Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jerry's Home!

I've had some trouble writing about this.  I feel like if I verbalize these fears, then something awful will happen to me.  Like I'm jinxing it or something.  Ignore it and it will go away.  I have to have my throat and stomach scoped on Tuesday.  Since July, I've had this strange sensation of having a lump in the back of my throat.  I ignored it.  Then the heartburn started.  Severe and constant heartburn, completely unresponsive to any medication I threw at it or any dietary changes I made.  I've never had heartburn so this is not normal for me.  And since I'm a student, you can safely assume that my health insurance is not good.  This has been producing some pretty severe anxiety over the last several months.  I finally went to my regular doctor last week and she ordered exactly what I predicted she would:  an EGD.  Great.  At this point I am scared enough to not care about the money, but I have been Googling myself into panic attacks on a pretty much daily basis over this.  And all medical googling of symptoms ends with one nasty word:  cancer.  Ugh.  For me, this heightens my fertility fears considerably.  Chemotherapy would fry my ovaries.  Therefore, I would have to find some way to freeze eggs before I could receive treatment.  Since I can barely afford this procedure, freezing embryos is considerably out of our financial reach.  And dear God, what if I don't get to be around to help my little girl grow up?  Jerry is a spectacular father, but he doesn't really know what he's doing when it comes to little girls.  And I do not have a family member I would like to see raising my daughter.  Also, pretty much any medication a doctor would prescribe for this undiagnosed condition of mine is not a medication I want to conceive  on or be pregnant while taking.  And it's almost time to TTC again.  I really don't care if it says Category B in my drug book; one lost child and none of that matters.  And so on...  In my more reality-based frame of mind, I am betting I've got myself an ulcer.  I will hold off on my philosophical discussion of the things in my life that may have caused an ulcer until I officially have an ulcer.

The school year has fortunately been a lot gentler on me than last year was because between my health and Jerry being in North Dakota, other areas of my life have been a challenge to make it through.  I've just finished up midterm week and am taking a weekend off from studying because Jerry is finally home.  We went five weeks without seeing each other this time.  I was starting to forget what he looked like.  And we are both so sick of the phone.  I am so very glad to have him home, even though it's only for a few days.  I am halfway through the semester at school, and I have nearly the whole month of December off so we are getting through.  Just trying to soak up some time with my guy.  I even had the time to do a full-course, from-scratch dinner tonight.  The four-year-old doesn't really appreciate my culinary talents so it's nice to have the Man around. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Nursing School Update

Well...I've been very busy.  I am supposed to be finishing up a case study on a pregnant woman with rheumatoid arthritis today, but the words aren't coming to me easily.  As I advance through the levels of nursing school, the papers are getting more complicated and more difficult to organize on paper.  I am starting to really enjoy my clinicals this year; my instructor is wonderful and has really been making sure that we all get rotations that are in challenging environments. This week was in the Intensive Care Unit.  It was one of those perfect clinical days where the patient is wonderful and the care required is enough to keep you challenged and busy but not completely overwhelmed.  This patient was having respiratory issues and our advanced respiratory unit in class was relatively recent so everything was very applicable to what I was learning in school.  This never happens.  More often than not, I am reduced to saying, "Umm...we haven't covered that yet."  The patient also required several skills that I hadn't gotten to perform yet:  catheterization, IV medications, bipap mask.  I was thrilled with the entire day.  When I left my patient hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and his family told me I was going to be an awesome nurse.  My instructor also said she was pleased with how well I performed.  Since I normally feel like a clumsy idiot at clinicals, I would call this a good day.

Then yesterday, I had an extra rotation in a Nurse Midwife's office that was a lot of fun.  I spent the morning talking about infertility treatments with the midwife and finding fetal heart beats with a doppler.  I dipped urine samples and looked at them under microscopes and palpated pregnant uteruses.  I was very comfortable and although it wouldn't be my first choice for a job, I know I could do it and probably enjoy it.  I find that my experience with all things baby before nursing school helps me out in spades when it comes to rotations like this.  While other students are reading up, I just don't have to.  I had a great day, and was invited to come back, which is not required by either the nurses or the nurse midwife.  The nurse I had when I was pregnant with my daughter also works for this office now, but wasn't on shift.  I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to talk with her.

