“You Know What Causes That, Right?”

When I became pregnant with my first child I was constantly being offered comments of congratulations and well wishes from everyone I encountered. I was given multiple baby showers, words of encouragement, and plenty of advice. 

When I told everyone of the expectation of my second child I was offered congrats again, but perhaps on a lower level of excitement. I received a surprising number of “maybe this time it will be a boy” comments, and plenty of “bless your heart” condolences when people saw me pregnant with a toddler in tow. I was given an obligatory baby shower, for which I was grateful, but there certainly, and understandably wasn’t the fanfare I received with my first baby. 

With the recent announcement of my third pregnancy I have received a large number of well wishes sure, but I’ve also received a surprising number of folks in shock. There’s been a lot of wide-eyed “wows” as if I have made the decision to do something very exceptional with my reproductive freedoms. Of note, aside from the speechless faces and mouths agape, I’ve heard a particular phrase way more than I expected. 

“You do know what causes that, right?”

While I’m extremely easy going and always in favor of a good-humored jab I suppose this specific question hasn’t settled well in my mind. I’ve never wanted to be that overly sensitive person, but some forethought before speaking is something we all could practice. The question of whether I understand how babies are created seems to imply that my decision to make one wasn’t the most appropriate, or perhaps that it was even a mistake. 

The decision to have your first child is easily celebrated, and a second is understood as the desire to create the perfect nuclear family, but after that folks start getting nervous. Counting my stepchild we have three girls, and the idea of adding a fourth makes the masses heads spin. Or so it seems from questions asking me if I really meant to conceive another. 

In fact some people assume we’re just giving it a last ditch effort to get a boy, when in all reality we would jump with joy over another daughter. 

I even heard a rumor that we took our house off the market because we were getting a divorce, so perhaps some might infer this pregnancy as a desperate scheme to save an apparent, failing marriage. (I almost couldn’t write that part for laughing out loud at the absurdity).

Perhaps the reality is so hard to swallow, but here it is for all to know. 

We chose to have a fourth child. It wasn’t an accident, and we’re actually really excited. In fact we’re not even sure if this will be our last. 

We enjoy our children, and we believe they’re a blessing to our life. We like a big family, and we don’t mind making the sacrifices required to give each one the emotional and physical necessities they need to be happy and healthy kids. A big family is crazy, but we embrace the chaos and we adore the hectic lifestyle it includes. There’s nothing wrong with deciding to have a small family, just like there’s nothing wrong with deciding to not have children at all. It all comes down to what you personally desire, and that should be the end of it. 

As far as our growing family goes we promise we won’t ask you to babysit, pay hospital bills, or contribute to their college fund. So unless you’re really torn up about the carbon footprint we’re making a simple congrats will suffice.

The fact remains that as long as we feel we can provide financially, emotionally, and physically for our kids we’ll keep going until my uterus or God tells us to stop.

The bottom line is we like the way things are going in our growing family, and what we think is all that really matters in the end. It just so happens that we do know what causes it. But thanks for asking. 

  

My true, heartfelt thanks go to everyone who has supported our crazy journey. Thanks for joining us in this celebration of life. 

My Husband is Not the Man I Married!

  

You would assume a man over thirty would pretty much be who he’s going to be in life by that age, and you wouldn’t think someone could change so drastically in just five short years. Yet here I am, married to a man who is not the same one I stood on the altar with half a decade ago. I’m not sure I ever could have imagined he’d become like he has. 

And now here we are expecting our third child together. I can’t even imagine what the future holds in that regard. 

I knew that having kids would change things, but I don’t suppose you can ever truly know what it will be like until you actually go through the fire that is first-time parenthood. I’m still dumbfounded over how our relationship changed after our daughter was born. And then we went and did it again two years later. 

So when I woke up this morning I was exhausted. Like bone tired. It wasn’t just the twelve hour shifts at work, although I knew that played a major role. It was the parenting gig too that drained me. Little people needed me when I came home from my job, and the tiny one growing inside me was already starting to sap me dry. 

That’s how it was with kids. They took so much out of you that very little was left behind. 

