Today is National Neonatal Nurses Day – a day we celebrate NICU nurses and all they do. NICU nurses are heroes. They are more than a nurse. They are a confidant, friend, mentor, extended family member, advisor. They laugh with us and they cry with us. They celebrate victories – no matter how large or small. They mourn with us – the loss of a baby or the loss of hopes and dreams. NICU nurses provide a glimmer of hope on the days when it seems all hope is lost.
Our twin boys arrived very unexpectedly at 24 weeks gestation. Our delivery room was full of doctors and nurses. After the boys were born, I remember trying to sit up. Joseph had just been taken out of the OR to the NICU and I was able to take a short glimpse of him as they wheeled him out. I hadn’t seen Campbell but couldn’t sit up since I had just had a c-section. A nurse who was with him saw I was trying to sit up and said, “He’s doing okay. We are taking good care of him.” I remember thinking, “Wow. She let me know how he is!”
The kindness continued. On our first visit to the NICU, nurses took time to introduce themselves and let us know they were there for us. Nurses took time to answer questions and explain what we needed to know. They were patient and kind. They were loving and caring. I hardly knew these people yet I felt like I had known them my entire life. They were caring for our boys when we couldn’t.
On day five of life, Campbell was transferred to another hospital. The kindness of the NICU nurses was evident at this hospital as well. While we knew there was a very real possibility Campbell was not going to survive, the nurses did their best to stay positive with us. When they would call us with an update, they would always find something positive. Looking back almost seven years later, I know there had to be times there was absolutely nothing that was positive but they did their best to help us keep a glimmer of hope.
A few days after Campbell was transferred, I didn’t feel well at all. I knew it was sheer exhaustion but I didn’t want to take any risks so I didn’t visit Campbell and waited in the waiting room while Scott visited. The nurse came to the waiting room to see me and give an update while Scott visited. To her, I’m sure it didn’t seem like much but to me, it meant the world. She took time to show how much she cared.
Campbell passed away on day 23 of life. When we went to visit Joseph late that evening at their birth hospital, the nurses were kind and compassionate. It wasn’t because they had to be – they wanted to be. Two nurses came to visit at Campbell’s visitation. I remember thinking how incredible that was. They took time away from their own families to come visit our family.
NICU nurses are heroes. It’s the nurse who schemed with my husband to help make my first Mother’s Day special. It’s the nurse who brought us a card after Joseph developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis. It’s the nurse who called the NICU on her day off to check on Joseph. It’s the NICU nurse who took time to listen to our concerns and answer our questions. It’s the NICU nurse who took time to find resources we needed. It’s the NICU nurse who stood up to the doctor on behalf of our child. It’s the NICU nurse who provided a laugh when we needed it most. It’s the NICU nurse who was honest yet gentle with us. It’s the NICU nurse who cried with us. It’s the NICU nurse who loved us like family.
To all NICU nurses, thank you. Thank you for all you do for your patients. Thank you for all you do for your families. You truly are our heroes.