I feel like I always start posts with the same thing.. stating the fact that I’ve been quiet recently in terms of my blog. I want to make more of a conscious effort to blog but time seems to be running away currently, especially as it’s been a weird few weeks. Things have gone to pot a bit.
So here’s what has been going on..
If you read my previous post, you know that I’ve been suffering with abdominal pain. This is still present on and off. This then seemed to progress into me being very tired all the time. On my days off, I would be in bed until around 2pm, having had around 15 hours sleep. I would wake up still tired and not have the energy to do anything around the house.
In addition to this, I started getting dizzy spells, waves of nausea; to the point if I smelt or looked at food then I would gag, and newly prominent veins. When I say newly prominent veins, I mean the fact that I’ve got lightning bolt green/blue veins all through my breasts. When I spoke to my mum about this, she voiced concerns as this can be a sign of breast cancer. However, the veins then appeared everywhere else. They are right to the surface of my skin and highlighter blue/green all in my arms, legs and on my chest. I googled this because that’s what we all do isn’t it?! And it stated that this can be a sign of pregnancy as your body makes extra blood, to meet the needs of pregnancy. It wouldn’t have been a shock if I was pregnant as I haven’t been on contraception for 5 years now and we feel ready to start a family. I can only use the word “trying” for a baby loosely as it’s a bit tricky due to my issues around sex and my anxiety. I’d already carried out a few pregnancy tests which came back negative, but it would have been early days. So a fake negative would have been expected at this point.
I waited another few days and did another test and there it was… a very very faint line. This is the first one Kieran could see, so I knew it wasn’t in my head. I read forums, googled this etc. and after a faint positive, the HCG hormone usually doubles every 48 hours, so you should expect the faint line to get darker and darker. By this time, I’d been to the GP and got a blood test booked in. I wanted to wait until the blood test was done, I didn’t want to do another home test, see another faint line and feel all confused again. Whilst I was waiting for the blood test, I had strange stomach pains, like a pulling sensation in my womb. And still no period. With all this, I was CONVINCED I was pregnant. I would have bet my life on it. I started looking at ideas online about how to tell my family during lockdown. Started to get excited at the thought of setting up something cute.
So I went to get my blood test and was told that I would get the results the next day. Even though I knew that they would take at least 24 hours, I couldn’t stop refreshing my online medical record.
The day that the results were due back, I was on a 12 hour shift. I kept an eye on my medical record. The results were back. My HCG level was lower than 5 miU/ml, meaning I’m definitely not pregnant. How were they this low?! I couldn’t believe it. My symptoms are and were so suggestive of early pregnancy. What’s worse is that my blood results said abnormal. They showed that I have slightly low red blood cells and that I have mild neutropenia; a lack of infection fighting white blood cells. I also have a severely low Vitamin D level. My previous blood results were borderline at the end of January for these same reasons but they were not acted upon then. My neutrophils have reduced by a further 400 since January.
This makes me more likely to contract coronavirus or any infection as my immune system won’t be working how it should be. I asked the GP about this, he didn’t seem too concerned before he then looked at my asthma medications. He realised that I should be shielding as I am classed as extremely vulnerable due to the high dose of inhalers that I take twice daily and that I needed steroids for an exacerbation of asthma 3 times in 6 months last year. I asked them this at the beginning of the pandemic however they stated that they were not worried, they’ve now stated that I should have been shielding from the beginning. So I was sent home from work and haven’t been back since. I’m not going to the supermarket now. I’ve still been for walks because of my mental health. Maybe this still puts me at minimal risk of harm but the fact I already have a severe Vitamin D deficiency, sometimes struggle in terms of my mental health and do not have a garden, means I need to get some fresh air and sunlight.
I have got repeat blood tests booked for next Thursday and if I’m still neutropenic, then I am going to be referred to the haematologist for further investigations as I could have a problem with my bone marrow or it could be a metabolic issue. As you can imagine, this was pretty gutting to find out when I was expecting and hoping to be welcoming a new life.
I’m feeling brighter than I was a few days back but I’m still scared. I’m scared I’ll not be able to have babies. My period still hasn’t come and there is no sign that it is going to as of yet. It’s been nearly 10 weeks now. I’m scared I’ll always be an Aunty, a nurse, a godmother… but never a mother. I’m scared I’ll never feel that euphoria of looking at your newborn with complete and utter love. But I am grateful that I am an Aunty, that I have my niece. I just really hope I can give her a mini cousin to play with.
