If your kid spends any kind of time in a neonatal intensive care unit, you find out quickly the nurses know the most, and run the show. If your kid spends a few months in the NICU, the nurses become your saviors, your advice counsel, your shoulders to cry upon, your teachers, your biggest cheerleaders. Our experience was no different.
Over the course of his ninety-three day stay, Big Man had a lot of hands helping him through each day. Most of them we liked, a couple we could live without, and one was banned by his primary from ever caring for him again. We were so blessed in his primary nurse. She loved her “little blond angel”, and he responded under her care. She noticed me struggling early on, fearful of my own child. She spent days teaching me there was nothing to fear, and how to own the momma role. She encouraged me to do as much for him as I could, changing his diaper, taking his temperature, getting to know him. She taught me to trust my instincts. He was/is my son. She helped me remember that in the middle of a world full of wires, tubes, machines, beeping alarms, medicine. Everything natural about having a newborn had been stolen from us. She helped us take back as much as possible. She gave me courage. I’ll never forget that.
She didn’t get to take care of him much in his last few weeks. She was usually stationed in the pods of the more critical babies. He was a feeder/grower at that point. But she made sure she was around on the day we took him home. She stood by as I bathed, dressed, and fed my son. Her joy at his discharge was as evident as her sadness. We were going to miss her so much. While we didn’t want to spend one more minute in the NICU than was necessary, we were leaving behind a world that had become home, and people who had become part of our family. One of my favorite photos of Big Man is of him and his nurse, minutes before we walked out the NICU doors for the last time.
We do keep in touch with her. For the first few months after his release, I would go to scrapbooking crops with her, bringing Big Man along so she could snuggle him and see how he was doing/growing. We moved just before his second birthday, but still send her Christmas cards every year. I’ve thanked her so many times for all she did for our baby, and for us. But words will never be enough.
Today is National Neonatal Nurses Day. I’m taking the opportunity to thank B once again, and to thank all those special angels in scrubs who take care of the tiniest patients.