pregnant in (accelerated) nursing school

I briefly mentioned it in my last post, but I wanted to elaborate a little more on my current predicament. Being pregnant while completing clinicals in an accelerated nursing program was never on my to do list, but here I am! When I first saw those double pink lines on the stick, I scoured the internet for any blogs that covered being pregnant while completing nursing school and I didn’t find many results. However, it’s not unheard of. In fact, one of my instructors told me that she too was pregnant during clinicals and she managed to graduate after only missing one day (when she went into labor)! Here is some information I wish I knew when I started this journey:

  • Baby brain is REAL – Whether it’s the fact that I stopped drinking 3 Red Bulls a day or that I no longer take ADHD medication, “baby brain” has hit me hard! My ability to focus, retain information, or even string a sentence together has been greatly compromised in this new state. Fortunately for me, I’ve already passed all my major nursing classes and I only have a few electives I’m taking alongside of my clinical rotations. I’m fairly lucky that I have no tests to study for, but it has been harder to write papers when I’m constantly losing my train of thought. While I am still coping with this and don’t have any advice, here’s a fair warning to any first time moms trying to keep up with the curve!
  • Vaccine Issues- I had to reveal my pregnancy to instructors fairly early on because my vaccinations were out of date. While some vaccinations are contraindicated during pregnancy, some are only recommended in specific trimesters, and others are fine to have any time. (For instance, Tdap should be administered during the 3rd trimester) Knowing what your school requires of you and forwarding the necessary exemption paperwork to them will be crucial to completing clinicals!
  • Baby First – You have to remember to protect your body during this time. While I was comfortable with transferring some patients alone previously, I soon realized I was not as strong as I used to be and that my body mechanics had changed a lot. Additionally, telling your instructors you are pregnant may be advantageous when it comes to patient assignments. It’s best that you’re not exposed to certain communicable diseases or administer certain medications. I feel like that could be a post all on it’s own! Be willing to ask for help from your peers and let your instructors know what you’re experiencing!

I plan on adding to this list more as I go, but for now I have to get back to writing that paper…


Almost done!

Spring semester and summer clinicals flew by. A lot was happening in my world so I reluctantly haven’t updated my blog at all. I found out I was pregnant towards the end of spring semester, then I got engaged just before summer clinicals, and I got married the week before fall semester began! My grades are not straight As anymore, but my GPA is still over 3.0 which I think is pretty good all things considering. I changed my position at work and decreased my hours to fit into my schedule more flexibly.

Being pregnant and in nursing school is tough! Luckily, I didn’t get morning sickness and other than occasional sciatic pain I don’t feel much different, just rounder. I’ll try to keep this updated as time goes on.

spring [semester] has sprung!

Winter term was a frantic month but somehow I pulled off the grades I was aiming for. After a rough start, I had to reassess the situation. Initially, I upped my hours for the two weeks off during Christmas break. I thought that since my lectures were online I would be okay with continuing to take on extra shifts. I was working about 6-8 hours a day during the week but I also had weekly exams and a weekly lab that was 6 hours. I bit off more than I could chew and became stressed out. I realized that my grades were suffering so I did something I rarely do, I went to the professor’s office hours! From her emails and recorded online lectures, most of the students in my cohort got the vibe that she was one of those nurses who eat their young. I decided I had nothing to lose by going in to review my exam and ask her what I could do to improve. She ended up being totally welcoming and reasonable. When a group of us walked in, it only took a few minutes to realize that her email responses to other students that came off as short, cold, or rude  were just misinterpretations of her dark and unfiltered sense of humor. Once I figured that out, she was easy to talk to and I ended up being frank and open with her right back. When she asked the group for feedback on the class so far, I told her I felt that having two exams worth 35% each was a bit extreme and not consistent with any other courses I’ve taken. She was receptive and ended up changing the syllabus and adding two more points to our already curved previous exam. Moral of the story, it’s true what they say about office hours. If you are struggling in a course or even just not doing as well as you’d hoped: GO!

