A Nurse’s Schedule

This is usually how I feel at the end of a day...
This is usually how I feel at the end of a day…

There are so many times I’ve heard someone say how great it must be to “only” work 3 days a week. I usually smile and nod and lie through my teeth: yes, it’s great having 4 days off every week. But 12-hour shifts are usually 14-hour shifts, and the work that we do as nurses is physically and emotionally demanding, draining us every shift of every last ounce of energy. Our coworkers end up being an extension of our family, we secretly share the same struggles. And I don’t remember the last time I only worked three days in one week. When you get the call at five in the morning that the next shift is short, that there’s this many people in labor (and only this many nurses), it’s hard to say no because you hope that someone would come in if you were the one working and begging for help.

My favorite time of day is 9pm. The kids are asleep, and I get to spend a couple of hours with my husband. I don’t care if I work the next day or if it’s my fourth day in a row…I will stay up with him as long as possible, fighting off sleep and tiptoeing around the house in an attempt to not wake the kids. If my husband asks if I want some wine, he’ll ask while he’s already pouring my glass. Yes, I want wine! And yes, I want to watch another episode of The Good Wife! I don’t care if I have to get up early. I don’t care if I still haven’t washed my favorite pair of scrubs. And I don’t care if it’s almost midnight. I will continue to yawn and ignore how heavy my eyes feel…and I will enjoy every second I have sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing, except drinking red wine and asking my husband to tend to my needs — more wine please 😉

Work is like a dance. We try to please our patients, we try to please their families, and we try to please our providers, our coworkers, and our boss. From the moment we step onto our unit, we are in a constant state of movement. We are constantly trying to take care of those around us. And by the time we leave work, our feet are swollen from hours and hours of standing. Our backs ache from hours and hours of bending and pushing and pulling. Sometimes our hearts are so full from the beauty all around us, beauty that pulls us back to work day after day. And other times our hearts are heavy, our thoughts still with our patients hours after we are home with our own families.

So to tell you the truth, it’s hard working 12, 13, sometimes 14 hours a day. We rotate holidays and all bring a dish when we work Thanksgiving Day. Or the Super Bowl. Or Labor Day 😃 We groan when we pick up the phone at 5 in the morning, but usually, we will still reach for our scrubs and come in when we’re needed because that’s what we do for each other. And sometimes we leave work exhausted and sometimes we leave work crying—but when we leave, we always walk out together. So even though we work crazy hours and we do crazy things, and our job is not always birth and babies and happy tears, I guess our work schedule isn’t so bad because we work with such amazing people. And I may not have an ounce of energy left in my body, but I will stay up late tonight. And when I get up early and go to work again tomorrow, at least I know who I’ll be dancing with 😃

We have to celebrate and support each other.
Here’s to celebrating and supporting each other.

 

Until my next delivery ❤

 

 


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10 Comments on "A Nurse’s Schedule"

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bohobirth
Guest

Feeling this today ;) ❤️

birthrn2
Guest
Before our hospital went to 12 hr shifts (many years ago), I worked pm shift from 3-11pm. We often didn’t get out of work til way past midnight. We all knew our families would be asleep so when the weather was warm enough, we would sir on the curb and have what we called a “post mortem” to unwind. If the weather was cold or rainy we would go to Denny’s and have hot chocolate or eat something. Were there for each other to nourish each other’s souls. It was the best bonding time with my “sisters”! To this day,… Read more »
Cindy Yonkman
Guest

Thanks again for expressing so beautifully what we all feel!

Kat
Guest

Drinking wine after work :) Haha. This is PERFECT!

Krista
Guest

My favorite is the beer/wine/alcohol in the hot steamy amazing shower mornings. The steam & finally being clean after a long shift AND the beauty of alcohol.. priceless.

fireandair
Guest

I’m deliriously happy that there are fine people who work in the medical field because I’ve depended on you guys many times, as have members of my family. At the same time, I’m staggered that anyone wants to do it because … wow, it looks exhausting and difficult well beyond the point of sanity. *clinking your wine glass*

bensbabe
Guest

It’s even worse when you work night shift…AND if you don’t work your three days in a row. (I cannot because I get broken sleep & I don’t get to see my family if I work that much.) It takes up so much more of your week.

Melissa Schaefer
Guest

This week I have already worked 52 hours in four days! Two day twelves, a 16 hour day shift and tonight a twelve hour night shift. At 63 years young I’m exhausted! Wouldn’t change a thing because like you I work with an amazing bunch of women!

Adventures of a Labor Nurse
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