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.