When I woke up exhausted I quickly said a prayer for strength for my day, and I hauled my weary body from the bed. My husband wasn’t there as usual. It was one of those changes that had come with the second baby, and it didn’t even surprise me anymore to see his vacant side of the bed when I got up for work. 

Indeed I knew where I would find him, and my hunch was confirmed when I walked outside our room. I spotted him straight away slumbering on a pallet on the living room floor with two young ladies sleeping beside him. He used to always sleep curled up beside me, but that had changed. 

As I stood in the hot shower spray mentally preparing for my day I thought of the man my husband had become since we wed. He was now the kind of man who took nighttime child care when I had to get up at 5 a.m. The kind of man who slept comfortably on a makeshift bed in the floor while our daughters kicked him in the side. 

He had become the kind of man who delighted in his daughters, who took time to laugh with them and play. He had always been pretty amazing before, but something about becoming a father to our girls had blossomed uncharted territory within his man heart. The strong, compassionate partner he had developed into was quite the sight to behold. 

He had always been a caring spouse to me, never short with his outpouring of affection, but through the trials of raising children and working I had seen his love for me magnify in the face of sacrifice. He had changed into the kind of partner that I couldn’t fathom doing life without, and I don’t think in my wildest dreams I ever could have imagined how an already strong marriage could be cemented into such a solid relationship via the changes time, parenthood, and the good Lord had brought. 

When it was time for me to go I kissed my sweet family goodbye, and before my husband went back to our bed for a bit more sleep he held me in his arms. 

“I’ll miss you.” He whispered into my neck.  

I hugged him tighter, the father of my children, the husband I loved, the man who continued to change every day becoming more caring and self-sacrificing than the fella I first married. 

I didn’t want to let go, and I only eventually parted from our embrace with thoughts of the time we would spend together that night after children slept. 

It was true, we had both changed after we married, but one thing that remained true was our commitment of love to one another. It would never be altered by the stresses of childrearing; it would only be deepened and transformed to something greater over time. 

When You Can’t Nurse Your Patient Back to Health

It doesn’t happen too often in my critical care setting that I’m not on my guard, on high alert, and fighting for the life and well-being of my patient. I’m typically intervening and working to make a person better, and I think sometimes when a nurse isn’t actively striving for improvement they may feel a little helpless themselves. After all, that’s what nurses do. They make people better. Our goal is to leave our patients better than we found them. 

But sometimes we don’t. Because sometimes we can’t. 

On this particular day that I speak of I was assigned a patient who had been made comfort measures only. In other words, somewhere along the line after he had been transferred to intensive care for aggressive treatment of his life threatening condition it was determined that he would not get better no matter the actions taken by the medical team. Through difficult conversation the patient’s family had determined that no fight was left in him. They only desired a pain-free remainder of his existence. They had accepted that his disease process was chronic and unchangable. Now they just wanted peace for him. 

It was hard on family, and it was also difficult for nursing for although they too understood the futility of continued treatment now they had to suddenly switch gears from one of aggressive action to a more subdued observational mode. 

I don’t usually see these types of patients much anymore, and even this case was awaiting a transfer to a VIP room on a Medsurg floor where the family could have more room and the freedom to come and go as they pleased without restriction. But until then I waited with my normally busy hands clasped. I listened to his lungs and heart even though I would do little based on what I heard. I charted against a vast array of medications by mouth that the patient was too lethargic to swallow, and I watched him closely for signs of pain. 

Mostly I just watched. I watched his blood pressure go down. 

But somewhere that morning before he left my busy unit I was reminded of my role in his continued care. I had one; it just wasn’t solely with him. 

As I sat motionless watching his monitor from my desk, and watching him use accessory muscles to breathe his wife walked up to my side. I nodded hello, and in my brief assessment of her I noticed the dark circles and blood red eyes from too many tears shed over the past twenty-four hours. 

I sat and I watched her touch his brow. She watched his monitor, and again she stroked his puffy arm. He slept on. 

Finally she came outside the room to where I sat watching, and she began to ask questions. I realized they were questions she already knew the answer to, but I responded kindly and thoroughly anyway. And it was then that I understood she just needed to talk. She needed someone to hear her and respond back. He slept on. 