But the best news in the nursing school department by far is still to come.  My clinical instructor told all her students to send her an email detailing what we hoped to accomplish in clinicals this year and what our interests were for after graduation.  So I blabbed about some areas that I wanted to learn more about and then mentioned my interest in NICU nursing.  Just to clarify, nursing students in my area don't go to NICU.  The patients and parents are in extremely vulnerable and sensitive situations.  There is a huge risk for infection in preemies (a scenario I know all too well), and it is not an area to practice starting IVs or tube feedings or anything at all.  Nurses who work in NICU need to already be familiar with these procedures and need to be extra sensitive in very difficult situations.  So...that translates to no nursing students.  At all.  I was aware before starting school, of one nursing student who managed to get a preceptorship in the NICU at the end of clinicals.  All along this has been my ultimate goal, but I have been trying to reach out to other areas so that I have a backup plan.  On our first clinical, the instructor pulled me aside and inquired about my interest.  I explained that I was aiming for a NICU preceptorship and that I had gathered a few recommendations from two NICU nurses as well as the OB instructor from last year.  I told her it was absolutely what I wanted to do.  Well, she completely shocked me by saying that she would see what she could do.  She mentioned the former nursing student that I know who made it into NICU and it turns out, she taught that student's OB rotations back in the day.  After she dropped me off in the unit I was scheduled in, she went straight up to NICU to try to find out what I might be able to do.  She came back and said that she hadn't been able to talk with anyone who thought it was doable.  I thanked her for trying and told her I hadn't really been expecting to get in during clinicals anyway.  I was excited that she even went above and beyond the call of duty to inquire for me.  Rotations are scheduled in typical areas like Rehab, Orthopedics, Med Surg, Endoscopy, Labor and Delivery, and a few others.  If you are lucky, you might get some time in ICU.  It is certainly not required that one student's interests be followed up on.  Her job is to make sure I know the skills I need to know to pass my licensure exam next summer.  That's it.  So after this I already adored her.

However, I received an email several days later saying we needed to talk about NICU.  When I arrived at clinicals this week, she filled me in on what she had been doing.  She tracked down the nurse manager, explained my interest, highly recommended me, and mentioned the other staff that I knew might be willing to take me under their wing.  So the nurse manager went out of her way to draw up extra paperwork that would allow me to get in.  Then my instructor went to the director of my school and is having her draw up extra paperwork so that I can do as many rotations as possible on top of my clinicals.  I can drop one of my clinical days, but the rest of my rotations have to be on my own time.  I started to feel a little guilty for not disclosing my reasons for wanting to do NICU nursing so badly so she and I ended up having a really nice conversation about Matthew and the ways my experience with him can help me as a NICU nurse.'s looking like I will get to go to NICU while I'm still a nursing student.  I can only observe, but that was all I wanted to do anyway.  I have been excited all week long over this news.

I have other things to blab about but I also have a paper to write today.  If you have time, stop over at Band Back Together today for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day to check out the wall.  My Matthew is near the bottom of the list.  My thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of you as we continue on this journey together.

Also, have you seen Carly Marie's blog?  I stumbled upon it by shear accident and was so impressed with the work she is doing.  This wonderful lady is a baby loss mama who dedicates some of her time to remembrance pictures that are amazing.  She writes angel babies' names in the sand at the beach near her home and photographs them in the sunset.  I have one coming for Matthew and I am so excited!

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight"

Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I was having a considerably better day than I did yesterday.  I woke up feeling positive about going to class.  I had a very good lecture on newborn assessment, and since my favorite subject in the world is babies, preemies and NICU patients in particular, I was living large.  I always get a few wide-eyed stares from nursing students who don't know my story when we have baby lectures.  I came into nursing school with a much larger knowledge base on neonatal complications than the average person.  Ditto for the review session on ventilators following the baby class.  Great school day.  One of those days where I remember why I am going to nursing school and that I actually want to be doing this.

