my first day on the job, going in for my first C-section
It's been a month since I started my new job as a Labor and Delivery nurse. The first two weeks were hospital training classes, so they don't really count. My first day on the floor was terribly overwhelming. I watched in awe as the nurses handled every task with ease and wisdom. They have so much responsibility, and as I quickly learned, things can change so unexpectedly with a patient. They are always ready. And I just felt like a complete and utter blubbering fool. At the end of twelve long hours, I got into my car and sobbed.
I cried out things like, "I'm too old to learn all of this. I'll never know it all. What was I thinking?"
The second day on the job my patient had an eclamptic seizure and we had to do a crash C-section. She never even had elevated blood pressures or any signs of pre-eclampsia. I was in the room with my preceptor when it happened and it was the most terrified I think I've ever been. From the time of the seizure to getting her into the OR, calling a doctor in, an anesthesiologist in, and all the prep for surgery, to the time that the baby was out was 4 minutes. FOUR. I was really shaken up. When it was over and both mom and baby were stable and in postpartum, the charge nurse sent my preceptor and me out of the unit to get some fresh air. That's when my preceptor confessed she'd never seen a seizure before. And though pre-eclampsia is not all that rare, full blown eclampsia is. And yet, she handled the whole thing like a complete pro.
I cried the second day after work too. Just as a release of emotions.
Each day I go in, I muster my courage. There is SO much to learn. I am trying my best, but I confess that I have never felt so inadequate in all my life. The other nurses reassure me that I'll get it. Everyone feels this way in the beginning, they say. It takes a year or two to even feel slightly confident. I guess that's good to know, but it's also really hard to feel so new. So inexperienced. I have to learn everything from what and where the equipment and supplies are, to how to do many different procedures, to how to learn the computer charting system and proper documentation (that alone is so intimidating), to the personalities and preferences of the doctors, to, oh yeah, everything there is to know about pregnancy, labor, and birth.
I feel like I'm learning so much slower than the other new hires. Maybe I'm not, I don't know, but that's the way it feels. It's scary, being the one in authority with real people who are counting on you, looking to you, during the most important event in their lives, or worse, during the most terrifying or heartbreaking time.
I sing Hilary Weeks' new song "Brave" as my anthem: "You are brave, you are brave. Let your brave come through, let it define you. You were meant to be brave." Right now I have the safety net of a preceptor. I do some watching, some helping, and some doing. Each day I do less watching and more doing. In the not-too-far-distant future, I will have to be on my own, and it feels like I'll never be ready, but it's got to happen. I'm trying to let my brave come through.
I have not found a flow for my schedule yet. On top of my regular three shifts, I have had several other training classes to attend, plus I also have a lot of textbook reading to do, and tests to take. I got my Newborn Resuscitation certification last week. But right now, I feel like I'm either at work, or getting ready to go to work, making sure everything is set for the kids when I leave early and come home late. I'm sure a rhythm will come, but probably not anytime soon.
In all of my stress and self-doubt and fear, I also feel supremely grateful though. I love being on the unit. I love the nurses I work with. I love the administration. I love the hospital. I love the work itself (and will love it more when I know what I'm doing!) I am so grateful to have this job, and I know how lucky I am. I can see tiny bits of progress and I hold to that, and each day I feel a bit more confident, a bit more brave.