Sometimes my job is hard…truthfully most of the time my job is hard. I spend 12 hours almost completely on my feet, in the ICU nurses do the majority of patient care (turning, bathing, getting patients out of bed) and hours of charting. It’s not uncommon to look up at the clock and realize I’m eight hours into a shift and haven’t had time to sit-down, go to the bathroom or take a drink of water. I love my job, I feel lucky to be able to do the work I do, but it’s difficult. Last Wednesday was a particularly difficult day. I was working my 3rd of 4 shifts in a row. We were understaffed, I had to switch assignments halfway through the day (any nurse knows this is an irritating thing) and tensions were high in the unit as we cared for one patient who was doing very poorly. It was 7:30 at night, I was tired, hungry, hormonal and more than ready to go home when a co-worker stopped me and asked if we could talk quickly. Truthfully, I wanted to say no, but instead I said yes and followed her into an empty supply room.
She started the conversation thanking me for helping her with a difficult patient, complementing me on a decision I had made and praising my persistence with a doctor who was not listening to another nurse (3 compliments in a row and I knew I was in for it, this conversation was going to go downhill fast). And then she said why she really wanted to talk “But what did I do to offend you, because you have not been the same to me lately.” I do not do well with confrontation so as she listed off the reasons she felt I was being cold to her and referenced a specific occasion I seemed annoyed to have her around I felt the hives popping out on my chest and my cheeks turning red and then she said “you’re just not the person I met a year ago” and I broke down crying. And I do not mean a single tear trickled down my cheek, I mean I whole body sobbed/ugly cried (hormonal hysterics if you will). I composed myself enough to apologize to her for offending/upsetting her, we agreed we both respected one another as professionals and liked one another as people, promised to not speak of my ugly crying and went our separate ways. I do not know what she did when she walked out of the hospital, but what I did was cry the entire car ride home to my mother and then my best friend on the phone, cried some more in the shower, cried as I texted my older sister and then cried myself to sleep.
Truthfully, if we had this conversation a year ago (even six months ago) I probably would have laughed it off. I honestly do not think I’ve been particularly cold to this nurse, but I would have apologized that she felt I had not been my warm self, hugged her and let it go. I know when we started the conversation that is exactly how she thought the conversation was going to go.
What made me cry for four hours was the phrase “You’re just not the person I met a year ago.” Because I know that I’m not. A year ago I was someone else entirely…a year ago I was still “Gold dress Meghan.” This time last year ago I had just found out I was a carrier for SMA. We had no idea about Dan’s carrier status, I still believed we would be fine. I still believed we could conceive naturally. A year ago I would lose track of time creating my future nursery on Pinterest, I would spend hours researching top baby gear (a sock that monitors your infants oxygen saturation while their sleeping?! Genius!) I would scribble possible baby names in a notebook (always after writing Dan and Meghan, I needed to see how they would look listed on a card!). A year ago I ordered my bridesmaids dress for my sister’s wedding a size up because I was that sure I would be pregnant at her wedding. This co-worker was right, I am not the same person I was… and sometimes I do not like the version of myself I am today.
Recognizing the negative changes I see in myself is not nearly as enjoyable as describing the positive changes I’ve seen in myself. Over the past year I have become a little harder (this is honestly the adjective I feel is most appropriate). For all the growth I’ve seen in myself, for the strength I’ve discovered, the compassion I’ve found, I know I have not simply changed for the better. (I’m not Glinda, this isn’t WICKED.)
I find I can get ugly quicker than before. (Sadly, Dan and my mother can attest to this the most, we’re always meanest to the people we love). Sometimes I hear an insult coming out of my mouth and think ‘did I really just say that?!’ I used to adore being around children, plop me in a room of toddlers and I was your designated babysitter. This November my nephew turned 1 and while all his little daycare friends and their parents crawled around the family room playing my husband and I hung-out in the kitchen, drinking wine with the other childless couples, wondering how in the world so much noise could come from such tiny humans and I thought ‘is this who I am now?’ Last month Dan and I went on vacation and our resort was over-run with families (it was a Disney Beach resort, what did I expect!) But as I laughed along with the crowd as the children had a limbo contest, inside I was thinking ‘Enough already. You smug parents with your adorable children. I’m here to relax.’ And I hated myself for it. I listen as family members talk about the exciting things happening in their lives (buying a new home, having a baby, re-locating across the country) and I fight the urge to breakdown crying, not because I’m unhappy for them, but because it’s really hard to feel as if everyone else is moving forward and I’m just sitting here, waiting for the go-ahead to take our chances with our one warrior embryo. It’s hard to not be disappointed at times with the hand life dealt us. It’s even more disappointing to listen as someone else tells me they’ve noticed the change.
So I’ve decided to make more of an effort to bring a little “Gold Dress Meghan” back into my life. (Even though I said I didn’t like her…I think she had some good traits). I’m not going to start shopping for maternity clothes or pinning nursery ideas, that’s too hard, but I need to watch myself. I do not want to become the version of myself who hates noisy kids and crowded pools. I do not want to become the version of myself who resents my loved ones for moving on with their lives. I do not want to become the version of myself who is so hurt and disappointed by my own struggles I fail to recognize how my behavior affects people around me. So I’ll take “Gold Dress Meghan’s” optimism, her generosity when it comes to giving out gifts and complements and unrelenting hope for the future. And I’ll mix that with “IVF Meghan’s” strength, self-acceptance, compassion and level-headedness. Maybe I won’t be so offended by not being the person I was a year ago if I can focus on making the person I am today better.