Really upset, bad shift last night

  1. I'm sure all of you have had at least a few shifts during your time in the NICU that made you just want to chuck it all, the kind of shift that ends with you, in your car, crying too hard to even drive home.

    You all know I love my job. LOVE IT. I can't imagine ever LEAVING it. Maybe the hospital someday, but never neonatal. NEVER.

    But, damn it, there are days when it becomes too much to bear. The immense responsibility that comes with this job is something that is always on my mind. Usually, I'm very proud of my work and the babies do pretty well in the end.

    I just had one of those shifts...post-op gut baby...gasses sucked...vitals going downhill...looked bad...got worse...finally started to crump as I reported off to the next shift RN. I just feel so guilty, like I failed the baby and its family. Why hadn't I pushed for more labs, more meds, more intervention? The doctors were up all night long, often at the bedside, and I was constantly talking to them, but maybe I wasn't saying the right things? I keep trying to figure out what I did wrong. Maybe if I had not cared for that baby and someone else had, it would be doing much better right now. If only I had not worked last night, would things be different? Or would they just be the same, but I wouldn't feel so awful, so guilty, so heartbroken. I keep kicking myself and just can't believe it was all hitting the fan within minutes of me signing off to the next nurse.

    I love this job, but sometimes I just wonder what in the world I can be thinking by working where I do. Being a Wal-Mart greeter sounds pretty good right about now. You turn your back for a second and someone has to grab their own cart - no biggie. As a NICU nurse, you overlook tiny things here and there and a baby can die on you. Why am I doing this?!?!?!?

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  2. 32 Comments

  3. by   Jolie
    Why am I doing this?!?!?!?

    [/QUOTE]

    You are doing this because it is the only thing that has ever interested you. Because it fascinates you. Because you can't imagine going to work and not pouring out your heart, soul, knowledge, and abilities for some tiny infant and family who NEED you.

    But we all must remember that there are lives too tiny and too fragile to be repaired on this Earth. That only God can make whole.

    Please take care of yourself!
  4. by   military spouse
    I'm sorry you had a bad night! Isn't it great to vent to people that understand!
  5. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Sorry you had such an awful night- I've been there, tho not in NICU.

    Guilt just seems to come with the package in nursing.

    I think all experienced nurses have had a pt go south on them right after reporting off. You can't help but feel guilty.

    The docs were there all noc you said, I'm sure they're not beating themselves up over this.

    I had a hospice pt die on me right as I was giving him his routine sc mso4. Of course that didn't cause his death, but you know how I felt about it? About as bad as you are feeling now.

    I'm with ya. (((((((hug)))))))
    Last edit by Hellllllo Nurse on Sep 21, '05
  6. by   rn/writer
    Quote from Gompers
    I'm sure all of you have had at least a few shifts during your time in the NICU that made you just want to chuck it all, the kind of shift that ends with you, in your car, crying too hard to even drive home.

    You all know I love my job. LOVE IT. I can't imagine ever LEAVING it. Maybe the hospital someday, but never neonatal. NEVER.

    But, damn it, there are days when it becomes too much to bear. The immense responsibility that comes with this job is something that is always on my mind. Usually, I'm very proud of my work and the babies do pretty well in the end.

    I just had one of those shifts...post-op gut baby...gasses sucked...vitals going downhill...looked bad...got worse...finally started to crump as I reported off to the next shift RN. I just feel so guilty, like I failed the baby and its family. Why hadn't I pushed for more labs, more meds, more intervention? The doctors were up all night long, often at the bedside, and I was constantly talking to them, but maybe I wasn't saying the right things? I keep trying to figure out what I did wrong. Maybe if I had not cared for that baby and someone else had, it would be doing much better right now. If only I had not worked last night, would things be different? Or would they just be the same, but I wouldn't feel so awful, so guilty, so heartbroken. I keep kicking myself and just can't believe it was all hitting the fan within minutes of me signing off to the next nurse.

    I love this job, but sometimes I just wonder what in the world I can be thinking by working where I do. Being a Wal-Mart greeter sounds pretty good right about now. You turn your back for a second and someone has to grab their own cart - no biggie. As a NICU nurse, you overlook tiny things here and there and a baby can die on you. Why am I doing this?!?!?!?