Her voice shook, the words became more incoherent, and tears that had been an intermittent trickle were suddenly full force rivers. I stood listening, nodding, smiling politely when suddenly she collapsed on my chest. Tears poured, her body racked, and I was instinctively rubbing her back. 

I spoke softly, soothingly, offering prayers and encouragement that she was doing the right thing. I held her until she let go, and even then she still held a piece of my heart. 

I went in search of tissues as I wanted to be doing something to help, and as I grabbed for a box in the empty supply room I noticed the large wet spot on my scrubs. A pool of her tears darkened the soft fabric, and I knew that I had done something after all. 

As a previous Hospice Nurse I should have realized it sooner, but it seems that it had escaped me, albeit briefly. The job provided by a nurse goes beyond the immediate bedside intervention, and even in the moments where we may feel helpless to provide appropriate care we are performing just what’s needed for the time. 

When we cannot care for a patient as we typically do we are still providing a great service. Even if we’re not alleviating pain or providing comfort to the patient we are giving it to the family. We are offering spiritual support, a shoulder to cry on, a warm hug, or a listening ear. Sometimes that’s what’s needed most. 

We can’t always nurse our patient back to health, but we can nurse them whatever their health. We can’t always improve the outcome of their illness, but we can improve the circumstances of their situation. The fact is we can always do something, even when we don’t think we can. 

  

Gary Waters/Getty Images

When I Realized Morning Sickness Was Awesome

The first trimester of pregnancy is known for its vast presentation of varying symptoms that let the expectant mother know she is carrying a baby. I don’t know about those women on the show “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant,” because for me there is never a doubt. 

Almost immediately I am confronted with fatigue, sore gums, a stuffy nose, and a fuzzy mind. Sometimes sore muscles and insomnia start right away. They certainly have this time around. 

  

One of my least favorite symptoms of pregnancy is nausea. For me it’s never been just morning sickness, but has been lunch time sickness, dinner sickness, and especially bedtime sickness. I’ve always been the kind of girl that would opt for a cold for two weeks over one day of a stomach virus. I hate feeling like I’m going to hurl. But I find myself actually embracing that feeling of nausea lately. 

Shortly after discovering I was with child I found out a friend of mine was expecting too, but it wasn’t with a joyful heart that she shared the news. Instead she sought my prayers for her new baby’s safety, and she told me of her positive pregnancy test while waiting to be seen in the ER. 

I prayed, and I awaited an update. I absently rubbed my flat tummy that hadn’t even begun to swell, and I noticed the nausea I felt under the surface of my other emotions. 

I still felt nauseated a couple of hours later when she called me back with the news. 

“I lost it.” She said. And my mommy heart hurt for her. 

But still I felt nauseated. 

Somewhere inside me a baby was growing, and for that I felt my morning sickness. Even though it was late afternoon. 

That next day I had driven down the wet streets, a temporary lull in the constant rain allowed me to see clearly through my windshield. I hated the rain. 

As I looked at the roadside quickly passing I realized a change had come in my surroundings. Somewhere in the midst of all that annoying rain the trees had blossomed into a brilliant green. They stood tall, vibrant, even as the remaining drops of so much water fell from their boughs. 

My eyes surveyed the grand, majestic scene of green, and my hand touched my stomach in prayer. I still felt nauseated, and that was good. It was awesome in fact. The morning sickness, the fatigue, my aching gums, they all reminded me of the wonderful happenings inside my womb. 

Nothing great occurs without some measure of sacrifice. Most opportunity and growth is proceeded by the uncomfortable, the inconvenient, or the misunderstood. Even if I couldn’t see why pain proceeded blessing it made it no less of a blessing to me. 

As I thought of my friend’s loss I felt so sad for her, but I also felt shame for wishing my symptoms away. They were mine. My reminder of great things in store, and that somehow changed my whole outlook. I could handle whatever the next couple of trimesters sent my way. 

I watched the towering trees of green waving me on my way, I touched my belly, and I felt nauseated. And that was fine. 

Why I’m Not Afraid of Life in My Small Town

  

When I was five years old I lived in Los Angeles, California. We didn’t have a lot of money then, and though I didn’t notice it at the time, I’ve since come to realize that we lived in a bad part of town. 

