Like Jan, I have 3 children. The youngest, 19, is a repaired TOF c pulmonary atresia. Repair was a long time coming (6 years of age), and we've had multiple experiences in several different hospitals. Each time she was in the hospital was a life lesson & lessons in nursing, from the good to the bad.
My dream from earliest memories was to be a nurse. I read the entire "Sue Barton, RN" series of books (gives away my age, huh?) and anything other books (fictional, of course!). I made different decisions and took another path. I wouldn't change those paths/decisions for anything in the world.
I went to nursing school at age 45 when we felt Kate was at her "healthiest" and probably wouldn't need surgery for another few years. How wrong I was! But I did graduate!
For 8 years previous, I had been working as a unit secretary in our PICU. I fell in love with PICU nursing from the moment I walked through the doors for that secretarial interview. I had found my calling and knew then and there I would become an RN and realize my dream. I've now been a PICU RN for the last 3 1/2 years.
I tell you this to let you know that, for me, all the things I experienced, I needed to experience to be the kind of nurse I want to be (I would have rather been the patient more than anything, not my child). I took away invaluable experiences from even the "bad" nurses - taught me what NOT to be. I know what it's like to be on the other side of the bed and I am able to empathize with my families and can honestly tell them (if they want to know) I've been there.
Yes, you can be a fabulous PICU RN with children of your own. They may complain that you won't let them do certain things (skateboard or bike without a helmet, etc) and yes, you'll obsess over their health more. I cannot express how much I love the PICU and the children. I stay focused on our positive outcomes which far outweigh the sad ones. I cry when I need to - some of that crying has been with the families. When I can't cry, I'll quit nursing.
Now, I'm looking forward to rocking my soon-to-be granddaughter in February! I'm sure I'll be an obsessive granny - I now know way too much!
Like the song says "I could've missed the pain, but I'd have to miss the dance". The dance is sublime!