Appreciating Every Moment: An Interview with Pediatric Nurse, Brittany SturtevantPosted on
What is your Current Gig/Passion Hustle:
My current passion is to love and appreciate every moment while it is happening. I have been a pediatric nurse for 10 years, working primarily in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Stanford Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, California. From the beginning I felt God gave me a passion and a heart for sick children, and I fell in love with their resilience and ability to see past tragedy.
Children are incredibly strong and capable, and mostly I get to see their strength in action and watch them walk out of the hospital healed. Unfortunately, sometimes I do not get to see them heal, and have watched many illnesses take the lives of beautiful babies and children.
When my husband and I had our first child, I took a huge emotional hit with understanding how much loss I had witnessed over the years, and how each family suffers when they lose a child. My empathy grew immensely during that time, and over the last five years I have found a balance in understanding several truths: first, every single day is a gift; and second, God gave me my children to care for while I am on this earth.
I pray they do not go home to Him early. But in order to cope with some of the tragedies I have witnessed, I am choosing to love every moment in life and to embrace the mountain tops and the low valleys. Some moments are beautiful, filled with love and kisses and snuggles between my husband and I and our 3 children.
Some moments are challenging, filled with tears and whining and fighting bedtime and brushing teeth and iPad time. But I am learning to be patient with my little humans, love them unconditionally, and embrace every single step by being mentally and emotionally present.
I am practicing putting down my phone and picking up a dollar tree crown to play princess with my daughters. I know these are the best years of my life, and I just want to be certain when I get to the end that I enjoyed every moment.
What is a quote that you live by?
Two people I love and respect:
- Love is the bridge between you and everything. -Rumi
- Do your thing and don't care if they like it. -Tina Fey, Bossypants
What small thing will you do today to make your world/community a better place?
I am a true believer in the fact that our future will directly be impacted by our children. It is why I am committed to raising little humans who will grow up and actively take part in making our world a better place. I will teach them to be kind to everyone, to be brave and have courage to stand up for what is right (even if it is hard to do), and to believe that they are loved deeply by our Creator.
Also, my husband and I are currently working on a garden that will hopefully grow to benefit our family for seasons to come with delicious veggies and fruit from the trees we planted too.
What is a day in your life like?
If you have ever known a nurse, then you know that nothing beats my schedule. I have very flexible hours, and make my own schedule, which allows us to take many freedoms in traveling the world together as a family. I do not have a typical routine, but you can be certain you will find me either outside in the sun, reading a great book, or spending time with family.
On a work day, I am up early at 0500 to grab coffee and breakfast for the drive into work, which is about an hour. My shift starts at 0700 and are 12 hours long, and they are basically a 5 mile marathon of busy patient care.
The most I have ever walked in one shift is 8 miles!! And I am not complaining. It’s a great substitute for exercise. We manage many complex illnesses at our institution, including organ transplants, major surgeries, complex cardiac defects, and any traumas or illnesses you can think of. It is very rewarding! But I will spare you the details. You can be sure it includes all the bodily fluids (yes even the brown ones) and that I do not wear my work clothes into the house once I get home.
On an off day? The sky is the limit. We have trekked with all three kids across the country on road trips, flown to Europe, Hawaii, Florida, and only make more plans for seeing the world as much as we can. But my favorite part of the day is the first sip of coffee in the morning, sitting next to my husband Jake, playing trivia or researching interesting facts.
What has been your journey to get to where you are now in your life? What was the biggest struggle you had to overcome?
My journey can be described with one word: Grace. My gifts are in the arena of compassion and service, which makes sense why I went into the field of Nursing. However, a downside to that set of gifts is my ability to please people, and that has been a constant struggle for me my whole life. I have been an expert people-pleaser for 34 years, and it has not always helped me become who I desire to be.
My True North will always be Jesus Christ, and I am learning that if I aim to please Him as opposed to people around me, I will become who He created me to be. I have just started learning how to be confident in who I am and not make decisions based on how others will feel about them.
