Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Warning: Long Post Ahead

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I mentioned a while back that we were making some changes at our house. I have been thinking about this post for a while & what I want to say, as much for the benefit of you guys reading and for myself, so I can flesh out what I am feeling and thinking about all of this. As much as I’m building this up, you’re going to think it’s something monumental or something. I guess for me it kind of is.

To start off, a little history. Most of you know that growing up I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was set on it & didn’t waiver until after I applied to vet school in my Junior year of undergraduate school. I got on the waiting list that year, but didn’t get in. I was heartbroken for a while. Of course, my college advisor at that time (I got a different one later) didn’t necessarily tell me in plain English that getting accepted on the 3-year program was rare. It just so happened that one of my friends & classmates actually did get in that year. I was not a very good friend when I found out he had gotten in because I was jealous that it was him & not me and kept thinking, what does he have that I don’t? Aside from me bumbling through my interview, we were largely on the same playing field as far as grades & such. I don’t think I ever said anything to him that let on to what I was feeling, but I still remember sitting in Biochemistry waiting for class to start and praying I didn’t burst into tears if the teacher called on me after I found out he had gotten in. If he’s reading I want to apologize for not being happier and more excited for him.

Anyways, I continued through my senior year of undergraduate, feeling more and more like God was telling me vet school wasn’t what he wanted for me to do. I was mostly okay with that. The only problem was I didn’t know what I should be doing if I wasn’t going to go to vet school. I still applied that fall - mostly just because I wanted to prove to myself that I could get accepted & also because I still wasn’t sure what I needed to be doing & didn’t want my parents panicking about my lack of direction just yet. In hindsight I should have at least hinted to them that I was leaning toward not going. I talked to my advisor a few times about what I wanted to do and made a half-hearted attempt at applying to
grad schools (found out later that summer that I didn’t get accepted to either of the ones I applied to). I was invited to interview for vet school in the spring & went, knowing that I was 98% sure I was going to turn it down if I got accepted.

I got accepted & rejected the offer from the UT vet school. My parents were devastated that I wasn’t going. I should mention that between the fall when I applied & the spring when I interviewed I had met Anthony & fallen head over heels in love. I’m quite sure my parents blamed my decision to not go to vet school totally on him. The thing is he and I had several conversations about me thinking I shouldn’t be going but not really knowing what I should be doing. He was willing to move to
Knoxville for me to go to vet school if that’s what I wanted. So, fast forward several months of inner turmoil for me, planning a wedding, graduating with my B.S. in Animal Science, buying a house, working part-time, etc. We got married and moved to a small town nearby, and I started looking for a ‘real’ job to use my Animal Science degree. I tried to get on in management at a local Tyson plant, checked around at a few other places, but again, not very enthusiastically because I really wasn’t sure about anything career-wise. I substitute taught in the local school system for a few months while I was looking for a job.

I was starting to get desperate when my old advisor called me up & said they needed some secretarial help in the office where I had been a student worker for three years & asked if I might be interested since he knew I was still looking for a job. I took the job. Ironically, not even a month later the guy I had been talking to at Tyson called and said they had an opening now & asked if I still wanted to interview for the position. I knew my boss had pulled a few strings to get my position to full-time to help me out & we had already had conversations about the possibility of me working my way up to a better paying position, so I turned down the Tyson interview. Fast forward a few months and my boss has convinced me that I should take advantage of the free tuition (up to 9 hours/semester) offered to full-time employees of the university and go to graduate school to get my Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). I figure ‘why not’ - I don’t want to be a secretary for the rest of my life & this is a surefire way to qualify me for better positions if we ever move to a bigger city.

By the time I finish the program two years later (I had to take a couple undergrad prerequisites & the GRE before I could start the grad program) I’m what you would call ‘baby-crazy’ in a bad way, and we get pregnant my last semester before graduating. In that two years my boss goes to bat for me to get a promotion because I have taken on so much more responsibility after the person above me in the office transferred to another department & there was some shuffling of duties in the office. So, I have Ella in February of 2008, about six months after
grad school graduation. We spent a week in Centennial Women’s Hospital for preterm labor hoping & praying she wouldn’t come too early, then three weeks at home on bedrest, still hoping & praying, before my water broke at 36 weeks (technically it broke at 35 weeks, 5 days, but anyways) and she was born 4 weeks early. She spent a few nerve-wracking days in the neonatal ICU (NICU) before coming home on a billi blanket for jaundice. In the two months that followed her birth Anthony’s mom went downhill pretty fast. We spent about a week living in the hospital thinking she was going to pass away any minute (I’m sorry I don’t know a nicer way of saying that). Fast forward over the next several months which are bittersweet for Anthony & I, mourning the loss of his mother while being simultaneously overjoyed about Ella being in our family.

Then, in January, seemingly out of the blue I got the bright idea to go back to school again. I say seemingly out of the blue, because Anthony has never heard me say a thing about wanting to completely change careers. I think he had to realize that I wasn’t satisfied with my current job, but thought I might just change jobs to find something I liked better. My job is definitely challenging so I really don’t have time to get bored, but I also don’t have time to ever feel like I’m caught up. I always wanted to be able to stay home more with my kids. Even when I wanted to be a vet, I hoped I could live in a big enough city that I could just work part-time. Especially after I got married I realized more and more that being a stay-at-home mom would make me so much happier than having a big title at work or a corner office with a view.

