It’s a world only a select few will ever witness; a place where the sickest babies are given a fighting chance at life and a place my family called home for nearly four months. The NICU can be a scary experience. It’s a place where life is measured in hours, or even minutes; where life can change at a moment’s notice. For me, it’s a place where life and death collide: where the happiness of bringing a child home is met with the grief of watching your child take his last breath. Even though two of my triplets died without ever leaving the hospital, I’m forever grateful to the NICU. It’s a place where miracles exist and it’s because of a special group of people who I like to call miracle workers.
A day after delivering my triplets, just hours after my first child died, I woke up in an ICU bed. I was unable to see my two remaining babies due to my health, yet you took pictures of my sweet babies and brought them to my hospital bed, allowing me to see the miracle of life. Thank you to the nurse who first introduced me to my children.
In those early days, my body was physically in the NICU, but my mind was in a haze. The shock of staring at their translucent, one pound bodies, consumed me. My body failed me. Babies are not expected to survive when they’re born more than 17 weeks premature. The guilt overwhelmed me as I looked at the machines keeping my children alive. Yet, there was no judgement from you, our nurse. Only comfort and kindness as you reminded me that Peyton and Parker were in good hands. Thank you to the nurses who gave me hope.
At one week old, I stared at my children, watching their chests rise and fall with each breath. As I stared in amazement at their perfect little features, you approached me with a smile. You looked at me and said, “Are you ready to hold your daughter?” With my eyes wide open, I simply nodded, unable to get the words out of my mouth. Weighing just 16 ounces, I held my daughter for the first time; her miniature hands placed perfectly on my chest. Thank you to the nurse who gave me that first milestone. It’s a moment etched in my heart forever.
At five weeks old, my husband and I sat in a conference room, expecting a typical update on our children. Instead, we were given devastating news: our son suffered brain damage. As I looked from the doctor over to you, I saw the sadness and concern in your eyes. As we returned to their room, I broke down watching our beautiful Parker, his peaceful soul unaware of his grave setback. As the sobs poured out, you handed me a tissue as you silently gave me a hug. No words could help what we were feeling, but that simple gesture made a difference. To the nurse who was there on one of the worst days of our lives, thank you for providing the comfort I needed.
Two weeks later, on August 16, we watched as doctors removed every tube and wire from our son. I rocked sweet Parker as we said goodbye. And as we shared stories in his final moments of life, a team of you were there, both present and in spirit. From taking pictures, to calling in on your day off to check on our family, you were there. The gentle hand on the shoulder didn’t go unnoticed. Thank you to the nurses who allowed us to grieve and who grieved along with us.
As the weeks passed by, our lone survivor turned a corner. I learned to balance my grief with strength for Peyton, and in return, she gave us hope that we would one day bring her home. The laughs became more frequent as you snapped pictures of our child’s expressions and the grins became full blown smiles as you dressed her in clothes. We looked forward to spending our days in the room, watching our daughter thrive while sharing stories of life outside of the NICU. Thank you to the nurses who gave me hope and a sense of normalcy during a time that was anything but normal.
As we packed up our bags and gathered our many nurse-made signs, a feeling of excitement and sadness swept over me. We were leaving a place that became our second-home. We were leaving our newfound friends, who became family during a critical time in our lives. The smiles and cheers as we left the hospital were heartfelt and genuine. You truly care about every single baby who comes through the NICU.
It’s not one single person who made a difference in our time there, it’s a family of nurses who changed our lives forever. To the nurses who cared for our children, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being a parent to our children when we couldn’t spend every hour of the day by their bed. Thank you for being that shoulder to lean on when we needed to vent, or laugh, or cry. You may just be doing your job, but you are touching lives with every family you meet. It takes a special person to become a NICU nurse. Thank you for being my children’s miracle worker.
A version of this originally appeared on Her View From Home.