Being a Nurse Does Not Make Me a Better Mum

Being a Nurse Does Not Make Me a Better Mum

I have been a qualified nurse for the best part of 15 years now. I work in the front line of the NHS and over the years have cared for patients of all ages in some very harrowing situations. 

Since becoming a Mum over three years ago, I have heard on many occasions from my friends and family ‘oh your a nurse she’s in safe hands’ or ‘it must be good being a nurse as you know what to do when they are ill.’

Well I can tell you this for free, being a nurse does not help me be a better mum.

After my daughter’s five day midwife check we were sent back in to the hospital as the midwife was concerned as she had lost 1Ib 1oz and didn’t look right. When we arrived the staff where all very attentive (I later realised worried) I smiled at the staff, some of whom I knew and recounted the first 5 days of my daughter’s life, how she had been sleeping, feeding well, I thought and her toilet habits. They said they wanted to do some tests which showed that she was critically dehydrated with an almost unrecordable blood sugar, weighting  just 4Ib 10oz, full term, and not having pee’d for almost 24 hours, they needed to start her on a fluid drip straight away and transferred her to the special care baby unit.
Being a nurse who has experience of caring for really sick children did not help me know that my tiny baby was close to death and it didn’t prepare me for sitting next to her cot for the next to her little cot with wires and drips for the next 24 hours.
I missed vital cues, the hormones and sleep deprivation meant that my once highly functioning brain could no longer work and process important information. I sat sobbing and apologising for hours that I hadn’t seen how sick she was.
She recovered quickly and we were home a few days later. But as a result in the months to followed, I stopped trusting myself and my instincts, going from neglectful to neurotic as I watched my baby grow, and at about 6 months my brain returned and I started to trust myself again.
My experiences as a nurse helped me to, eventually, be relaxed about my daughters coughs and colds, to be laid back about bumps and bruises. However, following an incident when she was about two where she had her finger shut in a door and her nail came off, the panic a mother feels when their child has seriously injured themselves returned and I realised then that being a nurse doesn’t make me a better mum.

Conversely what I have discovered, is that being a mum makes me a better nurse.

I’ve never been an overly emotional person, some psychologists would analyse it as being the result of some bad childhood experience, and they would probably be right. But since becoming a Mum I would say I’m ‘totes emosh’ all the frigging time and I hate it. Although it annoys me and I do my best to suppress my emotions,  it does mean I can relate in a new and different way to my patients and their families. I understand better the delirious mum who’s been up for five nights trying to manage her child’s temperature at home. I empathise with the mum who wants to be by her sick father’s bed but has the school run to think about. Or the way that the most rational, intelligent mother just had to get her baby checked out.
My life as a mum helps me to be more emotionally connected to my patients and their families so I can see them as more then a bed number or presenting problem. I can reassure other mums that they aren’t mad, I can recount my own parenting blunders to them, or know that all that mother wants is for me to hold their baby so they can go pee.
I’m happy when my friends message me to ask for advice because I can be disconnected from the emotional side and see it clearly for them as well as saving them unnecessary trips to the GP or hospital.
Another aspect of this is my appreciation of my colleague who are also parents, the sacrifices they make to come to work, missing school plays or swimming competitions, the organisation required for childcare in the school holidays and that the last thing they want to do is call in sick but their child has chickenpox and can’t go to nursery and there is no one else to look after them.
Being a nurse doesn’t make me a better mum, but being a mum and a MOLO? Hell yeah, that makes me a better nurse. #BeMoreMOLO
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About Fiona Holter

Fiona is a single mother to a 2 and a half year old daughter. She works full time as a nurse. She says ‘middle child syndrome’ is a real thing, and as a shift worker chocolate should be consumed at any time of the day. You can follow her on Twitter

Image credit: Flickr/Nurse, by ThaQeLa Jan 11 2012

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