Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

Tomorrow I begin nursing school.  It's been a long, slightly bumpy road to get to this point, and right now I'm alternating between feeling ecstatic that this is really happening and being terrified that this is really happening, but mostly (as cheesy as it sounds) I just really can't wait to take what feels like a huge leap in the path that will lead me to the career I've dreamed about for a long time now.

As part of the application process, I was asked to write two essays, one about what I would do to make sure I was successful if I were selected for the program, and one about why I wanted to be a nurse in the first place.  This poor blog has been neglected for so long, and I don't foresee any likelihood of more regular posting anytime in the near future, so I think it's fitting that I intentionally leave it with a post about why I'm doing what I'm doing.  I know my girls will read this one day, and I'd like them to know what motivated me.

So, without further ado, here is my response to the question "Why are you pursuing a career as a nurse?"

I haven’t always wanted to be a nurse.  In fact, for as long as I can remember, my plan was always to be a teacher.  After graduating from high school, I enrolled at a junior college as an elementary education major and earned an Associate’s degree.  I even taught for two years at a private school.  However, I took some time off from school, got married, and started a family, and at that point, pursuing a career of any sort was put on hold.

And then I met Bonnie.

My oldest daughter was born in a teaching hospital.  Over the course of my 12-hour labor, I was checked on and tested by a variety of people, but aside from my obstetrician, only one stands out in my memory.  Bonnie was a nursing student shadowing one of the other nurses on duty that night.  As my contractions ebbed and flowed and she observed the nurse in action, we were able to chat.  She was a grandma who had decided to change course and go back to school, and she was just beginning her clinicals in labor & delivery.  She hadn’t had the opportunity to witness a birth yet, so she was extremely excited at the prospect.  She was very professional, and also very talkative.  In fact, Bonnie reminded me of some of the women I’d known at church while I was growing up – big, kind, cheerful, and very friendly and chatty – and I was happy to have her there to help distract me from the labor pains.  My husband enjoyed her company, too.  We were young first-time parents, and she kept us smiling and talking with stories about her children and grandchildren, and about how excited she was to become a nurse and how proud she was to be doing so at her age.

As my labor progressed, it became apparent that, although it would be close, the baby wasn’t going to arrive before it was time for Bonnie to leave for class, and she asked if we would mind if she contacted her instructor for permission to skip the lecture so she could be there for the birth.  I suppose some people would have been happy to have as few people as possible in the room while they were giving birth, but I welcomed her presence.  She was so warm and cheerful, and it made me feel so honored that, even though she had only met me that night, she was so excited for the birth of my baby.  It made me feel special.  She received permission to stay, and a little while later our daughter was born.  After exclaiming over the baby and giving us her heartfelt congratulations, and thanking us for allowing her to be a part of something so special, she slipped out and went back to school.

I only had a few hours with her, and it has nearly been thirteen years, but I will never forget her.

Bonnie’s enthusiasm for nursing stayed with me.  I remembered her when I was in the hospital giving birth to my second and then third child.  Both were born in hospitals that were not affiliated with universities, so I never had the opportunity to interact with other nursing students.  The nurses attending me were all very nice, but having a Bonnie there to distract me from the contractions would have been very welcome.

Once we decided our family was complete, I began to entertain the idea of going back to school.  I had always assumed that I would continue on with the elementary education degree, but the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that that wasn’t what I really wanted after all.  Around this time, my husband mentioned to me a story he’d heard about a woman who was trained as a doula and was using her skills to assist teen mothers before, during, and after their deliveries.  This struck a chord with me.  As I considered my options and thought about different career paths, the memory of Bonnie’s presence during my labor, combined with the emotional response I’d had to the story about the doula, helped me to realize that what I really wanted, more than anything else, was to be able to be that kind of presence for somebody else.  I wanted to follow in Bonnie’s footsteps and become a nurse, ideally a labor & delivery nurse.

As a mother of three active children, I have had many interactions with nurses.  From regular pediatric checkups to appointments when they were sick to the occasional ER visit, the nurses have been the first to greet us.  Their kindness and patience, their support and reassurance and encouragement: all those qualities have always impressed me.  I so admire nurses and all that they do.  More often than not, they are the ones who first greet the patients.  They are with them through the ups and downs of sickness and health.  They are there for the joys and the sadnesses, the losses and gains, the good news and bad.  And I have found that I want so badly to be a part of that, to be able to be that support and comfort, to hold someone’s hand, and breathe with them, and to give hugs and encouragement and a shoulder to cry on.

I started life with a desire to teach, but as my life has evolved, and my experiences and situations have shaped who I have become, I no longer have that same desire.  I still enjoy working with children, but now my desire and enthusiasm lies in nursing.  As cliché as it sounds, I want to help people, but even more than that, I want to simply be there for them.

