15 Things Only a Nurse Would Say, Even When Off the Clock

Many jobs are a nine-to-five type deal. When you clock out you go home and leave your work life behind. I’ve attempted this, but it’s just not possible as a nurse. Not completely. Nursing is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. It becomes a part of who you are, and you’re unable to just turn it off. I tried, believe me. It’s not happening.

As a professional nurse you are always connected to the knowledge and skills you possess. They bleed into everything you are. If you’re a mother then you end up being a nurse for your children. You also serve your other family members, friends, and community. You can’t help it. Every action, every thought is laced with your career choice.

I’m sure there are a number of careers that are like this, jobs that you just can’t leave at work, but they instead follow you and influence everything you are. I’m sure there’s other jobs like that, but there’s not one quite like nursing. Even if your job is one you never leave I’ll bet you haven’t said any of these things. Only a nurse could truly understand these comments we make even when we’re not at work.

1. See you soon! This is something you say to yourself when you see someone not being as healthy as they should. Cardiac nurses think this especially. This may occur for example when you see a morbidly obese person, drunk, and smoking a cigarette. I can understand weight problems may be unavoidable, but the others are a choice. Let’s not add insult to injury.

2. Do what?! This is your response when someone says, “I can’t believe I have to work on Sunday.” Like seriously I forget that a lot of people don’t work Sundays.

3. That is so wrong and unrealistic! This is what you say when watching a medical drama on television. As a young woman I hated watching the show ER with my mom (a RN). She never shut up. Now I understand.

4. He is not allowed to work on me! This is what you say concerning certain doctors you know when you are confronted with the thought of being hospitalized.

5. That’s not really my area of expertise. This is what you say when a church member, your postman, or some other acquaintance wants to show you some personal part of their body so you can give them your opinion on it. Think rash on the inner thigh of the man who sprays your house for termites. Yikes!

6. I could hit that! This is what you say when you see that muscular, young man in front of you at the checkout line at Walmart. No, you’re not thinking about a romantic interlude. You’re simply admiring his Basilic vein.

7. No. You don’t need an antibiotic for your cold. What you say when someone keeps complaining that their doctor didn’t give them “a shot.”

8. Oh Lord. Please don’t let them wreck. I don’t have time to stop. This is what you say when a car passes you recklessly on a hill in the rain.

9. So what did the doctor say? What do you mean you don’t know?! This is what you say to your spouse when they come home from their check-up and have no clue what happened there. The doctor mentioned high blood pressure, but your spouse can’t give you numbers! You knew you should have went along!

10. Yes, everyone has one. But don’t worry, she doesn’t have a fever. This is what you say when someone asks about your sick child and enquires if they “have a temperature?” You don’t want this to be a pet peeve, but you can’t help it.

11. When was the last time you pooped? This is what you ask your child when they say their tummy hurts. Or when your spouse says their tummy hurts. Or when your tummy hurts. You pretty much need to know the bowel habits of anyone with a stomach ache.

12. So, what’s our plan? This is what you say to the poor nurse or doctor taking care of your friend or family member when you’re there at the hospital as a visitor. You actually loathe when this happens to you at work, but once again, you can’t help yourself. You want to be involved in that plan of care!

13. He better straighten up. I’m off duty! This is what you say when you see a teenage boy doing some risk-taking behavior in your neighborhood, like letting his friends drive him around the block in their beat-up van while he “surfs” on the roof. It’s your only day off this week, and you just know if he gets hurt and you see it you’ll end up out there working on him until EMS arrives.

14. That’s outside of my scope of practice. This is what you end up saying when a family member continues to needle you for a diagnosis based on the laundry list of symptoms they have. You want to help, and you appreciate their faith in you, but sometimes folks just need to go to the doctor!

15. Oh God. I’m sorry. I’m going to make the worst patient ever! This is what we say when we realize we’re getting admitted to the hospital. Come on now. You know it’s true.

If you’re a nurse I’m sure you’ve said a few of these things once or twice. So tell me. What could I add to the list?

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I’ll Just Wait For You Here

Recently my daughter bombarded into the bathroom while I was in there. She had a very urgent matter on her mind and was determined to find resolution. Nope I wasn’t surprised one bit when she invaded my supposed fortress of solitude. Not at all. And I especially wasn’t surprised when her pressing problem ranked pretty low on the totem pole of importance to me.

“Mom! I need your help! There’s a pink tea cup and piece of pie under the couch. Up against the wall real far! Can you reach it for me?!”

Even if I would have thought for a moment that the piece of pie was real I still wouldn’t have found this a pressing matter. It was fake pie, and I was in the tub. She suggested I could always dry myself off right at that moment to retrieve the missing pieces of her tea party set, but quickly got the point that I would be doing no such thing.

“You’ll just have to wait until I’m done.” I said. And with that she ran off. I’m quite certain in her absence she was down flat on the living room rug with her hand stretched under the sofa as far as it would go. This happened to be not far enough. Not far enough at all.

Minutes later she reappeared in the bathroom. Lucky for me. I was about to fall into a state of relaxation if she hadn’t intervened at that precise moment. But alas, that and the baby in the tub with me insured that wouldn’t occur.

“I’ll just wait for you right here,” my three year old chirped. Then she smiled brilliantly and leaned up against the wall. To wait.

A couple of years ago I felt like The Lord spoke very clearly and magnificently to my heart about some of the plans He had for my life and that of my family. For a full week I was so in tune with His voice, and He just kept revealing these wonderful words to my heart. I was pretty excited about it all, and I took to my journal, writing down each revelation as I felt it had been spoken.

I’m glad I wrote them down as it would be a good reference of hope in the years to come. You see, I was very happy and eager for the promises I felt God speak. Eager probably should have been listed first for it certainly ranked that way. I was indeed eager for the plans He had.