So...I thought I'd throw a monkey wrench into my serene mood.  I figured, "I know so much more about lab values and vent settings then I did back in 2006...why not break out Matthew's medical records and have a look?"  Right.  About 6 pages in I had deduced that I do, in fact, know much more medical jargon now.  And that no matter how many premature case studies I can plow through without batting an eye, my own case study still really wrecks me.  But wait, I had an even better idea.  Break out the DVD of Matthew in the NICU and his ultrasound footage and curl up with the Kiddo to watch it together.  Serenity successfully chased away by grief.  However, I believe I can watch ultrasound footage all day long.  I find it so soothing.  I have about 10 minutes of tape from Matthew's ultrasound but I have about 3 hours from the Kiddo's zillion ultrasounds.  I am contemplating combining them and playing the DVD as I fall asleep.  It would probably work better then the nature sounds.

I also have a rousing game of "Where's My Period?" going this week.  Let me know if you want to join in.

Mateo and Tobias via Etsy

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mom Moment of the Week (Possibly Year)

The Kiddo has been sleeping with me pretty much constantly since Jerry went to North Dakota.  For the last week or so she has been asking for glow sticks instead of a night light.  Since she usually just leaves them on her wrist, I have been giving them to her.  Last night she really didn't want to go to bed.  I give her a glow stick.  I am folding laundry and watching television when she wanders into the room saying, "My eye hurts."  Assuming this is a variation on the usual, "Mommy my tummy hurts" or "Mommy I need another hug" bedtime-avoidance tactic, I march her back to bed.  Well, I didn't need to turn on the bedroom light because as soon as we stepped into the darkness of the room I noticed that the entire bed was bathed in a green fluorescent glow.  I amend my voice from one of mild exasperation to one of frantic concern.  "Which eye did you say was hurting, baby?"  We spend the next 15 minutes flushing the eye under the bathroom faucet and with most of a bottle of saline while she screams.  When we are through she asks me for another glow stick.  It breaks my heart when I tell her "No" and her eyes fill up with tears.  She says, "Because I won't break it, Mommy."  As though I am mad at her!  Poor child.  She was treated to three extra bedtime stories and I was treated to a reality check on my common sense.  Or lack thereof.  Hope I've made you all feel like a better parent for the day.

I was pretty irritated at having to drag myself out of bed and go to class this morning.  I am trying to remind myself that after years--YEARS-- of struggle, I am finally going to be done.  There is an actual end in sight.  It seems like far away at this moment, but 7 more months in the grand scheme of things is doable.  I think I've been a little depressed because I may have to move to a really small town after graduation.  Small towns have no NICUs.  I like nursing, find all the medical aspects really interesting, but the truth is that the heart of why I'm doing this is so that I can do NICU.  And in the town I currently live in, I have a great shot at getting a NICU position right out of nursing school next spring.  A shot that I have worked my butt off to get.  But I can't stand to be away from Jerry, and the Kiddo misses him terribly, and we want to have another baby (I may have mentioned this baby obsession before).  So, the fact is, I may have to turn down my dream job offer to move to a tiny town and work in a nursing home or something.  That depresses me.  I am doing my best to just let go of the things I can't control and trust God that I will end up where I'm supposed to be.  

Fresh Words Market via Etsy

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Little Girl

This weekend I have had time to sit and be fascinated by my daughter.  I have always found it humorous that I can watch her for hours a day--sleeping, talking, laughing, playing.  I feel like every time I take my eyes off her for a second she is growing up.  She is ever the entertainer, concocting strange and complicated outfits to parade around in, corralling one of the dogs to be her horse, her goat, whatever pops into her head.  If I let a bad word fly out of my mouth she will inevitably find some inventive way of repeating it while exclaiming over something that happens on the cartoon she is watching.  She can no longer be trusted not to say something embarassing in public regarding someone's hair color, use of supplemental oxygen, nail polish, or general attire.  Trust me.  She is so wonderfully patient with me, much more so than I am with her sometimes. She refuses to learn to write her name, preferring instead to watch me beg and try to come up with creative ways to trick her into learning.  She loves princesses.  And fairies.  Together, she and I know all the Disney movies and nearly every princess type children's book that exists is on our bookshelf.  She loves to have her nails painted.  She thinks everything is funny.  When you are four years old, everything is part of a fairy tale.  I pray she gets to stay in it for awhile longer, this world where "bad" is clearly identifiable and no one ever truly dies.

Photograph by Racetay via Etsy

Photograph by Celtic Cat Photos via Etsy