NICU RT Confessions

So recently, I have been working the NICU more than I have been working with adults. It isn’t my favorite place to work, but I like it. Just so you know, my favorite will always be adult critical care because it is so…familiar. I have spent the brunt of my career (to date) taking care of the sickest of our adults. The NICU is interesting because it is a challenge. The critically ill newborn is not just a small version of a critically ill adult. There are new intricacies, new puzzles to solve. New. My inner geek loves the challenge–the part of me at my core that isn’t happy unless there is something interesting to do, a new challenge to tackle. Some of us went into the field because we wanted to cuddle little babies. I’ll be honest here: that just isn’t me. I like babies, but I like my own. I like kids if they are my own. I can look at your kid and think they are adorable, but I am just too no-nonsense for the goo-goo, gah-gah stuff. But I am a NICU respiratory therapist. Because someone told me I should be. Because I am good at my job.

So I have a whole new and different set of challenges, and oddly enough, several of these have nothing to do with the functioning of a neonate. I have personal challenges. Issues that reverberate to my very soul. And suddenly hardcore, no-nonsense Andi isn’t so tough. So here is my little list. My confessions.

1. That moment when I am called. There is a 30-weeker being delivered by crash c-section and I am needed in the OR, Stat. My heart still skips a beat and I still wonder if I am good enough. Will I know enough? Will I be able to help? What am I walking into?

2. That moment? You know the one, right? Where a new mom is born. And the room quiets except for one little cry. And my emotions are fricken traitors and my eyes get moist. Because to cry is to be healthy. And isn’t that what the parents wanted? And there is a new person in the room. It is absolutely awesome, whether that new person entered via guts and determination of the mother, or whether there was a surgical incision involved. It’s still the same to me. It should be to all of us. And I have just taught myself a lesson: to let go of the issues I have with the way my boys came into the world. They came into the world. That’s all I need.

3. If you name your child something stupid, I will make fun of you behind your back. Sorry, but you kind of deserve it. If we tell you your chosen name for your baby is “interesting”, that means we think it is the most ridiculous thing we have ever heard.

4. I got attached this past spring. I was there for 4 days straight. I was called to the OR for the delivery of a mom who almost died from blood loss. And she could’t see her baby for days. I resuscitated the baby. I kept him alive. I worked my ass off for four days straight. When he was crying because he was hungry, but he couldn’t eat. When he just wanted to be held, but any disruption made his heart rate plummet too low and his oxygen saturation bottom out. And his mommy was too sick to be there. So I leaned over him, with my hand on his little diapered butt and the other hand on the top of his head. Gentle pressure so he felt like he was being held without being held. So he could have some comfort without coding on me. And I was off for awhile. When I returned, I worked with adults. He was gone. He went home. He and mom both recovered. I had done a good job. And it affected me so profoundly that I cannot put it into words. And I still wonder what happened to them. So now I am distant. Forgive me for that. I have to be.

5. Last night, I resuscitated a 33 weeker. Zach’s gestational age. I wanted to tell the scared parents that it would be ok. That before they know it, there will be a robust toddler destroying their home. But I can’t do it. Because every baby is different. And just because it was all ok for us doesn’t mean it will be for them. Their baby came out not breathing. About half of Zach’s size. A heartrate low enough that we had to perform chest compressions. And then I start to wonder. Why us? Why them? And I see Zach’s face and I fight, fight, fight. I become over-invested. Because, while our efforts worked last night, there will be times when they do not. Last night could’ve been one of those times, and I know that my soul would’ve been crushed.

6. There are ugly babies. I’m sorry, but there really are. All that matters is the parents think they are amazingly beautiful. I just don’t tell them the truth.

7. We judge you parents. If you are pieces of shit, we know it. When you go out for “fresh air” and come back to your sick baby, covered in the residue of smoke. When you come back positive for drugs. When baby looks nothing like Baby Daddy but mysteriously like Neighbor, who is Baby Daddy’s BFF. When you are overbearing and, though you mean well, you try too hard and impede the necessary medical treatment of your very sick kid. Secretly, I want to take the baby home with me. I want to tell you that you are a piece of shit. But I cannot. We don’t leave the door to the room open so we can “hear alarms”. Those alarms sound throughout the whole unit. We leave the door open to supervise your ass.