Our apartments were a block away from motorcycle bars and a 7-11 that got robbed on a weekly basis. I was too young to be afraid for my life, per se, but I did carry a sense of caution. I remember seeing authorities discover a body wrapped in a rug out by a dumpster while I walked to kindergarten, and my mom made sure to enlist a measure of fear in me with tales of the “Puppy Dog Killer,” a serial kidnapper who lured unsuspecting children into his vehicle under the ruse of a dog stuck under the passenger seat. 

All this to say that I have been outside of small town living. Even within the past ten years I lived right outside the Metro D.C. area, and I probably wouldn’t suggest walking there or Baltimore after dark. I was a sexual assault victim interventionist while stationed there, and I shudder at some of the stories I heard. I’ve lived in Chicago, and I’ve visited places like Manhattan. And while the crime rate of these places was high, I don’t recall hearing people discuss their fear of leaving their homes. 

When I moved back down South after a decade in big cities I was in shock. It was so different! But in a good way. It felt like home. It felt like a tight-knit area with a grand sense of community, and though folks probably knew more about your business than you cared for them to know, it was cool to be known. It was cool to be cared about. I felt safe. 

Recently there have been reports of criminal activity in my small town. There’s always been a bit here and there, but it has seemed like more lately. Recent violence and subsequent deaths have left people uneasy, and I can understand that. 

Small towns have always been pretty good at getting news out. Word of mouth travels as the crow flies, and although it’s usually pretty convoluted by the time it gets from point A to point B, it typically dies down by week’s end. Southern folks don’t put much stock in rare occurrences of violence gone wrong, and they tend to lean more on their own understanding of how life should be lived. How they want to teach their family to live. That sense of community stays strong, people band together, and solutions are made. That’s why I love the South. 

The typical place to hear gossip used to be while getting your hair done at the local salon, while waiting on a prescription at the mom and pop drug store, or as you sat for coffee at the diner downtown. Now it’s social media. Information travels faster. The correct story is received, but sadly so is false information. But what spreads faster than a link to the actual news story is fear. Fear spreads like wildfire. Always has. Now it just has the accelerant of social networking sites. 

I’ve seen a lot of violence in my short thirty-seven years, and I’ve been halfway across the world and back, but that exposure to big city crime isn’t what makes me shake my head lately over proclamations of fear made by others. And though I believe in my heart that our wonderful small town is still a great place to live it’s not that certainty that pushes me to still take my children to the park. Even as I stand in support and pride of our local law enforcement and all their hard work it’s not that specifically that sets my heart and mind at ease. 

When you allow the bad to keep you from doing good you might as well crawl under a rock. When you surrender to the fear of violence and bullies you become a victim unaware. When you hide in your supposed fortress of safety you are letting evil win. When you allow fear of circumstances beyond your control to in essence have control of your emotional stability then you have lost. You will never be safe. 

I work for a boss who controls the streets, and He also controls my life. He gives me wisdom to not place myself or my family in dangerous circumstances, but He doesn’t give me a spirit of fear. He protects me and mine when my own wisdom fails me, and I place my complete trust in Him alone. Not circumstances, especially not those I cannot change. 

It is human nature to be afraid, but it is also possible to trust in a power higher than yourself. And in that there is peace. 

We can stand up in courage that our God is in control. We can band together in strength of mind, unity of spirit, and heartfelt prayer and intercession for our fine city. We can be repairers of the breach. 

Isaiah 58:12

Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

If you want my opinion I still think we live in a great city. I feel happy, safe, and blessed to raise a family here. When pesky trouble tries to rock my boat I won’t let it. I know where I have come out of, and I know where God has placed me now. I trust Him in that. It’s a good place. A safe place. And as a side note I certainly haven’t seen a body rolled up in a rug lately. 

7 Ways to Sabotage Your Relationship Before It Even Starts  

The content and title of this post woke me this morning, and as the idea of it pulled me from my sleep I knew it was something I must write today. Am I an expert on relationships? Certainly not. And although I am now very happily married I wasn’t always. In fact, if I’m an expert on anything then it’s on messing up relationships. 

