As any nurse will tell you, part of the nurse deal is working the holidays. This obligation generally mimics the same facets as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's Stages of Grief:
Denial: Oh, like hell I will work Christmas Eve. And miss my people and my dinner and and and....
Anger: WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THIS? How DARE they ruin my holiday?
Bargaining: Hello Lisa? It's me. Hey will you work Christmas Eve for me - can you BELIEVE they stiffed me and assigned me this holiday....yeah , I would totally work your New Years Eve.....Oh, you can't. Well, okay, thanks anyway. (Bitch).
Depresssion: sets in while driving to work while the whole world (seemingly) is nestled all snug in their beds, or at least hauling ass getting home from the in-laws to have a midnight cocktail.
Acceptance: Well, I am here. And I wore my Christmas socks. And brought cookies. And am making time and a half.
You get the idea.
Christmas Eve in the Emergency Room is not the optimal goal of your life, from either end of the needle. The elderly have built in sensors that reliably trigger abdominal pain when no one has made an effort to spend time with them, and the depressed souls consider this the highlight of their miserable existences - what drama, what better attention getter to announce your suicidal ideation on the night of Christ's Birth? Perfection!
Meanwhile, no one has visited Grandma in the extended care facility since the last major holiday. Certainly this new dementia progression hasn't been ongoing for months? It must be addressed RIGHT NOW. On Christmas Eve. Stat.
Middle aged patients present with their complaints of vomiting for 2 hours. Fix me now, they say, I have so much to do. Later, when you make them feel better, they want to go home NOW. Hurry up and get my papers together. And they are gone, with no gratitude for their unnecessary waste of my time.
So yes friends, Christmas Eve in the ER does not hold a candle to Christmas Eve in the NICU. Land of the teeny tinies. Home of the baby birds who fell out of the nest too soon.
Something is perfect and right about a baby being fresh and new on Christmas Eve. Bathing them, dressing them in their tiny outfits and slipping them in their handmade Christmas Stocking sleeping bags to surprise their parents when they visited on Christmas morning was a joy, a gift, a delight. Rocking a baby while looking out at a starry winter night made your heart dance with the peace that they talk about in the Christmas songs. Smuggling my friend Steve in at 3am to dress as Santa and shooting pictures to give to baby's Mom and Dad in a card was a memory I will hold until I myself have dementia in a nursing home.
Can you tell I am missing my little NICU birds?
Can you tell I am missing them A LOT?
The winds of change are blowing gently. We will have to see if they pick up.
Merry Christmas to NICU babies everywhere. You are so very special.