That’s all for now. I have to get ready to go to work. NICU again tonight. More later.



Time Flies (Still)

So the boys had some more photos taken with a coworker of mine who is working on honing her photog skills. She has taken their photos before, and this time she got some great candid images of my babies. We met her at a gorgeous park in Cincinnati, which is a prime spot for photography, it would seem. Well, at least there were a bunch of others there that day for the same purpose. We saw baby bump photos, wedding and engagement photos, and family photos being taken. I just wanted some playful, casual shots of the boys, as they are growing up before my eyes. And as always, I see the photos and I still see the newborns they once were. Time goes so quickly, and with grad school now, I am always hustling and bustling to and from one destination or another. And I miss them so much. While I wasn’t looking, Evan turned eleven years old. Two more years with him until he is a teenager. I want to clutch them to me and beg them to slow down. In the mean time, I remind myself daily that I am doing all of this for them. At some point, so help me, I will be able to honestly say that I can give them anything they want. Anything. The best home, the best education. Opportunities that they may not have had if I had not pushed myself to get these higher degrees. But in the meantime, I keep my nose to the grindstone, cherish every tiny moment I am given with them, and count the days until I am finished.

Just Stop It, Already


Okay. I was avoiding this. I really was. I just did not want to get into it.

I have to get into it. If you have a Facebook account, and I am assuming you do, have you logged on lately? Have you seen some of the anti-Obama, anti-Romney crap that has infiltrated the Facebook wall? It’s everywhere, making want to go into Facebook rehab for the next few months to get away from it all.

Every four years, we do this. We mudsling. We bring up irrelevant crap that doesn’t have a damned thing to do with anything that matters. I don’t need to see Obama’s birth certificate. I am assuming the democrats would not go to all of the trouble to nominate a candidate that is ineligible to serve in the role of POTUS. I don’t give two shits about how much Romney has made in his business ventures. I am assuming his practices are legal and indicate a sharp financial mind if he has truly made a lot of money.

So today, I log on and I see this was shared by a respected friend (who happens to have some differing political views, but who cares about that? Not me). He didn’t make the photo, but someone did.

Some (okay, many) have made Dubya a villain. And he went to Harvard Business School (HBS for those of us in this B-school world). And Mitt is a Harvard MBA. OMG, they are evil, evil brothers. There is nothing there about how they stand for the same things, of how they are cut from the same political cloth. Just that they are both Harvard MBAs and it must be a terrible thing. Guilt by association? Should we stretch this to cover all MBAs? Are we all evil? Maybe. Maybe not.

The person who can build and run a successful corporation is one who can lead. One who knows how to work with a budget and allocate resources appropriately to ensure the greatest amount of productivity. One who can look at a big picture and see where cuts can be made and where more is needed. One who can work with a team to turn nothing into something. A good leader. One who can inspire those under him or her, motivate subordinates toward a common goal. Bridge the gap between personal and organizational interest so that they are in alignment to get the most from the workforce. Put the best people in the best positions for them in order to maximize the use of everyone’s talents. Recognize where changes need to be made and has a working knowledge of how to effectively implement those changes in a systematic manner in order to do so with the least amount of ripples. Appreciate the contribution from every participant, from the smallest to the largest roles. In fact, a good leader sees no small roles, just different ones.

Interesting. Exactly what an MBA education teaches. And HBS is one of the best, most selective B-schools on the planet. (If I am correct, I think they are second only to Wharton, but I stopped looking at all of that once I got into my top-choice B-School.) As a matter of fact, my school has adopted the case method made famous at HBS, and for all of my 600-level courses, I had to purchase a digital course pack from HBS through which to study these cases.

So I may be biased, but I see an MBA from a top B-school as a strong point. Not the only selling point to be considered. Just like anything, it does not ensure success. You can teach, but if someone doesn’t have it, they, well…they just don’t have it. I could take voice lessons, but I would still have the warble of a dying cow when trying to sing. But don’t discredit someone for the wrong reason. I can live with the fact that your decision may be different than mine if it was made in an educated, logical manner. Not based on alma mater or who one’s classmate was in 1975.

So please, as this campaign process continues, can we just stick to the issues? Can we be civil and logical and not insult the intelligence of the American voter in the process? Can we talk about taxation, education, FUCKING HEALTHCARE? I mean, isn’t that what matters?