I’m currently sat in A&E writing this. My GP has advised me to come here as I’ve been having severe abdominal pains. These come in waves and it happened 3 nights ago for a few hours and then again today. When it happens it makes me feel like I need to rush to the toilet but then nothing much happens. The pain is that severe that I have to bite on a towel, I get goosebumps in my whole body, go dizzy and nauseous and the pain goes down my whole legs. This then goes off for around 15 minutes before coming back again. Luckily I haven’t had this for a few hours now after taking some paracetamol. But my GP advised me to be seen at the hospital as he said the pain I describe is colicky pain and is usually to do with a spasm of a tube within the body such as the bowel, urethas or fallopian tubes. I asked him whether it could be endometriosis as I’ve got strong family history of this and a lot of symptoms e.g pain with sex (aside from vaginismus, it’s more of an abdomen ache afterwards), pain with pooing, irregular periods, history of haemorrhaging. He said it could be and this is why I needed to be checked out.
The thing is.. I’ve been saying this for AGES! I’ve been referred to gynaecology numerous times before where I’ve mentioned endometriosis. They send me for a pelvic scan which comes back fine and then they discharge me. I’ve already made the point that endometriosis can not be found with an ultrasound scan however they seem to dismiss this. I’ve also been off contraception for 5 years and never been caught problem. I know people who have had fertility tests taken before this yet it’s not even been discussed with me.
Along with this, I’ve had problems with my bowels for a while. I get trapped wind and pain nearly every day, have to go to the loo far too often% etc etc.
At the start of this post, I was waiting to be seen in A&E, I’m now back at home and finishing this post.
The nurse practitioner that saw me seemed shocked when I told her what was going on with my bowels and periods.. She asked “What have your doctors done/said”. I told her nothing much at all, again she seemed shocked. I turned to her and I said “in all honesty, I believe this is because I’ve got an anxiety disorder and get fobbed off because GPs just see that word ‘anxiety’ and they blame everything on that. It’s all in my head they think. And again, I get ignored.
This isn’t a one off occasion either. It’s not the first time that I’ve heard people with mental illness being fobbed off in terms of their physical health.
This is such a huge inequality for us and a massive worry. It’s just so unfair. I wish I could take my history of mental illness off of their computer screen so they would take me seriously and act on things properly.
I’m 25 years old, why should I have to live with pain? Why should I live my life in worry that I’ll never have children because of undiagnosed endometriosis?
This also isn’t fair on the service that are struggling with the impact of Covid-19 currently as I needed to see my GP, this should have been dealt with earlier before it’s got to the point that I was writhing round my bed in agony. I shouldn’t have had to use the A&E service. I’ve then unnecessarily put myself at risk of contracting coronavirus by going into this environment, which is terrifying as I’m at high risk due to asthma.
Has anyone else had any experiences like this? Did you manage to resolve this?
Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet again, I’ve been a little busy with work and other things.. I’ll explain further down the post.
As you all know, we’re in lockdown currently. This means I only get to travel to work and to go food shopping, that is it. I miss my family and friends but so far, I’ve been enjoying not having to guilt trip myself that I SHOULD be going out and doing something on my days off. I’ve been relaxing and started something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.. I’m writing a book. The book is about growing up as a 90s baby including dating and mental health. Some content will be similar to my blog but I plan to speak about some funny and embarrassing dating stories. It’s going to be like Anne Frank’s diary but less depressing and more slutty haha!
This was until 2 days ago. I’m not sure if it was hormonally triggered or because I forgot to take a dose of setraline, but my mood plummeted. It started when I was at work which was pretty tough because I try to hide my emotions from others. It got worse because I had to ask for assistance with a few things throughout the day and I made a minor documentation error so this kick started the feelings of self doubt. “What if I’m not good enough for this job?” “What if people look at me and think I have no clue what I’m doing” “What if I just don’t have the magic neonatal nurse touch?”
These thoughts are difficult because I love my job. Plus going to work and getting to interact with the babies and see the little fighters growing big and strong is amazing… Especially in these tough times.
