To the NICU Nurse, From a Bereaved Mother
This year marks seven years since my child died in my arms from a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. This year, for the first time, I am able to look back at our NICU days with fond memories. I am so thankful for each and every day we were able to spend with MJ. Those 35 days were stolen and our NICU nurses stole them for us. I hope this letter gives them a glimpse of how I cherish everything they did for us seven years ago.
Dear NICU Nurse,
You have no idea how much you mean to me, or how you will always hold a very special place in my heart. The love, respect, and admiration I have for you can compete with no one. You took care of my baby, and you loved him.
And I, his momma, didn’t know. I didn’t know how to change his diaper without moving his lines, or how to clean his face from the ventilator tape. I didn’t know how to pick him up to change his bedding. I didn’t know what medication went where, or how to run the machines that were keeping him alive.
I tried my best, I really did. But he was so sick, and I was so scared. I was thrust into the NICU hours after a C-section. The first time I saw my baby he was in a tiny pod, hooked up to more machines than I could count.
You made a sign for him and told me how I could touch him without stimulating him too much.
You had tissue ready because you knew that I would cry.
You even had already made space for my wheelchair, because you knew I just had major surgery.
You taught me how to whisper in his ear and hold his hand without moving his chest tube.
You let me change his diaper once, and didn’t get mad when I fumbled through three diapers because my little boy kept peeing before I could get the new diaper on.
You knew I was so scared I was going to hurt him, but also that I so desperately wanted to do something a mother does for her child. So you let me change his diaper, even though we both knew you could do it 10 times faster. When he needed his temperature taken, you let me do it. I never felt more like his mother at those times.
When he was stable, you let me give him a sponge bath, and let me take home the water tub as a NICU souvenir.
When he opened his eyes, you helped me get a picture of them.
You answered every single phone call I had, at all hours of the night, and told me how you lovingly changed his bedding, gave him new medication, and cleaned the blood draining from his surgery scars.
You found socks for him when his feet were cold, because I didn’t know I could bring some from home.
You took picture after picture of my son and I, and I hope you know now how much I cherish those.
You kicked me out of the NICU because you knew I needed a shower and sleep.
You held me while I cried, and encouraged me to believe he would beat the odds and come home.
When I needed to laugh you told me funny, ridiculous stories about anything and everything.
You gave him, and me, every piece of your strength, day in and day out, for weeks.
You did everything in your power and more to keep him alive.
And then he died.
And you gave me another gift that day.
You told me how he was going to die, and you guided me through his death in a way so full a grace, I couldn’t explain it if I tried.
You cried with me, hugged me, and were devastated with me.
You placed him in my arms for the very first and very last time.
You made sure he wasn’t in pain.
And when I could no longer bear the emotional weight of my dead son in my arms, you took him when I made the impossible choice to leave that night.
And as I sat in my car on the way home, wondering how I was going to survive, you made molds of his hands and feet for me.
I feel like “thank you” isn’t enough, but it’s all I have to give you.
I feel like every day of my son’s life was stolen from death. And you stole them for me.
You’re brave and amazing, and you do things no one else can. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
A Bereaved Momma
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