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HELP PLEASE!! ER Nurse with Newborn at Home/COVID 19

Hey y'all,

I am having a major dilemma. I'm currently on maternity leave enjoying our beautiful 6 week old baby boy. My husband and I have struggled with infertility for 8 years and our miracle baby is finally here! 

I have worked in an ER in San Antonio for the last year and a half. I love my team and before this pandemic I was excited to return to work for 2 days per week. I've been trying to decide if I should a) return to work after my paid leave mid-July, b) take all of my leave (including  unpaid bonding time) and go back on August 11th or c) consider working in a lower risk environment-I've done ambulatory surgery before, so that would probably be my backup. 

I spoke with some of my work friends and was informed that, like several other hospitals, covid has all but taken over ours. Management has fitted the staff with respirators and I find that reassuring, but the fact still remains that it is a high risk workplace. 

Ideally I would be a stay at home mom and keep our family in a bubble until this all dies down-fingers crossed! We could possibly make that work but money would be super tight. 

What would any of my fellow nurses/mamas do in my situation? I am breastfeeding and I worry about pumping at work-not sure if it would be safe to bring home my pump/milk after 12 hours in the ER break room. Any insight or advice would be SO appreciated!! 

Note-San Antonio is having a surge in COVID cases right now, of course 🙄 I am torn because I want to support my team and help my community, but I would absolutely fall apart if anything happened to my son. Putting him at risk just doesn't seem to be worth it.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

If you are in Texas, you are in a high risk environment no matter what. That being said, your anxiety about your infant is absolutely understandable. 

If you can afford to take unpaid time off, I would probably give that heavy consideration. Contact your hospital to see if there is anything you can do outside of the ER. Up here in Dallas, we have heavy needs going unfilled for people to do temperature screening and mask distribution at the doors, to perform phone screening and referrals for testing, even to be willing to go around the hospital using Oxivir on doorknobs. Before you get too entrenched, examine your options. Congratulations on your little bundle and may all of you stay safe during these uncertain times.

MeganMN

Specializes in Emergency Room.

Of course it is your own decision to make, but having been in a position sort of similar, I can tell you that I am NOT sorry at all that I took time off.  We thought money would be tight and we were fortunate and had several things fall into place that we were not expecting.  I will never be sorry that I took extra time off to be with my kids and live "in a bubble".  I wish I could continue it indefinitely, but that is not going to happen.  Several of my elderly patients over the years had this advice, "Think about your decision a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now.  Will the money matter more then, or will you be more satisfied having put your family first?".  If you have the opportunity and can make it work- stay home.  You may be less financially ahead, but you will be years ahead in quality of life and putting your family first is never a bad decision if you can still take care of all of your financial needs. 

Just my two cents.....

lifelearningrn, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nursing.

If you could make it work staying at home and keeping your family in a safe bubble, I'd do that.  Take care of your family, the healthcare system isn't exactly taking care of their nurses right now. There isn't enough PPE to go around, and the PPE that is given is a joke. 

Look at the PPE worn by medical workers from Italy, China, Korea, Singapore, etc. and compare it to what our front line workers are wearing. 

If you can get by without the income, stay home and enjoy your baby while you can. I know you've heard this a million times already, but they grow up fast. You'll never get the time back. 

Firstly, CONGRATS on your new baby boy!  You are amazing for being pregnant and giving birth during this pandemic.  I can't imagine how stressful that must have been.  I agree with the other posters that have said to take the extra time with your baby.  I was lucky to be able to take extra time when my baby was born and I am so happy that I was able to do that.  I got to see many of his first milestones and the bonding time we had together was incredible.  

To be honest, even if you change to an ambulatory surgery environment, there is no guarantee that you won't be interacting with covid-positive patients. Plus you might not be given the same PPE that you would be given in a higher risk environment. Furthermore, if things continue to worsen in Texas, elective surgeries might be cancelled. 

I hope that you don't feel guilty for whatever decision you choose to make.  It's going to be the right one for you and your family.  I hope that you and your family stay safe. 

First, congratulations on your baby!  I'm sure it's bittersweet to have your dreams come true right as the country is plunged in to a healthcare nightmare.

Second, take as much time at home as you can.  You won't get this time back.  Nursing is demanding, physically and emotionally.  With a newborn, you probably aren't going to get the uninterrupted sleep you need to be the best nurse you can be anyway, so take the time to rest and bond.

Third, when you go back to work, go wherever you get the best PPE.  TX is having such a huge surge of cases that the community spread is very high.  If you go into a "lower risk" area, you're still at risk for coming into contact with a contagious person, but you probably won't have an N95 because those will be reserved for the higher risk areas.  I worked through the surge in CT, and I felt safer on the COVID unit because I had my PPE.  Yes, I had to do extended-wearing of my N95 for the whole shift, but at least I had an N95, face shield, gowns, gloves, and strict protocols in place.  

CONGRATS!

I'd make short-term decisions, reevaluating regularly. For now, I'd definitely take whatever additional time you are entitled to for bonding without pay (another 6 weeks?). Put it out of your mind and enjoy your baby then re-eval in another month to decide your next move.

StrwbryblndRN

Specializes in CMSRN.

Congratualtions on your baby boy.  

Even if there was no pandemic, I would stay home for a time. (And I did).    I would not give up that time for anything.  We lived extremely frugally.    Can't make up the time with your little man.   But that is me, everyone is different.   

Enjoy your baby! You'll never regret that. You'll also be able to live off less money because you'll have more time to cook from scratch and search for bargains. Your baby will be healthier with your bountiful supply of mother's milk!

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