• 50 Years of Reflections

    I Can See For Miles & Miles

    For as long as I can remember, I dreamt of traveling.  As a child, we didn’t venture far.  When I hit high school, I took my first journeys away from home, my first time flying too.  Travel was sparse when the kids were little, but by the time my oldest graduated, I was hell bent on taking them on some trips that would knock their socks off.  The last four years have been the most productive and adventurous and I have the best travel partner a gal could ask for.

    People ask how we can afford to travel so often now.  First off, we plan everything ourselves.  We are good at shopping around for the best deals.  We use credit cards that pay us back in air miles, book early for the best prices, or find last-minute deals, tack days on when Jamie travels for his work and always keep an eye on the calendar for open stretches of days that we can fill up taking a journey.

    Our most recent trip to Europe for two weeks and six countries + two more on the drive through was no more than it would cost to take a family of four to Disney World for a week. Much of our travel has been via cruises; the best way to see many countries/islands and not break the bank.  Here are all the places I’ve vacationed or visited throughout my 50 years and I can’t wait to see what other adventures lie ahead!

     

    January 2018 – Anthem of the Seas cruise, Puerto Rico (San Juan), Phillipsburg, (St. Marteen), St. John’s, (Antigua), Castries (St. Lucia), Bridgetown, (Barbados), Basseterre, (St. Kitts) – (12 days)

    August 2017 – at Dolly Sods, West Virginia, took Sandy

    September 2017 – Red River Gorge, Kentucky, backpacking & took Sandy and Luna cat

    September 2017 – Bethesda, Maryland for birth of granddaughter

    April 2017 – Ford Meade, Maryland to visit kids and grandson

    January 2017 -Allure of the Seas cruise, Haitee (Labadee – could not stop due to high waves), Jamaica (Falmouth), Mexico (Cozumel) – (7 days)

    October 2016 – Eastern Europe Czech Republic (Prague), Slovakia (Bratislava), Budapest (Hungary), Zagreb (Croatia), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Venice & Mezzacorona (Italy), Austria (Innsbruck) drove through, Germany (Munich) drive through – (16 days)

    October 2016 – New York, Corning (Wineglass Half-Marathon)

    August 2016 – West Virginia, Cranberry Wilderness, backpacking & took Shawn, Justin & Kristin

    April 2016 – Norwegian Sky cruise, Bahamas (Nassau) (Skipped private island due to high waves)

    January 2016 – Adventure of the Seas cruise, Puerto Rico (San Juan), U.S. Virgin Islands. (St. Croix & St. Kitts), Phillipsburg, (St. Marteen), Martinique, Bridgetown, (Barbados)

    November 2015 -Texas, San Antonio for Paul’s Air Force Graduation (first solo trip)

    November 2015 – Maryland, Bethesda for birth of first grand child, Colt.

    September 2015 – New York, New York, last minute trip to see Cult of Luna concert for Jamie

    August 2015 – Liberty of the Seas cruise, Bermuda w/ Jamie’s kids

    August 2015 – Kentucky, Red River Gorge, backpacking & took friend Don Miller

    July 2015 – West Virginia, Dolly Sods Wildnerness, backpacking (favorite place and we’ve now been there three more times since then!)

    July 2015 – Maryland, Appalachian Trail backpacking, 42 miles

    April 2015 – Liberty of the Seas cruise, Mexico (Cozumel)

    April 2015 – California, San Francisco for Jamie’s work conference

    February 2015 – Florida, Tampa (Gasparilla Michelob Ultra 4-Race Challenge: Half Marathon, 15k, 8k & 5k

    October 2014 – Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul (Twin Cities Marathon)

    September 2014 – Utah, St. George, Las Vegas, Nevada (Jamie’s work conference in Vegas)

    May 2014 – Maine (Sugarloaf Marathon), drove home via Canada (Quebec & Toronto), stopped at Niagara Falls

    April 2014 – Massachusetts (Boston Marathon)

    April 2014 – Ruby Princess Bahamas (Eutheria) & Turks and Caicos

    February 2014 – Louisiana (New Orleans Rock & Rock Half-Marathon)

    November 2013 – Virginia (Richmond Half-Marathon)

    October 2013 – Utah (St. George Marathon), Sedona Arizona (GOT MARRIED!), Las Vegas, Nevada

    September 2013 – Pennsylvania (Presque Isle Half-Marathon)

    July 2013 – Georgia, Atlanta (Peachtree 10k race) and to visit Jamie’s mother, step-father and grandmother

    June 2013 – California, San Francisco (Double Dipsea 14 Milers) Jamie’s Microsoft conference was reason for the trip

