried about packing 12 hours worth of food, the more time I get to spend in bed and that is awesome.

3) Learn to say no. Being a night shift person unfortunately means that 99% of the time people will not understand your schedule or the need to protect your sleep. Social events can be really hard to plan because sometimes people don't understand that yes 1:00 pm is in fact WAY too early for a night shift person to wake up. Especially if it is your first day off! That first day off after working a long stretch... take my advice and don't make any plans. That day is ruined... a total wash and when you need to plan something that you can't get out of either do it right after work or very late in the evening.

Being a night shift nurse is incredibly hard. I did it for five years and I know many people who have done it for their entire career. Yes, it is quieter and slower and there are less people to deal with which is nice but you also work with fewer staff and you need to have more autonomy and the ability to trust your clinical judgement. Night shift also doesn't get nearly as much recognition as day shift. In fact I received my first present from a family member this week! 5 years I have been working at my hospital and this was the first time I have been given a thank you card for taking care of  a patient. It was nice and I realize now just how glad I am to be working again in the land of the living. Still, I value the time I had on nights because I learned a lot and hopefully my tips can help someone else too!