I want to be somebody else’s Bonnie.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 11

I know today is Veteran's Day, and many people are expressing their thanks for those who have served our country.  I am definitely thankful for them, but this post today needs to be devoted to something, or, rather, someone else.

Chris's Grandma Ebert is my favorite person in the world.  The first time I met her was when Chris took me to a family Christmas party soon after we began dating.  She scared me to death because she announced to pretty much the entire extended family that she liked me.  We hadn't even kissed yet, so I was not ready for the grandma to become attached.  Six months later, when he was getting ready to leave for his two-year mission for our church, she said, "Maybe he should just stay home so we can get you while you're still available!", which also scared me to death, because, come on, the missionary's grandmother is not supposed to say things like that!

When we told her we were getting married, her response was a jubilant "Yipee!", complete with an arm thrown in the air for emphasis.  It's nice to have Grandma's approval.

Ellie's full name is Elizabeth, and she is named to honor her great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth VanDam Ebert.  Interestingly, the daughter we chose to name after her also happens to be the one who inherited her personality.

I could relate so many more stories about this amazing woman - her wicked sense of humor, her fierce independence, her undying devotion to her husband through his declining years, her quick wit, and her wonderful stories about growing up as one of 14 children - but I'll share just one more.  Today, November 11, is her 92nd birthday.  She likes to tells us how, when she was little, her family would go to the Veteran's Day parade in downtown Salt Lake City, and she thought it was so wonderful that the whole city was throwing a birthday parade just for her.

So, today I'm thankful for Grandma Betty, a beautiful and delightful woman whom I am privileged to know and love.  And I'm thankful that one day I will get to carry the title of Grandma Ebert, which I will forever associate with her.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 10

It's no surprise to anyone who's read my blog for the past year that there are some things about my church that make me uncomfortable.  I have been going through a faith transition of sorts lately, perhaps something that is long overdue, really, considering that I was born and raised Mormon and have never strayed from the church.  Mormons are prone to saying "I know" when talking about their beliefs regarding the church, and for many years that has made me uncomfortable.  There are not a lot of things that I can say I know for sure - I may believe them, but I don't know them - but the one things I feel I can say that I do know is that God loves me.  And today I'm thankful for the faith I have that allows me to know that.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 9

I spent all day today learning the ins and outs of being a dance mom.  Lexi joined her middle school dance team this year, and today they performed at their very first competition.  They were the only middle school team, so their performance was just an exhibition, meaning they weren't judged, but it gave them a chance to practice in front of a larger audience than just their coaches and a handful of parents.  There are only 9 girls on the team, but they got up there in front of all those high schoolers and the packed audience and brought their very best, and I'm proud to say they rocked it!

I heard several people comment on how sassy Lexi was (she's the last one to take her place - you be the judge).  She was definitely in her element.  She loves performing, and today I'm so thankful that she has the chance to express herself, and to be a part of a team while doing something she loves.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 8

About three years ago my friend Rachel and I decided that it wasn't enough to share books with each other, so we started a book club with other women in our neighborhood.  Since then, I have read all kinds of books that I never would have chosen on my own.  Some of them I have discovered that I love (like this month's book, The Sisters Brothers), and some I'll be happy if I never see it again (To the Lighthouse, unfortunately, and also anything written or edited by Tom Perotta), but either way, I love that not only am I trying out books and genres I might never have opened otherwise, but I'm also getting the chance to discuss them with a group of women I have grown to love.  Today, I am thankful for my book club.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 7

Thirteen years ago I became a mother.  And now this little cutie:

Has turned into this beautiful young woman:

Vicki came into this world friendly, optimistic, and cheerful, and nothing has changed.  She is always finding the positive in things, and her sense of humor is fantastic.  I'm so proud to be her mother, and I'm happy to be her friend.

I'm thankful for all my girls, but today, on the day she becomes a teenager, I'm especially thankful for Vicki.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Days 5 & 6

Day 5
I live in Portland, so I'm no stranger to rain.  But we had a dry summer and an absolutely gorgeous beginning to fall.  And now it's raining, which I find depressing.  But today, I've decided to be thankful for rain, because without the cold rainy days I wouldn't be able to enjoy the beautiful sunny days as much.

Day 6
We've lived in the same house for eight years - the longest I've lived anywhere since I was 13.  Over the years we've made connections and grown friendships with people in our neighborhood, a group of people who I have come to think of as my village.  I blogged about them two and a half years ago, and I still love them all just as much now, possibly more.  Tonight each of the girls had somewhere different to be, all at the same time, and I relied on friends to help make sure everyone was where they needed to be when they needed to be there.  I love being a part of this village, and I'm so thankful I have them.

What are you thankful for today?
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