Sunday, October 21, 2012

the unwritten rule.

... it's moments like these when I wish I could pick up the phone and say, "Hey, Ma! Can you please scan that picture of me when I was like eight + spent two days with all seventeen of my dolls in the hammock in our backyard?" ... because I know that picture existed once upon a time + it would be a great addition to this post... but you will just have to imagine me, freckled, tow-headed + sunburned, swinging between two trees with what looked like the fruits of my robbing-of-FAO-Schwartz labor...


Technically, I have been a NICU nurse for 4+ years but when I look back at my life, it's easy to see that I have been preparing for this profession long before I knew what a profession was. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the bed at my Baba's house in between two dolls with crocheted hats at the age of about two. I can't remember what Baba looked like but I vividly remember that the bedspread was electric blue + itchy. The dollies were dressed in pink and white. And I sat there for hours seeing how far I could tip their heads back before their eyelids flung shut.

I can't really remember a moment in my childhood when I didn't have a doll in tow... except that time in second grade when my mum ran an Alzheimer's home + one of her "clients" stole my doll in a freak lapse-of-memory accident where she thought it was her own + wouldn't give me "her daughter" back.... I can't recall if that crazy, old lady returned my baby doll but I continued to play with my other sixteen dolls long past when it was socially acceptable to continue to do so. 

Come to think of it, two Christmases ago, I found a box of old toys that somehow made it to a shelf in my sister's garage in Tennessee. Sifting quickly through + casually disregarding the expensive extensive collection of Gund stuffed animals, my heart nearly stopped when I discovered my set of twins that cried when you separated them at the bottom. If it wasn't for the {real} newborn baby inside, I probably would have stayed in the garage rocking + feeding my twin babies well through the new year...      {crickets.}

Growing up, I tried to find a way to incorporate babies in to all my free time. I would sit out at gymnastics practice to play with my coach's son in middle school. I babysat three nights a week in high school. I was a cuddler every Monday night my freshman year of college + I nannied the latter three years. Some have even called me "the baby whisperer."  

An old boyfriend used to tell me I had a "smile just for babies," one where my eyes lit up + it was externally written on my face that my heart was melting from the squishy goodness. Sitting across from him at dinner, he would ask, "Is there a baby behind me?"   "How did you know?!"   "You're doing again. Your I-see-a-cute-baby smile."

I nearly dropped out of nursing school every semester for 4 years declaring that if I had to step my Rainbow-clad foot in that chemistry lab or smell C. Difficile one more time, I would die... until I did my senior practicum in the neonatal intensive care unit and although it was well, intense, I had never felt more at home in my entire life. I was surrounded by newborn babies and with them came teeny, tiny accessories: microscopic clothing, preemie-sized blood pressure cuffs, the smallest little diapers you had ever seen. And it was about the time I learned the importance of finding a passion that I landed my dream job in a NICU on the other side of the country at Childrens Hospital LA. It was like my backyard transformed in to Hollywood, all the dolls in my hammock came to life + my happy place was now my "profession"...  

Turns in life courses, travel nursing and clinical settings have brought me to several NICUs in various regions of the country + outside the country, too... And within each NICU, I have learned that there are many ways to do the exact same thing. I've learned forty-seven ways to take a temperature, change a diaper and swaddle a baby. I've seen a gobjillion different isolettes, syringe pumps and charting systems. And although the end result is always the same regime to feed-grow-discharge-convalescing-preemie-home-with-loving-parents, it is never done exactly the same way...

Except one thing. There is one thing that cannot be taught or altered. You won't find it written in a protocol or in a a policy + procedure manual. It's an unwritten rule, only written in the hearts of every neonatal nurse. If a baby should pass away, it must do so in loving arms. Whether that be the arms of a parent, a nurse, a resident or a practitioner... No baby should die in an isolette or on a warmer no matter how many tubes he or she is hooked up to, not whether they are 1 pound or 10 pounds. Every baby is held as they take their last breath.  

