Today my Timehop app reminds me that over the last eight years I was scheduled to work six of the last eight Christmas Eves and (or) Christmas Days. I’m not surprised. I am a nurse who works in a very busy Level III NICU in a very busy hospital. I have worked as a nurse in very busy Level III NICUs in very busy hospitals since 1990…since 1988 if you consider my days as a nurse’s aid and surgical tech. Since Hollie was very young, if it is Christmas Eve and (or) Christmas Day, I was almost always working and sleeping because I needed to work through the long night. It was strange. It was often hard. Extended family almost always never understood. But it was what I signed on for when I chose to be a nurse…and I was not alone…no, not ever.
But this year, this Christmas Eve, this Christmas Day, I am home. I am home all day and all night and all day and all night for Christmas with my family circus. I am not exhausted from a long overnight shift just hours before trying to stay awake and not be so grumpy while enjoying a few, short hours of face time with my children and husband before I take a nap before work again. I am not trying to rest a little before work in a much too quiet, empty house because my circus is with extended family celebrating while I get ready for work. I am home.
As a nurse, to be home tonight and tomorrow is most always the exception rather than the expectation. I know that. Every bedside nurse knows that. My husband and my children know that. Every bedside nurse’s family knows that. It’s what we signed on for when we chose to become a nurse. It’s hard. We sacrifice much. Our families sacrifice much. It’s hard. It’s hard for us and for the ones we love the most. But, unlike those whom we care for, at the end of our long, twelve hour shift, we get to leave. We get to leave and go home when our shift is over. That is one absolute truth nurses know Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And at the end of those shifts we go home and hug our family tightly…no matter how tired we are or how much we need to sleep a little before the next busy shift.
This year, as I sit in front of the perfect Big Top family tree with far too many gifts because it is a big family circus (a very big family circus) I am reflecting on the truth that I am home and I am thankful, so very thankful for so many reasons. Next year I am certain that I shall be working. Either way I am thankful and I am blessed.