Should I?

  1. 2
    I gave birth to a son 9 years ago to the day. He was a 25 weeker and didn't make it past 12 days.

    The nurses at MGH are more than half of the reason I am pursuing nursing. I have busted my ass to get here. I have sacrificed everything, even at the expense of my other kids. I want to be a nurse. I am going to be a nurse. I am going to be the BEST nurse that I can be.Those NICU nurses were and continue to be my greatest inspiration.

    I really want to work in the NICU. I know I am biased. I also know it's probably not a good idea for me. I still want to, though. I want to be there to take care of other people's precious babies. I've long ago come to terms with my own loss. I am not bitter about it. I want to help other people bring their babies home. I think that my experience/bias is a good thing in this type of situation.

    Do any of you have ideas for me? Where I can apply my passion without compromising patient care? I want to help people. I especially want to help moms that were in the same dark place I was after I lost my baby.

    To me, being a nurse is a multi-faceted job. I never want to deny the part of myself that feels empathy for my patient. I also never want to deny the part of myself that identifies with my patients. I realize that I am walking a thin line. Aren't we all?
    lindarn and Bortaz, RN like this.
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  4. 4
    First, I am so sorry for your loss

    We have several nurses who had babies in not only our NICU but others. I think it does give them an insight we can't even begin to understand. Go for it ! But keep in mind, you may have a hard time separating from moms who are having a similar route as you had and you have to be able to cope with it. One of our nurses had to transfer after she delivered a 23 weeker...she and her husband opted to not do anything and let the baby go. She had a VERY hard time caring for those babies and seeing what they go thru. It hurt her heart. She went to another unit and blossomed yet again. Good luck in what you decide!!!

    We have a bereavement committee, I am sure most NICUs do, that may be something you could help with.
    fiveofpeep, GrnTea, lindarn, and 1 other like this.
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    I too am sorry for your loss but I don't see why working in NICU wouldn't be good for you if that's what you want. You personal experience can could a LOT for working in NICU - your testimony so to speak can be used to help others who are facing the same or similar circumstances. If you get into it and find it's too much, then transfer but if your gut is telling you to go into that area - do it.
    nrsang97 and lindarn like this.
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    I took care of my mom after an accident left her with a traumatic brain injury. That's what made me want to pursue nursing. The nurses who worked with her were amazing and my mom made an almost complete recovery (with TBI, there are almost always lingering effects). That was my inspiration to pursue nursing. I now work in rehab, helping people recover from serious injuries and surgery. I find I can sympathize with my patients and families because I understand how difficult the recovery process really is.
    While I don't have NICU experience and can't say for sure, I think you'd be an asset to a NICU. You understand the anxiety of new parents of critically ill babies, and the pain of grief should the worst happen. You've walked in their shoes, and that will be motivation to give the best care you possibly can for those kiddos.
    You may want to talk to somebody to make sure you're ready to handle deaths before you decide for sure. I imagine that might be a very difficult experience for you, and could open up old wounds. But I think taking the experience you had with the nurses who took care of your little one and paying it forward is a heartwarming idea. Good luck!
    lindarn likes this.
  7. 4
    I've seen it go both ways ... sometimes, it works ... sometimes it doesn't. Some moms of former NICU patients can separate their personal experiences and reactions as a NICU mom and provide excellent care. However, some moms bring too much "baggage" to the situation and it interfers with the care they provide. For example, some moms mistakenly assume that every NICU mother feels the same way she did ... or needs the same kind of care she needed. In reality, that is not true - and every patient deserves to be treated as a separate individual with unique needs. Some former NICU moms re-live their pain when events at work are too similar to what they experienced as a patient -- and that becomes a problem. Other people don't have that problem.

    None of us here can assess whether you can sufficiently separate YOUR personal experience from the experiences of the patients you may encounter as a NICU nurse. You may need to try it a little and see for yourself.

