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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Smarty Mom: Jessica Potts

By Katie M

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to my next door neighbor who has not only become a great neighbor friend and early morning running buddy, but her oldest son also happens to be my son's BFF (and someone he's constantly professing his love to). Smarties, meet Jessica Potts.

Jessica and her husband Steve have two precious little boys: Camden (3 1/2) and Collin (2). Jessica has lived in the Triad for the better part of 26 years after moving here from Wisconsin with her mom and twin sister. I've been dying to profile Jessica because not only do I think she is super smarty, but also because I'm in constant awe of her schedule. Jessica works two 12-hour shifts each week as a respiratory therapist in the Neonatal ICU at Forsyth Medical Center. She reports to work at 6:30 pm and completes her shift at 7 am. There have been many a mornings where I'm pouring my first cup of joe when I see Jessica just arriving home. Working the middle-of-the-night is tough enough; I can't imagine doing it with two small children at home. Yet, Jessica makes it look easy and effortless - and it's all because she'd rather not sacrifice "awake" time away from her family.

Intrigued? I'm sure! Let's chat more with Jessica...

Besides Jessica's "full-time job" as a mom to Camden and Collin and her "part-time job" at Forsyth Medical Center, Jessica likes to spend time with her family and run races when she can (as well as devour any vampire book she can find!). Jessica also just graduated last December from Eastern Carolina University's online program with a bachelor's in business administration - a nine-year work-in-progress as a result of having children and moving. Congrats, Jess!

You definitely stay busy! How do you manage the days after a long night working at Forsyth Medical Center, and what advice do you offer other moms in your position?
I have been working nights for 16 years (my whole career) and worked full time until Collin was born. There are days when I really, really don’t want to go to work just because I know the sleep deprivation that will follow the next day. Unless you have worked nights I don’t know you can understand how hard it can be when you get home and all you want to do is go to bed, but can’t. I am lucky that my sister, my mom and my mother-in-law live close by, so there are days when I can take a nap after work. In terms of how you manage working those hours, I don’t know that you really do. You just do what you have to do for your family. Working nights is a great option for our family because we avoid daycare. I hate the thought of someone raising my kids while I was at work. There are moms out there who have no other choice and I really sympathize with them.

I am also a very regimented person so I think that helps on the nights I work. We have the same routine every day. So for the most part I know what’s going to happen at a particular time and that helps me balance the time I need in order to get ready for work. For me working part time and the night shift is a creative way to more efficiently balance work and home life.

As for advice for others in my position...if someone’s offering to watch your kids so you can sleep (even if it’s only for an hour) accept it!

What's the most challenging aspect of managing your work and home life?
My only challenge is trying to find enough time in the day! On the nights I work it can be challenging to find time to rest before I stay up all night, a concept my kids just can’t seem to understand. But I am fortunate that I have family close by that can help on those days I stay up.

Tell us more about your position. Is it hard (as a mom) to work in a neonatal intensive care unit?
As a RRT in the NICU we manage the ventilators, attend high risk deliveries (my favorite part of my job), draw blood, administer respiratory medications and do whatever the nurses tell us to do. Only kidding! We actually have a great relationship with the nurses, nurse practioners and physicians. Working in an intensive care environment requires a great amount of team work and respect for one another. Since I’ve become a mom my outlook in the NICU has changed tremendously. I cannot fathom how hard it must be not to be able to hold, kiss, nurse or even change your baby’s diaper. Moms of premature babies have a lot of strength that I will never understand. I am so grateful that my children were born healthy. I think a lot of people take for granted how fortunate they are to have had healthy babies. The hardest part about working the NICU is watching a parent grieve for their dying child. It’s hard watching a baby die, but watching a mom try to accept it is absolutely gut wrenching. You try not to let yourself get too emotional but when you start thinking about your kids and how those parents will never hear their child say mama or dada, roll over or reach any of those significant milestones can be too overwhelming.

What's it like to be a twin, and to have her live close by?
We are fraternal twins, but when you hear us talk or pay attention to our mannerisms, you would think we were identical. (That is true - I am guilty of mistaking your twin for you when we first met!) My sister’s name is Jennifer and she’s one of the greatest people I know. I don’t know if having a twin is any different from having a regular brother or sister since it was just us two, but it’s fantastic. Growing up it was the best. I always had a playmate and friend, and we could borrow each others clothes. For the most part we have always been close. Well except for those teenage years, but I think you pretty much hate everyone then. If you ever see her though, ask her about the time she took all my sweaters out of my dresser and stomped on them. I love having her live close by. We are able to help each other out a lot since she works nights as well. We used to run a lot together but having kids has sidelined that for now. I can’t imagine my life without her.

