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Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Little Complaining and a Little Christmas Cheer

Hello out there!  I feel like I should re-introduce myself after my unintended hiatus.  I'm Reese.  Hi.  How have you all been?

Things have been status quo for the most part.  My career complaints continue.  T-bug keeps on growing at an astounding pace.  Roo is really starting to take off in Kindergarten.  It's about 20 below right now.  Brrr. 

Since my last ranting post regarding my job prospects, I was called by the Option B hospital for a job interview.  I was interviewed in a room with 7 people.  I thought I was going to faint the entire time, but when I left I had the feeling I had done well, and I don't usually get that feeling after job interviews.  But it wasn't all good news.  The job was a per diem hospice position with no regular hours and extensive weekly and holiday call hours.  I would have to stay in the town during call time because I live an hour away and you have to respond to calls within 30 minutes.  So I would have to stay in a hotel or with someone I vaguely know during those times.  Translation:  nights away from my kids.  Something I am already doing and actually making money at.  Call time only pays $2.50 an hour if you aren't called in.  The thing is?  I really wanted that job.  I didn't know how much I wanted it until I was in the interview.  The people interviewing me were lovely.  And I realized I would be GOOD at hospice, even though it isn't an area I felt I was heading towards in school.  

After the interview, I cried in the grocery store parking lot.  I had this feeling I had done well in the interview, but I knew there was probably no way I could take the job.  Sure enough, two days later they offered it to me.  I tried to negotiate a bit on the call time to see if we could work something out, but in the end I had to turn it down.  The manager was very nice and said she would put a note in my profile stating how hire-able I was.  Since then--nothing.  

The following weekend I went to do my three days at work, and I had the hardest time I've had yet.  Jerry was working nights that week, which he is terrible at adjusting to.  He had stayed up late into the morning to finish a few things and the kids were with their grandparents.  He fell asleep without setting an alarm or turning the ringer up on his phone.  When I got off work that night, I couldn't reach him for three hours.  When I called to check on the kids, they said he had said he would grab them but hadn't shown up.  I ended up sending my dad to our house to find him.  Of course he had only fallen asleep, but I was inconsolable.  My frustration at being so far away and my fear that something bad will happen while I'm gone just combined into one big fat panic attack.  Needless to say, I ended up yelling at Jerry and spent much of the weekend crying my eyes out when I wasn't working.  

These job struggles have been throwing off every aspect of my life lately.  And with Obamacare about to land, the hospitals aren't hiring like they normally would.  I'm still applying like crazy, but the constant rejection can really get to a girl.  Being away from the kiddos for three days at a time is excruciating.  Up until T-Bug was born I hadn't even been away from Roo for more than 2 days, and she was 5.  Now I'm spending three days away from home at a time while breastfeeding?  It sucks.  I am someone who needs to know where I'm headed, needs a plan, so to say I'm not weathering this situation well would be an understatement.  We are waiting to start house hunting until we figure out where I'll be working.  We are waiting to try for another baby until we figure out where I'll be working.  We are waiting to find permanent child care for T-Bug until we figure out where I'll be working.  I feel like everything is waiting on a new job right now. 

Honestly, I've been considering the possibility that I may need to go on an anti-depressant or an anti-anxiety medication.  But I'm breastfeeding, and I do not want to quit early to go on something.  I think that would make me feel worse.  T-Bug will barely take formula as it is, and he isn't very interested in solids yet.  And I'm much better when I'm home than when I'm gone.  When I'm at work I do alright while I am busy, it's the twelve hours I am off between shifts that go badly.  Basically right now I am still hoping this will all sort itself out.  I wasn't having an excessive amount of trouble adjusting to being away from the kids when we lived close to my work and I was only gone for twelve hours.  So I'm hoping that if/when I find a new job, most of these issues will resolve themselves.  I don't know.  