    Perhaps it would help you to remember what it felt like when you were a patient in the NICU -- and imagine how it would have felt if a nurse had wrongly assumed she knew how you felt or what you needed just because she once had a child there as a patient -- and that nurse gave you inappropriate care because of her wrong assumptions. You would not have liked that. If you can keep that in mind -- it may help you to avoid making that mistake should you decide to pursue a NICU career.

    Good luck to you ... whatever you decide.
    rnkaytee, Bortaz, RN, prmenrs, and 1 other like this.
  8. 3
    I lost a 13 year old son to cancer. I was POSITIVE I wanted to work in oncology, BMT and palliative care.

    What I found was that I had a very hard time with it not being about me. I internalized and personalized far too much. I stumbled through how much to share of my own journey (nobody wants to hear of an outcome that ends in "and he died so I became a nurse" when they are facing a similar circumstance). I struggled with watching families make different choices than I did. I struggled with sorrow, grief and PTSD. I struggled.

    Ultimately I let go of that dream. I was inspired by my son's journey and his nurses. They still inspire me. I did become a nurse. For me, it became obvious I was drawn to cancer, palliative, BMT, etc because it was familiar to me. I felt at home there because it had been my home and it drew me to the last two years of my son's life. It felt like I would be closer to him. But somehow all it did for me was underline that he is gone, I can't go back and that these people need the very best care they can get. Care that is about THEM completely, not about me in any sense of the word, not clouded by my sorrow, my memories, my grief. Not put in a place where all the nursing reactions are hyper reactive and tinged with just the slightest note of hysteria. I came to recognize this in myself and after agonizing reflection had to bring myself to believe my son would "forgive" me for going a different route. It was an incredibly hard, painful decision. It felt like I was walking away from him. After all, I became a nurse to honor him. I grieved. I grieved his death anew and I grieved the change in my intended path. It was one of the strongest and best things I have ever done and is probably the greatest example of patient advocacy I could give if I were to ever want to share it aloud. I needed to get myself into a place where I was able to help more objectively. I wasn't doing them the good they deserved and I was slowly torturing myself.

    So here is my advice.

    If you can make it about them, not you....if you can keep from flashbacks, renewed sorrow, renewed debility...if you can get past your memories and not feel implied guilt or implied judgment in the choices of others that are different than yours were...if you can separate your emotional self from your loss and your journey with your baby while you are at work, then yes. You can make it work. But if you can't, you may find yourself in a difficult place, as I did, and have to rethink your plans. People change. Journeys change. I get stronger every day (he has been gone 7 years now) and perhaps in time I would be able to be that nurse. But I'm not now and I am fairly certain that by the time I could, I won't want to or feel the need to anymore. That was a hard won realization. I was in a real identity crisis for a while.

    Only you can know ......and chances are you won't know until you are in school, learning about the things that lead to your child's death, until you are at the side of the basinet looking at a baby that looks so much like yours did... until you find yourself alone at the end of a hard day and unable to separate from it. You may or may not find you will have to re-evaluate. And that process can be painful. Don't run from being a nurse, But do start giving yourself permission to change your mind if it is too much and prepare yourself from the very start to always be as painfully honest with yourself as you can as to how you are doing emotionally. Leave yourself open to other specialties.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your little angel. I hope you find purpose and peace in this path, as I did. I love being a nurse. I am a different one than I thought I would be, and that, as it turns out, is really, really okay.
    Last edit by not.done.yet on Aug 28, '13
    juan de la cruz, llg, and Bortaz, RN like this.
  9. 0
    Thank you for sharing your story, not.done.yet. It is a powerful message.
  10. 3
    I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read and respond to me. It means a lot. I will take your advice to heart. All of it was well thought-out and expressed in such a compassionate way. You have shown me new ways to think about and consider my decisions regarding this. I think I will try some other fields first, and possibly take a foray into the NICU. Just to see if it's something I can handle emotionally. If I can, I am sure I will be an asset. But if I can't, I'd rather know sooner than later.
    SoldierNurse22, prmenrs, and Bortaz, RN like this.


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