    April 2013 – Massachusetts (Boston Marathon)

    October 2012 – St. George, Utah (marathon and qualified for Boston with friends Brandon and Carrie), Arizona (Grand Canyon), Las Vegas, Nevada

    September 2012 – Pennsylvania, Presque Isle (Half-Marathon)

    May 2012 – Indianapolis Indiana (Indy 500 Half-Marathon)

    April 2012 – Florida, Orlando, Disney World (first time ever) to see Paul perform in the parade

    July 2011 – Florida, Cape Coral w/ friends Sheri & Chris Kaiser and families

    August 2010 – Pennsylvania, Scranton for my friend Bruce’s surprise retirement party w/ family

    April 2010 – North Carolina, Charlotte w/ friend Sheri to see Bon Jovi concert

    March 2010 – Michigan, Holland to watch Karlee run collegiate Cross Country Regionals

    August 2009 – North Carolina, Outer Banks for my parent’s 50th anniversary w/ my sister and families

    July 2009 – Costa Rica for twelve days for my daughter Karlee’s graduation (all four kids)

    February 2009 – Bahamas cruise w/ friends Fran and Greg

    October 2008 – Pennsylvania, Scranton (Steamtown Marathon) and to visit my friend Bruce and his family in the Pocono Mountains

    July 2008 – Florida, Sarasota w/ the family

    July 2007 – Hawaiian Islands for two weeks:  Oahu, Big Island and Maui for my son Alex’s graduation (all four kids)

    August 2006 – Canada, Niagara on the Lake w/ my parents, sister and families

    September 2003 – Bermuda (cruise)

    September 2002 -Belize (cruise) w/ family as an early Christmas gift surprise

    May 2001 – Virginia, Snow Shoe Mountain, rented a cabin w/ my parents and family

    April 2001 – New York, New York Mother/Daughter trip (Karlee was 11)

    June 2002 – New York, New York Mother/Daughter trip (Karlee was 12)

    May 1998 – Massachusetts, Cape Cod w/ the kids

    June 1997 – South Carolina, Hilton Head w/the kids and 13 other family members

    Summer 1995 – Florida, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Universal Studios, Kennedy Space Center with the kids

    February 1993 – Nevada, Las Vegas, long weekend

    September 1992 – South Carolina, Myrtle Beach w/ a high school friend and our families

    July 1990 – South Carolina, Sea Brook Island and Folly Beach w/ my parents and to attend uncle’s wedding

    February 1988 – Nevada, Las Vegas, honeymoon

    August 1987 – South Carolina, Folly Beach w/ my parents to visit my uncle

    1985 – High School FBLA competitions:  Indiana, Indianapolis, Washington D.C. (my first time to fly), Georgia, Atlanta

    1982 – South Carolina, Myrtle Beach with the high school marching band.  I was in 8th grade and chose to carry the banner in the parade.

    Middle School – Niagara Falls w/ parents and took my friend Lisa

    Middle Childhood x 2 – Virginia, Princeton, went to Pipestem National Park w/ parents and cousins

     

     

  • 50 Years of Reflections

    A Recap of My Unforgettable 50th Birthday Year

    As I sit here on the eve of my 51st birthday, I feel compelled to reflect and recap this past year of changes, experiences, discoveries, adventures, and challenges.  Turning 50 and the months that followed, was epic and not to mention, overwhelming.

    To kick off my “50th birthday”, Jamison and I started with running, ok, so it wasn’t really running, but it wasn’t walking either…I prefer to call it “slogging” (a slow jog) a half marathon in Corning, New York.  This was a race that we were both terribly untrained to run due to nothing more than our own lack of effort and maybe too much traveling and eating.  We were hell-bent to mark off one more state in our “50-State Race Challenge”, no matter what.  Having registered for this race many months prior, we opted to just grin and bear through it and hope we could at least finish.  It wasn’t glamorous or even respectable in comparison to our races of years prior, but we gutted it out for the sake of prosperity.  That and we were driving through New York anyways on our way to JFK airport for our upcoming Europe trip….that’s REALLY why we ran that race!

    Wineglass Marathon starting line

    After the above race, we headed to JFK airport in NYC where we embarked on our amazing 16-day adventure to Eastern European to visit Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Austria and Germany.  The special highlight for me was a side trip to the small village where my great-grandparents were born, married, and ultimately left during WWI,  Mezzaocorona, Italy (formerly Austria).  It had always been a dream of mine to go there since I am fascinated with my Italian ancestry.  I still can’t believe that I stood in the very church where they were married.  The entire trip went off without a hitch, utterly perfect in every way and Jamison planned every last detail to perfection.  Every country was unique and special and I could spend weeks writing about this journey!  My blog post on the plane home from Europe

    Mezzocorona, Italy

    After recovering from the trip, I underwent spinal surgery, ten days after turning 50, to have a fusion of my cervical 4-5-6 area to repair stenosis and nerve damage that resulted from being thrown from a horse in 1997.  This surgery that was long overdue and the condition was affecting my quality of life.  I put it off because I didn’t want to stop running, but mostly because I was scared shitless to have surgery on my c-spine.  I knew that it would be very difficult to start back up running as I was required to take six to twelve months off from running.  That is tough for someone who is active and relies heavily on fitness and exercise in lieu of medication for my autoimmune disease (Sjorgren’s Syndrome).  I finally got up the courage to get it done and inasmuch as I hate that I’ve lost my fitness, gained 20 pounds, and can barely run, I almost wish that I hadn’t waited so long to do it.  My pain has improved significantly despite my loss of fitness.  I’m trying to make a comeback, but the effort has not yielded favorable results.  I will not give up.  I will be back.  I feel like I’ve never ran a single step.  Everything hurts, everything is stiff, I get discouraged, and then I stop.  Then I go back to ground zero and do it all again.  Finding motivation is the hardest part, but I’m not throwing in the towel.  Now that I’ve been cleared with no further restrictions as of last week, perhaps I will rise from the ashes once and for all.

    Early 2017 was exciting too.  We took a fun cruise with some awesome friends that we met on our last cruise and made some spectacular memories during this trip.  To start, there had been an unfortunate shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport the day before our arrival, causing the terminal to be closed.  At the last minute, we rented an SUV and made the long drive to Florida and hit a blizzard that hit the southern states.  Yes, a freaking blizzard.  It was a brutally long and slow drive to Fort Lauderdale and one that actually stranded us on interstate I-75 outside of Charlotte, NC, for three solid hours, completely stopped, while emergency crews cleaned up the aftermath of a jackknifed semi.  Luckily, we had a full tank of gas, an empty cup to pee in, and some sort-of warm clothing (we were headed for a cruise, so not much in the line of warm).  We cat-napped while we waiting for some sign of movement in traffic.

    Our new friends

    After returning home from the cruise, we anxiously and excitedly awaited our next adventure…Savannah cat ownership.  We had bought/reserved a Savannah kitten from a breeder in Alabama.  We were to receive the kitten on February 15th via Delta airlines.  After 13 weeks of anticipation, we received an email on Valentine’s evening from the breeder that the entire litter had been killed by another cat.  I won’t go into the bogus b.s. that transpired from this “story” (we don’t believe that the kitten actually ever existed).  The long and short of it is, that we were able to get a refund and buy another kitten from a reputable breeder in Maine.  We waited for this new kitten to mature and on March 23rd, I flew to Boston to pick her up.  Her name is Luna and she is the best kitten/cat ever.  We bonded and fell in love with her over the next month, only to find out that she had a rare and fatal disease called “Feline Infectious Peritonitis” (FIP).  Luna was given 1-2 weeks to live.  We were devastated and there was no way I was giving up on our little angel.  I spent hours upon hours researching this dreaded disease and started calling several major veterinary colleges in the U.S. looking for clinical trials or new innovations.  Time was running out and Luna grew sicker each day.  Lo and behold, I got a call back from UC Davis in Sacramento, CA with news of a new trial that was about to start and how soon could we get Luna there?  This was on a Sunday and we had her there that Thursday.  Luna was administered an antiviral drug of a human form that I cannot yet disclose.  She responded immediately and we were able to take her home after 5 days.  84 injections later, Luna became the first privately-owned cat to be treated with this drug…and now, seemingly cured of FIP.  Luna’s FIP Story.

    As I neared the closing of my 50th birthday year, September 2017, I got a new granddaughter; my second grandchild and I was there to witness it (like I was with the first one).   Being able to make it to Maryland now twice to witness these two beautiful baby’s births is a dream come true for this mamma/grand mamma (and OB nurse).  While I’m on the subject of grandchildren, I will announce that grand baby #3 is due to arrive on April 1, 2018 (to my son Ryan and his girlfriend Ashley).  I hope that I get to help guide this baby’s safe transition into the world as well, should that be their desire.  Here’s the comical part of grand #2’s arrival:  I got the call that labor was in full swing at 4:22 a.m.  My husband had me booked on a direct flight that was leaving at 6:45.  We were at the airport by 5:15 and I was on the ground by 7:30.  My son and his actively laboring wife, swung by the airport and got me on their way to the hospital!  The timing could not have been better.