My mood wasn’t helped by the fact I’d had a bad dream the night before about Kieran telling me he didn’t want to be with me anymore and that he was going to start speaking to other girls. I think this dream stems from the waking worry that due to my issues, such as vaginismus, this may happen. It’s that worry that I’m not enough for him. Sometimes on days when he’s quiet because he’s tired or he’s feeling a bit bummed out due to the lockdown, I can’t help but analyse this wrong. It makes me worried that he’s not happy with me anymore.
I had to sit in the bathroom and have a secret cry. I don’t like Kieran seeing me cry. I find it embarrassing so sometimes I will hide my thoughts and emotions from him because if I speak about them then the tears will come. I also don’t want him to think I’m being pathetic. He’s never suggested that I am but again that’s another thought my mind vomits out at me.
These thoughts and feelings carried on to the next day, when I was at work again. I kept telling myself no one likes me, they all think I’m stupid/weird/boring etc etc. Which again lead to analysing every comment, question and interaction. When this happens I like to lose myself in cleaning if I’ve got any spare time. I like to make the ward clean and sparkly for the babies and parents.
Luckily, I’m feeling better today. I’ve had a decent amount of sleep which seems to have helped. Perhaps lack of sleep caused the relapse? I don’t know. We live in apartments and have noisy upstairs neighbours who are up at every hour bashing things about and shouting at each other so this doesn’t help. Last night they either had a quiet night.. Or I was so exhausted that I slept through it. Probably the latter.
So, if anyone else has been feeling this way, feel free to reach out to me. Sometimes speaking to a stranger about it can be easier.
Also in terms of my book, watch this space! I will keep you updated. If I’m confident enough then I may put it forward to a publisher. Either way I’ll be self publishing it on Amazon or something. Currently 2.5k words in so a bit of a way to go yet!
So if you’ve seen Sex Education or read my previous posts then you will know what vaginismus is.
Just to recap, it is an involuntary spasm of the vaginal muscles on penetration.
Now you may be thinking this only effects sex and yes, only the physical symptoms of this disorder such as intense pain have an effect on sex. But the mental symptoms of this disorder feed into everyday life. So I just thought I’d write a little bit about this. If you have partners who struggle to understand vaginismus, maybe they think you “just don’t like them enough” or “you are just avoiding sex with them” then feel free to show them this blog post.. Sometimes seeing things from an outsiders point of view can create a better understanding.
Because sex is painful for me, I have a low sex drive because I don’t want to do something that causes pain and anxiety. Also, I’m sure I’m not alone with this but as vaginismus progresses, the anxiety based around penetration then takes form in other areas of intimacy; even kissing. I find that it is because I start panicking about sex way before it may even happen.
In terms of this affecting every day life.. it is on my mind from the moment I wake up. This is because as soon as I wake up, I like to think of what the day/evening ahead will consist of. Everything has to be mapped out in my mind due to anxiety and OCD. In these plans, I will start thinking about whether I need to make some time for my boyfriend. I’m aware that this shouldn’t be planned out but I can’t help but obsess over it because I fear that if I don’t meet his needs regularly enough then he might go astray or leave me (my biggest fear). He has never suggested that he would do so and has always reassured me but still, I worry I won’t be enough for him. So, because I have started thinking about this from the waking moment, I build up anxiety about it throughout the day, meaning it then doesn’t happen naturally or that I struggle with anxiety when it does happen.
In terms of conversations we have with friends, vaginismus has an effect on this as when sex is brought into conversation, I feel like I can’t have any input into the conversation because sex is different for me. I don’t have the enthusiasm or joyful experiences that others talk about.
Also, in terms of hearing our neighbours at it all the time or seeing it in films and TV programmes (which we all know is very often.. Sex sells!), this makes me feel embarrassed and ashamed. All sorts of thoughts go through my head. Sometimes I have a lack of understanding as to why everyone’s doing it so much but then I remember that for some people it’s as easy as counting to 10.. There is no pain or anxiety. Then there’s the feeling of being inadequate.. What is my boyfriend thinking when he sees this on TV/hears others.. Is he thinking of another life.. His past.. Someone else? Is he wishing for me to be different…
Many other things also play a role in terms of sex too. I am deficient in iron and have just started treatment for this so in terms of my energy levels, it often feels like I’ve run a marathon even if I’ve actually done nothing all day. I often think.. How does anyone have the energy to have sex?! Again forgetting that for most people, it is not mentally tiring. Whereas for me, I have to spend hours preparing myself for it, trying to calm the anxiety, reduce the pain etc.
