It’s National Nurses Week, and if I ever had a year to recognize the amazing nurses out there, this was it.
So thank you to the nurse midwife who, on the night Henry was born, heard something in my voice that I didn’t believe was there and coolly instructed me to get to the hospital. (I was planning to wait out those pesky contractions and see her the next day.)
And thank you to the labor nurse who didn’t flinch once as I squeezed her hands to the breaking point (and to my husband for that, too, but he isn’t a nurse :). She stayed with me and helped deliver Henry even though her shift had ended, and she didn’t go home until she had brought me a Polaroid picture of him in the NICU.
And the NICU nurses! Thank you to the NICU nurse who first taught us how to change Henry’s diaper around all the tubes and wires that draped his tiny body. And to the nurse who watched his oxygen saturation drop when she started to touch him, and calmly reached over to dial up his vent settings without saying a word. Her control of the situation, when I was too scared to even touch him, helped me stay calm, too. And when he was too fragile to be touched at all, thank you to the nurse who showed us that we could still place one gentle finger against his bare skin to let him know we were there.
And to the nurse who quietly put an arm around me, and handed me tissue after tissue as they prepared him for transport to a larger hospital, and the transport nurse who insisted that I stick my head into the mobile isolette and give Henry a kiss before he headed off to his ambulance.
And thank you to the nurse at the larger hospital who oriented us to the scary world of acute care for newborns by spending hours with us that first day. And for caring so much that she asked us to send her email updates on Henry while she was away on vacation, and for sending us a thank you note when we wrote to thank her later.
And thank you to the nurse who looked sideways at me and said, “Wanna hold him?” when just days before even touching him had caused breathing distress. She bundled up his leads and tubes and slid him into my arms. No respiratory distress. He did get a little wet from my tears, though.
And thank you to the nurses at both hospitals that patiently took our calls at all hours of the day and night. I can remember some very warm, thoughtful and honest words coming over the phone as I sat pumping in my living room at 3 a.m. for a baby that not yet been fed. And to the nurses and lactation consultant who worked tirelessly to teach a sleepy newborn and a nervous mama how to get their acts together and nurse.
And thank you to our NICU discharge nurse, who casually said to us, “Why don’t you take his leads off, and dress him. I’m going to go start a feed and I’ll be right back.” Henry had been monitored since shortly after his birth, and we had developed an addiction to reading the numbers on the monitor, say, every minute. Take OFF the monitor leads? When we stood there dumbly, looking at her, she walked over to the monitor, turned it off and said to us, “Take him home. He is YOURS.” Nearly a year later I still have tears in my eyes telling that story.
Even though it might have been just another day at work for them, it was these incredible acts of kindness, compassion and clinical excellence that helped us tremendously, and I will remember them forever, I’m sure of it. Thank you.
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And while we’re talking about nurses, Happy National Nurses Week to my college friend who must be the best labor and delivery nurse out there. If my labors lasted longer than a few hours, I would have been honored to have her by my side, and I envy the lucky moms who have had her at their labors. And to my aunt who is retiring as a nurse this year, but who has no doubt brightened the lives of all the patients who have had the privilege of having her as their nurse over the years.
Got something to say to the amazing nurses in your world?