the working mother

Megan Coy, a nurse, mother, and wife, explains how she balances her career, motherhood, and her personal identity.

Megan stares out the window of her car before attending to her second patient of the day.

Megan Coy was raised to become a nurse. Her mother was a nurse, and her grandmother worked in the healthcare field as well.  Megan, now 26, wanted to follow in her mother and grandmother’s footsteps, going to nursing school right after she graduated high school; however, she ended up dropping out after deciding it wasn’t for her. But her desire to help others eventually landed her back in nursing school, and the second time around, it stuck. “I like the idea of being able to help people through vulnerable times in their lives,” said Megan. For her, the best part of being a nurse is the relationships she builds with her patients. One of Megan’s three jobs is to be a home-health nurse through Cambridge Home Health Care. With this job, Megan goes to patients’ homes to treat them, a service that has been especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. For patients who are elderly and are more at risk for exposure, Megan’s weekly visits are essential to keeping them safe and healthy. The most rewarding part of the job for Megan is feeling like she’s making a difference in people’s lives, especially the patients she sees on a regular basis. “You become family, and they feel like they’re in better hands with your care,” said Megan. But for Megan, the road to becoming a nurse was not an easy one. Megan restarted her journey to becoming a registered nurse right after her first son, Sonny, was born, making her one of many moms in her cohort. “It’s a challenge because you have so many responsibilities,” said Megan. “They don’t cut you any slack just because you’re a mom,” she said. “It makes sense because you’ve got other people’s lives in your hands. You can’t just skate through.”

Megan was able to finish out her four years in school because of her time management skills, her patience, and because she didn’t work while in school. However, Megan notes that along with the challenge of school itself, she struggled with missing out on some of the first-time-mom experiences. “His first years of life, I don’t remember as much about it as I wish that I could,” said Megan. “Mentally, I wish I could have been there more as a mom. I was there physically 24/7, but my mind was always on school, studying, time off, clinicals, exams... It was hard.” Despite feeling this way about school, Megan said it was worth it because she was doing it for her family. In addition to being able to help others, nursing was a way to ensure a financially-stable future for her family. Now, Megan works three jobs to support her family, all within the healthcare field. In addition to home-health nursing, Megan also works as a COVID-19 test administrator. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 added stress to Megan’s job, especially since she was pregnant with her second son, Coen, when the pandemic began. “It really has set a different mood for healthcare,” said Megan. “Everybody thinks that every symptom is COVID... So you’ve got to pay attention to the patient as a whole and not just see them as a potential to get COVID yourself.”  Megan has adapted to the pandemic since its start, ensuring to remove her shoes and scrubs as soon as she gets home and keeping them outside of the kids’ reach.  Eventually, Megan would like to move into a job where she could be part of a team, but for now, home-health nursing offers her the flexibility she needs.

Megan steps out of one of her patient’s homes after her first visit of the week.

Megan’s sister-in-law Paige McClain, left, and Megan talk next to the track where Paige’s husband is racing.

Megan helps Sonny put on his racing gloves before the start of his first race of the day.

Though Megan finds her career rewarding, it comes second to her role as a mother to Sonny, 6, and Coen, 1. “A job is a job, and you’re replaceable there, but you’re not replaceable as a mother,” said Megan. Megan was 20 years old when she got pregnant with Sonny. She describes becoming a mother as an emotional experience lined with fear, joy and a heightened sense of anxiety. “It comes naturally, but then again you have to go with the motions and figure it out for yourself,” she said. “You don’t know until you know.” Megan says that a lot of her anxiety stems from being a mother because she is constantly worrying about their well-being. Despite being a nurse, she refuses to treat the kids when they’re sick, instead taking them to another healthcare professional. When her kids are sick, she can’t keep her worry out of her diagnosing capabilities. “When it comes to my kids, all my nursing education and experience goes out the window,” said Megan. A major part of Megan’s life is spent cheering on Sonny at dirt bike races.

Every other weekend for most of the year, the family travels about an hour from home to the Fast Traxx Motoplex in Nelsonville, Ohio. Sonny, who has been racing since he was two, says that racing dirt bikes makes him happy. Megan and her husband, Dalton, dedicate a lot of time to making sure Sonny gets to enjoy his hobby as much as possible. “It’s sort of become the family’s hobby because it takes up so much time and money,” said Megan. “But I really enjoy it. It’s one of my favorite things to do.” Megan takes care to make sure that Sonny feels he receives the same amount of attention as Coen, and racing is part of that effort. When Megan was pregnant, she and Dalton worried that Sonny would be jealous of his new younger brother. On the day Coen was born, Megan and Dalton refrained from letting anybody meet Coen before Sonny had the chance to see his new brother. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no one was allowed into the hospital room with Megan as she was giving birth or after, including Sonny.

“We didn’t show anybody Coen until the day we brought him home, because I told Sonny he would be the very first person to meet him,” said Megan. “He still mentions it. Sonny tells everybody, ‘I was the first person to meet my brother.’” The two now have a special bond, despite being 5 years apart in age. To encourage this bond, Megan says one of her strategies is letting Sonny feel like he helps with Coen. When asked what his favorite thing to do with his mom was, Sonny answered: “To help her do stuff.” When Coen was born, Sonny said that he felt happy because he had always wanted a baby brother. Sonny and Coen spend a lot of time together playing, something Megan has loved to see between her sons. “[Sonny and Coen] have a really good bond that we didn’t really expect,” said Megan, of her sons’ relationship. “We thought he’d be more jealous, but he really wasn’t at all... I’m very thankful for the relationship that they have.”

Megan, Coen, Sonny and Megan’s husband Dalton wait for Sonny’s next race to begin.

Being a working mother does not come without sacrifices, and Megan is no exception. “My life is just work and kids, and that’s it,” she said. Megan describes balancing her work with motherhood as an extreme sport, where she’s constantly trying to figure out just how much she can get done each day. To keep her mental health in shape, Megan likes to take time to be in nature. “I like to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the silence,” said Megan. Roughly once a year, Megan and her husband will get the chance to spend a night together without the kids. The rest of the year, Megan is always with at least one of the kids or at work. Megan explained that having free time away from both kids is hard for her to swing, but that it works for her. She says that she feels guilty when she’s away from the kids, and that it’s enough for her to have her stress levels halved when she’s caring for one child at a time. From the moment she wakes up, Megan is focused on getting her boys ready for the day. Most of her days are spent switching between her nurse and mother roles, with a rare moment to stop and relax. Megan admits that sometimes she has days where it’s hard to do everything. “I have bad days. Some days I feel like I have it all together, and then other days, I feel like I don’t have anything together,” explained Megan. “But that’s the challenge of motherhood.” Despite it encompassing her entire life, Megan loves being a mother, and explained that it changed her outlook on life for the better. When she became a mom, Megan learned to take the time to appreciate the small moments. “I try to be happy every day, and I don’t take things for granted,”

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