Monday, April 30, 2012

The Profession of Nursing meets The Profession of Motherhood

I'm used to working 12 hour shifts. I'm a nurse on a medical floor in a hospital. For those of you that don't know, that means that for 12-13 hours a day I am on my feet with an occasional chance to sit; it means I run at times to keep someone from falling or getting out of bed, I run to grab a crash cart, I run just to stay on top of my ever-growing list of medications that need to be given, dressings that need to be changed, patients who need education on their condition, documentation that needs to be completed, patients who need to go to a procedure, etc. It also means that when I get home from all that running and finally sit down with my feet up I don't want to move again. Yes, I am exhausted by the time my shift is over. But I have been given the opportunity to touch the lives of people I might never have come in contact with otherwise. I have been given an opportunity to show compassion to those the world may want to avoid - the alcoholic who is admitted again for detox and liver failure, the homeless and uninsured man who hasn't taken his medication or seen a doctor in months because he can't afford it, and those are are just generally unpleasant and miserable especially when they're ill. And when I start to feel the frustration and bitterness when taking care of these patients I try to remember Jesus' words "whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me" (Matt. 25:45). 

I often say now that I am only a "part-time" nurse now since once TLO joined our family I am only working 1 day a week. But that's really not true. You can't be a nurse part-time. Once you have the knowledge and skills, you are always a nurse. A few years ago my husband and I were on a ferry between Scotland and Northern Ireland when a call came over the intercom asking for a medical professional to assist a passenger in distress. I remember looking at my husband and asking "am I still a nurse here?" Yes, I responded and you can read my version of this interesting experience here. And then last year I was called upon for a similar situation while on a plane, my version of that is here. Vacation, land, air or sea, a nurse is a nurse is a nurse. I pledged in the Nightingale Pledge to "practice my profession faithfully" and that's what I'll continue to do.

Although I don't get "shifts" as a mother, I generally am "on-duty" for 12 hours a day and "on-call" the other 12. Yes, I am blessed - TLO has slept 10-12 hours a night since she was about 4 months old. So I consider those hours my "on-call" time. I'm on-call if she needs me, otherwise I get quiet time, a good night's sleep, and time with my husband. My "on-duty" time as a mom doesn't leave me with swollen ankles, aching feet or a bursting bladder like my nursing profession does. Instead, it leaves me with stained shirts, finger-printed glasses and pureed green beans in my hair. It doesn't leave me with the ache of wondering if I did everything I could to comfort and support my patient. It leaves me with a smile, a laugh and an amazement at how much change happens in a child in such a short time. It doesn't require me to document everything that was done throughout the day, every intake and output, every action or conversation and doesn't follow the "if it wasn't documented it wasn't done" rule that we live by in nursing. Instead, it gives me the opportunity to document in photographs and video the moments I want to remember forever and be able to share with family and friends. But while nursing is my profession, my job, my calling, motherhood is my gift from God. "Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him" (Psalm 127:3)

So I am a full-time nurse, full-time mom and full-time amazingly blessed child of God. If it weren't for the last part of that sentence I would feel a little overwhelmed. But God gives me the strength to do everything I need to do. "I can do all this through Him who gives me strength" (Phil.. 4:13).

I prayed to God to find my calling and He answered with the profession of nursing. I prayed to God to be the mother to a child who needed me and He granted all that I asked of Him...and so much more!

Thank You Father for allowing me to be Your hands, Your feet, Your servant. Thank You for allowing me to serve others in the profession of nursing and help me to remember my purpose and  calling when I grumble about my job and have a bad day or difficult patients to care for. Help me also to remember that You have given me the gift of motherhood and the great responsibility that goes with it. Give me the strength to know that while I can't be all things to all people, I can be a good nurse, mother and blessed child of Yours without becoming overwhelmed. Amen.

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