Angels in blue (or purple or green and sometimes in matching Crocs)

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.

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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.

. . .

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?

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13 Responses to “Angels in blue (or purple or green and sometimes in matching Crocs)”

  1. B. Says:

    Tears in my eyes too…Thank you.

  2. Molly Says:

    Made me tear up. So beautiful!

  3. AML Says:

    Wow…Anna…amazing.

    I have a lot of reasons to be thinking of nurses during this week too. So many took care of my father during his hospitalization that I can’t even begin to count them. Most importantly though, they also remembered to take care of my mother. They were there for her during daily visits when I couldn’t be in FL and were sure to keep in touch with me over the phone while I was here in CT. When we had to take dad off life support, they were there to make sure mom had anything she needed. After he was gone, it took us what seemed like a good hour to walk down the hallway and get back to the car because she was repeatedly stopped and hugged by a multitude of people that had been part of her support system during the many months of his illness.

    Shortly afterward, my sister had a baby girl that needed much of the attention that Anna mentioned in this post – like Henry, Hannah is thriving now.

    Many many thanks to all the nurses out there.

  4. Kate Says:

    I doubt I would have made it thru DZ’s illness with the nurses of 6W at Northern Westchester Hospital. Go nurses!!!!

  5. abby Says:

    This was lovely. I need to remember to call all of Hallie’s primaries and thank them for being there for her…and for us.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    What a great reminder! My Mom was the nurse that made a such a huge difference in Kayleigh’s delivery–without her I’m sure that they wouldn’t have allowed me to have a vaginal breech delivery, and what a blessing it was.

  7. Christina Says:

    Wow! This is my first time reading your blog and I don’t know your story….but this beautiful post leaves me with tears in my eyes. What an amazing little guy your Henry is!

  8. libound Says:

    Yes, Anna, well done. You are wonderful. Thank you for this stop on a busy day. I know yours are busy too, and this was precious precious time so well spent. Thank you nurses! Love you Henry!

  9. Torie Says:

    Thanks for sharing your love and caring with all of us. It means so much to read this. We have this page posted in the NICU, and I can always tell when someone has been reading it….because of the tears in their eyes.

    It was a great privilege to be able to care for Henry, and to support him as he grew healthy and strong. You are such a wonderful, loving mother, Anna. Henry (and your entire family) is very blessed.

  10. Jen Says:

    I wish I had known about this! Our Jack (born last July) was in the NICU for two weeks before coming home on oxygen for another two. I have pictures just like yours with the intubation. We cannot say or do enough for the nurses who saved his life. I truly feel your joy at having a healthy munchkin in your home!

  11. Jackie Says:

    I had a high respect for nurses up until late last year, when I spent 32 days in hospital, I was diagnosed as having two major medical conditions, an inherited condition resulting in a terminal illness. I now “live” my life around the hospital and think that both the nurses and the doctors who are responsible for me are awesome.

    It’s great to know that no matter which country you live in—be it there or here in Australia—these wonderful folk exist.

    Loved reading about Henry, btw—an inspiration.
    Thanks for blogging and posting the wonderful photos.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Angels in Blue (or purple or green and sometimes in matching crocs)

    You will be in tears! This blog entry is the deeply personal and passionate thank you written during National Nurse Appreciation Week by the mother of a sick premature baby to the nurses that cared for her and her baby.

  13. Nurse Scrubs Says:

    I know it can be time-consuming to update your blog but thank you for keeping me informed and entertained!

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