Over the last year in particular God has been really working on my heart. I can feel Him slowly but surely shaping me and molding my desires (when I allow Him) to what He wants out of me. So, what seemed to be out of the blue to Anthony (and probably the rest of my family and the few friends I’ve told so far) was not for me. You see, I haven’t ever felt satisfied with working 40 hours a week (or more) at a desk job that when I leave at night I have a million things hanging over me that, yes, are important for me to get done if I want to keep my job & thereby keep the roof over our head, but that if I think about them in the long run, really have no lasting significance. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think what I do is useless. I just feel like I’m constantly pushing paperwork and getting way too anxious over things which are not that important in the larger scheme of things. God has been showing me that nothing I could do out in the world could be as important as the job I do at home as a wife and mother – that is what is going to have a lasting impact. As one blogger puts it, He’s been ‘turning my heart towards home.’

So, I have always loved science, especially in the area of reproduction. When I was pregnant with Ella in particular I read several books about the process of giving birth, lots of research based articles about birthing in the U.S., etc. I liked learning about what was going on with my body physiologically as it underwent so many important changes to nurture her and help bring her into the world.

So, enough (probably way more than enough) background. I am back in school & am pursuing a second B.S., in nursing. I am going to become an RN (registered nurse) and plan on working in
labor & delivery. I have held off telling people outside my parents & close friends because I wanted to be double & triple sure of my decision before announcing to the world that I’m a crazy lifelong student who can’t make up her mind what she wants to do for a career (or at least I think that’s the way other people see it). I spent the summer taking psychology classes online & am currently taking the first of two semesters of Anatomy & Physiology that are required before I can start the nursing program next fall. The program here is 6 semesters long (fall & spring), so I will graduate in the spring of 2013 (that seems so far away right now, but I know I’m going to be so busy that it will fly by). Ironically, my youngest sister who is in her sophomore year of college right now, will graduate a year before me (and she’s 7 years younger than me). I’m not quitting my job (we kinda need health insurance and to be able to pay our bills). My boss has agreed to work around the nursing school schedule & let me stay on here full-time until I’m done. The days leading up to that conversation with my boss were nerve-wracking, let me tell you. That whole thing is a story in itself. Let’s just say it was obvious to me that God was at work there.

Anyhow, it’s going to be a long, challenging road to completing the program, but I’m up for the challenge. I have talked to several nurses and feel like I know as well as I can what I’m getting myself into. I job shadowed an L&D nurse at a local hospital for a 12 hour shift a couple weekends ago to make double sure I really wanted to do this nursing thing. It only made me more sure that I could be an L&D nurse and more than that, that I would enjoy being one. I’m okay with the long shifts, with the possibility of working nights, with the schedule (certain other people are not okay with it, but I’m hoping they come around). For me, the chance to work less hours and still make what I’m making now means I’ll be able to spend that time with my family. If we ever move to a bigger city where there are more scheduling options for nurses it’s completely feasible that I could work one or two
night shifts a week and never have to put my kids in daycare (no offense meant to daycare – I just hate having to leave them with someone other than me or Anthony). I know it’s a little ironic that I’m taking time away from my family to go to nursing school, but I believe it will be worth it in the long run. I’m excited about the possibility of working at a job that I’m passionate about & that I know (even if I won’t get recognition or even a lot of thanks) is going to make a difference in people’s lives. I still remember the way the nurses took care of me & Wesley, then me & Ella the three different times I’ve been in the hospital. I may not remember many of their names or even some of their faces, but I remember how they treated me with kindness and respect and helped us tremendously during some difficult times (pre-term labor scare, NICU and Anthony’s mom). I want to be one of those people for other women. I want to be there to help them bring their babies into the world. I’m certainly not naïve – I know it’s not always a joyous occasion, but I still think it’s a job worth spending my time doing.

So, that’s my big news & also the reason I haven’t had time to post here lately. Family, school & work take precedence over blogging time, so you probably won’t hear a whole lot out of me except during breaks & when I get a second to post a short & sweet story or something.

Wow, if you made it all the way to the end of this, I owe you one.


Jennifer McClure said...

I think you'll be a great RN! You helped me so much during my pregnancy. Congrats to you for having the courage to sacrifice now in order to benefit in the future. I'm envious of you for that. Just remember- short term pain for long term gain. Good Luck!

April Holland said...

Congratulations on finding what you want to do with your life. I am still in the stage of not knowing. I am about to be 28 and you think I would know what I want to be when I grow up. I will probably be at the Peay until I retire.

Mindy said...

Thanks, you guys for the encouragement.

April, I don't think working at the Peay until you retire is a bad thing, especially if you like what you do.

L said...

I am so glad you posted this, I was really happy to learn some new things about my sister. One day soon we will be sharing our nursing stories and laughing about our crazy patient encounters :)