Dear NICU Nurse: On behalf of families everywhere, I have to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything that you do.
Your care, empathy, and compassion go far beyond your job description.
You see, most parents are lucky enough never to have to meet you.
They happily and blissfully give birth on the other side of those highly secured, locked doors, and they never have to come inside, or even wonder what goes on in your unit.
But the truth is, once you know what is behind those doors, you can never go back.
And I, along with far too many other parents, now know the truth that lies behind those alarm-secured, no-window-gazing doors of the NICU.
Before our daughter was torn from inside of me, 14 weeks earlier than her expected arrival, I didn’t realize just how much your job entails.
I didn’t realize that you would be the first one to hold our baby, to change her diaper and to wash her hair.
I didn’t know that you would be the one by her bedside 24/7, that you would get to know her better than I did.
I never thought that you would miss your lunch break just to sing her one more lullaby or that you would come in on your day off because you wanted to check on her.
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Before I met you, I was naive. I didn’t know how much my daughter would need her NICU nurse, how much our family would need you.
I didn’t know how fiercely you would love her. I didn’t know that you would become part of our family.
I also didn’t know that you would be the one by my baby’s side when her heart stopped beating, that you would be the one to try to restart it.
I was unaware that you would be the person to come rushing into our hospital room with tear filled eyes to tell us what no parent should ever have to hear.
That you would push my wheelchair so aggressively down the hall so we could be by her side for just a second longer; that upon our arrival at the scene you would step to the side so I could hold onto her, but that you would be right beside me, crying and begging her to hold on.
I never imagined that you would grieve her alongside us.
That you would ask to hold her fragile body one last time before they took her away for good.
I didn’t know that I would hand my daughter off to you after saying our final goodbyes so you could spend some more time with her.
I didn’t know that when I left that room, you would sing to her and rock her gently for far longer than your 12-hour shift required.
I never even dreamt that you would still speak her name to your coworkers, months after her passing; that you would remember and honour her with every breath that you take.
I didn’t realize how much our daughter’s life would impact you, how much every life that is put into the NICU influences you.
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You fight for every single child like they are your own.
You love them so fiercely, and you make each and every family feel like they are the only ones that matter.
How you do this day after day is a complete mystery to me.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you for loving our babies.
Thank you for fighting tirelessly for their lives.
Thank you for knowing them, sometimes better than we do.
Thank you for always making us comfortable by their bedside; for ever so gently teaching us how to care for our kids.
Thank you for crying with us.
Thank you for going above and beyond to save them.
Thank you for everything that you do as a NICU nurse.
You are real-life superheroes.
You were there for Everley when I was physically too weak to stand.
I know that because of you, she had a lifetime full of endless love, and for that, I am eternally indebted to you.
So the next time that you routinely wave your access card to enter that mysterious hospital ward that you and I know far too well, remember that you are seen, and know how much you are appreciated.
For our daughter’s story can not be told without your bravery and your compassion being honoured.
Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash