At 19, I had never heard of the NICU. I didn’t know NICU nurses existed.
Not many people know what you NICU nurses do, what goes on behind those securely locked doors. Not many people know the impact that you, a NICU nurse, and the whole NICU staff can have on a family. A family with a baby in critical condition. Needing intensive care. Your intensive care.
I had no clue that bonds would be made, love would be given, cries would be shared. I had no clue what it would feel like to leave my baby, my heart, in the hands of a stranger. I had no clue what it would feel like to watch and let that stranger take care of my baby while oftentimes I had to sit by and jealously watch from the sidelines.
But I am thankful that you were that stranger. I am thankful of the bond you made, the love you gave, the cries you had over my baby. My baby.
I want to tell you how grateful I am. This is for you, and no matter how hard I try, these words can’t express how much I truly appreciate you.
Thank you for making me feel that my baby was someone special to you.
I love that you would sometimes take pictures of my baby boy, print them, and give them to me.
I love that you would decorate his room and his bed.
I love that you made my sons first haircut into a big milestone instead of just a routine hospital procedure.
Even though I was worried about a sleeping schedule, I love that you gave my son special attention and played with him at night-time if he was wide awake. I know that you rocked him and read magazines to him.
I love that you took our first family picture.
Thank you for your patience.
I love that you were patient with my lack of understanding and my desire to know more.
I love that you were willing to answer my one million questions.
I love that I could call you at 11 p.m., 2 a.m., and 5 a.m. and that you would be there to tell me how my baby was.
I love that you were understanding whenever I was in just a plain, flat-out bad mood. That you were patient even when you knew I might be jealous of the time you got to spend with my baby.
I love that you would interpret all the doctor’s fancy medical words.
Thank you for trying to make me feel like a person, not a patient.
I love that time you invited me to eat lunch with you downstairs in the hospital cafeteria. That almost made me feel like normal.
I love that you talked to me about your family as well as mine.
I love that after seven weeks you jokingly told me “you’re not allowed to come back until you go on a date with your husband.” I felt like I needed approval and permission to miss a visit with my baby. And I love that I could trust you to take care of my baby that time I missed.
Thank you for teaching me.
I love that you taught me, a 19-year-old, how to change my first diaper.
I love that when we did bring him home, I was confident in my skills to be more than a mom because you taught me how to care for him and be his nurse.
I love that you taught me how to do breathing treatments, give medicine, hook up the apnea monitor, check vitals, and breastfeed.
Thank you for making my new weird into my new normal.
I love that you prayed for poop with me.
I love that you appreciated my breastmilk and called it liquid gold.
I love that you understood my sheer excitement over getting to brush his gums, take his temperature, and change a poopy diaper.
Thank you for your tears, and your comfort.
I love that you were real with me. That you would cry with me on our big steps back, and rejoice with me on our big steps forward.
I love that you stood with me. With your arms around me. As we watched through the window when my son’s ventilator stopped working and all his numbers headed toward zero. Thank you for holding me and breathing a sigh of relief with me as we watched his numbers climb back up.
I love that you were the nurse behind that window. Calm in the chaos as you called for respiratory to come help you get my son to breathe again.
There are so many things I love about you, but what I love most was the way you loved my baby.
From a NICU mom who will forever remember the smells and sounds, the love, tears, and laughs, and the hearts full of compassion anytime I look at my son.
“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” -Winnie the Pooh