Yesterday, I was contacted by the hospital where Charlie was born. I was asked to write a short piece about the care Charlie received. I had a difficult time making it “short”. I think I may have rambled on too long and they will only end up using Charlie’s picture. When I think of Charlie’s NICU journey, I remember that there was a nurse helping us every step of the way.
I remember being rolled up from the ER to the High Risk Perinatal floor as if it happened this morning. I remember the nurse that greeted me. Her warm and caring demeanor made the difference that kept me from crumbling to pieces at that moment and during my stay.
Later during my stay, the nurses on the High Risk Perinatal floor were wonderful during our difficult situation. However, there is a particular nurse who stands out in my memory. She was able to explain to me what was happening in a way the doctors had not. It was the first time that I fully understood our situation. I asked the nurse if she would repeat the explanation for my husband. I remember the moment my husband heard the explanation very vividly. Until hearing it from the nurse, he clung to the false optimism that I would carry our baby to term. When the nurse finished speaking, he turned his back to me. He fidgeted with my flowers while I heard him fight back tears. It was only a few seconds before he turned around and said, “We can do this. We’ve got this.” It was the first time that I had seen so much strength in him. He went to tour the NICU the next day.
Charlie’s birth was not even close to what we envisioned when we discovered that I was pregnant. We encountered so many obstacles, I was terrified, and I lost my composure. A thoughtful nurse asked for my husband’s cell phone when the decision to use general anesthesia was reached. Because of her, we have a few photos of Charlie’s birth. To this day, I do not know who that nurse was. I am extremely grateful for the photos.
Next, we met the NICU nurses. I think they are amazing. I felt they loved Charlie as much as my husband and me. I knew when I left the NICU each evening that Charlie was in good hands. Each day, they would explain how Charlie was and answer my questions. They patiently taught us how to care for our baby (to nudge her when she forgot to breathe, to do hands on care, and how to touch her). The nurses encouraged, empathized, and helped me understand my new role. Because I spent so much time with the NICU nurses, some became to be like friends while a couple became like family. I have yet to find a way to express how much NICU nurses mean to me.
Finally, there is Charlie’s home health nurse. She was the first person to listen to (and not dismiss) my concerns when Charlie could not move. She helped us through Charlie’s ongoing feeding difficulties. It is like I had taken a NICU nurse home with me.
Charlie’s survival, growth, and development has been a team effort by doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, and volunteers. The nurses are vital members of that team. We would not have made it to where we are today with out them.
These pictures were taken by nurses during Charlie’s first few months.