Four weeks into my senior year of nursing school, I peed on a pregnancy test and my life changed forever. I spent the next nine months battling morning sickness, trying to stay awake in class, and on more than one occasion, throwing up in a hospital room while my patient looked the other way.
I graduated with my BSN on May 10 and delivered my first daughter May 17, and wiped my brow in relief for the best-timed unplanned pregnancy I could have asked for. With student loans to pay back and oh, yeah, a new human to provide for, I immediately set out to land a secure job as a nurse.
Because I was a crazy first-time mother and had major issues leaving my daughter (I know, I know), I convinced my husband to come with me to take my NCLEX (the licensing test for nurses) and the fact that I knew my baby was screaming in the car with him helped me pass that darn thing with my postpartum mush brain. It was probably the stupidest and best thing I could have done, but I passed and set up an interview for a job on a step-down cardiac care unit.
Which was exciting, but then not so exciting when I came down with a case of mastitis so severe I had to be hospitalized on the same day as my interview and my potential manager swept into my room to chat with me, hospital-gown clad and unwashed hair and all. Mortifying.
Somehow though, I got the job and worked the next six years of my life as a nurse, in everything from cardiac and geriatric care, to my personal favorite: labor and delivery. And shockingly enough, all of that time spent caring for other people as a nurse also prepared me for the other important role in my life — being a mom. Here are eight reasons why:
1. You never get to pee.
A wise nurse once said, “Never pass up the opportunity to pee,” and I can’t even begin to tell you how very true those words are. Thirteen-hour shifts, unpredictable patient loads, and non-stop running helped produce the iron-steeled bladder of a nurse in me that came in very handy through four pregnancies.
2. You have people constantly being rude to you even when you’re trying to help them.
I’ve had red and orange Jello flung in my face, insults hurled at me, and even a few punches thrown my way — all from the patients I was hired to care for. I learned to never take it personally, of course, a lesson that I would revisit time and time again with toddlers. Do they not realize that we are on their team and pants are not exactly devices of torture?!
3. You have to deal with doctors who don’t always know what the hell they are talking about.
Sorry, but it’s the truth. Some doctors are saints and some are just flawed human beings who make mistakes, but as a nurse and as a mother, they are part of life and it’s best to learn from the get-go how to trust your gut and be professional and courteous, but also stick to your guns.
4. You are constantly getting other people’s bodily fluids on you.
Only nurses and mothers can clean up vomit, wipe up poop, and discuss vaginal secretions — all before eating lunch.
5. You force a smile on your face even in the most trying of times.
You don’t have time to freak out. You have to remain calm, because if you don’t, it’s all going to break down.
6. You triage all major decisions.
Feed the baby or change the toddler’s diaper? Start Pitocin or assess the lady who says her water just broke? There’s only one of you and it’s all about priorities, baby.
7. You pretend you’re not exhausted even when you are.
“No, ma’am, it’s perfectly normal to do a C-section at 3 am and I feel absolutely fine!” “Sure, honey, let me fetch you a glass of water for the 500th time and lay next to your bed until you fall asleep, I’m happy to do that.” Lies, all lies.
8. Nakedness just doesn’t phase you.
Eh, you’ve seen one butt, you’ve seen them all. Although let’s be clear — my babies’ butts are definitely a lot cuter than anyone else’s.