I’ve thought about writing this post many times. I haven’t been able to do it yet for a few reasons, mostly because I know it will be impossibly hard to say in words how much James’ NICU nurses mean to us. There are no words to describe how amazing they are, or explain the impact they had on our lives. This week is National Nurse Appreciation Week, so in honor of that I will try.
I’ve heard lots of people say that their NICU nurses became like family to them, but I think it’s more than that. Spend 160 of the hardest days of your life with your family. Days when you’re sleep deprived, hurting, emotionally drained, questioning everything, watching every move, and tell me how many family members are still speaking. James’ nurses saw us at our worst for days and days on end. They experienced every high and low with us. They answered the same questions over and over again. They fought for James with everything they had. And through it all they remained kind, respectful, and compassionate. Their hearts were evident in everything they did for us and James. It’s a powerful bond, completely different from anything I’ve experienced before.
James had the best of the best in the NICU. His primary nurses were absolutely amazing. In the beginning they let me just cry. They gave me time to adjust to the frightening new world we were suddenly thrust into. They helped us find ways to bond with James. They encouraged us to personalize his isolette with receiving blankets from home and special items that could be placed with James. They became our teachers, explaining the machines he was hooked up to, helping us learn how to change his diaper, and how to calm him with our touch. They kept us informed of every detail – procedures, medications, test results. They shared the good news with us and comforted us through the hardest of days. They taught us about Kangaroo Care, encouraged me to read and sing to James, helped us learn how to feed him, give him a bath, and so much more. They were our lifeline.
On top of all that, and most importantly, they took amazing care of James. They knew him as well or better than we did. They knew his cues and could read his body language perfectly. They recognized when he was stable and content, and they were the first line of defense when something was wrong. They advocated for him and did their best to comfort him through painful procedures. James had a blood clot in his abdominal aorta, requiring a painful shot every day. It broke their hearts every time they had to give him that shot. Their love for James was evident in everything they did. They bonded with James and cared for him like he was one of their own. One of his nurses told me once that Kangaroo Care was her favorite part of the day too, because she got to pick James up and hold him briefly. They truly were the best.
We know, without any doubt, that the care his nurses provided is one of biggest reasons James is here with us today. They were on the front line of the precarious balancing act of maintaining life in the NICU. Their incredible knowledge, experience, and love for James helped to sustain him. I cannot explain what a comfort they were to us. We knew he was in the best hands possible, and when your baby is critically ill, that knowledge provides an amazing sense of peace even through the most chaotic moments. We are grateful every single day for each one of his nurses, and will never forget the amazing impact they had on our lives, and on the life of our amazing little boy. They are the definition of what a hero is, and will be in our hearts forever.
There are so many who aren’t picture here. Please know we never forget you. We took hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of photos in the NICU, and trying to find each one when you need it is about impossible. We love every one of you!!