NICU Nurse Rebecca Spielberg on Managing Life as an Adult (and all the fun things that come with it)
There are so many places online where you can find curated versions of women's lives. Every woman has incredible stories of resilience, accomplishment, and personal victories, but all too often the tougher experiences and thoughts are edited out. I've always wanted to hear more details about the complicated struggles and battles. I asked my very accomplished and intelligent friend, Rebecca Spielberg - a dedicated NICU nurse who's studying to be a neonatal Nurse Practitioner - to jot down her thoughts on managing life and all her various roles. I loved what she had to say. Thank you Rebecca!
If I could summarize my mothering style it would be the phrase, “I love you but…” A phrase I hear myself saying over and over again day in and day out. “I love you but mommy needs one second to finish this assignment.” “I love you but mommy needs to get dressed for work/make dinner/eat something/vacuum this mess…” For a while I tried to substitute the but for an and, but the point remained the same. I want to give my all to my child every day. I want to give him all my energy, all my laughter, all my joy, all my heart, all the time. But I can’t. At least I can’t all the time. I would love to sustain myself without sleep, food, or me time but I’m not a supermom.
Like many of us, I juggle many roles (I was going to say balance but that may be a stretch). I’m a Jewish mother, a wife, homemaker, a nurse, and a student. Life keeps spinning from my morning after my last shift to Shabbat back to work in a constant, never-ending merry-go-round of exhaustion, meal planning, and coffee. Many days it’s a struggle. When I was younger, I had this concept that being an adult meant your life was stable. All the essential parts were figured out and all the puzzle pieces had fallen into place. Oh how wrong I was. Being an adult guarantees none of that. What it does guarantee is a lot of hard work that often goes unnoticed, underappreciated, and, occasionally, even completely forgotten. It guarantees a lot of soul-searching, planning, and redirecting the route when things hit a bump. It guarantees a lot of tears, frustrations, and worries. And yet, I wouldn’t trade a second of the madness for more me time, as much as I enjoy the solace of eleven PM when everyone is quietly sleeping and the apartment is finally mine.
These parts I play intertwine fabulously on some occasions like when I took our son home and felt like my career as a NICU nurse had been training me for that very moment. But sometimes, there is a striking juxtaposition, like when my first born coughs for the first time and my anxious nurse-mom brain jumps to pertussis (whooping cough) and a lengthy stay in the pediatric intensive care unit, God forbid. It’s a great balancing act splitting your time between the world of healthy, normally developing children and the world of the chronically ill and incredibly sick. I feel grateful and fortunate but simultaneously anxious knowing that one small event (again - God forbid) could change our lives forever.
So I don’t sleep much, I worry more than I should, and I still need to eat to prevent a sudden onset of hanger. I don’t yet have the strength to give my everything all the time. But I give what I can at every chance I have. Truth is, nobody calls me supermom, but as I grow, maybe I’ll try to start the trend.
Rebecca Spielberg RN-BSN, BS
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit