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Motherhood, Death and Nursing

Nurses Article   (7,619 Views | 22 Replies | 648 Words)

SpecialK38 has 2 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, LTAC, Post-Partum.

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Is nursing a good career for moms?

When I was a little girl, I always knew I wanted to be a mother. After my first child was born, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I never knew how intimately these two experiences would impact each other.

Motherhood, Death and Nursing
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Two more children came along, and I stayed home with the three of them until they all began school. I love being a mom! I was with them for every first word, first step, and first day of school. Finally the day came for me to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. I began nursing school in the fall of 2008 and plan on graduating with my ASN in december of 2010. I felt accomplished as a parent; however there were some areas I knew I fell short in. Take death and dying for example.

I've always had a death/dying anxiety. I'm sure none of us looks forward to it, but I remember having panic attacks thinking about dying. This of course translated over into my role as a mom.

It was always so hard for me to talk to my children about death and dying. Honestly, I always tried to change the subject or make light of it. It seemed to come to a head when a pet died or was dying. I swear I did every heroic measure to save even the lowliest of goldfish. I would do anything to avoid dealing with that final outcome. The questions. The burial. The tears- I'm ashamed to say how many goldfish, hamsters, etc. I've cried over.

Well this morning my daughter's (who is 11) pet rat Lilly wasn't well. She is about 2 years old (old for a rat). She was bleeding out of her mouth and her cage was covered with blood. She was wobbly when she walked and had grown quite thin over the past few days. My daughter was beside herself, and I could feel myself going into "heroic measures" mode. Should we call a vet? CPR? Meds? 24/7 watch?

I examined Lilly and knew she was dying. She is old- she might have a tumor in her mouth or other problem common to older rodents. I was debating my plan of action when suddenly a peace came over me I can't explain. The week before, I attended a perinatal bereavement lecture. The nurse who taught shared about her own painful losses and I left understanding more about death and dying. I guess I should say I left accepting more about death and dying. I remembered her words: "sometimes dying is unavoidable- it's part of life."

I looked my daughter right in the eye and said: "Honey, Lilly is dying. She is old and sick. I don't think there is anything we can do for her to keep her alive, but we can take care of her and keep her comfortable until she dies. It's hard to understand, but dying is a normal part of life, and now is Lilly's time." this may seem like nothing to you, but for me it was huge. I had never spoken this honestly about death to any of my children.

My daughter's reaction was amazing. She wasn't anxious like she had been with other pets, but began accepting what was going to happen. She held Lilly while I washed the blood off her face a paws. We cleaned up her cage and made sure her water was nearby if she wanted it. My daughter said: "Do you think the room is too bright? Maybe it would be more comfortable for Lilly if I put the shades down." I told her we did that in nursing school for our patients and explained what "mileu" meant. We were able to leave her and go run errands with my daughter feeling fine about it.

I feel very grateful to all the nurses who have the passion not only to care for their patients, but to care for and share with their peers. Their teachings and personal experiences transcend classroom, hospital and beyond.

1 Article; 2,601 Profile Views; 141 Posts

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mochamonster specializes in ICU.

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What a great lesson you are teaching your daughter. While you have struggled in this area, she will be able to cope with death and dying in a way you have not been able to. You will make a great nurse, as you have been a great mother. I wish you well, from one animal lover to another. ~Hugs~

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SpecialK38 has 2 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, LTAC, Post-Partum.

1 Article; 141 Posts; 2,601 Profile Views

Hi Mocha-

Thanks for your reply and words of encouragement- It's so awesome to know we can learn and change as adults and pass that along to our kids! I've wanted to be a nurse for a long time and seeing how it is helping me grow just confirms that I'm making the right decision. ~hugs back~

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3 Followers; 4,771 Posts; 36,654 Profile Views

Very moving. Thank you for sharing this.

How is Lilly? Your dtr? Oh, I just realized - the paper is old, so I guess Lilly has moved on.

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350 Posts; 6,266 Profile Views

I enjoyed reading that - thank you for such a thoughtful post!

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SpecialK38 has 2 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, LTAC, Post-Partum.

1 Article; 141 Posts; 2,601 Profile Views

Thanks for your reply- Lilly is still hanging on, and surprisingly starting to eat today! How ironic, I finally make the stand and she comes through! Oh well- at least the lesson was learned!

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SpecialK38 has 2 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, LTAC, Post-Partum.

1 Article; 141 Posts; 2,601 Profile Views

Thanks for your comment!

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carolinapooh has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN.

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That was a great teaching moment for your daughter - and a great learning moment for you.

So help me, I'm sitting here crying - I'm a mush when it comes to animals. And I've just seen your post that Lilly seems to be doing better - maybe animals are like people and they rally for a while. I'd be sure your daughter is still OK with the possibility that Lilly may still die.

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SpecialK38 has 2 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, LTAC, Post-Partum.

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Well, believe it or not she is still alive, but barely. She ate a little, but not much. As we speak she is on her side, rail thin and panting. It's really horrible to watch. It won't be long :(

Edited by SpecialK38
misspell

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SpecialK38 has 2 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, LTAC, Post-Partum.

1 Article; 141 Posts; 2,601 Profile Views

Thank you all for your posts. Lilly passed away this evening at 1824. My daughter and I sat with her and held her for the last moments; I actually had my finger on her heart and felt her last heartbeat. Moving through the stages of grief, for sure. :sniff:

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carolinapooh has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN.

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SpecialK38 said:
Thank you all for your posts. Lilly passed away this evening at 1824. My daughter and I sat with her and held her for the last moments; I actually had my finger on her heart and felt her last heartbeat. Moving through the stages of grief, for sure. :sniff:

OMG OMG OMG - please tell your daughter I am TRULY sorry for her loss.

We had to put one of our ferrets to sleep last year. Daisy had a lymphoma on her spinal cord and was as sick as you could imagine. My husband, who was almost 39 at the time, had NEVER had anyone or any animal pass away in his life that he could remember - his grandparents died when he was very young. He cried the whole way home (I, of course, was also a mess, and had to hold her pitiful little body in the back seat. Hideous.)

He built Daisy a casket (I mean the man went to Home Depot and picked out wood and hand-built her the prettiest little casket) and we buried her in the backyard under the azalea bush the next day. Had a funeral for a ferret. Even took her brother, Henry, who was depressed as anything for two weeks (literally - they're very "pack" and community-oriented little guys, and they'd been together all of Henry's life). It was awful.

So grief knows no boundaries when it comes to animals. I know Daisy knew we loved her and I know Lilly knows she was loved, and really, I think that's all anyone wants.

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7 Posts; 995 Profile Views

I loved reading your story. I graduated from nursing school in 2008 and started out in LTC. I was surprised at how much I loved it, and now I am a Hospice nurse, and could not be happier about where I am in nursing. I went in to nursing after I had my son and never thought that I would be able to handle the death and dying, but now I embrace it and cherish life so much more now then I ever did.Good Luck in nursing!

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