I’ve wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember.
My grandmother was a very sick woman, and I remember practicing my shot-giving skills on her with my play doctor kit when she wasn’t feeling well.
When she was in the hospital her last few months, it was Christmas and I was 11 years old, which obviously wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be.
But, my grandmother’s nurses were amazing.
They let us stay after visiting hours with my grandmother to open presents and have our own little Christmas party because they didn’t know if my grandmother would make it through the night.
They brought us Christmas cookies and coffee and took pictures.
That was one of my favorite holidays ever, minus the hospital setting, because of those wonderful people.
After my grandmother died, I knew that what I had always dreamed of doing when I was little was exactly what I was going to do, no matter what.
Here I come nursing!
I took anatomy in high school to prepare for nursing school. Then, I went to nursing school and loved every single second of it.
I started out as a geriatric telemetry nurse and it was rough. That’s when I started to second guess my career choice and felt like I wasn’t good enough to be a nurse.
Depression set in and I would cry before every single shift. I wasn’t happy.
I felt alone, mostly because I worked with more “seasoned” nurses that already knew exactly what they were doing.
Getting out of bed in the morning to go to work terrified me – but being in bed wasn’t a great experience, either, as I was hardly sleeping. It’s safe to say I was “off my game” whether it was at home or work.
This felt like rock bottom and then, my world changed forever for the better.
My pediatric calling
My friend was working as a child care associate at The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh and Lemeuix Family Center – a pediatric specialty hospital and special needs daycare in Pittsburgh.
She called me and told me they were looking for a full-time nurse to work in the daycare with the special needs children.
I was so excited because I had been there for a rotation as a student nurse and I loved it, but any pediatric nurse will tell you that for any peds RN job, you have to have “at least a year of experience” or they won’t even look at you.
I figured it couldn’t hurt to apply, but I didn’t think I would get a call. I had no pediatric experience outside nursing school rotations and had only been an RN for a year and a half.
Three weeks later, that wonderful phone call came asking me to come in for an interview!
I was so excited!
When I got there, they seemed extremely interested in me.
They told me that because I was ACLS and critical care-certified, I was more qualified than I thought I was.
I had experience with central lines and G-tubes, all of which I would be seeing in the pediatric setting.
Obviously, I would need training because in no way is geriatric and pediatric nursing close to the same thing, but they said they would give me a chance.
I started working two weeks later and I instantly loved it.
The kids are my world.
They melt my heart and make me believe in miracles every single day of my life.
They are miralces themselves and their parents deserve medals for all of the therapies, doctors visits, and hospital ER trips they make in a week.
I have learned more in the last two years about myself because of these wonderful children.
I have seen children with ventilators that are weaned off, children that are five years old who weren’t supposed to live past three hours of being born, and children that learn to take five steps by themselves when they were told they would never move their legs.
But the best thing of all about being a pediatric special needs nurse is that I get to see these children have birthdays and see their parents use an entire roll of film in less than five minutes, just in case they don’t get to experience the miracle of their child turning another year older.
Those are the best days. People always ask me how I can watch these children every day – watch them have to go to the ER when they are sick, have to schedule their 12th surgery so they can continue to live, or have to watch them struggle to do normal ADL’s.
My response is always the same: the greatness of these children outweighs the bad by a long shot.
I get to watch miracles happen. Every day. And that’s what keeps me going.
When I walk into work, I get greeted with smiles and hugs, and I know that I am where I should be.
I love my job, and wouldn’t change it for anything in this world.
I hope that every nurse out there can somehow find their dream job like I did, because it is worth every second.