My son was born prematurely back in September 2015. At 32 weeks, I had just finished taking my maternity pictures and the next day my water broke. I checked into the hospital immediately for further testing. Turns out, the doctors weren’t going to let me leave the hospital until after my baby was born. This took me completely off guard, as I wasn’t even planning to ever step foot inside of a hospital during childbirth. My plan was to have my baby at a birth center, full of peace and serenity and then be in my own bed a few hours after my son was born. That is definitely not how it went down…
After my son was born, I had a few minutes of skin-to-skin with him before he was whisked off to the newborn intensive care unit, where he would stay for the next 3 weeks. Going home without my baby was by far the hardest day of my life. However, my experience and my memories would have been drastically worse had it not been for those NICU nurses. While I gave them a brief thank-you as I packed up my son’s things on the day he was finally able to come home, I never did get to go into detail on the life-changing impact they had on me. So I thought maybe this letter would reach a NICU nurse out there (maybe even my son’s actual nurse) who doesn’t realize what an impact they are having.
I only know your first name but feel like I can call you my friend. You were with me in my darkest of hours.
You were there when I discovered that I wouldn’t be able to hold my son due to his lack of ability to regulate his temperature on his own. You brought me a Kleenex while I bawled and you didn’t even have a hint of judgement in your eyes.
When I was learning to breastfeed in front of all the other parents coming to visit their babies and nurses and doctors were walking the halls, you drug in the giant recliner for me to sit in and looked away when my boob was (I’m sure) just hanging out in plain site (the breastfeeding struggle was real).
When the day came for me to be discharged from my room, having to leave my newborn baby behind in the hospital, you let me stay in my room until 11:45pm that night just so I could be close to my baby as long as possible before having to leave. You didn’t have to do that.
When I came back the next day and had nowhere to pump except in an isolated, windowless room away from my baby, you fought for my baby to get his own private room where I could pump right next to his “bassinet.” I know you went out on a limb to do this. You had only known me for a few days, yet you showed me so much compassion. Why? I had never experienced such nurturing care from ultimately a stranger.
The nights I left my baby in your care because I just couldn’t take another nap on that fold-out couch, you told me I was a good mom, something I was doubting everyday. You told me that it was good for me to go home and get some sleep for the night and that you would watch over my baby as if he were your own. My heart would swell when I would come back in the morning and find you rocking my son, humming him a song, staying true to your word.
Friend, you touch people’s hearts everyday. You have no idea of the impact you have on your patients’ lives. Often you get a brief thank-you and then your patient is gone. But that doesn’t mean we don’t think about you. You shared one of the most raw times in our lives, and your gentleness, thoughtfulness and smiles didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. Keep doing what your doing because you are truly changing lives, one patient at a time.
With Love and Gratitute,