It’s true. I have been in more broken, unhealthy, and doomed to failure relationships than I would like to admit. I have been dead set in the past on doing things the wrong way, and I’ve even sabotaged many a relationship before it ever started. 

Most people, whether they want to admit it or not, are looking for a solid relationship. They desire to spend quality time with someone they can connect with on many levels. They want to enjoy life with a partner by their side, and that’s not an unrealistic expectation. But sometimes our desire to be loved can cloud the issue. It can complicate the process and sabotage the relationship before it’s even started. 

Here are seven mistakes I have made. 

1. Base your self worth on a relationship. You are not single, and you’re not that person in a happy relationship either. You are you, and you are you regardless of your relationship status. Being with someone else doesn’t elevate your person any more than being alone lessons it. 

The very simple fact is that you must first love yourself before you can love anyone else, and if you are somehow basing your importance and value as a person on whether or not another human views you as special and worthy of spending time with then you are very mistaken. You will always fall flat and end up disappointed eventually. 

A relationship doesn’t make you special; you just are. Wait for someone who can see that. 

2. Let your happiness rest on it. So just as your opinion of self shouldn’t be based on your relationship or lack thereof, you also shouldn’t base your contentment on a relationship. The thing is that while relationships are really wonderful they aren’t the be-all end-all of life. In other words a romantic partnership shouldn’t be the foundation for your life’s purpose and joy. If it is then you will end up hurt much of the time. 

People are imperfect, and they will often times unknowingly hurt you. There is no such thing as the perfect match or a marriage without disagreement. Life has disappointment and strife, and that’s a fact. So if you’re throwing all your motivation for an elevated mood into a human relationship then you are setting yourself up for failure. 

I’m so happy in my marriage, but that’s not what is the underlying force behind my vigor for life. It helps make every day better, but it’s not what my emotional well-being is made up of. 

3. Sink all your energy into finding it. You see it often, the media is all over it. Romance novels and movies spin its sweet tale. Even the church tells you it is so. The one is out there. Your future love is out there just waiting for your two hearts to collide, and who wouldn’t get excited about that, right?

There’s a reason arranged marriages didn’t hang in there through time. Love can’t be forced, and time cannot bend to fit your will. You will never make something work that’s not meant to be, and you will never find something until it’s ready to be found. 

Sometimes life has to make you into the person you need to be for your future spouse, and rushing the process will only leave you with a half-finished work of much needed refining. Trust me on this one. I met my spouse and fell in love with him at nineteen. We didn’t get married until a decade later, and when I imagine the kind of wife I would have been back then I’m really grateful for the wait. 

Forcing a relationship, or especially pouring all your energy into something that’s not going to happen is only going to leave you completely deflated. And most likely wounded from fully pursuing that right relationship, or the relationship at the right time. 

4. Give love because you’re seeking love. It’s a lot easier for me to see this in myself in retrospect. I believe that an absent biological father who gave me up so easily left a hole in my life. Somehow his rejection left me seeking affirmation of my worth, and I sought it in my future relationships. 

I wanted to be loved, and while I think we’re made that way and on a certain level it’s okay, I do believe it can be manipulated into something unhealthy at times. It comes back to loving yourself, and most importantly knowing that you are loved by God above. 

You cannot fill the emptiness in your soul in any other way than by a relationship with The Lord, but so many of us spend a lifetime trying. We desire love, and therefore we seek to love someone else so that they may reciprocate that emotion. But we should give love as a gift because He gave it to us, not with the motivation of an emotional trade-off to fill an emptiness we hold inside. 

5. Base it on physical attraction. Chemistry is a good thing, and physical attraction is needed for a relationship, but it’s just one of the many factors involved. It certainly shouldn’t be the selling point. 

Point is looks fade. Muscles waste, breasts sag, and wrinkles show up on your wrinkles. If you get together with a hottie expecting them to stay that way you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. True love is based on more than outward appearance. It’s a matter of the heart. I find my husband incredibly attractive physically, but I think his heart is his most beautiful quality.

6. Use your physical attributes to seal the deal. Oh Lord, if I only knew then what I know now. 

You will never make someone commit to you by using your body. You will get attention when you show extra flesh, but it will never be the right attention. It certainly won’t be sustainable attention. A head easily turned can be turned again. 

