There are so many times I’ve heard someone say how great it must be to “only” work 3 days a week. I usually smile and nod and lie through my teeth: yes, it’s great having 4 days off every week. But 12-hour shifts are usually 14-hour shifts, and the work that we do as nurses is physically and emotionally demanding, draining us every shift of every last ounce of energy. Our coworkers end up being an extension of our family, we secretly share the same struggles. And I don’t remember the last time I only worked three days in one week. When you get the call at five in the morning that the next shift is short, that there’s this many people in labor (and only this many nurses), it’s hard to say no because you hope that someone would come in if you were the one working and begging for help.
My favorite time of day is 9pm. The kids are asleep, and I get to spend a couple of hours with my husband. I don’t care if I work the next day or if it’s my fourth day in a row…I will stay up with him as long as possible, fighting off sleep and tiptoeing around the house in an attempt to not wake the kids. If my husband asks if I want some wine, he’ll ask while he’s already pouring my glass. Yes, I want wine! And yes, I want to watch another episode of The Good Wife! I don’t care if I have to get up early. I don’t care if I still haven’t washed my favorite pair of scrubs. And I don’t care if it’s almost midnight. I will continue to yawn and ignore how heavy my eyes feel…and I will enjoy every second I have sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing, except drinking red wine and asking my husband to tend to my needs — more wine please 😉
Work is like a dance. We try to please our patients, we try to please their families, and we try to please our providers, our coworkers, and our boss. From the moment we step onto our unit, we are in a constant state of movement. We are constantly trying to take care of those around us. And by the time we leave work, our feet are swollen from hours and hours of standing. Our backs ache from hours and hours of bending and pushing and pulling. Sometimes our hearts are so full from the beauty all around us, beauty that pulls us back to work day after day. And other times our hearts are heavy, our thoughts still with our patients hours after we are home with our own families.
So to tell you the truth, it’s hard working 12, 13, sometimes 14 hours a day. We rotate holidays and all bring a dish when we work Thanksgiving Day. Or the Super Bowl. Or Labor Day 🙂 We groan when we pick up the phone at 5 in the morning, but usually, we will still reach for our scrubs and come in when we’re needed because that’s what we do for each other. And sometimes we leave work exhausted and sometimes we leave work crying—but when we leave, we always walk out together. So even though we work crazy hours and we do crazy things, and our job is not always birth and babies and happy tears, I guess our work schedule isn’t so bad because we work with such amazing people. And I may not have an ounce of energy left in my body, but I will stay up late tonight. And when I get up early and go to work again tomorrow, at least I know who I’ll be dancing with 🙂
Until my next delivery ❤