And if it does happen and the pain is so intense that I have to stop then I feel like I’ve failed myself and my boyfriend. I get angry.. Why am I not normal? I feel sad.. I’ve let him down. And in comes the self loathing and negative emotions.
Vaginismus also has an effect on other normal bodily functions such as menstruation. I’m not on contraceptive for previous health reasons and my periods are very irregular. This means that when I have plans with anyone, I have to think about how I am going to deal with this. For example, when I went to the spa with a friend. I was anxious for weeks that I would be on my period and have to cancel.. Meaning losing a lot of money and letting my friend down. Most people would think “I’ll just use a tampon” but I can’t. Even these cause horrible pain to me. Another reason my life feels controlled by vaginismus.
If you’re reading this and you have any tips for me or you’re going through this and want to have a chat so we can support each other then use my “Reach Out!” page.. Or you can contact me via my blog page “Chloe Jane” on Facebook.. Look for the blonde with the crazy patchwork shirt on.. That’s me 🙋♀️
This is something I used to Google ALL the time when I was in the midst of an ROCD spike. I would spend hours trying to find a blog or forum where someone was having the same thoughts as me and had got through it and not ended their relationship. I desperately wanted proof that it was just ROCD and not real thoughts and feelings. I still get spikes sometimes but I find them much easier to manage now. I thought it would be helpful to others if I write about my experience and give you a few tips to deal with ROCD.
So in the past, ROCD used to be debilitating for me. I would spend all my free time on Google, trying to find the answers to the million questions racing round my mind. I would sit in a ball shaking, send the person I was in a relationship with a lot of messages confessing my thoughts. I would also send essays to my friends, asking them their opinion. In terms of compulsive behaviours, my anxiety would reach a peak and I would end my relationships in order to get rid of the anxiety. This gave me temporary relief however the overthinking would soon start again. I would question that if it was just ROCD then why has the anxiety gone now I’ve ended it. This was confusing because I felt like surely if I liked them then I should feel sad, not relieved? But this is the thing with ROCD, of course the relationship anxiety is going to go away when the relationship has ended. However, this is giving in to the compulsion and it may temporarily resolve the anxiety but if you’re anything like me then you will end up wanting to see that person again, fall back into a relationship with them and start the cycle all over again. Ending the relationship during an ROCD spike isn’t the answer (unless there are external factors to be considered e.g. abuse in the relationship) because you will end up in the vicious cycle again, either with the current person or in your next relationship.. because by engaging in compulsive behaviours, you are not finding ways to manage your ROCD.
For 12 years of my life, ROCD haunted me whenever I got into a new relationship. I had it with my current boyfriend for the first 6 months of being together. I would have ROCD thoughts about my ex boyfriend.. What if I still loved my ex boyfriend? Then there was thoughts about our own relationship.. What if we’re not right together? What if it feels wrong? What if I don’t like him enough? It was tricky to deal with as I felt like I was blowing hot and cold and I didn’t dare admit this thoughts to my boyfriend as I didn’t want to upset him or worry him.
You’ll be reassured to hear… we are still together and very, very happy! My ROCD spikes are pretty mild now in comparison to what they were previously and they are usually triggered by external factors such as lack of sleep, stress and hormones. So here are a few things I have learnt/done during ROCD spikes that have helped me to heal…
Stop yourself texting your friends about it. I know that can be REALLY hard, I’ve been there and you may think as it is mental health it is important to discuss it… being open and honest about it is fine and if you’re feeling depressed then speak to someone. However, don’t go to friends to seek reassurance and answers for your thoughts. It will just keep the cycle going as it is a compulsion. Sometimes when I get tempted to do this, I do something like cleaning where I can’t be tempted to be on my phone. I then eventually forget the thought and start to feel okay again. The problem is.. when you message a friend about it, you will keep the cycle going because how are you going to forget the thought when you are going to be waiting for a reply about it. It is going to be stuck in your mind!
