When I graduated from nursing school 2 months ago, I thought to myself, "Things are about to get so much easier. Only 3 days of work? 4 days off?! Amazing!"
Well, it hasn't been quite as easy as I thought. (You nurses are probably thinking, "Umm, of course not!") Yes, I only work 3 days (and more recently, only 2). But those days consist of 12 and a half hour shifts on my feet the entire time. Sure, I try my best to sit as much as possible - which, being 7 months pregnant, is obviously a good idea. I try to eat and drink throughout the day to make it a little easier, but the reality is that I work on a busy medical floor with up to 6 patients of my own at one time who might all need something at once: a bedpan, a breathing treatment, their anxiety meds. I'll be in one room all gowned up and up to my elbows in the middle of a procedure when the phone rings in my pocket letting me know that patients 2, 3, and 4 need me right away. It's a lot for this chronic people pleaser to handle.
All that to say, I'm on a sharp learning curve when it comes to prioritization - because it just can't all be done. At some point, too, I have to take a break. By law. So I try to get loose ends wrapped up as much as I can, and then I break. During that 30 minutes, anything could happen. But I have to choose to get away for a little while to eat and clear my head.
I guess why this all surprised me so much is that being a nursing student felt so different. During clinicals, you'd take vitals, do an assessment, have one or maybe two patients, and then try to look busy for hours on end. It was still exhausting, just in a different way. The bottom line: you really had no real responsibility. It all ultimately fell on the nurse, and I'm feeling the weight of that now.
Last week, my days on the floor were completely non-stop and one night, I came home sobbing - not because it was a horrible day - but I think more because I'm realizing just how hard this job really is. (I'm sure the exhaustion and the hormones didn't help.) Is it gratifying at times? Yes. Tough? Always. It worries me that if it's this tough at 7 months pregnant, how much harder will it be when I'm even further along? And then after the baby when I'm running on a few hours of interrupted sleep? With my midwife's permission, I plan to work as long as I can. I'm just realizing it's going to be quite a feat. Thankfully, my co-workers have been amazing at stepping in and helping where they can. It's just the nature of the job that's so tough whether you're pregnant or not.
On the way to work each morning, I've been listening to Michael O'Brien's "Be Still My Soul" CD, which a friend sent me a few months ago for the baby. I love this CD and highly recommend it, and it's been so good to hear hymns on my way to work that quiet my heart before a very busy day.
The lyrics of Be Still My Soul - one of my favorites - have been convicting and encouraging these past few weeks.
Be still, my soul. The Lord is on your side.
Do I really believe that? That He's on my side? That this never-ending work and exhaustion is not because I'm being punished, but that He loves me? That He's even brought me to this place?
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
It feels like there are so many changes at once right now. A new job, a new baby, a new season in our very busy home business.
Then later in the hymn, this line:
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
He not only stills the winds and the waves, He quiets my heart. I know that this physical and emotional exhaustion I feel is just a symptom of the state of my soul... I am so far from trusting Him that this path, this season, is the right thing. I'm often so far from really resting. He may guide me to make some changes in the near future - especially once baby comes - but right now, I rest in the fact that He's brought me to this place, at this time, for a purpose. Getting it out on paper helps remind me of His goodness.