    My new granddaughter, Kimber

    To close out the year of the big 5-0 and to celebrate Luna’s cure of FIP, we decided to add a second kitten to the family so that she could enjoy the company of a buddy. Over the course of Luna’s treatment, we had met another breeder, also in the Sacramento, CA area.  He wanted to gift Luna a buddy Savannah, a most generous gift after all we had been through!  So…back to California we went to pick up our new kitten.  Upon arrival to the cattery, another older kitten attached to us.  We simply could not leave him behind, there was no way.  Despite not being financially prepared to buy another Savannah, we were able to rob Peter to pay Paul with our funds (literally…the breeder’s name is Paul) and made it happen.  We came home with two more Savannah’s instead of one, for a total of three in our house!  For the first 5 days it was like living on the set of Wild Kingdom as we kept the cats separated while our two newbies acclimated.  After the 5th day, we opened the doors and let them duke it out.  “Wild Kingdom” because “Born Free” and now we are a happy Savannah cat family.

    In summary, what I can safely say is that I certainly do not “feel 50-51”.  I’d like to think it’s my healthy choices, but I’m not quite convinced that I didn’t just get lucky.  I’m grateful for all that is good, for all the lessons I’ve learned from the not-so-good, and I continue to have hope, patience, and tolerance for what still needs work.  Every day is an adventure to be cherished.

  • 50 Years of Reflections,  This OB Nurse

    My Reality TV Stint: One Born Every Minute

    7 years ago, many of my coworkers & myself had our shot at being on national television; not once, but for a series!  The producers (from The Office & Biggest Loser to name a few) spent several months at our hospital (Riverside Methodist), for 2 seasons back to back, filming the reality TV show “One Born Every Minute”. The series captures what really goes on in the delivery rooms of one of the busiest labor and delivery units in the country!  Chaos, mayhem, joy, drama, & miracles!  Some of the antics are so bizarre, you will have a whole new respect for what nurses deal with when caring for laboring women and their families!
    These are my episodes from season 1 & 2 that I got to take part in…an experience I’ll always treasure! Jamie Lee Curtis narrates this LifeTime Television series (8 episodes in season 1 and 10 in season 2) and every one of these stories is true and mostly unedited. If you’ve never watched them, you can do so on the website without commercials! These 3 have my mug!
     
    Season 1:
     
     
    http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/one-born-every-minute/season-1/episode-5
     
    Season 2:
  • 50 Years of Reflections,  Memories

    The Ghost of Motherhood Past-Little League Edition

    I have been writing and submitting many of my blogs to www.hubpages.com and being successfully published and featured! To read my review, please follow the link below. As always, comments and feedback are most welcome on either site! Thank you!

     

    https://hubpages.com/family/The-Ghost-of-Motherhood-Past-Little-League-Edition

  • 50 Years of Reflections

    Everyday Photo Project Take #2 2016

    What you’re seeing now is Volume 1 of the 2016 project, which contains the first six months, January 1, 2016 through June 30, 2016.

    (Written by my husband, Jamison Roberts)

    Almost 3 years after we started the first EveryDay project (February 19, 2013 to February 19, 2014), and another year after our aborted 2015 attempt, we started again on January 1, 2016. The intention this time is quite simple and the same as it was: Take a picture every single day for a year without missing a single one, not even by a minute. We primarily want to document our life, but there are times when we try to be artistic, goofy, or we just need to get a picture out of the way because we both work and have different schedules (But hey, thats life too, right?).

    There are a couple of reasons we decided to undertake the project again just a year after failing due to burnout.

    1. Deb is turning 50, and it would be fun to have the time leading up to that documented.
    2. Because of #1, we knew there would be a major trip involved, likely in Europe.
    3. We had a big cruise in January that could produce nice pictures.
    4. Due to the timing of our original project, none of the pictures were of our house. We purchased it about 4 months after the first project ended.
    5. There would be several backpacking adventures that would be fun to document as well.

    With all the experience gained from the first project, and to a lesser extent the aborted 2015 attempt, there have been some notable changes. For one, much less creativity has been utilized as far as staging pictures or being cute and / or goofy. As proud of the project as we are, when you are in the midst of it, it becomes stressful and a drag. Cutting down on the expectation of being creative for every picture as helped a lot.

    It was that expectation of creativity that doomed the 2015 project.

    Technically, there are some major differences too. The original project had a large percentage of pictures taken with the iPhone camera, and initially, with the low resolution front camera. Eventually I had transitioned to using Debs Canon T2i, which is an 18MP camera. Additionally, most pictures I would try to find cool fonts or clever ways of inserting text into the pictures.