And then after that week life just continued to happen. Nothing exciting or eventful happened. You might think the weeks or months following a heart-to-heart with God would be filled with new developments or even some of those open doors you always hear about. But it didn’t. There weren’t open doors, or closed doors, or any door for that matter. There wasn’t a window of opportunity either. It was just the same old thing,week after week, and month after month. God had told me about all this stuff that was going to happen in my life! And then… All I heard was crickets chirping.

I’m a big believer in the whole “Be Still” thing. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s that verse people who are usually older and wiser than yourself will repeat to you when you enter a stale and uneventful time in your life, a desert place, or difficult, barren walk of life.

You know that you are to “Be Still.” And you’re pretty sure that means you’re to trust God, to trust that He is working things out for you. Ok.

Being still is like being on a diet or eating for heart health. You know deep down you’re supposed to do it, that it’s a really good idea and for the best in the long run, but follow through can be a rocky road. Chocolate cake tastes too dang good, and being patient and full of blind trust is crazy hard.

A couple of things I noticed about my little girl’s decision to wait for me were her attitude and her location. First off she did have to realize she couldn’t do it alone. She tried naturally, but became aware fairly quickly that her arms were just too short. She accepted that I would have to do it for her. Then she accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to do it right then. She’d have to wait.

So, she smiled. I think we miss that part about being still. It’s not just being still in body. It doesn’t mean we just stop trying to do something we cannot achieve on our own. It also means being still in spirit. It means to cease grumbling and complaining over the wait. It means a smiling spirit.

My daughter also chose to wait right there with me. She made the decision to stay within my presence. This isn’t always so easy for us all to do.

In my own life I felt like God had spoken to me with His will for my life in specifics. I felt as if it were promises He had for me. In the past when I’ve had God speak a promise and I didn’t see it fulfilled right away I had a tendency to do a couple of things. First I questioned if I heard Him correctly. I would begin to doubt my ability to hear His voice. Then I would pull back. I would distance myself. I felt uncertain of my future, my ability to hear God, and in essence our relationship in general. So I left His presence. I left slowly so that I barely noticed until I was separate from Him. Until I felt like it was too late.

The key to being still is to do so in His presence. To truly wait patiently you must reside within God’s will as He brings it to pass. You make the decision to remain at His side and walk with Him even when you can’t see where you’re going or how that direction will take you to the place He promised.

You just do. Because you know He will.

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How to Get the Most Enjoyment From Your Kid-Friendly Pinterest Project

Who loves Pinterest? Everyone! And what better way to discover all the many things you could be doing with your home, wardrobe, and meal plans than by sitting around for hours on end capturing these ideas on a virtual pin-board. I personally have thus far gathered 23 different ideas for furniture items I can make affordably out of a basic wood pallet. Brilliant! All I’m lacking is a pallet, basic carpentry skills, and time.

And parents, you’re in luck. Pinterest holds a plethora of knowledge on how to engage young minds with simple ideas you can do as a family. Strangely enough I don’t usually see children in the accompanying photos to these projects, but I’m sure that’s just an oversight. I’m sure it has nothing to do with being unable to complete any task that has more than three steps with children involved.

Any-who, today I’ll tell you how to really gain enjoyment from a basic Pinterest project. We’ll use the template for the seasonal project I completed just today, with just a few of my own personal touches for flare and realism.

Today I’ll tell you in easy to follow steps how to make Easter basket cookies. The minute I saw this project on Pinterest I knew it was for me.

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This is an original picture from Pinterest! So cute, right? I just knew it would be a piece of cake. Or piece of cookie rather.

And so I dove head first into an Easter cookie adventure.

To get started I suggest that you pin this recipe three months prior to Easter, then forget about it. Let it come back to you a few days before the actual Easter holiday. That way you will feel pressed to hurry and buy the ingredients so you can complete this project before the actual holiday arrives and you’re too busy dying eggs and filling your kids’ baskets to make them look just like the pictures you pinned in recent weeks.

Also much like my advice on grocery shopping I would suggest forgoing naps for this adventure. Sleep-deprived children are really good at following instruction. If you’re feeling really froggy you can do like myself and also schedule this project when your child is getting over being sick. Their short fuse really adds to the overall experience by punctuating it with episodes of tears when something doesn’t work out. Oh, and your child may cry too.

Really it’s best to plan this project towards the end of the day when everyone is collectively exhausted. This will also ensure that it occurs when you should be cooking dinner, but are unable to with the oven being tied up. It can successfully throw a wrench in an already frustrating part of your day. You’re welcome.

So now that you know when to plan this project let’s get started. Place all your ingredients on the kitchen table. Surround this collection of brightly colored and differing forms of straight sugar with your un-napped kiddos. They will stand on the chairs even as you repeat over and over “sit down!” They won’t be able to help themselves. The sight of all that sugar and candy will send them into a frenzy.

Oh yeah. I guess you need to know the ingredients. It’s all pretty healthy stuff. Especially for little kids.

Cookie dough
Sprinkles
Jelly Beans
Icing
Licorice

Coconut

I’ve placed this last ingredient that is healthier than the rest apart from all its counterparts and will explain why shortly.

First you’ll need to take the cookie dough and roll it into balls. You’ll want to do this all yourself, but you won’t be able to. Your child will want to help and subsequently get cookie dough all over herself. Just accept it and move on. Believe me, it’s going to get way better. Don’t lose momentum just yet.

You’re going to need to pour those sprinkles (surprise, surprise, we chose pink) into a bowl. This allows easy access to roll the dough balls in sugar (I mean sprinkles). Because there’s not enough sugar in the sugar cookie dough.

At this point you may question yourself, what the hell was I thinking?! It’s too late now. Just like that first week you brought them home from the hospital. Just go with it.

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I’m going to go ahead and kill the surprise for you at this point. Pinterest does not. I’ll just go ahead and let you know that there’s going to be pink sprinkles everywhere. You will think you can keep them contained. But you cannot. They won’t just be on the table and all over your child’s cookie dough crusted fingers and forehead. They will somehow have managed to get all over the floor.

Ahhh. You’re remembering that Christmas cookie fun now aren’t you? Yes. Like the red and green sprinkles these pink ones will be found on the bottoms of your bare feet for a month. No matter how much you sweep.