No matter how much your mind is telling you that you’ve fallen out of love or that you need to end your relationship, don’t do it. Tell yourself that you will wait until the thoughts have gone. No matter how hard it is. With ROCD, it will go away and you will feel that love again. Just sit with that feeling for a while, it will be worth it in the end.
The way that I know if it is true ROCD or not is that once I become anxious over something else then the ROCD thought will go away. See, if the thoughts were real then they would not disappear as soon as another anxious thought entered your mind.
If the thoughts were real then you wouldn’t feel anxious about it. Trust me, I’ve been in a bad relationship and I didn’t feel anxious about my negative thoughts about him because they were true. ROCD thoughts will cause anxiety.
On the other hand, do not dismiss abusive behaviours as just your ROCD thoughts. I have been there and it’s not good.
So there’s my tips to you..
If you are struggling with ROCD at the moment or you’re feeling depressed being in lockdown then feel free to reach out to me. My details are within the tab “Reach Out!”
Sorry that I’ve been a little quiet recently. I can’t say it is because I have been particularly busy physically but mentally I haven’t had much space left in my mind to think about much more than I already have been.
These past few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. Firstly, as you know, we were given two months notice to leave our flat. We found a beautiful house that I was so excited to move into, to then be told that the landlord has backed out and got a private tenant instead. So, we spoke to Kieran’s mum and it was agreed that we could live there to save for a mortgage instead. We’ve worked out that we’ll be able to save pretty quickly all being well.
At first I was anxious about this as it would be a big change from going to having our own little flat to having our stuff in storage and living further away from work but there was also a lot of positives in this too. Firstly, we wouldn’t have to deal with shitty landlords anymore. Secondly, myself, Kieran and his mum get on well. Thirdly, I’d be close to my family again and be only a short walk away from The Brew Shed (My uncle’s pub in Retford). I started to sort through my belongings, getting rid of everything I didn’t use or need to save space, ready to start packing.
Then, coronavirus came. I mean, it was already in the UK by this point but things suddenly seemed a lot more serious. Social distancing was strongly advised and there was talk of a lockdown. So there were new worries in regards to money but also to moving into Kieran’s mum’s house as I still have to go to work in a hospital so I am then putting her at risk then too. It was hard to know what to do as we knew we had to move out and only had 10 days left to sort this shit out.
The estate agents then happened to phone me the next day saying that the sale of the flat had fallen through due to coronavirus and that we could either resign a tenancy or stay on a monthly rolling contract. It was a hard decision to make as we would not be able to save as much for a mortgage by staying here, and our upstairs neighbours are noisy which may make it hard to sleep for night shifts. But we could experience more money worries by moving back in the middle of a lockdown.
So after all the bullshit over the past month, it turns out we’re now staying here until the nasty virus has gone away and things are back to normal then we will move back to Kieran’s mum’s house to save.
Turns out that was a good idea seems though we are now on lockdown and I believe that moving is not permitted in this time anyway. So I’ve packed the boxes away and made our flat looks like a home again.
In terms of the lockdown, I cried when I found out this was happening. It freaked me out so much. I’ve been having panic attacks about coronavirus as soon as more serious measures started being put into place. I’m so scared of ending up in critical care on a ventilator, dying or something happening to those I love. And, because I’ve got asthma that often requires steroids, I am classed as high risk but due to being a key worker I cannot self isolate from people as us nurses are needed at times like these. On hearing the news, I felt like a prisoner in my own home.. or like the world was ending. Especially when I went into the supermarket and saw empty shelves, it really felt apocalyptic.
Fast forward a few days, I am now feeling better about the lockdown as I’ve realised I can still go for a walk every day as long as I am social distancing. I will now have time to have a good spring clear out, take up a new hobby, blog, binge watch Netflix and I will be able to save a more money as long as I can keep myself away from internet shopping!
Silver linings matter at times like these.
Ideas to keep you occupied during the lockdown
Find a new favourite Netflix show.. I recommend Good Girls, How to get away with murder, Sex Education, You, The Witcher, Fresh Meat, Cuckoo, Sherlock Holmes and Jane the Virgin
Have a spring clear out.. Throw away things you don’t need or want, make space for new clothes for summer etc.
Take up a new hobby.. maybe learn a language or take up drawing
If you live with others… Play board games. They’re a great way to stay entertained for hours and can still be ordered online if you don’t have any
Facetime friends and family
Make summer plans! Something to look forward to when this is all over!