    For the 2016 project, there are very few iPhone pictures. Sometimes the morning Safety Picture is taken with one for convenience, and they end up being the picture used. From January 1 through March 15, the original Canon T2i was used primarily. On March 16, 2016, we started using a professional grade camera, the Canon 5DS which Deb purchased for my birthday. This camera is the one used for the remainder of the year, with just a few iPhone exceptions.

    https://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0AYtWbFk5bt2jjo&cid=SM-PBAPP

  • 50 Years of Reflections

    A Long Flight and a Life Lesson

    I have been writing and submitting many of my blogs to www.hubpages.com and being successfully published and featured! To read my review, please follow the link below. As always, comments and feedback are most welcome on either site! Thank you!

     

    https://letterpile.com/personal-essays/A-Long-Flight-and-a-Life-Lesson

  • 50 Years of Reflections

    Being a Registered Nurse

    “The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs

    For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a nurse.  My friend Diane and I used to play “desk nurse” during our sleepovers when we were little (not sure what that is exactly, but it’s what we called it) and that game always stuck in my head.  Fast forward many years, many fears and people telling me that I would not be able to handle being a nurse; only to find myself in college for Business Administration instead, wishing that it was nursing school (I won’t get into how I ended up there). Fast forward another 3 years and being in an unhappy “business” job and ecstatically pregnant with my first child.  Fast forward 10 months later to the labor and delivery room  in June, 1989.  I was totally taken in by the entire labor and delivery experience.  At that moment, I decided that this was what I wanted to do.  Despite many comments from others about how it was a “heat of the moment decision” or me being “caught up in the emotions” etc. etc., I threw caution to the wind and contacted the closest college of nursing and enrolled in a pre-nursing curriculum, to start that following September. This is where the journey would begin, chipping away on my pre-requisites that were necessary before I could finally enter the actual nursing program. (I had never even taken high school chemistry or algebra!).  Fast forward another 21 months to 1991 and the birth of baby #2.  With a newborn and a toddler keeping me busy, I up and left the business world, during my maternity leave, in exchange for 3 part-time nursing-related jobs and final acceptance into the nursing program.

    I got a “nurse’s kit” for Christmas!

    Why three part-time jobs?  Well, I wanted to start getting some nursing experience, so I applied for 3 jobs and was offered all 3.  Instead of picking one, I took them all and worked them around my 20 hours a week of nursing school plus marriage and motherhood.  I worked for my kid’s pediatrician on Thursday and Saturday mornings and a local hospital Oncology floor from 4-midnight every other Saturday and Sunday and at another hospital in the postpartum unit from 3-11 and any other evening that I could squeeze in.  I was busy.  I was stressed.  I was missing out on some of my kid’s “firsts”.  I was a mom, a student, a wife, a nursing assistant…I was one hot mess with index cards taped to the bathroom mirror so that I could study while getting ready for each venture.  I carried those index cards with me every place I went.  I wondered how long I could keep up that crazy schedule and pace.  I questioned whether I had the guts to finish.  I questioned whether I’d be any good at it once I finally got done.  I questioned everything.  This went on from September 1989 – June 1993 when I finally completed the program and graduated.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, yet the most rewarding.  Nursing programs are cut-throat and they look for ways for you to mess up and fail.  It’s how they weed out the bad prospects.  In some ways, it felt like the military.

    Never so proud to wear that cap…it was first, the last and the only time!

    In 1993, I graduated.  From this point, my children would no longer be stuck with a baby sitter full-time, (and there had been 7 sitters until I finally found the perfect ones to care for my children) other than a few hours a week when I would need to get a few hours of daytime sleep from working the night shift.  I opted to work 12-hour night shifts on the postpartum unit, full-time, so that I could be home with my kids during the daytime hours.  I sacrificed my sleep; a lot of sleep.  I’d come home and nap for 3-4 hours and then stay up until it was either time to go to work again or time to go to bed.  My days and nights were all mixed up.  I know some days I was difficult to live with, but my family knew why and they were good to me; the kids knew not to push my buttons and that if I was grumpy, not to take it personal, that I was flat-out exhausted.  I give them a lot of credit for putting up with a tired, run-down mamma.  They knew I was doing this for them and how important it was to me that they be raised by parents and not constant babysitters.  I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.  I was never so glad to don that nursing cap for the pinning ceremony.  It felt like it would never come! Another great part about nursing school is that you will make friendships that will last a lifetime and before you know it, you’re helping them deliver their babies!