I believe a huge piece to this puzzle is the man I married. He is not a people-pleaser in the best way. He challenges me to speak my mind, but stay loving and level headed.
Our journey has led us to reverse conventional roles, where I am the full time working parent and Jake is the full time stay-at-home parent. He gave up his career 7 years ago when our eldest Selah was born, and has continued ever since.
This has far and away been the biggest struggle we have faced; there have been many times both of us have wanted to trade, or we have struggled with society's view on our family, or even just the sacrifice for him of not knowing what he will go back to once the kids are grown and in school. However, every time we have prayed about it, the answer has been the same: this is our journey, and our roles are correct for the time being.
At first I felt I was making a huge sacrifice in missing the home life of our children, and often times I do miss a lot of great stuff. But I am watching my two daughters be raised by a father who loves them unconditionally. And I know that I know that I know it will be the difference in their confidence and identity.
I am so grateful my children will have the advantage of their father home full time. And with my schedule I get to be home much more than the average working parent.
What was the driver for you to pursue your current career/passion side hustle?
My parents have always encouraged me to work hard, do my best, and finish school. I feel like Nursing is a lot like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter. Nursing chose me, I didn't choose it. When I got into nursing school I saw a bedpan for the first time and thought, "wait what did I sign up for?" But now I know it was my destiny, and I have my parents to thank for encouraging and pushing me to find something I love in the field of medicine.
What is your favorite story from the work you’ve done?
I recently had the pleasure of caring for a very sick boy who had a sick liver and needed a liver transplant. He had multiple complications, and unfortunately, after his transplant, had an event which led to him being placed on a heart/lung bypass machine.
He was so very sick for months, and I cared for him often. I grew close with his parents, and prayed for him often. My kids and I would pray for him at home, I would pray for him on my drive, and I would pray with him at the bedside.
I really did not think he would survive, but just kept asking God to heal him and let him see Christmas with his parents. Christmas came and went, and he held on.
Slowly, after about 3 months of critical illness, he started to improve. He took very small steps towards weaning off the heart/lung bypass machine. Then he moved towards breathing on his own. His liver started to get better.
After 6 months in the ICU, I got to watch him sit up in bed and play video games with his dad. He is a superhero. His strength and courage cannot be proven using science or numbers. His determination to keep fighting was not aligned with his clinical diagnosis.
And yet, I SAW A MIRACLE. I got to hug his mom and dad goodbye when he was finally healthy enough to transfer back to their hometown for physical therapy. I just cried with them and thanked them for letting me into their fold for a short time, and that I would never forget them.
I could tell you a hundred miracle stories like this, but none compare to how sick this patient was and how he was healed. I just love a great miracle.
What prepared you the most for what you’re doing now?
My faith in God, hands down.
What is your biggest fear?
Losing a loved one unexpectedly. Oh, and even at 34 I am still not a huge fan of the dark.
How do you balance life and career?
I practice self-care often. You know on an airplane when they say, "first place the oxygen mask over your head, and THEN help the child put theirs on next." The same concept is true for the service industry. If my tank is empty, it is extremely difficult to care for others' whose tanks may be empty. I need to take care of myself with exercise, healthy food, family time, and sleep in order to be at my best for my patients and their families.
How do you use what makes your heart sing to make the little bit of world around you a better place?
Treat everyone with love and respect. DON'T GOSSIP. And smile. Its funny when you smile at people, they smile back! Try it, it's kind of funny.
What do you wish more women would do for themselves?
Look in the mirror and believe that they are beautiful. AND also that they would rank the beauty of their mind and heart higher than any external beauty.
What is something you hope our readers will do after they read this interview?
Buy a pair of Poppy shoes for yourself, and then give a pair as a gift for someone you love and is working their butt off to keep the whole system together.
What does it mean to be an everyday hero to you?
Be a good friend, be kind, love others (especially those that are difficult to love), and laugh a lot. Be silly when its time to be silly, and be still when its time to be still. And most of all stand firm in what you believe in. We carry our faith with us during the calm so that it will carry us during the storm.