Life is so much different now. Let's take a look back and compare the "old" Ashley Paige to the "new" Ashley Paige, shall we?
5:30am: Wake up, shower.
6:00am: Walk Sheepie.
6:30am: Drive the sometimes miserable commute into work. Holla, I-76. I don't miss you a bit!
7:00am: Grab a hot tea and croissant and let's say I'm scheduled to open the clinic this day. I'm unlocking rooms, turning on lights, stocking drawers and cabinets with supplies for the day and maybe I even take a crack at writing out the schedule of which nurse assumes responsibility for which rooms that day.
For approximately the next nine hours, I'm caring for patients. Starting IV's, embracing teachable moments, hanging chemo, hanging blood products, taking vital signs. Helping my coworkers. Putting out small fires and I'm sure on an occasion or two, starting a few too. Consoling my patients. Admitting patients to the hospital. Discharging patients from the clinic. Changing dressings. Holding hands. Wiping tears. Fielding phone calls and paging doctors. Writing orders. Checking, double checking and even triple checking things. Charting. Of course, if you knew my old coworkers (hi girls!) you would know that the days were also undoubtedly filled with lot's of laughter.
5:30: Report off to a "closing" nurse. Pack up and begin the sometimes miserable commute home.
(Addendum: I'm sure there's a few things I'm leaving out. It breaks my heart a bit to admit that I've truly forgotten pretty much most of my life before Carter).
6:30pm: Arrive home, read the note left by my favorite dog walker. Write her back (Hi Karen!!). Walk Sheepie.
7:30pm: Begin some semblance of dinner. Watch a little TV. Do a little laundry, fold some laundry.
Typically in bed around 10. Ready to do it all again the next day. For those of you wondering where Husband is in all this, he was traveling for business. Something he did five days per week for the last five years. Every week. Every year. Monday through Friday, it was just me and Sheepie.
I would be a huge liar if I said I didn't miss those days. Not the days when my husband was hudreds of miles away from me, eating a hotel dinner by himself on his hotel bed surrounded by paperwork and his laptop, but the days when I was a nurse. Working my first ever dream job. Making a difference.
More than that, however, I miss the people. Nearly ten months has passed and not a day goes by that I don't think of how much I truly loved living in that Main Line suburb, waking up and spending each day with the best coworkers and the greatest patients a girl could ask for.
Being a Hematology/Oncology Head, Neck and Lung Chemotherapy Infusion nurse defined so much of who I am as a person, that I believe I'm still mourning the loss of my previous self. The passion and compassion with which I practiced is so very me and although I care for Carter, my husband and our house with that same passion and compassion, it's still so very different.
Being a nurse is such a rewarding profession. I've gotten to witness miracles. I've held the hands of the dying and prayed with them. I've made friendships with patients and their families that have truly changed my life. The five years that I spent working full-time as a nurse have changed me. Have changed my outlook on life and the human condition. I've been so blessed.
I always knew in my heart of hearts that I would stay home with my babies. I would make any and all sacrifices necessary to make that hope a reality. And with a full heart, I'm happy to say that I'm currently living yet another dream job. My dream of staying at home with my baby, at least. Everything else? Well, those are just minor details. But it hasn't been easy. Is anything every easy, for that matter?
Without getting too specific, financially and emotionally it has been a struggle. On the very materialisic surface, to go from a dual-income household, taking tropical vacations multiple times a year, jet-setting at the drop of a hat, immersing myself in the prospect of immediate gratification in all things JCrew and Nordstrom to barely having enough money in the budget to order a pizza one night a week, let alone indulge in anything remotely frivolous, has truly rocked my world. At first it frustrated me. In fact, it still does. But it's also forced me to appreciate the things I already have. Even if most of them fit differently and awkwardly and cardigans and sweater shawls are my new best friends.
The decision to stay home has created stress beyond my wildest imagination. The kind of stress that comes with counting pennies. Saving receipts. Fearing the negative numbers on the Excel spreadsheet. Dreading "family finance meetings." The kind of stress that is truly trying for any marriage. What has helped the most, however, has been my husband. The husband that works his ever-loving behind off to provide for our family and to allow for me to stay home and do what I know I'm meant to do in my heart of hearts.
I am not writing this post to gain pity points. I'm writing this post to share my experience. And to remind myself that this is a choice that I've made. A choice that my husband and I have chosen for ourselves. And to remind myself what I've given up for what I do every day.
I find myself sometimes losing sight of that. Especially on the trying days. And days when JCrew emailes me out the whazoo. And days when I'd much rather be sitting on the beaches of Turks and Caicos rather than in the family room of my home in Country Bumbletown, Maryland.
Here's a gander at my new full-time schedule:
6:30am: Wake up to a smiley, happy raspberry-blowing Carter. On a rare occasion, it's a cranky, angry, whiney Carter. Change a diaper, sing a song. Head downstairs to start breakfast.
7:00am: Start coffee for Husband. A bottle for C.
8:00am: Settle in on the couch for some Mickey time. There's a 50% chance Carter will actually watch Mickey and on a lucky day, this allows me time to drink my coffee and start a load of laundry.
For the next nine hours, depending on the day, I'm out running errands with Carter in tow. Depending on the day, I'm cleaning one room of the house. Every day I'm doing what feels like endless amounts of laundry. Sometimes it's the same load that's been dried and dried and dried again to rid itself of days worth of wrinkles that finally makes its way out for folding. Rarely, I'm able to put a load away. I'm prepping dinner. I'm singing songs. I'm playing games. I'm reading books. I'm making bottles, doing dishes, loading and unloading the dishwasher. I'm changing diapers. Changing clothes. Making baby food. I'm putting out small meltdowns and on some days, creating others. I'm taking Sheepie out to pee because I've finally noticed that he's crossing all four legs and hasn't moved from the rug in front of the front door. I'm playing "Musical Baby Equipment" as I try to pacify the prince into allowing me a free minute to blog or use the restroom.
5:30pm: I attempt to have dinner ready for my husband as he walks through the door, an action that I know he sincerely appreciates, but I can only hope he sees the blaring underlying message that screams, "thank you for EVERYTHING that you do, the least I can do for you is love you unconditionally have dinner on the table for you each night."
6:30pm: Share dinner with our family.
7:30pm: Start the "bedtime routine" for Carter. This typically involves a bottle and some walking/rocking around the house. It's often done by my darling husband. Sometimes I'll clean the kitchen now. Most times I sit on the couch and breathe.
8:30pm: Catch one of our favorite TV shows with Husband. Maybe catch up on our day. Show him the 45,783 pictures that I've recently taken of Carter and uploaded to Face.book or Shutter.fly. Sometimes we just sit together. So exhausted, it takes too much energy to talk. Sometimes we fold laundry.
10pm: Get into bed. Thank God for what we've been blessed with and prepare for another day.
It's different. It's exhausting. It's work. Every day I work to keep a happy, healthy baby. Every day I work to keep a happy husband. Every day I work to keep a
And I am rewarded differently. I am rewarded in laughter and smiles. In watching the small, minute changes in my son that I may not have caught otherwise. I am rewarded by an appreciative husband. Sure, I don't have the trendiest clothes any more. Honestly? I'm too disgusted by my post-baby body to care. Hopefully I'll learn to embrace the new "me" even if it makes me want to throw-up sometimes.
Sure, there's no paycheck. But the reward for all of my hardwork?