Ohh...let's talk about babies, shall we?  How are your babies?  Mine are just delightful.  Roo is liking Kindergarten.  She kind of does her own thing there.  Plays with boys mostly and doesn't seem too wrapped up in playing with one specific group.  We are word-blending like crazy around here and she is really starting to get it.  She has always loved books so she is actually motivated to read.  Her handwriting is terrible, though, and we practice that a lot at home.  She's a leftie so I think it's just coming to her a bit slower.  She gets it from her dad.  She absolutely adores her baby brother and he loves her right back.  I truly did not expect them to love each other so much, but they have the loveliest relationship.  Every morning when she gets up she runs to his crib and climbs in it to love on him for a moment.  He squeals with delight when he sees her.  She tells me she is going to have a baby boy named Tractor when she grows up and a baby girl whose name changes almost daily. 

T-Bug is crawling at the speed of light, standing and cruising, saying "Mamamama" to get my attention, and getting into everything.  He loves to stick his hands in the toilet.  He loves to stick his hands in the outlets (I have them covered now, of course).  The garbage can in the pantry is also fun.  He is quite the Mama's boy and follows me from room to room.  He also gets away from me frequently and can hide himself in corners fairly well.  We live in a townhouse so the master bedroom, master bath, living room, dining room, and kitchen are on the first floor and there are two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs as well.  I keep the first floor child-proofed really well and then let Roo go wild with her tiny little girly toys upstairs since T-Bug still rooms with us.  That system is working pretty well so far.  Roo is good about not bringing small toys downstairs and only needs the occasional reminder.  We also have an unfinished basement where the laundry room and litter box are kept.  This door is kept closed and has a baby gate that is also always closed for safety.  He will go to anybody unless I am the one passing him off.  He does very well with Jerry when I am away, but he is a bit clingy when I return.  His laugh is currently the ringtone on my phone.  

He doesn't have much interest in walking, but I can see him letting go of the couch and standing with no support frequently now so I know as soon as he decides to walk, he will.  He's 8.5 months old now, and it's going by so fast.  He still doesn't sleep through the night since he started waking up again at about 5.5 months.  I'm convinced if he would take more solids instead of insisting on a constant supply of breast milk he would sleep better, but try telling him that.  So I'm a bit sleep deprived and I use that as an excuse to take a nap with him every day.  The things I go through.  Every stage is so much fun with both of them so far.

Speaking of fun...Christmas is coming.  I'm normally a bit of a Grinch when left in my natural habitat, but Christmas with little kids is magic.  At 6, I am aware that Roo only has a limited amount of time left to believe in Santa.  The other day she told me that the Tooth Fairy isn't real because she's never seen her.  Uh-oh.  So this house is turning into a Christmas ornament painting, felt-Christmas-tree cutting, hot glue-gunning center of magic this year.  And it's my baby's first Christmas to boot!  On top of it my "Holistic Care of the Older Adult" class wraps on Friday and ACLS classes finish up on Wednesday.  I can read for pleasure again!  I can watch Netflix until I pass out without feeling like I should be studying!  It is going to rock! 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Slow Down

Yesterday I failed.  At life.  The day started off with a bang, with a huge debate over whether I should drop the extra class that is due to start on Monday.  Do I have too much on my plate?  Am I doing enough? It was pretty intense and I felt myself getting frustrated by the fact that I'm in these classes in the first place.  Because they are stupid and expensive and a huge time suck.  The kids were scheduled to get their pictures taken so there was a fair amount of rushing involved.  Then I get pulled over on the way out of town--going 74 in a 70.  The officer let me off with a warning, but I was irritated that he had pulled me over in the first place and then proceeded to take 15 minutes to do his paperwork.  I was irritated with myself for not paying closer attention to the speedometer.  When we arrived at the studio, Roo's hair had come undone in the car.  And Tanner didn't want to be put down.  Roo kept asking if she was done.  Neither child wanted to cooperate.  We left and got halfway home before I remembered that I needed to stop at the grocery store.  By the time I got home I was so frazzled I thought I was going to explode.