Go for a daily walk (as long as you stick to social distancing guidelines). You might even find you get more exercise during the lockdown than you usually would.
So as you may know from my previous post, I have now started panicking now about coronavirus. I started worrying about death, never having children etc. So for the first time in my life, I’ve decided to remove myself from social media. Facebook was full of shit that just scared me even more and I wasn’t seeing any positive posts.. They were all about self isolation and coronavirus and it all felt too real and scary for me.
I have health anxiety so I’m used to being worried about my health but I can usually be reassured or manage to convince myself I’ll be fine. But I can’t do that this time because even the most chilled out people I know have decided to self isolate. It’s hard to convince myself that all with be okay when everyone is in a frenzy.
A few people have asked me if I’m going to self isolate when I am not at work however I’ve made the decision not to. Some people may think I’m silly especially as I have asthma. But I know if I self isolate then all I will do is dwell on all of this and get myself into more of a state.
Also, I’m a nurse. If I’m going to catch this then it’s more likely to be at work and not from the few times I leave the house within the week.
So I’m carrying out doing the things I enjoy and that boost my mood. I am going to pretend this isn’t happening but will still take precautionary measures in terms of strict hand hygiene.
Tonight I’m going to play D & D with my friends and I’m not going to let this scary virus get in the way of that. It’s something I get to enjoy once a week and allows me to get out the house and socialise with my friends! It will also help me to escape from reality for a few hours.
I usually share my posts on Facebook for those who are interested but as I won’t be using Facebook for a while, my boyfriend will be sharing these posts. If you read my blog and don’t know my boyfriend/don’t have him on Facebook then feel free to follow me. You don’t have to make a WordPress account, you can follow via your email address.
Here’s hoping I don’t roll a 1 in my stealth check for avoiding this disease!
Thought I’d write a little post about how these crazy times are having an effect on anxiety for myself and probably many others.
Up until yesterday, I was fine. I would see constant posts about coronavirus on Facebook and think to myself “The media is just hyping it up”. I was almost convinced it was a load of crap. Of course I believe there is a virus and the number of cases within the UK…but I couldn’t help but think that the media is using scare mongering tactics, especially as a lot more people die from the flu each year. I also thought maybe there’s so much press about coronavirus at the moment as they’re trying to cover something else up. Excuse the conspiracy theory but it’s not the first time it’s happened. Don’t you ever wonder whats going on in the background whilst the media has got up obsessing about floods, ebola, coronavirus…
Anyway.. So I was cool about it. Which completely shocked me as I have awful health anxiety usually but for some reason this didn’t seem to be making me anxious at all.
I came home from work and started with a sore throat and a cough. It’s probably nothing. It could be because my inhalers have just been reduced back down to half the dosage I’ve been having for the past few months (my dose was doubled as I kept having chest infections and asthma flare ups). I also cough after food at times anyway due to acid reflux caused by a hiatus hernia. If it was any other time.. I wouldn’t be panicking THIS much about my symptoms but I can’t help but think.. What if I have coronavirus?! See that’s the thing with anxiety.. I’m now going to be panicking over every little symptom. And now I’m not going to know if my panic is actually valid or just health anxiety.
Usually I’d go to the GP for reassurance but there are now no tests for this. I’ve seen that people with coronavirus have described it as a bad cold. But I can’t help but freak out because I have asthma, making me more at risk of fatality if I was to get the virus.
All day I’ve been panicking and thinking.. “What if I die?”. There’s so much I want to do in life. I want a baby. I don’t want to die.
The fact that supermarket shelves are empty too and everyone is freaking out a lot more than they do about the flu.. I can’t help but think “Is this going to be the start of the end of the world” “What if nothing is ever the same again?”.
It just all feels super apocalyptic right now.
Someone stroke my head and tell me I’m not going to die. I won’t cough on you, I promise.
So I thought I’d write this post as I often get asked what my job role entails and I can never explain it on the spot. Sometimes when I tell people that I’m a neonatal nurse they’ll say “Oh gosh, I bet that’s really sad” or “How do you emotionally cope with that”. Before I started this job, people would try to put me off by saying “It’s all dying babies” or “You’re too maternal to cope with it”. This scared me as I thought “Oh gosh, what if it’s true?!” “Should I change my mind?”. Anyway, I went for it and it was the BEST decision I’ve ever made. What people told me was not true. So, I just wanted to run through the day to day life as a neonatal nurse and what the job entails, for anyone who is curious/interested/has misconceptions.