At this point you’ll remember that you chose to open that bag of jelly beans already. While you’ve been trying to contain pink sprinkles the baby will be standing on the chair. She will be standing on the chair with her cheeks packed like a chipmunk. But instead of nuts, it’s jelly beans. You might regret this in about five minutes.

Okay. So next go ahead and put those sugar balls in a muffin pan to bake. You may realize at this point that you forgot to spray the muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Just pull out the sticky balls and put them on the table you just wiped clean. More sprinkles to breed with their friends.

While baking your cookies you can keep yourself busy by using the finger sweep maneuver to remove masticated jelly beans from the baby’s throat. The Pinterest directions suggest making the green grass from the coconut while they’re baking, so you can do that too.

Be aware that if you take too long with this you will probably burn your first batch of cookie baskets. It’s ok. That’s why you buy an extra tube of dough. Did I mention that?

While baking your second tray of cookies you can make the grass. This may be your child’s first experience with shaved coconut. Be aware that they will hate it. They will say it’s the worst thing they’ve ever tasted. They will choke and gag dramatically as if the stray taste they got while the tip of their tongue grazed a coconut shaving will make them puke uncontrollably from disgust.

You might enter a moment of internal conflict here where you question if you should not use the coconut grass and risk your cookies looking stupid. Go with your child’s taste preference or have amazing, Pinterest worthy cookies? Parenting is choked full of monumental decisions like this one.

If you decide to make half with grass and half without then I salute you for your diplomacy. You can use your child to mix the food coloring in the coconut in a ziplock bag. Note: make certain bag is closed. Coconut is difficult to sweep up. Especially when coated with hot pink sugar. The child will be an effective mixer due to an influx of sugar high at this time.

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You are allowed to feel a small sense of accomplishment at this time since you remembered to remove the second batch prior to burning them to a crisp. Grab a diet coke in celebration. You’re going to need the caffeine. Now you have to wait for the cookies to cool. All the way.

It’s ok. No need to explain this to the children. They’ve already lost interest and ran off to get into something while you were distracted with sweeping up sprinkles, coconut, and stray pieces of partially chewed jelly bean.

An hour later you can convince the kids it’s time to finish the cookies. Once everyone is gathered back to the table with freshly scrubbed hands you can explain the next step of filling the cookie baskets with icing!

Oh dear. This is embarrassing. You’ll likely find at this point that the icing container is mostly empty. You’ll have a vague memory of opening the tub when you first started, and how you took a taste, a taste that started a domino effect of icing tasting by everyone involved.

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You’ll wince as you remember your own uncontrolled indulgence. After months of gluten-free, sugar-free eating you might have just fallen off the wagon and greedily gobbled mouthful after mouthful of sweet sin in a fugue state of sugary bliss.

Just move on. You can use that Paula Dean rubber spatula you were given one year at Christmas and has rested at the bottom of the utensil drawer to scrape enough icing to place a dollop in each cookie’s gaping belly.

You’ll be sick of this project by now. Or maybe it’s all the icing making you ill. Either way you’ll have to finish now. Throw some coconut grass and jelly beans on top of that sickly icing. Then fashion some handles from the licorice strings. Be prepared. These won’t work anything like the picture on Pinterest. Your handles will droop sadly to the side.

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You will probably wince at your picture of the finished product. That’s okay and is actually expected. Take this moment to pick out the best one and take a picture of it alone. Then use a photo editing tool to make it look awesome. I suggest Instagram to really make your project pop. Take this edited photo and let it be the one you post to social media.

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When you receive compliments on your posted pic just remember to act very humble. Act like it was no big deal, and make certain that no one realizes you fought tooth and nail to keep that one cookie from the children’s grimy fingers so you could spend 15 minutes on it making it look awesome.

When your spouse gets home I pray for his sake that he showers you with compliments over what an amazing wife and mother you are.

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Follow these steps and you too can succeed in your kid-friendly Pinterest projects. Happy Pinning!

Enjoy the Ride

I hugged her tightly to my chest burying me head into her fine hair and breathing in the sweet smell of little girl. I could feel the heat, the beginnings of a building fever radiating through her cotton shirt and conducting the warmth to my lap. I sighed with angst over being unable to wish it away and held her a little tighter, as if my tight embrace might just successfully squeeze the sickness right out.

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I brushed her wayward hair from her face. As I tucked the loose strands behind her ear I thought of my husband’s words.

“Sometimes you just have to enjoy the ride.”

I thought about the night before. I had been excitedly planning something fun for us to do as a family on our day off together. The zoo perhaps. Or maybe Buffalo Park (a local park that was rather “zoo-like”). I just knew it would be a super fun outing that the kids would enjoy, and mom and dad too. The weather was starting to really be lovely and left me feeling so upbeat and energized. I had watched the beautiful sunshine all weekend as I worked and looked forward to enjoying it with my husband and children.

But then I had seen the weather. Rain. Cold fronts. No sunshine at all. It definitely wasn’t zoo weather. Or park weather. Or any outdoor activity I had imagined.

But I refused to accept defeat, so I began to place another plan into action. What about the museum? I thought. Brilliant! I picked a couple out and began to research all they had to offer. I grew excited again as I found exhibits I knew the girls would enjoy. I started showing my husband the photos on the different websites and he agreed it would be a good time.

I next began looking at specifics such as times, admission rates, and package deals. I started to calculate the total admission price for our sizable family in addition to the gas money required for travel. During my calculating we became aware of an unexpected expense that would need to be paid the next day before our fun, family trip commenced.

The debits were starting to get precariously close to the credits and it just seemed like the added expense of a trip out of town wasn’t in the stars for our little family.

I accepted my eventual defeat in the best way possible. By becoming frustrated, sullen, and perhaps by even spewing some self-pitying comment to my poor husband. He just took it in silently while I lamented over “how poor” I envisioned us to be.