You’ve lived in the Triad just about your whole life. Tell us about some of the biggest changes in the Triad you’ve witnessed - good or bad.
Winston has changed so much! I remember when there was no Hanes Mall Blvd and Stratford Road/Hwy 158 was two lanes. The shopping is much better now! Love having all the different options to shop, not just the mall. The revitalization of downtown Winston is awesome. Growing up you never went downtown, bad things happened down there. I can’t really say anything bad has happened over time. Traffic around Christmas is the pits but you just learn to avoid Hanes Mall Blvd after Thanksgiving.

Ok, now on to the lighter topics...

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Ross and Children’s Place

Favorite place to splurge on kids clothes?

What is your favorite family activity?
Right now it’s going to the pool. The boys love the water and are becoming pretty good swimmers.

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
Reading trashy vampire books and perusing Perez Hilton.

Best place to eat lunch and/or dinner with the kids?
We don’t usually go out to eat as a family because Collin can only sit still for approximately 7.5 seconds. But Camden loves him some Clemmons Kitchen and McDonalds.

Favorite date place?
What’s that? Actually Steve and I have started going out one or twice a month. Now that the boys are older we have come to the realization that they aren’t going to be traumatized if we aren’t there every waking moment.

Favorite park in the Triad?

Mini-van or SUV?
Neither, I drive a sedan. I really would love a van. I can’t believe I actually said that. I remember being a teenager thinking I would NEVER drive a mini-van. Jen has one and I love it!

Best mom secret YOUR mom has shared with you?
Wow, I don’t think she’s ever shared a great secret with me. But I’ve kept plenty from her!!!!

Best book you’ve ever read?
My favorite book is The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. But right now I am all about some books about the Blackdagger Brotherhood. They are paranormal romance books by J.D. Ward. I am sure I sound like a dork, but once you read them you will understand why I think they rock! They are like the Twilight series but X-rated.

Smartiest way you stay organized?
For me it’s staying on a routine. It’s more for time-organization but it allows me to keep my house in order.

What is one thing about you people would be surprised to know?
I hate the way cotton balls and Kleenex feel in my mouth. I know this isn’t earth shattering news but it’s weird. Oh, and I also hate feet (except for the Camden and Collin's). I don’t like Steve to put his feet on me unless he is wearing socks.

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
The Triad is very family-oriented. There are tons parks near by, lots of different museums and different places to explore.

What’s your favorite thing about Triad Smarty Pants?
The calendar of upcoming family events in the area.

I could not live without my... DVR.

I wish someone had told me sooner about... Couponing. I have always clipped coupons but it has actually become an art form. Some people I work with have given me some really great tips. I know the public library has held some free classes about clipping coupons and I hear they are great. You can really save a ton of money if you are willing to invest the time.

Great answers, Jessica! As I type this up at 9:30 pm and then head to bed, I am thinking of you working late tonight! I am amazed at how you do it - you are certainly a smarty success story! See you outside with the kids!


Helen said...

Absolutely going to check out the Blackdagger Brotherhood TODAY! Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

Check out They only charge $10 for a class but you walk away from class with soo much info, lots of coupons, and store lists on the deals for the week. They do a great job of teaching you how to coupon.

Janet said...

I love reading today. I have an identical twin sister named Jennifer and we call her Jenn. I wished me lived near each other. I wanted to tell you about a couponing blog my friends run and it helped me lower my month grocery bill from 400 a month to under 150. No joke. Morgan and Kara run it and both live in the Triad and have for a long time. Both are mothers. Morgan is a stay at home/nanny. Kara works for her dad insurance company and has 2 kids. BTW I met you at the grasshoppers game when you helped MOPS sponsor one.. my name is Janet and I had the newborn strapped on me. I was just introduced to your blog and love it.

Katie M said...

Hi Janet, thanks for your comment today, and I remember you from the game! Love your coupon tips too - will have to check out that site. Thanks for reading!!

Jessica's other half said...

Jessica, you are a wonderful person as well and I think you are the best sister! And, by the way, I am sure you deserved to have your sweaters stomped on ;) I remember it like it was yesterday!
Katie, very well written article, you wrote about Jessica just like the Smarty Mom she is!

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