Giving your body away as a prize doesn’t make you more valuable; it actually lessons your worth, especially if it’s given repeatedly to multiple people. There’s not really anything special to humankind about something so many have enjoyed in such an intimate way. 

So what’s  left after you’ve used your body to no avail? A broken heart, a wounded spirit, and a diminished view of self worth. Remember that any person who loves you for your heart will be willing to wait for you. 

7. Being unequally yoked. I once was a missionary, and while on the mission field I had a teacher speak to us on dating. He said this was the only place we didn’t need to be missionaries. On the dating field. 

Dating isn’t a charity project, and it’s not like bringing a puppy home from the shelter. You can’t fix someone, and you certainly can’t change them. No amount of love that you pour out on a person will make them who you need them to be, and it certainly won’t make them see things like you do. Just don’t even try. Save yourself the heartache. If it’s meant to be then God can handle the ‘changing people’s hearts’ part. 

Above all I would suggest staying in prayerful consideration for your future or present relationship. Listen to that small, still voice inside your heart, and it will lead you in the direction you need to go. It may not always be the path you want right that minute, but it’s always the lengthy one that you can walk for a lifetime. 

They say anything worth doing is worth doing well. And I agree you shouldn’t settle for second best. Sometimes you have to wait to find the prize that’s meant for your heart. You can’t give up on love, but you can take your time and value yourself highly in the process. 

Don’t let a relationship define you, but allow God to use the right one to refine you. 

  

Why You Shouldn’t Deal With Your Problems

Have you ever met someone who has a really hard time dealing with their problems? I know that I have. They’re the type of people who treat issues like building blocks, and instead of resolving a particular problem they allow it to stack upon itself. No situation is ever really dealt with, so instead of just trying to handle one thing they end up feeling overwhelmed by the looming hugeness of successive horrible circumstances that must be faced. Eventually it all comes tumbling down crushing the person in the aftermath. 

Sometimes people do deal with their problems. They deal with them by covering them over with a false sense of resolution. In the past I chose to drink my problems away, and always found a welcoming numbness that could be induced by an alcohol haze. Sure the problem returned in the morning, along with a lingering headache, but for a brief time I might feel soothed. Or I would end up a weepy, drunk mess, chain smoking in my garage. 

Even now I have a tendency to foul it up. When something goes wrong I might be the first to jump into a fix-it mode. I immediately begin racking my brain for what I can do to resolve a problem. The issue with this lies in how many circumstances arise that are utterly and completely outside of my control. 

When conflict arises I may reach for my phone eager to spurt my anger, frustration, or grief into a listening ear. When a close family member doesn’t answer I might even resort to spilling my hurt feelings across my Facebook newsfeed. 

They say you can never resolve conflict until you face it, and that your problems will never go away until you deal with them. And while I agree that we shouldn’t stack our problems upon one another, just letting our grief add up, or that we can’t cover them with our addiction of choice, I also feel like we are naive to think we can deal with it. 

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

We cannot face all of life’s issues on our own, and though we may try, the truth is that eventually it proves to be too much for our narrow shoulders to bear. We become crushed under the weight of grief, guilt, pain, disappointment, or even condemnation that comes from the enemy. We are force-fed that we must be strong to survive this world, but the hard truth is that we are weak. Eventually everyone breaks. 

  

 

You cannot deal with your problems. But you can surrender your life to Jesus. You can hand your problems over to God admitting your own inability to control all of life’s circumstances on your strength alone. You can pray to Him in humble admittance of your inability to solve it all yourself. 

It’s easy to let issues pile upon one another, and it’s more comfortable to cover them up. It’s human nature to fix our issues independently, or even to seek consolation from our fellow man. But broken hearts can only truly be healed by the Holy Spirit, and circumstances that are spinning out of control can only be stayed by the mighty hand of The Lord. 

Forget what the world has taught you. You can’t deal with your problems, and you shouldn’t try. At least not on your own. And while God loves an eager heart willing to come to a resolution of conflict or ready to begin healing from past pain, what He desires most is our surrender to His sovereign hand. Allow Him to have your problems as that’s the only way you can really deal with them at all. 