Roo had extra days off school this week, and I had wanted to go back home.  It has been over a year since I've been back, but I decided I was better off staying home and getting things in order (we still haven't unpacked the boxes in the garage).  Yesterday I was so frustrated and stressed and just worked up in general that it wasn't until bedtime that I remembered that a year ago there was only ONE child to photograph.  A year ago, we did Roo's holiday portraits and I was just praying I'd have a baby to get pictures of this year.  And guess what?  My wish came true.  And I couldn't even find a moment in my day to pause and acknowledge that.

Things have been so frazzled lately.  My job frustrations and trying to adjust to having moved twice in 10 months have taken their toll.  Have I mentioned that Roo is having a bit of trouble in Kindergarten?  Or that Tanner has decided to NEVER sleep for the last 6 weeks or so?

Today I decided not to suck at life.  Jerry had to work this weekend, so the kiddos and I packed our bags and took off for parts unknown.  There's a museum about 4 hours from home that I've wanted to take Roo to for a few years now.  We drove down, grabbed a hotel, and did the museum.  Now I'm stretched out in a King-sized bed with both of them tucked in beside me.  They swam their little fins off and passed out the second we laid down to watch a movie.

I don't know how to describe how trapped I've felt by our relocation.  I never wanted to live in a small town, and although I wouldn't consider myself a super outdoorsy person, I miss the mountains much more than I would have thought.  Tonight I sat on my hotel balcony and watched the sun set behind the mountains for the first time in a year.  I thought about how Tanner's never been this close to the place Jerry and I come from.  I never imagined my children would grow up in a different location than I did.

I feel sane again tonight.  I know I'll pay in the upcoming week for the things I didn't get done this weekend, but I think a deliberate slow-down was worth it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

In Which I Complain About My Abysmal Career Prospects

Before I begin this post that is likely to end up being a really hot mess, I should probably mention that the lump is back.  I am not writing this in the most optimistic state of mind.  I'm here right now to dump my emotional baggage all over this blog in the hopes that I can either A) magically come up with a previously unimagined solution or B) magically feel better about my current lot in life.  We'll see.

My career, or rather lack thereof, is pushing the limits of my sanity.  Back in June, I was hired (Waaaay too easy of a process now that I reflect on it--I should have known) at a small (freaking tiny) rural hospital with an attached long term care unit.  I signed up to work 36 hours per biweekly pay period, equaling 3 twelve hour shifts.  The idea was to work weekends so that my schedule wouldn't interfere with Jerry's and we would not need outside child care.  I was to float somewhat between long-term care and hospital/emergency room training.

A week after I started the job Jerry got the call to interview for his now current job.  Of course he gets offered the position, and suddenly we are moving 2.5 hours away.  I was thrilled to leave that crappy, horrible, sorry excuse for a town we had lived in for the last year.  I really really was.  But suddenly, I have a job that is 2.5 hours away from where I live.

If it weren't for the fact that pregnancy kept me on the career bench for a year after nursing school, I honestly would have just quit the job and started a leisurely job search at this time.  Since I need the experience badly, I kept the job and am now searching desperately for a new one. 

The job itself sucks.  I spend too much time stagnating in long term care for my liking.  I know everyone has to start somewhere but I spent years in long term care prior to and during nursing school.  I know my stuff down there, but it's not where I want to be.  The hospital is flooded with several new grad nurses that I now have to jostle a bit with to get ER shifts.  It's hard to jostle when you work part time and your heart just isn't in it.  Even the hospital can be excruciatingly slow, and the ER sometimes sees just 1 or 2 patients in a 12 hour shift (rural, people.  rural.). 

Still, I am getting a smidge of experience under my belt, and in a few days I'll be doing ACLS classes so that's something.  The facility maintains overnight accommodations in the form of mini-apartments where traveling staff (about 85% of the staff does not live locally) can stay while they are working.  It's cheap, clean, and convenient to stay there while you are working.