    I wanted a job in Labor and Delivery in the worst way; after all, that was what drove me into nursing. They simply did not hire new graduates back then for Labor and Delivery; it was unheard of to do so and since I was already a “nursing technician” (fancy name for nursing assistant, that also meant you could do some of the procedures and tasks that you’d been checked off on in nursing school to that point) on postpartum. I was easily hired there; but not really all that thrilled with the idea.  I knew it was a stepping stone, so I sucked it up and did the best job that I could so that I could get the attention of the labor and delivery nurse manager and so she would think of me when a position opened.  I took state boards in July and on October 1st, got the word that I had passed and was officially an R.N.!  Back then, you worked at a “graduate nurse or GN” while you awaited your results.  It is a very long 3 months; I will say that.  Basically, we were allowed to begin our nursing orientation under the direction of a tenured nurse and instead of signing your name “RN” you signed it “GN” followed by a very long assigned number.  Today this is no longer necessary because the boards are taken via computer and results are almost immediate.

    Fast forward yet again, to 1995 and birth to child #3.  This was an interesting day that’s kind of fun to share.  I got up to go to work for a 12-hour day shift (at some point, I had finally gotten away from night shift for a brief time).  I was contracting and it was clear that labor was starting.  I went on into work and made it until about 3:00 p.m. before things started to get intense.  My doctor so happened to be making her afternoon rounds, so we stepped into an empty room where she checked me and found me to be 5 cm.  I gave up my patient assignment, crawled into bed, got my water broken and proceeded to have a natural labor without an epidural, finally delivering close to 4:00 a.m.!  I was not yet a Labor and Delivery nurse, but I had bugged management nonstop to give me a chance.  Ironically, the labor and delivery nurse manager as well as my postpartum nurse manager both popped into my labor room to visit me, which I found unusual, especially since the labor and delivery nurse manager barely knew me.  (there was an agenda, which you will hear about shortly).   Lo and behold, 6 weeks into my maternity leave, I got the golden phone call.  “We have an immediate position in Labor and Delivery and we need a nurse NOW…but the catch is, you must start on Monday or we will have to move on to other interested candidates.”  With another 6 weeks to go on my 12-week maternity leave, I was left with a very hard decision to make.  I was not mentally ready to go back.  I had taken advantage of the new “Family and Medical Leave Act” that allowed new mothers 12 weeks of maternity leave.  I had been beyond excited about this, so this was a kick in the pants.   I gave it some thought and then I bargained with them that if I cut my leave short, they would need to agree to let me take my last 6 weeks off when I wanted to during that year.  They agreed and I was ecstatic and very nervous.   Little did I know what was about to take place.  I showed up to work that following Monday morning and was thrown to the wolves; left to make it on my own in Labor and Delivery without any bit of orientation. Here’s why…

    Christmas time at work and pregnant with child #3

    Labor and Delivery nurses must go through at least a 12-week orientation before being out on your own.  The staffing was terrible and everyone was angry that I had been hired, because what they really needed was an experienced labor and delivery nurse, not a postpartum, fairly new graduate nurse who was not of immediate help to them.  In fact, the staff were so upset, they refused to help me acclimate.  I was supposed to do simple tasks such as admissions, discharges and be a second set of hands to the other nurses until I could receive a proper orientation.  Instead, I was given full-blown assignments and was left to fend for myself, to teach myself by trial and error.  It was a cluster #$%^ if I ever saw one.  I was not about to admit defeat, and as I cried my way home after every shift, pulling out my OB textbook and reviewing the types of cases that I’d handled that day, I eventually learned the ropes and ended up strong and confident.  It was unconventional and to this day, I’ve never seen a new nurse put in this type of situation, thankfully.  It was horrible and I wanted to quit so many times.  I was frightened.  Babies were flying out and I did not know what to do, where to find equipment, whom to call and when or how to chart it all…but I made it my mission to learn and to be the best nurse that I could be. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…I have come to believe that!

    Almost 2 years later, I gave birth to child #4. It is amazing how you can work on your feet, running up and down the hallways of a busy delivery unit until the last second of pregnancy. There is no special treatment for making sure the pregnant nurse gets to eat, drink or pee. You get so dehydrated and crampy, you constantly feel like labor is starting and you pray that it is so you can finally get off your feet! Those last few months can be torture!

    FullSizeRender (1)
    Pregnant with child #4. Hanging out in the NICU visiting my friend’s daughter and her son, whom I “special” delivered also.