An Open Letter to the Nurse Manager

Dear Sir or Madam,

I’m writing you this little correspondence in regards to that sticky situation that occurs when you walk onto my unit before I am aware. In that instance when I am sprawled out in a rolling chair with the back reclined, a Diet Coke in hand you will walk unexpectedly around the corner. You will see me laughing, and perhaps almost be infected yourself by my jovial chuckle. But in this particular moment you will be quite certain that I am in fact doing nothing. You will assume that I am performing the carnal sin of nursing by not actually doing a thing. 

Well, I must be honest with you. At the moment, the truth is… I am doing nothing. You will have caught me red-handed doing zilch. 

In that moment of discovery of my apparent boredom you will be inspired to find me something with which to occupy my mind. But before you do I thought I would explain the part you do not see. 

Here’s the rest of the story. 

What you may not know is what transpired over the past eight hours prior to my eventual sit down. I’m honestly surprised I can even muster the strength to sip my caffeinated beverage after the misery three quarters of my shift has presented. 

When you see me sitting at the nurse’s station you will not know that I have been fighting all day. Not fighting with my coworkers, as they are the best sweet assistance I have in times of trouble. No, I’ve been fighting for life. 

I’ve been fighting to keep a confused patient experiencing DTs from climbing out of the bed. I’ve been fighting to secure her airway, and fighting to maintain her heart rate and blood pressure to numbers more compatible with life. 

I’ve been fighting to maintain my composure for my patient’s family as I explain in moments of serious stress what are the best options for their mom right now. I’ve been fighting not to cry as I hold an emotional daughter. I know that I can cry later, but certainly not when life-saving interventions are my top priority. After all, I’m fighting to keep mom around. 

I’ve been fighting my own emotions as the continued stress of hour after hour of chaos mixed with nursing skills are performed over and over, and over. I fight the urge to not breakdown as more and more is demanded of me to keep my patient at the level of care she needs to be, and the worry over if I’m doing everything right tries to crush me. 

What if I make a mistake in all this rush? Indeed I’ve been fighting time. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of it despite the realistic length of twelve hours. 

I’ve been fighting the urge to walk away at my most frazzled moment, but I think we both know I could never do that. There’s no way I could leave my patient in their hour of need. Or anytime for that matter. 

So what you cannot see when you see me laughing is that I’m doing that so I will not cry. I’m doing that to combat the emotional and physical unraveling of the past eight hours so that I will not completely fade away. My spontaneous joy is battling against fatigue, burnout, and stress. I’m fighting to keep my love for my job. Because honestly, some days you really have to fight. 

But I understand that you may not see that. You will see me sitting, and that is all you’ll see. You will be unable to fathom how my day has gone thus far, and in your understandable blindness to my frayed nerves you will be unable to allow me that moment of much needed rest. Instead you will feel obligated to keep me busy. 

So while I understand chart audits, follow up phone calls, and tidying the unit are important tasks I will ask that this one time you just let it slide. After all, though I look relaxed for the moment we both know that it’s only the calm before the next storm. 

Please allow me that brief time on dry land before I am thrown back into the raging sea. 

Sincerely,

Your Exhausted Nurse

  

I Want to Grow Old With You

I remember when I was a young kid I thought people in their twenties were like full-fledged grown-ups. When I was a teenager I was certain forty was ancient, and even in my twenties I figured you were knocking on death’s door after 65. I tried not to think about life after fifty as I was certain such a depressing thought would only crush my youthful spirit. I didn’t want to grow old. 

I’ll be honest. I still don’t want to get older, but what’s “old” has certainly changed in my book. The way I felt pregnant after age thirty-five certainly seemed old, yet after seeing another baby’s puffy, wrinkled face I felt like the joy of it added twenty years to my life. Regardless I realize that I am aging, and I’m aware that I cannot stop the hands of time. 

I found myself recently praying for my spouse, and aside from petitions for his safety I also asked for his good health. As I prayed for the physical body of my husband I was interrupted by thoughts of his own frailty. Our frailty. After all in reality our bodies will only last so long on this earth, and I knew that eventually they would play out. That was life; it was also death. 

