Becoming militant

I just finished reading a book I saw recommended on another (or should I now just say “an”) L&D nursing blog entitled Pushed: The Painful Truth Abouth Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care. Wow. It sparked so many thoughts in my head and I am sure I will be thinking about it for some time. Basically it managed to put into words what my gut has been feeling for months now, why I have been so uncomfortable in the labor & delivery arena. I have a lot of things going around in my head right now, too many to put into words. But the one thing I will say is that I went into L&D fearing that I would become complacent and develop the “that’s the way it is” mentality. Instead my original feelings have only been amplified. Maybe I’m quitting too soon, but quite honestly, I can’t practice in a way that goes against my own ethics. I don’t yet know how to join the fight for true reproductive rights in an effective way… but I am not giving up my fight just because I’m leaving L&D.

Meanwhile, back on the farm. After my breakdown on Monday I circled back. I had gone onto my Netflix account to see what was next in my queue and saw a banner saying “You’ve watched ‘The Business of Being Born’ before, watch it again, instantly.” So I thought, what they hey, and watched it again on my laptop. Slowly I began to feel that I had made the right decision. And when I woke up to the alarm on Tuesday morning and realized that I no longer had to do L&D a sense of relief washed over me. That relief was what ultimately signaled to me that I was in the right place.

The hardest part for me was the sheepishness. A phrase from “The Devil Wears Prada” kept going through my head, “A million girls would KILL for that job.” How many new nurses want L&D and have to pay their dues in med-surg? Meanwhile I got to skip all that and go right into a specialty… and then didn’t live up to my hype. I felt guilty. I felt like I screwed it up for some up-and-comer. Like they’ll always say, “Well, I dunno about taking a new grad… remember what happened with Rori.” On top of that, I don’t like looking foolish, and yet there I was feeling foolish for making the wrong choice of first job. I mistakenly thought that I could provide maternity care in an environment that went against my own convictions. After all, most of our nurses will admit that they don’t like the number of interventions that are done, but they strive to make the experience the best possible given what they have to work with. I give them a lot of credit for that. I thought I could do the same. I thought that feeling sick every day before work was normal new-nurse jitters. I didn’t want to throw in the towel without giving it my all. I have often used the phrase “just suck it up” when faced with unpleasant tasks. But one can only suck it up for so long before there’s no more room in the vacuum bag (sorry, dumb analogy, but it’s what I’ve got). I also wanted to leave on my own terms, rather than being told that I should consider other avenues. It was hard not to feel as though I’d been told that I failed, even though my manager assured me that I was a good nurse, that this was simply a bad fit for me.

I had another discussion with her on Tuesday and she asked whether my unhappiness was merely philosophical differences or whether I had issues with the orientation. While I did have issues with the orientation, I knew at that point that it wouldn’t have mattered if I had the best orientation program in the world. It might have postponed the inevitable, but ultimately it would not have changed my feelings. I told her, “I just don’t want to do it anymore.” I felt relieved to finally say that. After months of beating around the bush when people asked if I liked L&D (“well, it’s a lot to take in,” “I still need to work on some things,” “I have some philosophical differences”) it felt liberating to say that no, in fact, I do not like it. At this point I will say, however, that I am glad I had the experience of trying it. Sure, I feel guilty that they spent money orienting me and it’s turned out to be for naught. But I will never regret that I tried. I was able to bear witness to many births in my short stint and I feel honored to have been a part of them. I will never have to wonder if I was missing out.

In talking to my boss I did tell her that I am wary of jumping into another area without doing my homework first. As I’d mentioned in my previous post, she’d offered the potential of going to our level II nursery. I asked if I could shadow a nurse in there for a day and she offered one better… a few weeks there, after which I can tell her whether I want to pursue it. That’s a weight off of me, at least for a while. I have a feeling that I will like special care far more than L&D, after all, I’ve been on a sick baby kick since the one day I got to spend in a NICU during my maternity rotation over a year ago. But I want to make sure that this is the right choice for me. We shall see what the next couple weeks bring.

Until then, this week starts my increased role in quality and I’m looking forward to hashing out my new responsibilities. I am a bit nervous about taking on a more independence there, but I know that I will learn a lot from it, and I can’t think of a more supportive group to learn from.

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