The thing that's pushing me over the edge?  I am having to leave my children, my 6 year old and 6 month old baby, for 3 days at a time every other weekend to get my hours in.  This is the worst thing ever.  It's just me, my breast pump, and my tears at night.  For 3 nights.  The kids are with Jerry or their grandparents while I am gone.  They are fine.  They are loved.  I know this.  But I can't stand being away.  Last weekend I was sure the T-Bug was going to crawl while I was gone.  I just miss them so much, and I feel so far away.  It makes me resent the job and hate myself for being away.  It is terrible.  It is awful.  I worry about the weekend for days leading up to it.  Days. 

So I should find a different job right?  Well folks, aside from my general inexperience in the nursing field and the fact that there are tons of newly licensed nursing grads out there looking for jobs right now, my options are SEVERELY limited in this area.  Allow me to elaborate.

Option A.  This is the ideal option for me.  It's a government-run clinic and ER (no overnight hospital stays) in a minority community.  Government-run=really nice benefits and student loan repayment programs.  Minority population has a huge need for healthcare and has issues that are unique to the area and the population.  Working there would be challenging and interesting.  Facility is 20 minutes from the house.  The golden chalice of nursing jobs, if you will.  This place will likely take me YEARS to score a job at.  So...I've schmoozed with the director of nursing.  And I'm working on a spiffy little cover letter catered to the job I desire.  But there aren't any positions open in the clinic or the ER.  And I'm not qualified for an ER position with them yet (they want 2 years of ER experience).  

On to Option B.  This is by far the largest hospital and is the most likely option for acquiring ER experience that will get me to Option A.  It's an hour away from my home, which is a significant disadvantage, especially with winter approaching.  I applied for a per diem position there and immediately got a phone interview.  I was passed "onto the hiring manager's desk" and have heard nothing in the month since then.  The position I applied for had been listed for over 90 days by the time I applied.  I think they are likely gathering a pool of applications to draw from before they pick their favorites to interview in person.  And I can't really swim yet.  Anyone with more than 4 months of experience will beat me out of a job.

Option C.  Tiny rural hospital much like the one I am working at now except it is 30 minutes from my home.  I did call there and I have an application for this facility that I haven't sent yet (because I'm busy being anxious and super fun to live with and that's taking up all of my time).  When I spoke to the director of this facility, there was a nursing home position available, but nothing in the hospital.  And if I'm going to be forced to do work in long term care, I may be better off staying at my current job where I am at least getting SOME acute care experience.  So...I just don't know.

Option D.  Local clinic where my entire family goes for their medical care.  And they have a position open.  That my entire extended family called and told me about.  Small town.  I can see the helicopter pad from my patio.  I applied and interviewed at this facility.  It doesn't look like a fun place to work and the health insurance sucks.  The job also entails 4 ten hour days a week plus one night (5 pm to 8 am) of call per week and one weekend (Friday at 5 to Monday at 8) per month.  The problem with this?  As a nurse, I really only want to work full-time if I can do it in the form of 3 twelve hour shifts a week.  I don't want to be away from my kiddos every day.  The thought of putting Tanner in daycare right now seriously makes me nauseous.  I just don't want to.  I will pretty much do anything to make sure I don't miss time with my baby.  One of the big things I love about my life right now is that most days I am home with my kiddos.  Most days I take Roo to Kindergarten and pick her up.  I hang with Tanner and do my schoolwork and make dinner.  I love it.  I don't want to give that up.  This is time that I will never get back and I really feel like I missed a lot of Roo's early years when I was working and going to school.  Screw that.  Jerry and I just made another major location change because we were tired of all the time he was spending away from home for work.  We have given up a lot to get our little family and we both feel we should enjoy it as much as we can.  Thanks to student loan debt and the fact that we want to buy a house within the next year, I do need to work, but I would like it to be as compact and easy on my family as possible.

I tried to casually see if the local clinic would let me do 3 days a week, but they didn't seem into it.  And they haven't called to offer me the job yet anyway so it's a moot point at this time.  These are the ONLY facilities in my area.  There is nothing else, folks.  These places sometimes go a year without openings (except for Option B and their "pool").  I could be stuck in this position for a long time and it is really getting to me.  When I went to nursing school I pictured myself working in a large facility in an urban area.  It has already been a huge adjustment for me to understand that I won't be working in a neonatal intensive care unit or an intensive care unit anytime soon.  Now I also have to give up time with my family?  