I was recently reminded of this unwritten rule. In the final hour of my 5-day stretch, a baby was born with faulty DNA that was incompatible with life.  I stepped in to the the patient room right at shift change where the nurse providing "comfort care" handed off a beautifully bundled baby, whose every breath was getting gradually harder than the one taken before, to the oncoming nurse whose sole purpose for the next twelve hours would be to hold + love that fragile being in its final moments of life.

Leaving the hospital that evening, my eyes welled up with tears... but not with tears of sadness... tears of pride. I'm so incredibly proud of my profession. While I rarely write about my job as its impossible to put in to words just what I do for a living, I can assure you I have the best job in the world + I am insanely proud to be a neonatal nurse. I am beyond prideful of the work that we do in our tiny sterile bubble with the most fragile of patient populations. Being a NICU nurse is a large part of who I am... and most days, the only thing I am certain I am. With every challenge comes the greatest reward and with every heartbreak comes over-the-moon happiness. I'm not sure why I got to be so lucky to be given the passion of "loving on little miracles" but, ohmyword, am I happy it found me.  

rest peacefully, tiny angel + dance among the lucky stars for me. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

thankful.

family11 familygamenight familygn Today is the Canadian Thanksgiving and as all of my family gathered together over the weekend in cozy cabins to eat, drink + play games to no avail (it's just what we Davis' do), I Starbucks-hopped from Belltown to Madison Park to Uvillage ugly-crying when our Skype date ended doing schoolwork between shifts + pondering all the things I have to be thankful for...
cupofwisdom lilykins I am thankful for that weekend in June when I returned home for a lovely wedding. I spent every minute lost in conversation over a bottomless pot of coffee with grams, my mum, my cousins + aunties, and friendsthatarelikefamily. We stayed up long past when the little pips went to sleep, talking about the uncertainty of my future while simultaneously discovering a new appreciation for the present, in a the-good-ole-days-are-happening-now kind of way. family7of12 family6of12 family8I am thankful for getting to celebrate the second birthday of the light of my light in Tennessee the weekend before last... but even more thankful for getting to meet baby boy W. via ultrasound. He smiled + I cried tears of happiness... for there is truly nothing more incredible than hearing the heartbeat of a growing, healthy baby... and watching as my older sister proudly carries the most perfect little baby {#2} bump without reservation, for she has already bloomed {with ease} in to one amazing mama. 
family1of12 family2of12 I am thankful for the encouragement + support of my professors, believing in me when I doubted my abilities to finish strong in this last six months. I'm two-thirds of the way there and my confidence has been restored; the hard work will pay off. I re-enrolled this quarter + finally feel capable, again. It's an exhilarating feeling knowing your dreams are so close to coming to fruition... like if my life was a fairytale, this final stretch is akin to Cinderella's glass slipper fitting. If When the shoe fits...
kidsfest family13of14 I am thankful for the gorgeous autumnal weather that has taken over this town, turning the evergreen leaves various shades of red + yellow. The foliage is seriously spectacular this time of year... not to mention this October's absence of rain... replaced by the perfect temperature for wearing wooly sweaters, boots + tights and a sun that shines brightly on. Its the kind of weather that makes you feel warm + fuzzy inside, turning every day in to a good day just because it's a happy balance of sunny + cool. You know the kind.
family10of14 jenn
I am thankful for being able to find the beauty in a less-than-perfect ending to a one-and-only-time trial of "casual dating"... which came to me in the form of a beautiful friendship with someone I certainly would have never met if I wouldn't had agreed to go for drinks with her cousin's roommate... and now, six months later, I get to consider her a dear friend for life. And besides, although he may have been twenty-seven kinds of wrong for me, it was liberating to know that nearly two years after this day, I am able to open myself up to the idea of dating again... which has to be some kind of good measure of a healing heart. I may be taking baby steps in my glass slippers but I think my heart may have finally found its beat again.  
family12But mostlyI am thankful for having a little corner of the world that is so hard to say good-bye to... almost as hard as missing a Thanksgiving feast with my family... but good gracious, am I grateful to have been given the opportunity to get to know them, call them mine + will continue to love them like family from afar.