Working as an Emergency Veterinary Nurse has its fair share of challenges - from night shift struggles, fatigue and emotions, to unpredictable workloads. Throw twin babies, and a toddler into the mix, and now we're talking ambitious! Animal Emergency Service Carrara's Practice Manager and Emergency Nurse Lisa, tells how she manages emergency veterinary nursing while raising her young family at the same time.
For 17 years Emergency Nursing was my career.
I loved every moment of it. I loved the unpredictability, the work surges, the pure rush of emergency in general. I loved getting through the unthinkable and just when you think you can't admit any more patients, another crashing patient comes through the door to the crash bench.
You finish your shift... your back hurts, your feet hurt, sometimes your head hurts, but walking out the door knowing you have contributed to saving lives - people's beloved pets, people's family members and helping those who don't have a voice feel comfort when they need it is truly the most rewarding role. For this and many more reasons, giving up work when I started my family just wasn't an option for me.
I love my job and I love my family and I didn't want to give up either - so I did both.
It's tough and probably one of the toughest things I've ever done but I didn't want to be apart from my children. I wanted to keep them out of childcare until they were at least two years old and I needed my job, not only because I loved my job but I needed it for me.
Any woman who is a parent will understand what I mean. When you have children your whole world changes and mine a little more than average as I had twins. Every single thing you do is for them and at times it feels like there is no reprieve which can be draining, not only on you physically but also on your mental health and self worth.
For this reason, I was determined to work my normal workload, continue to develop my career and raise my family, because who needs sleep right?!
The first and most important thing is to find a supportive employer.
I have been extremely lucky that Animal Emergency Service has always been supportive of me being a working mother and have always accommodated my work around this.
My usual working day was 6pm-2.30pm without overtime, but I always needed to be home by 4am before my husband left for work. I would get home at about 3-3.30am and without fail the twins would be awake by 4.30pm right on Queensland sunrise. Yes, you calculated that right - that's about 1-1.5 hours sleep before my day began, which left me feeling like I had a hangover from my 20s after being out drinking and dancing all night!
If you have worked shift work you will know the feeling I'm talking about. I call it the night shift hangover. It ranges from not only sleep deprivation but nausea, headaches and overwhelming feelings of fatigue. This is how I started my day with my one-year-old twins and my almost three-year-old toddler.
It was a challenge, a huge challenge but if you want something bad enough you will make it happen.
You will make it a priority and it will happen, and if it doesn't then you just didn't want it bad enough. I had plenty of moments where I thought it's too much and I couldn't do it, but you have to push through.
One morning in particular I had worked a busy shift during our peak season which we call 'tick season'. It's the time of year when we get a large influx of paralysed patients needing treatment for tick paralysis.
I was tired, my back hurt, my feet hurt and I was mentally drained. I flopped into bed to grab my 1-1.5 hour sleep hoping like nothing else the twins would sleep longer. They didn't... I was woken at about 5am with loud shrieking coming from their room. It was happy shrieking so I laid in bed a little longer, desperate to get even 15 minutes extra rest.
They didn't stop so I accepted it was time to get up and start a new day. I opened the door and to my shock, the twins who sleep in separate cots across from each other had both pulled off their full nappies and had been throwing and playing in the contents. They'd been banging it on the rails of the cots and there was literally baby poop everywhere, even in the folds of their earlobes.
It was from one side of the room to the other, yes literally a poop fight.
I said nothing, walked out the room, sat on the floor and cried. What the heck was I going to do. I was tired, I felt sick, my body hurt and I did not have the mental energy to deal with this. I actually contemplated calling my husband and telling him to come home and that I couldn't do this, I was done. But I didn't. This would have been defeat. I made my choice to work and I didn't want anyone to think or tell me I couldn't do both.
Stubborn I know. So I sat there and thought, I have to get up and do this because if I don't who else is going to do it for me? As I said before - if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen, no matter what your career. If you want to be a working mother, make it happen!
I truly believe there is always a way if you have the heart, courage and passion to find it.