    I love my patients, the birth process and most of all, the flexibility that comes with being a nurse.  I raised my own children, mostly sitter-free except for random times that I needed to sleep after working night shift. I have dabbled in a few other fun things as well. I was chosen to take part in a campaign for nurse recruitment by the Ohio Board of Nursing, where a select group of nurses were featured on billboards, in commercials, the OBN website and in nursing publications sharing our stories about why we because nurses. (That is my son, child #4 in the photo shoot below; he even looks like he is not feeling well. He played the part quite well I thought!)

    www.nursingrewards.org website bio

    In 2006, I decided it was time to move on and look for more opportunity.  I called the manager at my current hospital and asked if they would consider hiring me in a contingent position.  She agreed to meet with me and after a brief tour and a few favorable recognitions from some of the physicians who knew me, she hired me on the spot, but I had to agree to come in to a part-time position.  I kept both jobs until 2008, when I decided that one job site was enough and finally cut the cord. I miss my co-workers terribly as there is definitely a comfort level that takes years to achieve.  It’s tough to be the new person and here I was, 15 years later, doing it all again. The experienced nurse, yet still a newbie.

    Today, I still love labor and delivery and for the last 9 years, have worked a bit with Maternal-Fetal Medicine, seeing high risk pregnant patients in an office setting.  I have also had the exciting opportunity to be part of a national television series, in random appearances for 2 seasons called “One Born Every Minute” that was filmed at our hospital and aired on Lifetime Television.  I have earned a nursing scholarship and the hospital footed the bill for me to complete my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree, which I just finished this year.  I have been part of a new pilot program in telemedicine called “Electronic Labor and Delivery” where I spend my shift closely observing fetal monitors and watching for pattern changes that can lead to a potential unfavorable outcome for the baby. This came at the perfect time in my career as I had begun to get burned out with my job. The EL&D pilot saved my career and now when I pick up shifts in labor and delivery at random, I enjoy my job again.  It’s sad to say, but changes in healthcare, insurance requirements, malpractice and changes with patient health conditions have been the cause of my burn-out.

    The filming of “One Born Every Minute”, talking with the producers and crew

    Someone asked me once, “What is the best part of your job”?  For me, it’s been being able to help my friends labor and delivery their babies.  I have been fortunate to have assisted in the birth of over 40 of my friend’s babies.  I’ve come in special for every one of these beautiful babies.   I love that special bond that it has created between these women, who were already my closest friends.  It gives us something to share and reminisce about that others don’t understand and will never experience.  I love that I can to do this for my friends.  I love giving them that extra bit of TLC and expertise in the hospital that they might not otherwise receive due to how busy, short-staffed and chaotic a labor and delivery unit can be, because when I’m there for them, I’m able to focus on just them. For many nurses, taking care of friends is frightening or uncomfortable.  For me, it’s special, unique and loads of fun.  These are just a few of my most treasured deliveries. I have also made lifelong friendships with some of my patients as well. Most women forget about their delivery nurse or don’t even remember our names, but every once in a while you meet one and you know you will always be a special part of their life…that’s the other amazing part of my job.

    This never gets old!

    I think it’s important to mention, that not all aspects of being a delivery nurse are smiles and roses. There are times of intense sorrow and times when you go home and swear you are never going back. We care for women with serious medical conditions who have become pregnant, women who develop conditions while pregnant and for women who know they will either never take their baby home or will endure a lifetime of special needs for their child. We see traumas and we save lives; both mothers and babies. We see family dysfunction at it’s’ worst and frustrating language barriers and cultural differences we will never understand. We do not eat a normal meal most shifts and rarely get to take even a ten-minute break. Our meals consist of grabbing a donut or a handful of chips and scarfing them down between patient checks.

    All that said, I love working in one of the busiest labor and delivery units in the country. The options and versatility of nursing are endless, the rewards are plentiful and it will toughen up the weakest of hearts and minds. You will learn conflict resolution, time management, will work holidays year after year and miss countless family events due to weekend requirements; you will hate that part; there is no getting around it. You will travel in level III snow emergencies to get to work and be crazy jealous that everyone else cozied up at home. You’ll get speeding tickets when you’re late (because being late to relieve your coworkers is never good) and you will often be let out of them because cops generally respect what you do. You will cry with your patients and that does not mean you’re weak, it shows that you are human and compassionate. You will work for other nurses so that they can do things with their families and when you need it in return, those same people may not return the favor.  You will get annoyed with your coworkers, yelled at by doctors and often times feel unappreciated by your patients.  Yet somehow through it all, there’s still nothing I’d rather be doing but being a nurse.

     

  • 50 Years of Reflections

    Halloween Memories

    I’ve always loved Halloween.  For one, I was due to be born on Halloween.  (I ended up being a week overdue).  Second, I always loved dressing up as a kid for school costume day…back when it was still allowed!  I always wanted to go trick or treating, but we lived in the country and the “old school rule” was that it was “rude to ask for candy in a neighborhood in which you didn’t live”.