My alarm goes off at 5.15am. I get up, have a shower, some breakfast and put on my scrubs. I set off for work at 6.15am, drive for half an hour and arrive at 6.45am ready for handover. At 7am, handover starts. We all sit in a room and the nurse in charge of the previous shift goes through each baby, making us aware of vital information about them, what their feed routine is, etc. Once this is over, off we go, onto the ward..
When I first get onto the ward, I go and check on the babies I am looking after that day. I have a look if they are due any medications and what time their next feed is due and make a list for myself.
(At the moment, I only care for special care babies. These are the babies that are feeding and growing, nearly ready to go home however are not quite ready yet as they may be on oxygen, require more tests or have social care needs for example. We also have high dependency and intensive care level babies on the ward but extra training/qualifications are required for these babies as they may be on breathing support or ventilated. In order to me to start caring for these babies in the future, I need to gain more experience and knowledge and then go back to university for a year to carry out an Intensive Care Course.)
Some babies are on set feeds for example 33mls every 3 hourly depending on their gestation and weight. Some babies are demand fed which is where they have what they want when they want as long as its not over 5 hours between feeds. The babies that are on set feeds usually have a nasogastric tube inserted as they may have been very premature, not mastered the art of bottle/breast feeding yet or not yet be interested in milk.
When the babies are due their feeds, I carry out their vital signs observations first. Checking temperature is especially important as babies can become poorly if they get too hot or cold as they will use their energy reserves treating to maintain a normal temperature, throwing off other vital signs and possibly lowering their blood sugar to a dangerous level. After this, I change the baby’s nappy. I also ensure that I wash and dry their creases such as under their chin, change their clothes and bedding once daily. Then I start feeding them..
Many babies have oral medications such as gaviscon so this is mixed into the milk prior to feeding. Feeding premature babies is totally different to term babies as they need to be in an upright position with a hand supporting the back of their neck, rather than laid in the crook of your elbow as you usually would. This is because they often have poor coordination skills when it comes to feeding, so this position reduces the risk of choking and also helps to keep the baby awake and alert for their feed.
There are a few things we look out for during feeding, which is; bradycardia (reduced heartbeat), oxygen desaturations, colour of the baby and whether there are any signs of wind such as blue tinge round the mouth and reduction in sucking.
I am also responsible for weighing babies, reporting any changes in health to the doctors, supporting and liaising with parents, for example showing them how to bath their baby for the first time and carrying out blood tests and samples.
We often have babies that have been with us for months and have gone from being intubated/on breathing support and in an incubator to just feeding and growing in a cot.
As the babies get older, they are awake a lot more and require stimulation and attention. Therefore part of my role is also cuddling them when they are crying and chatting to them for stimulation.
We also get to do nice things on the ward. Such as, when babies have been with us for 100 days, we put a banner up for them saying “Happy 100 days”. We get visits from previous parents and their babies who we have looked after too, which is nice as we get to see how much the baby has progressed and grown up.
In between feeds, I’m often tidying up, cleaning the ward and sorting laundry out. Some people may see this as a chore but I enjoy making the ward clean and tidy for babies and their parents.
Sometimes I attend deliveries with senior staff such as caesarean sections if the baby is premature and expected to be a low birth weight. I will then either carry out or assist others to admit the baby to the ward. During admission, we do vital signs observations, bloods, insert an nasogastric tube, commence monitoring and feeds. If the baby needs a higher level of breathing support than oxygen via a nasal cannula then someone more senior to me would be carrying out the admission.
At the end of the shift, I have to document about the babies within the notes, which are then used in the handover for the next shift.
So all in all, as you’ve probably gathered, the job is not full of doom and gloom. Don’t get me wrong, there will be sad times as there is on any ward but the majority of the time, the babies get better and go home.
So yeah, there’s nothing depressing about getting to feed and cuddle babies for the majority of the day! It’s especially lovely when you get to look after a baby for a number of weeks and as they grow, you can tell they start to recognise your voice.