Thankfully my self-induced pity party only lasted a few minutes before I realized the ridiculousness of my attitude. I apologized to my spouse who simply smiled at me knowingly, as if he expected I would see the error of my ways in due time. Or maybe he had thought the same thoughts as me and was happy for a voice of reason stating the obvious blessings our simple life contained.

As we spent the next day close to home little signs began to emerge that pointed to illness in our three year old daughter. Normally exuberant in even a simple trip to the bank and out for a reasonably priced lunch, this day she seemed to lack her zeal for anything. As her big eyes began to take on a red-rimmed appearance despite a full night’s sleep I knew we might have trouble brewing. When she ended up being too tired to eat her Happy Meal or play the touch screen games at the restaurant I knew without a doubt she was sick.

Her father felt the fever brewing in her with the back of his hand and stated to me, “Today would have been a horrible day to go to the zoo!” He began to express the truth we both knew guided our life. We truly believed that everything happened for a reason. That even the seemingly “bad stuff” held a purpose. That God worked it all together for our good.

You can know this in your heart and believe it to be true, but it’s how you decide to perceive it on a daily basis that drives if you’re content in your life or not.

Which brought me back to holding a feverish, young lady in a hard-backed, fast-food restaurant chair. My husband had chimed “sometimes you just gotta enjoy the ride” in his description of accepting God’s will. I wondered if this simple phrase fit in the tumultuous attraction called life.

I was reminded of amusement parks I had been to before. I thought of a particularly large park where I went as a child. It seemed like the best, most exciting attractions always had the longest line. In these lines you would come across signs that proclaimed “two hours,” and “one hour,” to try and advise you of the time you had left to wait. It sounds crazy. But the really crazy part is that we remained in line, knowing that it would be hours of waiting. We waited because we knew the ride would be worth it.

About half-way through the wait we would be privy to seeing others on the ride in the distance. We could hear their screams of excitement. The anticipation would build dramatically.

As we neared the head of the line the fear would begin to build. “Oh man! I’m not sure if I can do this!” But we would. We had waited. We couldn’t not get on!

The climb to the top would be exhilarating, and for a moment as we were suspended above the entire park you would feel electrified, as if you could fly. Then it would drop!

So many feelings then. Fear, excitement, joy. Weeeeeee!

Then it would be over, and there would be two types of people that exited the gate. There would always be the kid that said, “That was not worth 3 1/2 hours in line!!”

But I was always the kid that exited the gate saying, “That was awesome!! Let’s go again!!”

I guess that’s life, right? There’s ups, downs. There’s certainly lots of waiting. There’s unexpected thrills and even moments where it feels like the bottom falls out and you’re hurdling out of control.

The great thing about this ride called life though is that even if you get out of control, God never does. He always has it under His power. He knows the purpose. He knows the beginning, and He knows the end. He knows how long the wait will be. Sometimes you get a sign that tells you how much longer. Sometimes you don’t. But the ride is always worth the wait.

How you react to it though is up to you. Will you say, “That was awesome! Let’s do it again!”?

Sometimes the ride isn’t awesome though. Sometimes it’s just plain awful. But that has it’s purpose too. And when you can realize that then you can truly enjoy the ride. You enjoy it because you know that even if a part of it, a certain attraction is no good, that overall it’s going to be great. You know that overall He has your best interests at heart. You know He has purposes, and you know that they’re working together for your good.

It comes down to trust. You trust Him. You trust He is good and that He loves you. When you can see His true character you have no option but to enjoy the ride, to hang on and dig it. To grin big and shout out, “this is awesome.” Even when it’s not always fun.

Waiting Out the Storm

For those unaware I am the guest blogger for April over at Mississippi Women Bloggers. I am sharing a post every Monday on their site. The theme for April is “No rain, no rainbows,” and I have been sharing along those lines.

This Monday I discussed something I struggle with and so many people close to me do as well. You always hear “bloom where you’re planted.” That’s hard advice to accept when you find yourself in a tough spot. It’s difficult to remember that to bloom we must first be drenched by a downpour.

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It’s hard to remain still and weather the storm, much less with a smile in place and a hopeful heart.

Find this week’s post over at MSWB by clicking the link here.

I Love You More Than…

Do you remember the game we played yesterday? It’s one of your favorites. I’m not exactly sure when or how it started, but basically it goes like this. You say, “I love you more than (insert something you really enjoy here.)

It’s usually fun, silly, and lighthearted. Such as, I love you more than tacos. Yesterday as we went for a walk you told me, “Mom, I love you more than a pink cupcake with pink sprinkles.”

Of course I was honored my dear. Anyone who knows you realizes the weight of those little words. After all we’re talking about sugar. And sprinkles. And the color pink. Heavy stuff indeed.

But then you asked, “What do you love me more than Mom?” And I thought about it.

Right off the bat I obviously loved you more than water. As we started our walk you drank all of yours, and then asked for some of mine. I hesitantly gave you half. Then you accidentally dropped it on the sidewalk, spilling all the water out onto the thirsty pavement. And you asked for more. I gave you all I had left, emptying my bottle into your cup. Every single drop. It was a perfect example of how I would give everything I had for you.

I had certainly sacrificed my body. I knew without a doubt that I loved you more than my body image. I loved you more than a firm waistline and flat tummy. The things that mattered so much before now hid in the shadow of your radiant, gap-toothed smile.

I had sacrificed my sleep, even to this day. I certainly loved you more than sleeping in late, or even the whole night through. I might grumble when a well-placed foot in my back woke me in the night, but I reveled at the chance to take you in my arms while your tiny body slumbered, so warm, so ready for my hugs.

I would sigh with frustration as your little finger pulled back my swollen eyelid at daybreak and you chimed happily, “Get up Mommy. It’s a sunny day!” Even when I could see through the window that it was overcast. But I would get up with a smile and flourish in our mornings together with you watching cartoons perched on my lap.

As we walked through the park on a Friday evening I knew that my whole routine had changed since the moment you began forming inside me. I loved you more than the life I used to live.