I have no idea where to go from here.  Needless to say, I'm really hoping that something gives soon.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Recently...

...I had a 91 year old female patient with dementia who could NOT be contained. She paced the halls with her walker frequently and the staff constantly had to watch to make sure she didn't elope from the facility.  I am pretty green on the acute care scene, but my years of long term care experience before nursing school have given me plenty of tools to deal with such patients and I was not bothered by her at all.  She had sort of a gruff manner about her--one tough little cookie, and I liked her immediately.

ALL day for two days this little woman would go up to staff members and say, "Can you hear that baby crying?  Where is he?  I'm on my way to get him, but I can't find him.  Can't you hear that?  Are they hurting him? He's REALLY crying..."   There was, of course, no baby at all in the entire hospital.  She would get increasingly agitated as the day wore on and the baby's crying continued in her head. We were able to redirect her for a few minutes or so, but then there she was again, asking for that baby.  For anyone not familiar with dementia patients...you just go with the flow as much as you can with these people.  You don't remind her that her mother is dead if she asks.  You don't argue with her if she says it's 1954.  So...basically I lied to this woman all day.  This little part of me would cringe on the inside.  I'd say, "Oh, the baby is just finishing his shots.  He's ok.  Can I show you to the waiting room?"  She would allow me to take her back to her room, get her something to drink.  But a few minutes later she'd be back.  Looking for that baby.

An aide found a doll somewhere and tried to give her "baby" back to her.  She looked right at the aide and said, "That's a doll.  I'm looking for my baby."

I commented to another nurse how terrible that must feel for this poor lady.  I mean, if you are a mother you know you can't get to your baby fast enough when you hear that cry.  The pain cry is different than the tired cry, the hungry cry.  The pain cry makes you scramble.  It couldn't be a nice feeling to be unable to locate the baby when you know he needs you.

It wasn't until the end of my second shift that this woman's daughter came to check in on her mother.  When I told her about the woman's constant requests for the baby, the daughter stopped short. "A baby boy?" she asked.  "Yes, always" I replied.  

I teared up when she told me the woman had long ago lost her youngest child, her only baby boy in a family of girls, a month after he was born.  Every time she asked for her baby over the next three days, I would take her hand, look her in the eye and say, "He's ok.  I promise."  Because, what else can you say?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

6 Months!

I know every parent says this...but I CANNOT get over how fast time is flying by.  I wish I could reach out and freeze my children, just as they are, for a moment so I can come back to it later when they are grown and gone from me.  I learned a long time ago--you think you will never forget what it's like to hold your tiny baby in your arms...but it does fade a bit.  The baby gets replaced by a toddler and then a preschooler.  I find that as Tanner progresses through the baby stages, I am remembering things about Roo when she was his age, and I'll think, "Oh yeah, how could I possibly have forgotten that?"  That makes me sad.  Knowing I forget so many little things and I'll never be able to get them all back.  

Tanner is...such a great joy at this stage.  He weighs a whopping 17 pounds now, and he is on the brink of crawling.  He gets into the position and rocks back and forth constantly.  If I get on the floor and call to him, I can just see him thinking about how to get over to me.  He ends up trying to crawl using his hands and feet and then toppling over completely.  I hardly ever see him get frustrated over it, though.  He is always on the move and can get across the living room in no time flat.  He seems content to flop around and play with whatever he encounters along the way so I live in fear of the errant Barbie shoe or toy ring.  He is a happy little dude most of the time, but when he is mad...WATCH OUT!  He seems to be a bit like me in the personality department--doesn't have much of a neutral gear.  He's either really happy or really not.  

In the looks department he is all Jerry.  His eyes are still blue and his hair is lighter than Jerry or I's.