    I loved taking my kids out every year!  We also lived in the country and I drove my kids into town and to a nearby subdivision to trick or treat.  In fact, a few of them even went out when in high school…I always said let them be kids for as long as they want to be!  (I need to dig out the hardcopies of all their adorable costumes and will post them here soon!)

    I love it even more now that I’m an adult as it’s fun to get all goofy and dress up with adult friends of the same mindset for parties.  These are my costumes from the last decade or so.  I haven’t been able to dress up the last two years for one reason or another, so maybe next year.  I have some good ideas conjured up for costumes.  Never grow up!!!

     

     

     

  • 50 Years of Reflections

    My Ink

    I never thought I’d get a tattoo…let alone 3 of them. It all started because my best friend Sheri and I wanted to get them together. We pondered for a good year, but never took the plunge. Little did I know; she would never actually get one after I decided to go ahead and do it (and still hasn’t)! That was in 1997-8ish when I was 32. I never recorded the exact date, I just remember my age at the time. I wanted a hummingbird since my mom loved them so much and had me interested in the pretty little critters too. I love them because they are busy, colorful, fast and they rarely slow down–like me so it seemed fitting. I was never super happy with it and even contemplated having it removed or covered with another design.

    In late 2012 after meeting Jamison, we both had tattoos that we wanted improved. He had a bad homemade tattoo on his leg from a crazy decision to let a friend with a tattoo gun try it out on him in his earlier days, so we decided that we would remedy the situation(s). I had my bird enhanced and added some flowers and vines and he had his tribal leg tattoo repaired as well. At that point, I loved it and embraced my ink and for the first time in 13 years.


    A few months later, I wanted to get another one. The decision on what to get and why came easy. Jamie and I are firm believers in the “Body, Mind & Spirit” concept as an integral part of our connection and how they are all intertwined and necessary in a healthy relationship. For me, it also means that our overall well-being comes from more than just our physical health, but also our mental and spiritual health too. When I learned that my father had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer in December of 2012, I wanted to get some sort of tattoo as a tribute to him. He is Italian and since I’m totally in love with our Italian heritage, I decided to get “Body, Mind and Spirit” in Italian on my lower, left back/hip area and in red ink (my favorite color). On Valentine’s Day 2013, we went together and got “Corpo Mente Spirito” tattoos.


    Lastly, I wanted a tattoo that symbolized Jamie’s and my marriage. We both love hearts. My favorite color is red and his is blue. Our wedding color was purple (red + blue = purple). I chose a simple three-heart design and had it tattooed onto my back on Valentine’s Day 2014.


    I love my ink and all the things they symbolize.  No regrets!

  • 50 Years of Reflections

    Random High School Memories

    High school was a crazy time.  I really never did find my place or anything that I was good at, but I certainly didn’t give up.  I ran track my freshman year, played volleyball my freshman and I think sophomore years, which conflicted with marching band, so I gave it up due to a very militant band director who made me choose between the two.  I was in the band from grade 3 through Junior year and played the clarinet (also the alto, base, contra-alto and contra-bass variations).  I made the rifle corps my Junior year.  I was a camp counselor two years for the 6th graders at Camp Ohio.  I was in the Future Business Leaders of America my junior and senior years and served as the State Vice-president.  I mostly took business classes and could type and take shorthand dictation at crazy speeds.  With FBLA, I traveled to Indianapolis, Atlanta and Washington D.C. To compete in shorthand, typing, Accounting and General Business.

    I got a part-time job as soon as I turned 16, so that pretty much put a halt to all the above, which was fine with me and I didn’t do much of anything my senior year.  I always wanted to excel at track, but could never quite find my event.  Coaches were not like they are now and really didn’t push, encourage or work with us; at least it didn’t feel like it.  After seeing how wonderful all of my kid’s coaches were with them, I’m pretty confident making that call!  When I played middle and high school basketball and volleyball, I sa the bench and most of the time, didn’t get put in until the last 30 seconds and many times, not at all.  I lacked a lot of self-confidence back then because of this.  These are all the experiences that shape us and teach us.  It was a good many years before I ever attempted another sport (age 33) and I’m so glad I did!  Those accomplishments are addressed in other posts!

    It’s been said that high school is one of the best times of your life.  I disagree; it was my least favorite time and you could not pay me to go back.  It’s funny because now with the popularity of social media, I’m in touch with so many classmates.  I think we have a better time now than 30 years ago!

     

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