I loved you more than big novels in a hot bath with a cold beer to drink. Something I did daily before you came, but something I discovered I was just fine without.

I loved you more than going out with friends. Or watching adult, forensic shows on the television. Or being able to just get up and run to the store in a moment’s notice, without getting another person ready. I loved you more than all those things.

I loved you more than a clean house, an empty laundry basket, and a sink without toothpaste stains or a bathtub uncluttered by toys.

I loved you more than quiet, a lack of sound that I never heard anymore. Although I’ll admit I loved revisiting the sound while you slept. But I can’t imagine what I would do now if it stayed silent.

As I watched you run ahead of me on long, pale legs with your pony tail bouncing in your wake I knew…

I loved you more than anything. I loved you more than anything I had ever experienced and anything I could have ever imagined. When God saw fit to bestow the gift of motherhood upon me He changed my whole plane of comparison when it came to love. He took ever single thing I had ever thought of loving and blew it out of the water. With you.

He taught me a new way to love, an unconditional way of loving someone so much more than I loved my self. He showed me a sacrificial love. He opened my eyes to finally see even just a fraction of the kind of love He had for me. The kind of sacrificial love He has for His children.

“What do you love me more than Momma?”

How much time you got kid?

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Making Self Second to Serve Your Marriage

I was on my knees when I heard him pull into the driveway. My ears were tuned into the sound of him cutting off the engine and slamming the car door shut while they simultaneously listened to the splashes and giggles coming from the bath tub.

It was that time of day again already. Dinner time, bath-time, bedtime. Somehow the conglomeration of the three made for a strange vortex that sapped the remaining time right out of the day while eradicating any patience or energy I had left within me. By the time they were all under way the cycle of events would spiral downward into a seemingly chaotic, rushed chore to achieve.

The good times washing poop off a little white booty and wiping snot from dripping noses would seem like a distant vacationland when compared to the nighttime routine. I felt the awe of the disregard for the space/time continuum when I heard my husband arrive home. He was home already and the kitchen looked as if I had done nothing all day but let the children run amuck.

I heard high-pitched screams of joy and the sound when five gallons of water is being splashed upon the bathroom rug coming from the other side of the wall. The back door opened as I raked a second pile of thrown meat and pasta from the kitchen floor. The cheese sauce smeared a path across the floor as I attempted to gather the discarded dinner. Hadn’t I just done this right before I put them in the bath?!

As my husband walked in I finished haphazardly cleaning the floor with a damp paper towel and spoke to him, “It seems like I do the same thing over and over around here. And you can’t even tell.” Then I huffed off to the bathroom to collect wet bodies for pajama time. I could hear his half-hearted response of “I know” as I walked away.

As I carried a lotion-soaked, diaper clad baby into the living room I deposited a kiss upon my husband’s lips and felt a slight remorse over not greeting him better when he first arrived. I knew he understood. I also knew he didn’t expect a freshly mopped kitchen with newly scrubbed daughters lined up in their PJ’s ready for a bedtime kiss before trotting off happily to dreamland. Thank goodness. Because instead he was greeted with the usual disastrous remnants of leftover dinner, like an image of a battlefield captured after the war. He was welcomed home by a passel of wet, naked little girls exhausted from a day of play, and a weary looking wife with cheese sauce on her knees and bath water soaking her shirt.

Later in the night as children slept and silence reigned I joined him in the living room. I plopped upon the couch and we sat in a collective vegetative state sapped of all our energies from the day that was now essentially over. It was midnight after all. I watched him and I could see his weariness. I could tell he’d had a difficult day. Why had I not noticed earlier? I wondered.

“Bad day? Wanna talk about it?” I asked.

“Not really.” He replied quietly.

Those two words said so much to me. They spoke strength even when weary. They spoke of the inward silence of a man, taking his complaints and holding them. They made me proud to have a man so determined to take care of me and our children.

So I replied, “If you decide you do want to talk about it I’m here. I just wanted you to know that it’s important to me, that I care even if I don’t always act like I do. I do. And I’m here to listen whenever you need me to.”

A pause from him, and then, “Thank you.”

I suppose sometimes, most times, that’s what we all need. We don’t expect another person to fix things. We don’t need them to make it all better. It would be nice, but most of us are realistic enough to know our significant others or even best friends can’t wave a magic wand. No. What we want is to know someone else cares.

We need to know someone cares. After all, we certainly do. What I mean is that we are abundantly aware of our own problems. Sometimes we’re even too aware. We are so focused on our own nuisances that we fail to see the struggles of those we hold most dear.

It’s easy to become so caught up in your own work load, be it taking care of children or patient care, that we develop tunnel vision. We only see what we’re up against personally, and if we do happen to see the things that are bothering our spouse it’s simply because they’re affecting us in some way. For example, “I hate my husband has to work so late! He’s never home in time to help me with the children! And at the worst time of the day too!”

We see what bothers our spouse if it bothers us too, but do we see anything else? Do we see the rough patches through their eyes or with a heart for them? Do they know that we even care?

Sometimes you can know something but you still need to hear it. You can know your spouse loves you, but you still like to hear them say it. Right? Caring about what is important to your spouse is the same. Sometimes they just need to hear that you see. That you care. That you’re present in this with them. That they’re not alone.

When you can place yourself second in a relationship them you end up being first to the other person. Does that make sense? In other words, when you place the needs and emotions of another person above your own they tend to reciprocate. Or they should. If this is a new practice in your marriage then give it a bit. Don’t expect change overnight. Just continue to walk selflessly and see what happens. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

It’s easy to become consumed by our own wants, needs, and daily struggles. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by keeping floors clean and little people alive. It’s easy to become consumed by building new websites and producing buzz over a newly written book. It’s easy to think “my job is so much harder.” But is it? A selfish view will never begin to see the beauty a relationship can hold. A selfless view will illuminate the best qualities of the person you walk beside in this difficult and challenging world. And it will also open their eyes to you. Empathy is contagious.

