I have been a nurse for six years now, working with several different types of patients, and had never really found the type of nursing I wanted to stay with for my future. I had never even considered Maternal and Infant Health before I had our first daughter, Charlie, but my birth experience was so wonderful that it changed my mind. Every once in a while the idea crept up in my mind, but I would shoot it down, since it had never been a dream of mine. Finally, in the middle of my 3 losses, I decided to put forth effort in changing career paths and heading towards Maternal and Infant Health.
As I said, this was right in the middle of my losses. When I first started applying for positions, I had lost our second pregnancy just weeks prior. I hadn’t told many people I was looking to change positions for several reasons, one being they may think I am obsessing of babies. I actually had a long talk with my husband about whether or not this was a wise choice for not only where I wanted my career to go in the future, but also for my mental health. At that point I still could not talk about my losses without crying, how could I possibly surround myself my new mothers, fathers and babies, while nursing this void in my soul. Was I obsessing over wanting a baby? Was this my way of putting a band-aide over my wounds, and pretending to move forward? I thought about it non-stop, and was really worried about switching departments for the wrong reasons.
When I finally had an interview, and learned I got the job, I was so ecstatic and thrilled to start. I had many long term goals for my career, and there was no doubt that this is where I needed to be. I had more discussions with my husband about knowing there may be some pretty rough days for me emotionally. It is not always going to be easy to see these new families so happy, knowing that it may not happen for my own family again. What I also had to come to terms with was being the one who provides care for a mother in the midst of loss. Could I handle that? Although I had no idea how I would do, I decided I would take every experience as it came, and just do the best I could.
Before I started working on the postpartum unit, I found out I was pregnant with our Rainbow, Evan. What a mix of emotions, even trying to distract myself with work from all of the anxiety that comes along with a pregnancy after loss, I was surrounded by not only newborns, but families going through my worst fear. Some days can be a lot to handle as a postpartum nurse, and being pregnant after multiple miscarriages does not ease up the emotional toll. I was reassured time and time again though, as I would hold the newborns I was caring for and my baby inside my belly continuously kicked, as if she was jealous.
My future goals are always changing, and I feel like I am the best nurse I can be when I can truly empathize with my patients. My long term goal when I made the change to the Postpartum Unit was to eventually become a Lactation Consultant, but as my own life grows and I am able to grieve the way I need to, I feel that maybe my calling is to find a way to work with families going through pregnancy and infant loss. I have patients every day who have suffered from a loss. Some of them talk about it, some of the time it never comes up. Even when it doesn’t come up, I am able to empathize with how emotionally tolling this birth experience has been for them. When their loss does come up in conversation, I am able to let them know that as the nurse taking care of them during such a special time in their life, I know exactly how they feel, as I have experienced loss too. When it does happen and I am taking care of a family who will be leaving the hospital with only a water jug, peri bottle and an empty car seat, I am able to share things that helped me during my grieving process, and let them know there is a lot of support out there.
Pregnancy and infant loss are life changing. Sometimes that bleeds over into other areas of our life, and for me it has changed my career. Not only am I striving to end the miscarriage taboo, I have been trying to help with Grief Support Groups, as well as write these articles for the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Community. My life has become very transparent regarding my losses, all in hopes of helping others grieve in a healthy way, let them know that it is nothing to be ashamed of, and to express to them that they are not alone. You are never alone.