Wednesday, October 23, 2013

3:00 AM Musings


Some patients just stick with you.

As I sit, holding one of my four-pound charges, I can't help but wonder about her future. She just finished eating. Her head is resting in the crook of my arm and her eyes are closed. A milk-drunk smile curves her rosy lips. One of her hands pushes free of the blanket and her slender fingers splay open, then clasp reflexively around my thumb.

"You're destined for greatness," I whisper. 

She must be.



Barely a week ago, she survived not one but three grave obstetrical emergencies. I've been a nursery nurse for over twenty years, yet I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to do chest compressions on a neonate, and she is on that very short list. For a while, we thought we might lose her. Once we brought her to the nursery and reversed the shock with some fluids, she was alert and looking around as if nothing bad had happened. Babies are incredibly resilient. Even after all these years, they still amaze me.

As I hold her hand and nuzzle her downy head, I’m reminded of a tiny patient we nicknamed 'Tinker Bell’—a child so small, I could have carried her in my pocket.

At two and a half pounds, she looked far more premature than she actually was. Her mother had some serious conditions that affected the growth of the baby and made the birth itself very dangerous. That child is also lucky to be alive. Yet, despite Tinker Bell’s less-than-ideal beginning, she had no real complications, save her extremely low birth weight. She was active and ate well from the start. She just had to grow and nearly double her weight before she could go home.

Her mother was unable to visit much, so we nurses spent extra time loving on her any chance we got. Heck, we couldn’t help ourselves—she was too darn cute. We often said Tinker Bell must be destined to do something really special in her lifetime. I can still picture her in the tiny nursery t-shirts that fit her like a dress, and I marvel at the story she could tell, describing her meager, disadvantaged beginnings. 

Tinker Bell, wherever you are, little one, I hope you’re destined for greatness.




24 comments:

  1. What great stories. We have a lot of nurses in our family and I am always in awe of the way you love your patients. Thank you for giving the way you do. Those are some lucky babies.

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  2. When my son was born, he ended up in the NICU. I remember that when we were able to take him home, his nurse cried. It was such a blessing to me to see how much she cared about my son. I was/still am thankful for her and all the other nurses and doctors.

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  3. I can't imagine how it must feel to work in a nursery. Thank you for sharing such a special moment with us. :-)

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  4. Too bad you can't track her down and see how she's grown.

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  5. Wouldn't it be wonderful to find out she did touch people's lives and do great things? A baby superhero! It would be fitting, wouldn't it?

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  6. This is such a sweet post, Melissa. Makes me weepy to think of those precious little ones fighting for their lives and for the mamas and papas who worried and prayed over them. Thanks for sharing a little bit of your tenderness with us. Thankfully, there are people like you who devote their lives and hearts to mercy and care.

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  7. Life is a miracle. Thanks for reminding me this AM. :)

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  8. This almost made me cry. What a touching and beautiful post.

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  9. I'm so thankful for everyone like you who takes care of newborns. This was a wonderful post. :)

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  10. Lovely post, Melissa! Thank you for sharing. :)

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  11. So sweet! I just got done reading a book about having (and almost losing) a baby, so I'm especially teary eyed at this.

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  12. What an amazing and fulfilling job you're blessed to have. They should have 1, 5 and 10 year reunions.

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    1. Some of the Level III NICUs have yearly reunions, but smaller hospitals with level II nurseries typically don't. Occasionally a parent sends us a photo. It's nice to see how the kids have grown. ;)

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  13. What a gorgeous post!
    This one will stay with me as I imagine what amazing people your little charges will someday grow up to be. :)

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  14. Wow, I never knew you were a nursery nurse... and I'm not blowing smoke up your stack, but you and your colleagues are SPECIAL people...

    Our No. 1 Son was nearly induced at 26 weeks (the department chief had us in his office...) but he and Mom managed to hold on until 37 weeks exactly... then he spent two weeks in the NICU over at Wilford Hall in San Antone and we finally took him home when he was four pounds even.

    I'll never forget those two weeks and all the care our baby received, so *thanks* for all you and yours do :)

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  15. What a nice post! I hope this little one continues to do well!

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  16. How beautiful. Thank you for your wonderful work! I was a premie myself, weighing at 2lbs, 2 oz, so I'm especially grateful for kind and loving nurses.

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  17. This is possibly the best post I've read of yours. Loved it. Heart-strings were tugged and you left me thinking about all the people who cross our paths in life, if not but for a second, and the impact they have on us. Sometimes, like Baby Tinkerbell, we will never know those people, but without them and their guidance and care, we wouldn't have made it this far.

    Again, lovely post and very well-written. Nice, Mel.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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    1. Thanks, Mike. I love what I do--the patient care aspect, anyway.
      I appreciate the kind comments from everyone. :)

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  18. This was so beautiful! I'm sure you can't help but think about her from time to time. Thanks for sharing this!

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  19. My heartstrings...

    What a fun job to have. And it's always nice to get the reminder that the little guys are resilient! Makes being an expecting mom a little more comforting.

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  20. Awww...poor mite. Loved this post. Touched me.

    Nas

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  21. What a beautiful post, Melissa. It really did touch me. I loved the story of Tinker Bell so much, and you described it so perfectly. I have a couple of good friends who each had very premature babies who are both doing great now. I think they must have had nurses as wonderful as you to take care of them.

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