Another A and A- in the books, but I’m a few days away from the first round of spring semester exams. I’ve been procrastinating all weekend and I even have an extra day off from classes today to take advantage of but I’m off to a slow start. I feel as though I’ve done a decent job of keeping up in classes and not letting myself get behind with material I don’t understand, but I know deep down I don’t fully grasp the content. This is a problem of mine I’ve noticed before. Because some of the content we’re learning in the Med-Surg courses overlaps with what we’ve already covered in pathophysiology and pharmacology, I get bored in class and end up not paying attention. Couple that with the fact that I feel like I have “real world experience” in some topics, like caring for patients on mechanical ventilation, I think it gives me a false sense of security. The way my brain works, once I hear something once and I easily retain the information. This helped me get through my first degree with minimal studying. Of course, nursing school does not work that way! Instead of reading or skimming the chapters, I’m focusing on just completing NCLEX questions on the topics we’re covering. That is something new I’m trying since the accelerated students have been specifically warned that Med-Surg is a GPA killer for students who aren’t as comfortable with answering NCLEX questions. Another method that has worked for me in previous nursing classes so far is buying the supplemental study guides or lab guides that go along with the required textbooks. They’re not on the syllabus as “recommended” purchases in most of the classes, but they pop up on Amazon when I order the textbooks so I get them too. The questions are based on the chapters in the textbook and I’ve even found some professors will base their tests around these questions or at least will the tests are very similar. I’m going to see how that works for me in the next few weeks but I think the best advice I got about nursing school before starting was not to waste your time passively studying and just do questions and read the rationales.

As far as work goes, I am not stretching myself thin this semester. When I first started my job it was my entire world and top priority. I still love going to work and love the kids there very much, but I have accepted the fact that it is a job and I am allowed to have a life outside of the facility. Obviously, school has to come first but having a significant other/romantic relationship is not a death sentence for my goals either. It may be considered good or bad timing, but my BF is leaving on military orders this week for three weeks. It’s just training so I will have nothing to worry about and since we won’t physically be together it may be easier to buckle down and study on the weekends. Who knows how it will all turn out this semester? Time to find out.

cute confession

Of course I failed to mention this in my last update… and although it’s not directly related to nursing school, I started seeing someone new. Ironically, this all began to unfold only a couple days after posting my entry “being on your own”. While I’m trying not to let my new relationship impact my studies and work habits it has been challenging to say the least. It’s 2:30am and I’m trying to salvage what’s left of my weekend to study for my test on Tuesday. Even though I packed up 3 bags to bring all my textbooks to his house, I spent probably an hour skimming through my readings.

With the pace of winter term and my first test grade of a B-, I know my chances of keeping straight As are slipping through my fingers. I was content with being alone and studying all weekend long before I met him but now I know how everyone else in my program must feel! (Since I’m in an accelerated program, many of the students in my cohort are in serious relationships or married.) In my study buddy group, I can see how a relationship can make or break your GPA. Our “leader” who has taught us many concepts based on her real life experience is engaged and cohabitating with a very low drama partner after being in a relationship for several years. This stability probably played a significant role in her 4.0 last semester, though mostly she’s just brilliant. Our “planner” who kept everyone aware of deadlines and encouraged extreme studying sessions, is in her first relationship and its approaching the 1 year mark. She’s still very much in the puppy love stage and though they spent a lot of their dates studying for their own classes, I secretly wondered if my “singleness” gave me the slight edge for the A-s in the classes she got B+s.

I’m probably overanalyzing all this but I know what’s true of my own pattern with dating: Ever since I had my first big crush on a guy, I have been totally distracted in school. I’ve always made romance my top priority and school fell by the wayside. I promised myself I would never do that again and that I would get straight As in nursing school come hell or high water. I imagined if I did happen to get a B it would be because I tried my best but was truly not grasping the material. Now I fear I will be kicking myself for letting my guard down and focusing on my feelings yet again.

Balancing work and a newfound personal life is going to make the next year (and three weeks) of this program even more challenging!

As I Begin Winterim

I can happily report I achieved my goal of straight A’s in my first semester of nursing school! Okay, some of those A’s are technically A-‘s so not exactly a 4.0 but I’m pretty damn proud of myself. Aside from battling the awful sinus infection that I still have from the week of finals, I had a really great holiday break and am preparing to get back to the daily grind.

Aside from the day I called out sick, I took advantage of my time off school and picked up extra time at work. I should be okay to keep up some of those hours during winterim but hopefully things will calm down at work by the time the spring semester rolls around. As much as I love working, it is easy to get burnt out especially due to the nature of my job. Same kids, same assignments, same routine. While I love the consistency and it can be great to work on autopilot, I couldn’t make a career out of what I am doing right now. After graduation, I would like to do something with a bit more variety.

