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End of shift: Newborn sonís health scare leads mom to nursing career

Monday March 18, 2013
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Aug. 20, 2004, forever will be etched into the deepest crevasses of my mind, heart and soul. My senses seemed keener than usual. My trip to the hospital seemed to go in slow motion. I paid attention to every mundane detail, not wanting to forget one second of that day. It was the day I would welcome my first child, a son, into the world.

My labor was hard. The pain was so excruciating that at times I thought I might pass out. My son was stuck, and no amount of pushing was going to extricate his rather generously proportioned head. Then I was wheeled into the OR. The room seemed cold, sterile. It was a stark contrast to the joy, exhilaration and sense of wonder I was feeling.

After what seemed like just a few moments, my magnificent son emerged, screaming, kicking and even peeing. The instant I welcomed Austin into my arms I felt a monumental surge of happiness that I never had experienced. It seemed to engulf him and me, and at that moment we were the only two people in the world.

During the course of the evening I noticed that my son seemed to be grunting. As a first-time mom, I thought I was being a bit paranoid. The nurse acknowledged my concern without seeming too alarmed, and I dropped the matter. Still, into the evening he seemed to be struggling ever so slightly to breathe.

Again I pressed the issue, this time with a little more fortitude in my voice. His pediatrician was called, and things began to happen at such a pace that I could feel the wind being forced out of me by the intensity of the activities. Austin was rushed away, out of my safe arms to a special room where they attempted to perform a lumbar puncture. I could hear my baby screaming all the way down the hall from my room, about 100 feet away. Iíd just had a C-section, but I leaped to my feet and moved with speed that surprised even me.

Austin was flown 60 miles away to a NICU at St. Johnís Hospital in Springfield, Mo., where he was diagnosed with a severe lung infection. I could not accompany him on his journey because Iíd just had surgery and could not leave the hospital. I was devastated.

Two days later, I was able to travel to be with Austin in Springfield, where my life would forever change. All I had wanted to be growing up was a mother. Not just any mother, but an amazing one. Fate, however, stepped in and redirected my life. After observing the care my son received in the NICU, I wanted to have an impact on the lives of others the way the nurses taking care of Austin had an impact on mine. I decided right then and there, at age 26, that I would be a nurse.

I knew my relationship with nursing would be rough and long, but I was unwavering in my determination. I made a list of pros: a great career, good health benefits and a position I could be proud of. The cons: little to no money to accomplish the task, childcare needs, and hours upon hours of study in addition to my duties as a partner and mother. After weighing the benefits and drawbacks, I entered nursing school.

Since making my decision, I have not looked back. It has been a long and difficult journey, not to mention a massive learning process not only about nursing but also about who I am. Time and again, my abilities, strengths and fortitude have been tested, and I have risen to meet every challenge.

I have learned through my experiences that motherhood and nursing are very similar. Both children and patients test your resolve and your ability to think on your feet. Both will look to you to be their chief advocate.

My son is alive today because of the expert care he received in the NICU. I want to follow in the footsteps of the nurses who watched over my son for me, in the hope that someday someone will remember me as an image of caring. •

Lisa Boggs. RN, BSN, is a med/surg staff nurse at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo. She is working toward her DNP.

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