The pregnant nurse.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

These days at the hospital, the very moment I walk into the patient's room with a cinched maternity scrub top and a bit of a waddle, it's as if I'm holding a sign that says, "Does anyone here have some baby advice to share? I'd love to hear!"

I've been collecting my patients' stellar advice for the past few weeks and thought I'd share it here. (By no means am I offended by any of this - most if it just makes me laugh, and sometimes shudder. My growing belly is definitely an easy conversation starter!)

"For a girl, you should name her Harriet. I've always loved that name. And for a boy, how about Frank? It's such a strong name."
"The baby's heartbeat is in the 140s? It's definitely a little girl. Boys would be in the 110s."
"The heart rate is in the 140s? It must be a boy. Girls are always higher."
"Wow, it looks like you've only gained weight in your belly! Well, and maybe your face."
"You definitely want a little boy. Girls are too much drama. You just wait for the teen years!"
"Babies are a gift from God and it doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl as long as it's healthy." (This is one of the few comments I've actually responded to... because I've heard it So. Many. Times. I just politely say, "Well, even if it's not healthy, it's still such a gift and we will love and nurture it no matter what.")
"Are you really planning to work after the baby? Two kids is one thing, but three? Three is a whole different ballgame."
"You're carrying so high! It must be a little girl."
"Wow, you sure are carrying low. It's a boy."
"You're having your third? What are you trying to do, start a basketball team?!"
"You're only halfway there? You sure you aren't carrying twins?"
"You're 22 weeks? You're so tiny! Is the doctor concerned?"
"Oh, let someone else empty my urinal. You're pregnant! Go put your feet up."
And possibly the most disturbing advice of all... "Just make sure you have a C-section. My daughter walked into the hospital at 40 weeks pregnant and they asked her, 'Do you want a C-section?' And she said, 'Yes.' I kid you not, 45 minutes later the baby was out and bathed and being wheeled down the hall and my daughter didn't feel a bit of pain. She said to me, 'Ma! I can't feel anything from my neck down! It's amazing!' It's 2017, you know? You shouldn't have to be in pain just to have a baby."

So in case anyone asks (and they sometimes do):
I'm 22 weeks along. I'm measuring big, but I promise - it's not twins. We aren't finding out the gender, but if I had to guess, I think it's a boy because of the lower heart rate and the way I'm carrying. I'm craving sweets and citrus, just like I did with Liam. Yes, I'm planning to work after I give birth. Not only is it financially necessary but I love being a nurse, and I think it actually makes me a better mom. And whether or not it's healthy, this baby is a gift. We are so thankful He has blessed us with a third little life, and we are so excited!

Lately, in pictures

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A second birthday for our spunky Lanie Lou. A family birthday party. A growing baby. A visit from dear out-of-town friends. This winter has been flying and I've been doing my best to keep the camera handy for precious moments like these. 

Tiny seeds.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A couple days ago, the February day felt more like May, and our neighbors invited Liam to jump on their trampoline with their 10-year-old daughter. We watched as they jumped for a while, then sat in the middle of the trampoline and chatted in the sun. When Liam came home, he sat down for lunch and nonchalantly told us, "That girl doesn't believe in God."

The way he said it seemed factual and nonjudgmental, so I casually asked him how he knew.

"Well," he responded, "I knew I wanted her to go to heaven and so I asked if she believes in God. She said no, so I told her that God loves all people and he loves her and he can do miracles."

As I've thought about what he said and the boldness he had in saying it, I'm tempted to attribute it to the running dialogue we have in our house about our King Jesus. But the bigger part of me realizes that only the Holy Spirit could prompt a 4-year-old heart to care for another child's soul enough to speak up. I see the gift of evangelism beginning to grow in him. Liam often prays that Lanie would know Jesus someday, and he's eager to share his faith with strangers and friends alike. I couldn't possibly "teach" him to do these things with joy. It's obvious this prompting is straight from Jesus.

