Laura K. Blank, Senior SRNA
York College of Pennsylvania / WellSpan Health Nurse Anesthetist Program
It’s Sunday, and I’m in the middle of my cardiac rotation, with an on-pump aortic valve replacement scheduled for tomorrow. My 3-year-old son is in daycare, and when I awoke this morning to prepare for the week, a notification from his school popped up on my phone --- and a feeling of dread immediately washed over me. Yet again, another unpredictable daycare closure because of COVID-19 exposure. Another week of shuffling schedules, exercising adaptability, and remembering expectations don’t change for my husband’s job and my clinical requirements. Another week of hoping our unvaccinated son doesn’t get sick.
I’d like to say this happens infrequently, but I can recall on two separate occasions my son’s daycare closing the week before finals. My perfectly planned study and paper-writing schedule instantly went up in smoke. All this is on top of the normal daily struggles of trying to juggle school, work, family, and parenting.
It hasn’t all been challenging. The joys that come from working hard and setting a good example for my child give me confidence that my husband and I are paving the way for him in life. We hope we are teaching him kindness, joy, and thankfulness as we adapt to uncertainty. We make sacrifices in other areas to be able to always show him love and attention while prioritizing my schooling and patient care. He may be too young to remember this pandemic season, but perhaps one day he will ask us how we got to where we are. We are teaching him ownership, hard work, and dedication.
As a senior SRNA, the end is in sight. I have an ode to all the other mothers and fathers out there in school. We all have different challenges. Some battle with illness and others need more from their support system than available; there are relationship troubles and financial troubles. School demands time and sacrifice. It’s difficult to miss Mother’s Day trips, big birthday parties, or life events.
Here’s to the parents who put their patients first and still show up for their kids. Here’s to the support systems, the life partners, and the family and friends who jump in to help or understand the absence of time. Here’s to the faculty and preceptors who understand the balance as well. In the end, showing love to our families while learning how to best care for our patients will be worth all the sacrifice in the end.