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No babies for this NICU nurse

NICU   (11,260 Views 48 Comments)
by angrykitten angrykitten (New Member) New Member

angrykitten specializes in NICU.

1,235 Visitors; 43 Posts

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I don't have kids. I love babies, obviously, but I just don't plan on having any of my own. However, I am constantly asked by families if I have kids. Usually, I just say something jokingly like, "Nope, I like to take care of my babies here and then go home and sleep through the night." Rarely, this becomes a problem with discharge teaching though - recently I had a dad point blank say to me, "I have six kids and you don't have any. You don't need to try to tell me how to take care of a baby." Even coworkers ask me, "So when are you going to get one of your own?" I don't really want to get into a discussion of why I'm choosing to stay childless at work.

All you other childless nurses, do you have a go-to answer for this question? I want to be friendly, but I'm really over talking about my child-bearing plans or lack thereof with strangers and acquaintances.

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2 Followers; 46,465 Visitors; 8,863 Posts

I didn't by choice either and in the rare instances when I feel someone is being intrusive or oppositional like the father in your post I say something like "I wasn't blessed with my own children and am fortunate to be able to care for so many wonderful ones here". I can't imagine anyone being rude after that. ;) Truthfully though most people are just curious and a few have even said they figured I must have my own because I seem like an excellent Mom.

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emmy27 specializes in ER, Med-surg.

7,913 Visitors; 454 Posts

I think deflecting the question with a joke (I usually go with, "No, but my dogs definitely think they're kids") and then immediately turning the conversation back to them is the best (although an imperfect) tactic. It's kind of an insanely rude thing to ask a stranger about (what if you *did* want a baby, but were in the middle of a struggle with infertility, or had lost a child?) so you already know people bringing it up aren't particularly socially graceful, and all you can do is work around that by cheerful stonewalling on the subject.

As far as patients like that dad... if you'd had one kid, he'd have said "You have one kid and I have six." If you had six kids, he'd tell you your six kids aren't the same as his six kids. If you had seven, he'd rationalize that that's ONLY one more than him and he already knows everything. Somebody like that isn't receptive to teaching and you just have to not take it personally.

If you do have kids, people will start asking when you'll have another, and then if you have more than two, when you're going to stop, and why you had them at the spacing you did, and why you don't keep trying for a (whichever gender you have none/fewer of), and why you don't stay home, and if you stay home, why you don't work more to be a good example, and... there's no getting away from rude nosy people, no matter what life choices you make, so getting really good at the smiling but impermeable "Nope, *joke*, and back to you" method is pretty much all you can do.

If you don't engage them and give them anything to sink their opinionating teeth in to, they get bored and move on.

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Lennonninja has 7 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in MICU - CCRN, Interventional Radiology.

16,167 Visitors; 997 Posts

I'm also childfree by choice, and I get asked this question by my patients or their families daily. I respond by saying that I really enjoy being the cool aunt because it's easier and cheaper, and then I ask them about their family and turn it around back to them.

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2 Followers; 46,465 Visitors; 8,863 Posts

I'm also childfree by choice, and I get asked this question by my patients or their families daily. I respond by saying that I really enjoy being the cool aunt because it's easier and cheaper, and then I ask them about their family and turn it around back to them.

And imo working with kids without having any is preferable over nurses who work in a specialty because they found "their calling" when they got a kidney transplant, had a premie, became sober etc. The inappropriate self-disclosure I have heard takes the focus away from the patient.

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KelRN215 has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pedi.

1 Article; 67,554 Visitors; 7,344 Posts

17 Things Women Without Children Are Tired Of Hearing

I, too, am a pediatric nurse and childless by choice. I wish to remain that way. I find these questions intrusive. I had a colleague who does not have children because she has lupus and her Rheumatologist feels pregnancy will be too much of a risk for her. Another colleague with Ulcerative Colitis who's had many major bowel surgeries and her surgeon thinks that her J pouch could rupture and she could end up with a permanent colostomy if she got pregnant. That is a risk she does not wish to take. And it's none of any of our patients' business why.

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FlyingScot has 28 years experience and specializes in Peds/Neo CCT,Flight, ER, Hem/Onc.

21,396 Visitors; 2,016 Posts

When I worked in peds I got that question all the time. Sometimes it was like a knife to my gut since I had two rather late term miscarriages. Often all I could choke out was a strangled "no". It still bothers me now.

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RetrieverGirl has 9 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Med/surg tele, home health, travel.

6,086 Visitors; 213 Posts

I don't work with children, however I get asked that question all of the time on med/surg. People can be really rude about it too. Especially the elderly. Yes I do want to have kids but its really nobody's business. I once was asked by an older man "well, what's wrong with you?" after my reply that I didn't have any children. Its hard not to say anything back when someone makes a rude comment. So I told him I haven't planned to have children yet and there's people out there that still believe in that. Ha! Well that shut him up.

I know most of the time I get asked that question because its a common topic although I really dislike when it comes up in conversation. And people just do not know how to filter themselves.

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KelRN215 has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pedi.

1 Article; 67,554 Visitors; 7,344 Posts

And imo working with kids without having any is preferable over nurses who work in a specialty because they found "their calling" when they got a kidney transplant, had a premie, became sober etc. The inappropriate self-disclosure I have heard takes the focus away from the patient.

It's possible to work in these areas without making it known why. I started my career in neurology/neurosurgery/neuro-oncology. I had a brain tumor and seizures as a teenager and had brain surgery. I almost never discussed it at work.

Several nurses who I started orientation with had similar reasons (with siblings) as to why they chose their speciality. Two whose siblings had had leukemia and had been bone marrow donors, both were working in oncology. Another whose sister had had transposition of the greater arteries and worked (still works, actually) on the cardiac floor. I saw a nursing student working as a CNA on the cardiac floor today who had an obvious old mid-sternal incision/scar so I assume has had cardiac surgery before. Kids feel comfortable seeing someone who has the same kind of scar, but she doesn't have to go around telling everyone what she went through.

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CarryThatWeight has 5 years experience and specializes in Oncology, Mental Health.

9,265 Visitors; 287 Posts

I am childless by choice also. However, I've had a few surgeries that have made me unable to have children even if I wanted them. When patients ask me if I have children or when I'm going to, and I think they are being nosy or rude, I just say bluntly, "I can't have children." Every now and then someone will then say something about adoption, but mostly it makes people feel so bad for being insensitive that it stops the conversation right there. It is none of their business so I have no problem making them feel guilty.

Maybe I am a bad person...

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calivianya specializes in ICU.

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Maybe I am a bad person...

No way, you are an awesome person for putting those nosy people in their places. I understand people, especially elderly people, just want to make conversation, but when it gets to the point that me saying I don't have kids doesn't stop the conversation and they just want to keep digging, I wish I had some answer like yours that would shut them up. I get really tired of strangers thinking my choices are any of their business.

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Coffee Nurse has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in NICU.

16,437 Visitors; 928 Posts

Nothing particularly to add to the wisdom already here, I just wanted to say that I feel you, as a fellow (so-far) childless NICU nurse. You'd think people would know better, in this day and age, than to ask mind-bogglingly intrusive questions about a stranger's reproductive status, but sadly nobody's developed a cure for stupid or insensitive yet. That dad was beyond the pale; I think (I hope) I would have responded with something like, "I have no children of my own, but I've spent x years taking care of babies for a living, and it's my job to make sure this one is going to as safe a home as he can." Usually if you highlight the fact that you're doing whatever in the best interests of the baby, parents tend to become a bit more agreeable, or at least tolerant.

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