When you feel as if your day couldn’t get any worse try focusing on the needs of another. Amazing how it changes your perspective and lightens your own load while lifting up someone else.

Proverbs 11:25 ESV
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

Luke 6:38 ESV
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

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A Guide to Breastfeeding for the New Nurser

I often have friends and co-workers ask my opinion about breastfeeding. They will ask questions or seek tips for the difficult task at hand. After receiving so many inquiries over the past year or so I decided to write some of my favorite breastfeeding nuggets down for you all.

First off, I’m not a lactational specialist. I have no specific certifications in this area. I am a Registered Nurse, but I do not specialize in OB-GYN. I am simply a mother. I breastfed my first daughter for 18 months, and my second daughter (currently 16 months old) is still nursing.

This isn’t a step-by-step guide on how to breastfeed, but rather a collection of tips I wanted to share. I will assume if you’re planning to breastfeed you have read many other materials that explain the logistics of nursing your infant. If you haven’t, then please start there first.

As a new mom who planned to breastfeed I read several books on the subject. There’s plenty out there ranging from simplistic to more in-depth. There’s a bounty of information at your fingertips by a simple internet search. I know I certainly did my research when I was pregnant, and it was still challenging! My goal here is to offer tips, suggestions, and information that I didn’t uncover in my extensive reading, but rather learned with experience. My hope is that by sharing this information with you it may make your breastfeeding adventure less stressful and more enjoyable. As God intended.

You can do it! First off, congratulations on the interest and desire to breastfeed. That’s the first step to success. I’ll start by saying if you cannot breastfeed it’s okay. Although I’m a big breastfeeding advocate I don’t judge or think any less if this is not for you or you find yourself unable to nurse. If you’ve failed in the past I would encourage you to try again with your next child, but don’t feel like a failure if it doesn’t work out. I do believe breast is best, but I understand the obstacles. I won’t be addressing the physical obstacles in this blog post. As I’ve said before, that’s not my specialty. I will address the emotional and psychological obstacles as I’ve encountered them myself.

Often times successful breastfeeding is a mindset. If you begin your breastfeeding journey with thoughts like “I hope I can do it” or “I’m gonna try, but ____” then you already have negative belief obstacles in your path. I would encourage you to start with the belief that you can succeed. Too many times women think nursing is much harder than it really is. They develop a fear of being unable to breastfeed. Your infant child will pick up on this, and so will you. It’s much easier to quit something when you already believe that you will not succeed.

Don’t say “I hope I can,” but instead say “I will!”

This is a system that God put into place at the beginning of time. It’s a perfect system of supply and demand. It’s much easier to give up on this system in today’s society where a back-up plan is so readily available. I never brought formula into my home, and therefore never had it to fall back on when the going got tough. This might be something you could try.

Naturally you have the option to supplement with formula and breastfeed, but if you wish to exclusively breastfeed as I have done then don’t even buy formula. It’s too tempting to have it in the cabinet.

The point is I want you to start by believing you can successfully breastfeed your baby. And guess what? You can enjoy it. Tremendously. Don’t fear failure. If you believe that you cannot do it, then you most likely will not be able to. That sounds harsh, but the power of suggestion is pretty influencing on our actions. Get it in your head that you’re going to breastfeed this baby! Start there.

Don’t let the first 24-72 hours, or even the first week discourage you. Think about a new job. That first week is crazy, right? You don’t know where anything is located. You have to learn most everything from scratch. Motherhood is the same. And breastfeeding is just one more challenging unknown added to the equation. Take heart. It gets easier. A lot easier.

So why do it? A newborn is stressful enough. Why add additional chaos? Because in the long run it will be worth it. Trust me. Anything great never starts easy. Remember that.

Let’s just pause for a few pros to nursing to keep you motivated. Repeat these to yourself that first week.

Breast milk contains the perfect amount of nutrients for your little one. Formula has come a long way, but God’s design has the upper hand. It has the best amount of everything and is custom designed for your baby. As you continue to nurse it will also be the perfect amount of milk for baby. Like Baby Bear’s porridge it will be “just right.”

Breast milk contains your antibodies. Babies haven’t built immunity as newborns. They can receive your immunity through breast milk. This means healthier baby and less sickness. Does this mean your baby won’t get sick? No. Does this mean the chances of illness are reduced? Yes. Will your baby be unhealthy if formula fed? No! Will the chances be improved statistically by nursing though? Yes indeed.

And it’s free!

There’s tons of other pros.

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But we were talking about that first week. It’s tough. I won’t lie. I gave you all those pros to soften the blow of the struggles within that first week. Be prepared.

That first 24 hours may be a little challenging to say the least. With both my girls I offered the breast immediately after the birth. They were healthy and it was uncomplicated deliveries so I had the option. I hope you do too, but even if you don’t you can still breastfeed. Anyway, when I first offered the breast within minutes of life each child took it eagerly. Yay! I was so happy. I had this thing all figured out! Well, not exactly.

The next time I went to breastfeed I was confronted with a sleepy little infant who wouldn’t open her eyes much less latch onto my breast. I tried taking her clothes off, putting a little cool water on her, anything to wake her up and make her eat.

I was so distraught! All the books said a newborn had to breastfeed every two hours! They had to drink for 15 minutes on each breast! My baby had only drank for five minutes four hours ago! Help! She was going to starve to death. I was failing at breastfeeding. Maybe I needed to give her a bottle.

Does any of that sound familiar if you tried before? I needed to calm down. Thankfully I had an experienced nurser I called on who set my mind at ease. She told me a few things I’ll share.

Be prepared that your baby will be sleepy that first day. They likely would take more of a bottle for a couple of reasons. One, a bottle is less work than nursing. They’re tired, remember. Also of importance though is that it takes less breast milk to satisfy a baby than it does formula. Breast milk contains more fat and nutrients therefore a smaller amount will satisfy your baby. Then I think of this image.

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Wow! That’s a tiny tummy. It’s almost like that tiny amount of colostrum that is all you can produce those first couple of days, and by the way is packed with tons of nutrients, was some fantastical plan created by a mighty God. Fascinating stuff.

