I just finished a weekend of work and let me tell you, it was LONG. I was so exhausted last night, I went to bed at 10 and didn't get up until 10 this morning! I probably could have slept longer, too, but I didn't want to feel like I wasted a whole day ;)
Typically, each nurse gets 3 babies to care for. As an intensive unit, nurses can't have 6 patients like they do on basic nursing floors because the care level required is extensive. (Not taking a dig on floor nurses, they are the bomb.com because they CAN handle a 6 patient load. There is no way that even with all of my organizational skills that I would be able to handle 6 patients! They are AWESOME.) My orientation nurse (We'll call her JD for Jane Doe :) I don't want to be giving out too much info!) is awesome, so awesome that they constantly give her the hardest assignments because they know she can handle it and still give quality care to all of the babies. I don't mind it at all because I get to learn a lot about really sick kids. I also think that's why I leave everyday feeling totally overwhelmed :) On Friday, we had 2 of the same kids we'd been having, plus one new one. When I walked in, she asked me if I'd like to take all 3 today. Sooo, I took care of one chronic (has been there a few months), one gastroschesis baby (intestines outside the body), and one vented baby. I am proud to say I handled all of them, stayed on time with my care, and even helped re-intubate the vented baby! JD was impressed as well :)
I love my job and even though it's overwhelming, I love it for reasons like this: On Saturday, we admitted a baby who was too young. So young that it's eyes were still fused together. Can you imagine how tiny that is? On Sunday, JD and I were assigned to care for this baby. It wasn't on a ventilator so it was having to breathe for itself. Unfortunately, it was having a hard time doing that and spent most of the morning with many apneic episodes. (Note: lungs are the last thing to develop..there is no way this baby's lungs were developed enough to be breathing on its own...) JD decided that because this baby was so sick, I would care only for this one baby today and she would take the other two. I literally spent all morning keeping this baby breathing. The baby would do okay for a few minutes but then just got tired. Finally, the doctors decided to intubate. Thank goodness:) This tiny little baby could breathe now! Once on the vent, you could see the little eyes trying to open up and finally they did! They blinked a little bit and it was the coolest experience to know that you were there the first time a baby sees the world.
I will say though, that I was so nervous to be caring for this baby before it was put on the vent! I haven't had my neonatal resuscitation course yet and JD was like, "just keep the baby alive! I'll be back in a few!" I looked at her and said, "JD! Are you serious? Okay this is making me too nervous!" JD has a lot of confidence in me and I did in fact keep the baby alive :)
JD did pull me to the side later in the day though to tell me that I'm doing a great job. She said that she knows they give her hard assignments because she can handle them, but that they are hard for an orientee, let alone a new grad! A lot of the times, other orientees are sitting around doing nothing because they have one baby to care for and then nothing to do. All of our babies are so sick that we are constantly doing something and never get to sit down. JD sees all of this but also said that she's glad I was put with her because I'm smart and a hard worker and I am handling the assignments great and she doesn't know that any of the other orientees could do it!
I'm not bragging on myself, but it is really, really nice to hear that. I do leave work some days things "what in the world did I get myself in to?" but knowing that I'm doing a good job, even when I feel like I'm not makes me feel a little better. And being an advocate for these tiny little things makes it all worth it!
One last thing: we had a normal newborn come in for simple monitoring and I looked at that thing and thought, "gosh that's a big baby!" In reality, it was only 6 lbs. which is almost on the low side of healthy newborns! I've been hanging out with too many little ones lately that the normal size ones seem huge! ;)