Personally, winter can be a challenging time of the year. It’s always dark out and the cold weather doesn’t help lift my spirits. Summer is by far my favorite season, but I’m going to try to make the best of this short semester.

being on your own

For most college students, this marks the first time in your life that you are independent. Despite being 22 with a diploma on my wall, I feel like this is the first time in my life I am on my own.

When everyone was getting their college acceptance letters, I wasn’t too sure where I wanted to go. We had only been together about a month, but I followed my boyfriend to a nearby state school because I really didn’t want to start college alone. Many would have said that was a mistake, following a guy I hardly knew. It was not. I tried to drop out after my very first day of class but he talked me out of it. He pushed me to find a major I enjoyed. Eventually, I started coming into my own and didn’t rely on him as much. Even as I was breaking up with him I said, “I wouldn’t have gotten this far without you.”

Junior year was my year of college as a single lady, but even then I wasn’t alone. I  was living in a house with two close friends who also took good care of me. Whenever I needed anything be it a home cooked meal, a glass of wine, or a shoulder to cry on, I had my roommates. I’ll be the first to admit, I was a hot mess that year. I was turning 21 and embracing my inner party girl. My roommates always looked out for me and kept me safe. Unfortunately, they were seniors and when they graduated I moved back home.

My senior year I was commuting over an hour each way to class, but I was still far from alone. I was back in my childhood home with my entire family at an arms length. Plus I had fallen in love that summer, which changes everything. I wasn’t too sure about nursing school. At this point I really just wanted to graduate college and start my life. But the closer I got to graduation, the more I freaked out. The family dynamic was becoming pretty stressful while I was frantically searching for a job. It seemed like my friends were all sprouting rings on their left hand and I was dating an emotionally distant 19 year old. I had two weeks left before graduation, just started working, was trying my best to pass all my finals, and preparing for a final presentation when my last big emotional breakdown happened. My boyfriend happened to stop by in the midst of my tears, he told me he loved me and would call me tomorrow. Of course, I never heard from him again.

Sometimes, when you are struggling to reach the surface, the best thing you can do is hit rock bottom and push yourself back up. Since graduation I have completely rebuilt myself. When the part my ex-boyfriend ordered to fix my car was delivered to my house, I grabbed some tools and fixed the damn thing myself. If someone called out at work, I picked up extra shifts every chance I could. Unless I was at work, I said yes to any friend who wanted to make plans. Maybe that’s why it’s so different for me this time around. I’m putting all my effort into my classes and my job. Although it hasn’t been easy, I have never been happier. I don’t really have any time to worry about why a guy doesn’t text me back or a free moment to have an existential crisis about where my life is headed, which is just another reason to love nursing school!

6 weeks left in the first semester

Finally, a moment to breathe. I’ve been putting in extra hours at work lately so I haven’t had much time for anything, let alone updating this blog. Classes were cancelled this week but we still have labs so I’m not quite off the hook yet. I signed up for winter term classes and the spring semester as well, it’s not going to be easy. Winter term is about a month long and my cohort has to take two classes. It’s hard enough cramming one 16 week class into 5 weeks but two! One of the classes is online, which sounds good to some students but in my experience it is a lot harder to get an A in an online class… though it’s always challenging to get an A in nursing school. Spring semester will be intense. 5 classes and 4 of them have weekly simulation lab components. I’m not sure how I’m going to pull off working during that time period, but I can’t afford to quit. After that, clinicals in the summer. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

This semester has flown by but at the same time I feel like it should be over with by now. I’m not expecting straight As, but I’m expecting a couple. If I could make Dean’s List it would be a dream come true. I’ve been at work anywhere from 16-28 hours each week.  (I know, quite a variance.) I attend 2 labs for about an hour per lab every week. In class time is around 10 hours per week, though I am taking an online class too that I’m a bit behind on video lectures. As far as studying goes, I do as much as I can. I don’t have the kind of job where I could study at work, but I don’t work on the weekend so I try to utilize that time for studying about every other weekend. The other weekends I will visit my family or spend time with my friends. If I had to estimate, I study or work on assignments at minimum 2 hours a day. My longest stretch was 10 hours in one day but that was mostly finishing an assignment.

As hard as it has been, I know it’s worth it!