The other night in the car, we were headed to a friend's house when Liam jumped into telling me the entire Gospel message from beginning to end. Some of his insights were astounding, and things I know we've never specifically taught. He said, "Mommy, they put a crown of thorns on him even though they should have given him a real crown... they didn't know that he was the real King." And after he finished the Story - as mascara ran down my face - he said, "When Jesus was dying on the cross, I fink he knew that he would make Liam Newby and would send me out into the world and would make me believe."

I've prayed so adamantly that this would be the year that Liam discovers Jesus as his true Friend and Savior and I'm watching God brilliantly answer that prayer. Don't get me wrong - he's still a four-year-old boy. He loves all "poop"-related words and thinks it's hilarious to taunt his little sister. But I'm seeing these tiny seeds that we've planted and prayed would grow begin to bear fruit, and it is the greatest joy to have a front row seat to the beginning of his walk with God.

Behind me, before me, with me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Some days, when I walk into my house after a long day at work, Liam sweetly asks, "Mommy, how were fings at the hos-a-pital today?" It's an innocent question. I should probably just respond, "They were good, buddy. How was your day?" But some nights I walk in carrying so much weight, and it's difficult to translate to 4-year-old speak.

If I could say what was on my mind, I would talk about the hospice patient who died alone because his estranged daughter refused to visit in his last moments. I would talk of the way he gripped my hand and stared at the wall blankly before his eyes closed forever. I might mention the woman who came into the ER with a stomach ache and would leave the hospital with a terminal cancer diagnosis. How her husband wept at the news. I might even mention the dementia patient who was fully convinced she was a famous politician's wife, and how it kept a smile on our faces. Or the way another's illness brought his grown children and grandchildren into town for the first time in years.

There's a heaviness that comes with working in the medical field that only others in the medical field can really identify with. It's as if this sacred space - the convergence of life and death - can hardly be discussed outside hospital walls with well-meaning family and friends because it's just too much to grasp. And recounting a day in my life as a nurse probably makes my job seem thoroughly depressing, which it's not. It's peppered with plenty of hilarious moments, often involving bodily fluids. (They're usually just funny after the fact.)

Transitioning from the hospital back into my real life can be tricky. I often fall into bed past midnight and wake up just after 7am to toddlers asking for blueberry waffles. Images from the night before haven't left me, and I'm shocked awake a few hours later to the stunning joy of my life with my family. I remember during clinical in nursing school, I would walk out of the trauma unit and cross the street toward my car, passing a playground full of giggling children and smiling teachers. Did they have no idea that just across the street, someone was being pronounced brain dead? That another was just receiving news that his son had died? I found it hard - and still do - to break back into "normal" life, chatting about potty training and meal planning on the playground with other moms after what I've witnessed the night before.

There are days I wish my feet didn't have to carry me rooms so devoid of hope. Then there are other days I know for certain the Lord has led me there with great purpose. People lying on their death beds usually have big questions, and some have looked me square in the eye and asked, "There's something different about you - what is it?" It's there I can look right back at them and say, "The difference is Jesus Christ. He is everything to me: my joy, my peace, my hope for salvation in this very dark world." I never quite know how those tiny seeds will grow, or if they've fallen on rocky soil. But I'm reassured in that moment that God is so near, I am so unworthy of him, and he has called me to this very moment.

If you're thinking about becoming a nurse and this all sounds unimaginably heavy, let me encourage you. It's a lot like I've found motherhood to be: hard, but extraordinarily rewarding. When you see a patient recover from an illness that should have cost her life, you rejoice. When your coworkers rally around you on an especially hard day, there's nothing like it. It's a ministry like few others in being so hands-on and practical. Each day I throw the stethoscope around my neck and walk off the elevator, I have no idea the challenges and the joys ahead. What I do know is that Christ goes behind me, before me, and is with me even in the darkest places.
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