But we humans, and especially moms want to feed our babies. We want to feed them a lot. We fear that we’re not making enough. We fear our milk won’t come in. Since we can’t quantify an amount it freaks us out.

Don’t freak out that first week. Relax. Go with your intuition. Feed them every two hours, but if they want to sleep four then let them. I wouldn’t personally let them sleep over six when they’re newborn though.

Just watch the baby for cues. If they have wet diapers, they’re happy and not screaming continuously, and they’re gaining weight then you’re doing awesome!

When your milk comes in you might become engorged, meaning your breasts will get really big and tight. It will be uncomfortable. Depending on how you tolerate that is individualized. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it was definitely worse the first time around.

You might be tempted to pump that excess milk off. Be warned that this will cause you to produce more. If you must pump then I would suggest just pumping a little bit. I personally just let the baby nurse and relieve the engorgement. That way you can go ahead and get into that supply and demand I talked about. Your breasts will produce however much the baby eats. If it makes you feel better to pump and increase your supply then do so. I personally never pumped until the week before I returned to work. This was simply so I could offer a bottle to see how they would do.

As far as bottles go there’s much debate. They say if you offer too soon the baby will not want the breast. But if you wait too long they may not want a bottle. I would suggest waiting at least a month to offer a bottle, but each baby is different. My first hated them, and my second loved them. Go figure.

But back to the engorgement; take heart. It will get better. It’s only for a few days. Since you are already sore everywhere else, what’s one more place. Right? Take some ibuprofen and keep trucking.

Nipples. I have to tell you. They’re not going to be used to nursing. They will initially be sore. They may crack. This will get better too. Hang in there. May I suggest this product. It’s amazing.

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You can get this at Walmart or Kmart. While you’re there pick up a few other items. Nursing bras. They have great little flaps you can pull down for easy access. I personally loved nursing tank tops as well. I bought one in every color and wore them under my shirt. I felt like they kept my pudgy belly covered when I lifted my top shirt to nurse.

Which brings me to a nursing apron or cover. This is a light-weight blanket with a strap you can put around your neck. It covers baby and your bosom. It may be a little uncomfortable for you baring your breasts around others even if it is a natural experience. Get one of these so you don’t feel like you have to go in hiding every time the baby eats. They eat every two hours at first!

You can’t stay inside your house the entire time. You will need to get out. And your baby will need to eat. If nursing in public makes you uncomfortable then a nursing cover will help a lot. And they make them in cute designs. I have personally nursed at probably every store and restaurant in town. I’ve even nursed at church in my seat so I didn’t miss the service. If you’re shy it’s okay. This gets easier as you go too.

While you’re buying stuff, get a good, quality pump. I’ll go ahead and tell you that pumping isn’t fun. It’s not painful. It’s just not as comfortable as your baby’s mouth. The higher quality the pump the more comfortable it is. If you are a stay-at-home mom then perhaps a single, lower quality pump is all you need. But if you will be leaving the home for work then I suggest investing in a pricey pump.

That’s right. You have to dish out the dollars. Personally I’m not made of money. I would hands down suggest a Medela brand pump. They’re the best. They’re around $400 brand new for a good one. I do not have a brand new one. I was given a used Medela. I have purchased a used Medela pump for someone else as a gift. It may sound odd buying a used pump, but realize that all the parts can be sanitized or bought new for certain, personal parts like the nipple shield. eBay is a great source to purchase a good, used pump. If you can afford a new one then go for it. I couldn’t. My used pump has lasted strong through five children that I know of, but it may be more.

Lastly understand that your baby is unique. Every baby is different about most things, and breastfeeding is no exception. You will read many books (I hope), and you will receive information at your discharge from the hospital concerning breastfeeding. All this information is wonderful! I’m not knocking any of it. But I would consider it all as guidelines, much like my information is. The majority of things you will read or be told are guidelines that have been gathered based on an average. What I mean is that they wrote this stuff based on what most babies should do or as a safe point for you to reference from. You have to start somewhere after all.

I’ll give an example or two. The literature suggests feeding your baby for 15 minutes on each breast. It states to feed them every two hours while newborn. It also suggests you time this two hour interval from the time you begin nursing. If you’re doing the math then you’ll notice that actually means you feed them every hour and a half. If they eat for thirty minutes like they’re supposed to do that is. Well, that’s overwhelming.

My first baby nursed for 45 minutes at a time! The books said to let them stay on one breast until they unlatched like they were satisfied. She never did. We only used one breast for each feeding this way. After she finished eating she pooped. I changed her, she slept 30 minutes, then it was time to eat again. She got better at nursing as we went along and got faster at it, but she continued to nurse every two hours until she was 9 months old. That includes nighttime folks. I didn’t understand when people asked if she slept through the night. I was like, “what’s that?!” It was exhausting. But I was weaning her before I knew it. And it made me sad.

My second child nursed for ten minutes on each breast. She nursed every 3-4 hours from the beginning. She was sleeping 8 hours without nursing by three months. My first loved nursing, and the second acted as if she could take it or leave it until she got a bit older. Then she loved it too!

Point being, all babies are different. You know this already I’m sure. I’m certain you’ve been told this if you don’t know it personally already. Every baby acts, sleeps, cries, and behaves differently. They also breastfeed differently. I’ll go back to my advice before. Go with your gut and follow your baby’s lead. They will let you know when they’re hungry. Wet diapers, happy baby, weight gain? Yes? Then you’re good.

Last piece of advice. If you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing when you first start out then realize you’re in good company. Although it is a natural, God-given gift of motherhood it doesn’t always come easy. I was overwhelmed and unsure of myself the first time. I was concerned about “my technique” and so many other things. I worried I wasn’t doing it right or she wasn’t getting enough. But through my trepidation I kept going.

I am so glad I did! No experience has been more rewarding for me. Something about nourishing a tiny life from your own body is fantastical. It’s a wonderful feeling to realize that a baby is growing big and strong from milk you supply. It’s a huge confidence builder during a time of post-pregnancy body blues.

