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Caught the feels. Needing help.

Nurses   (546 Views 5 Comments)
by FrySrn FrySrn (New Member) New Member

72 Visitors; 1 Post

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Hey, all!

I am curious as to how anyone and everyone in a similar situation handled this... I'll try to make it quick.

I have been a nurse for 5.5 years. ED and neonatal background, currently working as flight RN. I am also a paramedic and spent 2 years working on the ambulance. All that to say, I have seen my fair share of pediatric tragedies. Drownings, abuse, general trauma, malignancies... you name it. I used to feel sad about it all, like we all do. But I never had it interfere with my job. I always was able to move on.

I gave birth 5 months ago and along with my sweet baby boy, I developed this new sense of empathy. Since returning from FMLA, the critical pediatric patients I have cared for are older than my son. So far, these new and intense feelings haven't been an issue.

Tonight, I ran across a news article about a mom finding her 5-month old baby dead in a van at daycare from being left in the heat for several hours. It instantly reduced me to tears. Like... Had to get up and go stare at my tiny human while I ugly cried over his crib. 

I just worry about potentially running into a call where the child that is my baby's age and potentially freezing. It has never been a problem before for me. I've always been able to focus on what I need to do to take care of my patients, no matter the age or situation. But these new feelings are still a little overwhelming to me at times and I worry it might rear its ugly head in the heat of the moment. 

I am just wondering if any other new mamas or dads went through this issue as well. Does it get better? Can I make it better? Were you able to dissociate yourself from those feelings in the heat of the moment when you DO finally get a patient that's your child's age? Any tips or advice would be appreciated... Thank you all. ❤️

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701 Visitors; 57 Posts

So I do not care for children. But after I had my kids things hit me way harder. Can't watch a lot of shows or movies anymore. Everything is a lot more real as a parent. So from the parent aspect I totally get it.

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ruby_jane has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU/community health/school nursing.

3 Followers; 8,267 Visitors; 2,287 Posts

Your empathy is a super power. But it will make your current job more...interesting. Worrying about something that "potentially" might happen is just borrowing trouble, friend. 

I always thought I wanted to do pedi oncology. RJ Junior was eight when I went to nursing school and in my cornerstone I was on the heme-onc unit at the children's hospital and quickly decided I did not need that job. But she's graduating on June 7 and I may yet go back. 

Final thought: Estrogen, progesterone, and oxytocin are POWERFUL chemicals. Even five months post-partum please be easy on yourself. You may not be back to full regulation of all those hormones yet. Hug your tiny human tight!

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adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

1 Article; 16,345 Visitors; 997 Posts

I'm not a parent, so I don't know how helpful my input will be. However, I've found that it's easier to compartmentalize when you are totally in the 'nurse' zone. My absolute hardest shifts have been the ones where I was physically close-by (i.e. in the same bay as) a dying baby with whom I'd become very attached, but I wasn't their nurse. When you're caring for a critically-ill patient, it's easier to distract yourself by focusing on a bunch of tasks. You may find that in the situation you described, you kick into 'nurse gear,' then totally lose it when you get to your car after your shift. I've been pretty astonished at how nurses can soldier through when we feel like our patients need us.

I do wonder if the most challenging part of that situation would be the actual flight downtime. Once a patient is relatively stable, it seems like you could be kind of alone with your thoughts, without the typical task-y distractions that nurses often face. On that note, you may get the most helpful feedback from talking to other flight nurses. I have known a couple of NICU-turned-Flight-turned-NICU nurses who left Flight after caring for children who reminded them too much of their own kids.

In either event, please be kind to yourself. Ruby is right--having a baby is a life-changing adjustment, and you may still be in a period of transition. Trust your judgment of what's best for you and your family, but also know that even if you're in a seemingly-impossible situation (i.e. caring for a Flight patient who reminds you of your own baby), you are probably much stronger than you realize.

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WestCoastSunRN has 20 years experience as a BSN and specializes in CVICU, MICU, Burn ICU.

1 Follower; 4,616 Visitors; 416 Posts

I care for all ages.  Motherhood did change the way I viewed my job -- what used to be an adrenaline rush just became scary and unbearably sad.  I had to work through that -- as others have said, be gentle with yourself, mama. 

But I did work through it.  Now, not too long ago I cared for a kid that reminded me a lot of my son.  It was a tragic case with a sad ending.  In nurse-mode, I did fine, but when I got home I sobbed, and mourned, really.  It didn't get in the way of me caring for future peds patients.

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