We are just starting to toy with solids and he doesn't have a whole lot of interest, but I'm hoping he'll get the hang of it soon. Because breastfeeding?  Hasn't been all that much fun since I went back to work.  I spend WAY too much quality time with my breast pump.  And then when I get home we have to re-orient to breastfeeding.  I'm nowhere near ready to throw in the towel, but the small break that solid foods will provide will be welcome when it comes.  He's also starting to wake up at night to feed again.  Nooooooo!  We were doing so great at sleeping through the night up until a couple weeks ago. 

I wake up every morning feeling grateful that he is here.  That both of them are here.  The hole Matthew left will never go away.  I know by now that I will always have it.  When I look at my kids in the rear view mirror while I'm driving I always know that one is missing, but I am still incredibly blessed.  When I was pregnant and someone would say something to me that was optimistic enough to frighten me I would say something like, "Oh, I don't count my babies before they hatch."  Gees, that sounds terrible doesn't it?  I loved him from the moment I knew of his existence, but I tried my damnedest to avoid dreaming of taking my baby home.  Because there are no guarantees, you know?  Now as I pass last year's landmarks and remember how scared I was I am just so grateful to be on the other side.  On the 7th, I passed the one year mark of my first ultrasound with Tanner.  I took that little picture out and I just held my baby and cried.  I was 11 weeks pregnant, and I kept my eyes closed until I heard the heartbeat.  He was just a little brand-new being, a little snippet of hope, a year ago and now here I am with a roly-poly little 6-month old in my arms snoring. That just blows me away, you guys. 

I wish the stork would deliver one annually. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

In Case You Thought I Was a Normal Mother...

My 5.5 month old sleeps with an apnea monitor.  Not because he was premature.  Not because he needs it.  Because I need it.  A doctor did not order this.  I alternate usage between the Snuza and the Angelcare monitors, and I CANNOT sleep if I can't hear the beep of his breathing movements.  It can't be set to silent.  I need the beep. 

I also freak out if anyone tries to let him nap on a surface that isn't firm.  I let him have a binky because there is some evidence that it COULD potentially help prevent SIDS.  I would never, ever co-sleep, but his crib is in our room.  I use a video monitor during the day when needed. 

I don't know if this is normal behavior for someone who has never lost a baby?  I feel like it's within normal bounds for my history, at least.  I thought all moms lived in fear of SIDS and apnea.  The T-Man loves to sleep on his belly, too, which only serves to increase my anxiety.  And yes, I know that once they can turn themselves onto their belly it is ok to leave them there to sleep. I still turn him back onto his side or back every chance I get.  Since Jerry isn't one to say much about my baby neuroses, I was surprised when my aunt seemed shocked by my level of paranoia at a recent family gathering.  She seemed to think it was ludacris that I would use a sleep monitor when it came up in conversation.

So I'm wondering...Am I taking it too far?  I do lots of other non-neurotic mom stuff, I swear:  I let him get passed around at family gatherings (and I have a huge extended family); I frequently clean his binky off with my mouth; and if he scoots off his blanket on the living room floor I let him stay on the bare floor for awhile.  Oh, and he frequently naps without the monitors if I am close by.  Totally laid back right?  My concern is that I might not realize if I am overprotective to the point that it is interfering with my children's lives. 

When Roo was an infant I had trouble sleeping even though she slept through the night by the time she was discharged from the hospital.  I woke up constantly to check her breathing.  So with The T-Man I figured--why not?  It doesn't seem to bother him or interfere with his rest.  And it allows me to rest.  I refused to defend my choice to my aunt at the family gathering on principle (you know, the mind-your-own-business, keep-nosy-family-members-at-bay principle).

On a similarly over-protective note, Roo started Kindergarten a few weeks ago (so cute!), and I am realizing that I have waaaaay overprotected her.  I was the ONLY mother still walking her daughter to the morning line-up spot by the second day of school (and no, this didn't make me stop walking her).  Ditto for picking her up after school.  She has yet to ride the school bus.  

See?  I have issues.