It will be challenging but oh so worth it! If you don’t have a mentor in your breastfeeding I would suggest finding one. If you live close and need my assistance I’m willing. I’ve helped a mother or two through that first couple of days at home. Let me know. Send me questions. Whatever. I’d be honored to be a part of your beautiful journey.

Feel free to share this post with moms you know who have the option to breastfeed, but may need some advice. There’s a Pinterest share button below so you can always pin this for later if you think you’ll need it in the future. Best wishes on your breastfeeding adventure. You can do this!

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Oh God, I Picked the Wrong Career!

I just felt so flustered! I walked into the supply room and let the door close behind me. I was all alone. At last. Silence. No beeping, no ringing, and no one calling my name. I savored the lack of sound, but hurried on to the task of gathering more equipment. There was always something I needed, and if I needed it badly then it would definitely not be at hand. I would need to run and retrieve it. Like now.

I placed my finger on the scanner to read my print and allow access into the cache of patient care supplies. It seemed even gathering a ten cent, plastic comb required my identification. Everything did! Medicines, naturally. But I also needed to scan my credentials for charting, getting into the elevator, and grabbing lunch. Without my badge I was incapable of existence within the brick walls that now encased me.

So I placed my index finger on the scanner to retrieve a single 10cc syringe. And it failed to recognize my print. The odd beep of non-entry rang strangely in the silence. My brittle, dry fingertips cracked from repetitive hand-washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizer had no prints left on them apparently! I had forgotten my keyboard password to gain access to the urinals long ago. When a password is required for twelve different operating systems which require the password to be changed monthly, it gets kind of hard to keep them straight. I felt like I needed to have another kid just so I’d have additional password options in my head.

I tried again. Unsuccessful! And then I broke into irrational tears. It wasn’t the denied access to bags of salt and sugar water in itself that caused my breakdown. It was a compilation of events throughout the day. In that brief moment of allowable self-pity I cried out to God. “Oh Lord! I’m not cut out for this at all!” I gathered my resolve off the floor, ran my index finger across my hairline to try and grease it up, and finally gained access to the non-slip sock stash. I grabbed a 10cc syringe, heck, I grabbed two. I stuck them in my abnormally large pockets and walked my support-hose-wearing self back onto the unit like a boss.

Then I saw the call-light of the room I had just left to get supplies for going off. Even as I had chirped, “I’ll be right back.” And it all came crashing down on me.

It’s like that some days. I feel so many emotions bombarding me. I feel rushed. I feel pulled in several directions all at once. Worst of all though, I feel incompetent. I feel like I don’t cut the mustard. I feel like I’m not doing a good job. At all. And I wonder, Oh God, did I pick the wrong career?

It’s not my back that’s aching. It’s not my morbidly obese patient who is immobile and incontinent of her bowels every 15 minutes. It’s not the family members that ask me questions, so many questions, questions outside of my scope of practice to answer. It’s none of those things in that moment of questioning God. I’m not questioning Him exactly. I’m questioning me!

When the patients are really, really sick, or when they’re all better and need to go home, but especially when they die; I question me. I question if I have what it takes. I question if I’m doing right by them. I question if I did my best, and if I could do better.

Sometimes my job at work reminds me of my job at home. After an especially rough day of chasing a preschooler and toddler, I lay in bed at night and I reflect. Or as I’m rocking the youngest I will pray, “Lord, couldn’t I have done better?”

I think of my raised voice when the kids did something really crazy! And I’m disappointed in myself. Did I overreact, or could I have reacted differently. I think of more children, a pack of little boys to join the gang of girls, and I fear I don’t have what it takes.

The same twisted emotions rack me on the job site. I’ll feel frustration and empathy all in one thought, and that makes me feel a little crazy. I’ll feel self-doubt over my ability to nurse well, or wonder am I compassionate enough?

I’ll honestly sometimes feel as if I might explode from pent-up anger. I’ll feel like if I don’t release my frustration I might just start to whistle shrilly like an old tea kettle, but then I open my mouth and kind words fall out. Sweet words that I didn’t realize were there at all. And the strangest part is that as I speak them I realize I mean them! “I am sorry for how hard this is. I can’t imagine how hard it must be, but I do understand.” I walk away after a tearful pat on my hand, and a “you’re so sweet” is bestowed upon me, and I pray silently, am I God? Oh dear Lord, I hope I am, cause I feel like I’m failing! Miserably.

I look at the clock and countdown the hours left on days like that, and then I feel guilty in a part of my heart for doing so. I have to remind myself then that everyday isn’t a good day. I can’t leave skipping and singing each time. I guess some days I just have to be grateful I made it through to the end, and as I trudge to my car feeling like the hot tears might come again (but this time in relief), I just have to say, “I did okay, right God? You got me here for a reason. I’m sure of it.”

And then that’s what it comes down to for me. Not just at the hospital, but in every facet of my life; every job, every responsibility, and every thing be it a good day or a bad one. Understanding God’s will. Being still and taking hope in His plan for my life, even when I can’t see it.

I stand in the shower feeling the blessed hot water pour over me, and I pray. Before I can go forward on any given day, I ask for His guidance. Then I relax in the fact that He goes before me. And when I falter, when I fail, whether actually or simply imagined, I take strength in His presence. As I feel my own strength and patience and abilities pour into a pitiful puddle on the floor, I continue because He carries me.

There is no fear of the unknown. There is no unknown to one who knows all.

I don’t always feel this, but I know that it is so. I know that it is so. I repeat it to myself as often as I need. And I keep going.

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Weathering the Storms (MSWB Guest Post)

This month I am the featured guest blogger over at Mississippi Women Bloggers. This month’s theme is “No rain, no rainbows.” This was a perfect theme for me as I’ve known my fair share of both. Looking forward to what the month brings and what The Lord will lead me to share. I’ll be posting every Monday in April.

You can read my first post for the month by clicking the link here.

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