    We live in a fallen world where little lives don't always get a fair shake. Working in a NICU, I'm sure you know that better than most.

    Here are a few things that came to mind as I read your post.

    Post-op gut baby There are no guarantees with NEC and sucky gases and dropping vitals tend to point the direction this kiddo was headed.

    Docs up all night, often at bedside. It isn't as if you withheld information, just that the information itself didn't give much to work with. If the docs pulled everything out of their bag of tricks and it still didn't help, what more do you think could have been done?

    Why hadn't I pushed for more labs, more meds, more intervention? Maybe because in your heart of hearts, you knew those things wouldn't have made much difference except to stress the baby more.

    Many years ago, an entire schoolbus full of kids was hijacked and the kids were hidden in a semi trailer that had been buried underground. The truck had ventilation and basic supplies but it was still very frightening. All the kids were rescued unharmed, but one of the lingering effects was a wierd form of guilt where some of the kids kept going over and over ways they might have prevented the kidnapping, or, barring that, have gotten away and gone for help. What counselors finally figured out was that this re-running of the various scenarios was a way of staving off the knowledge of their absolute inability to do anything. Period. It was more tolerable to feel guilty (I had the power, I just didn't use it properly) than to admit they were at the mercy of their captors and their circumstances.

    False guilt comes from the illusion of having control. Sounds like you gave thorough and dedicated care to a poor wee babe whose body didn't have any margin left. It may be easier in the short run to feel responsible rather than helpless, but unless you can point to a specific lapse (and not just general and universal hypotheticals), you might have to make your peace with powerlessness.

    I'm so sorry you're hurting.

    Go with God,
  7. by   iceNICUnurse
    ((((((Big Hug)))))

    Belive me I have been there too. Dont beet yourself up about this I am pretty sure that you did everything you could for this baby!
  8. by   sparkyRN
    I know exactly how you feel. We like to be in control, to have the answer for every problem that pops up. It's frustrating and maddening when we can't make things better. Don't beat yourself up. All you can do is try your very best.
  9. by   suzanne4
    Hugs to you.

    Remember that you did everything that you could. Unfortunatley, not all babies and not all adults can be saved. Even with the best equipment, the best nurses, and the best doctors...........and children for that matter.

    You did all that you could and you should be proud of that.
  10. by   Mimi2RN
    Sorry you had such a bad night. We can all second guess what we have done, but you did your best, and that's what counts. Those docs are probably feeling the same way you do.

    Some babies are meant to go with the angels, we just prolong their lives. Sometimes it's a blessing, as their parents get to know them, sometimes that's the curse.

    ((((Hugs to you)))

    mimi
  11. by   Spidey's mom
    ((((((hugs)))))))


    We've got a new little one being born by cesarean as I type . . . . been trying to get here since last night.

    I don't know what you are going through as we send all really sick babies down the mountain. But I agree, you did what you could.

    Rest easy.

    steph
  12. by   prmenrs
    [font=impact] ((((((gompers)))))))

    :flowersfo :icon_hug:


    sometimes we do the best we can and god has other plans. i know you did a great job. we're not always "in charge" of the outcome. trust yourself. put some mellow music on, take a nice warm shower, have a glass of wine or a cup of tea, cry if you want, then get some sleep. let go.
  13. by   rainbows4me
    You express my own feelings/thoughts/sadness/upset of this week. I hope you find some peace and comfort.

    Big hug for you....

    Rainbows
  14. by   sddlnscp
    Gompers, you have a huge heart and it shines through in your posts. I can't imagine the heartbreak you are feeling right now (although, someday I imagine I will know just how you feel), but I do feel for you. You have done the best that you possibly could, and in the end, that is all that anybody can do. Please don't give up, your love of those tiny little babies is needed! If you were not caring and compassionate, then maybe you shouldn't be there, but obviously you care and you love your patients, so don't give up. Cry as much as you need to, sob all you want, and then, get up and go back to work and help another baby to live. ((((((((HUGS!!!)))))))))

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