But as I thought of the very real aging of my spouse I realized I wasn’t done with him yet. Not even close. I need him around for a long time yet, Lord. Keep him healthy for me, please. 

I had never looked forward to aging, and the thought of growing into an elderly status with my spouse wasn’t usually on the forefront of my mind. But at that moment I thought, I want to grow old with you. 

I had watched with an unexpected tender affection as his thick salt and pepper hair turned more and more salty. I ran my fingers through it adoringly as I gazed at the crinkling crow’s feet that planted more deeply around his eyes after each day. They spoke to me of the intensity with which he looked out for our family, much as the ones around his mouth implied years worth of hearty laughter. 

His mid-section had softened over the years, much like my own, but still no place felt quite like home than those moments when I laid my head upon his chest. His muscles had less definition that I remembered at nineteen, but I never felt more safe and secure than I did when I found myself in his strong embrace. 

And as I contemplated life without my best partner by my side I knew that was an existence I could not fathom in the least. My desire then was for more years, more time, more of this wonderful life we shared together. More than I wanted it, I knew I needed it. I needed to grow old with him. 

I never knew that one day I would look forward fondly with thoughts of aging, but there it was. Somehow a life well lived had shown me that age can’t interfere with greatness. No amount of time, weak bones, or failing eyesight could take away from the joy felt over spending a lifetime with my love. 

If I never knew before, I knew then. My heart prayed for him, and as I prayed it spoke the truth of our intertwined souls. 

I want to grow old with you. 

I can’t imagine not growing old with you. 

  

I Would Do It All Over Again. 

I watch you sometimes when you’re unaware. Occasionally you even catch me, and then you’ll give me that look, raised eyebrow, lopsided smirk. You have no idea. You have no idea what I see. 

I think about the wait for your arrival, and I remember all the thoughts I had as you grew inside me. Naturally there was excitement, and there was also trepidation over what kind of mother I would be, but then there was that underlying, constant concern. It was always there, even when I wasn’t consciously thinking about it. 

I worried about you. I worried about that tiny baby I could not see. I worried if you were growing like you were supposed to, and though I trusted God for your life I still took about a billion pregnancy tests that first month just to make sure you were still in there somewhere. 

It was crazy. All that worry for nothing. But there it was anyway. 

When I wasn’t worrying, I was crying. I cried over stuff I didn’t know I could cry about. Happy, beautiful moments of celebration suddenly made me weepy. 

I watched the scale numbers go up, and I guess that was about the only thing I didn’t cry about. I just wanted you fat and healthy. 

I watched my nose spread, my hips spread, and then even my feet spread! I hung over the commode, and when I wasn’t laying head first over that porcelain bowl I was sitting on it again to relieve my never-empty bladder. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sit, and it hurt to stand. My bosom swelled, and so did my belly; a dark line painted by God swept across my blossoming middle. 

You kicked so hard, but that was probably the only thing about the whole nine months that was truly enjoyable. It reminded me you were okay, that you were strong, feisty, and getting ready to meet me. 

After your birth I wondered when I would feel right again, and though those aches and pains in my muscles slowly subsided over the next month, the emotional ups and downs never went back to the way things once were. Not that I had time to think about my hormonal instability. 

No, I was too concerned with you to worry about me. Were you eating enough? Were you peeing and pooping enough? Were you growing enough? Did all babies wake every two hours all night long?! Was that a cough?! So many questions. 

We made it though. We made it through the colic, the gas pains, and even teething. We made it through the terrible twos, and also the throes of the threenager. And through all the questions, whether the hundreds asked by you, or the pleading ones I begged of myself, the answer was always the same. It still is. 

I would do it all over again. 

I look at you, and I see the best thing that ever came from me. I look at you, and all the questions I may have of “if I’m good enough” seem to pale in the shadow of how good I did when I made you. Everything I have ever dreamed to be, or everything I have imagined I could achieve reaches culmination when I gaze at your lovely face. I would do it all over again. In a heartbeat. 

No matter the struggles we have faced in the past, or the struggles that lie ahead in our future, I am certain of one thing. I was made for this. I was made for you, and you were made for me. And no matter how hard certain aspects have been, or how difficult some days seem I know this one thing with absolute certainty. 

Baby, I would do it all over again.