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Challenge: NICU Parenting

The Other End of Nurse

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I am an Oncology nurse that has dealt with a lot of sorrow, tragedy, and death. Never being faced with the challenge of death or illness personally I was numb to the actual draining emotions that my patients and their family members experience every day. But after my experience of being in the NICU with my son for 70 days I look at life and love with different eyes.

I was at 27 weeks pregnant when I was at work with what I thought was the perfect pregnancy. I use to comment to my mom and husband how easy it was to actually be pregnant. I was changing leg dressing on a patient that was critically ill and in a lot pain. With one quick motion of lifting his leg I caused him a shot of pain that made him reflex and kick me right in the stomach. I instantly felt a rip with a rush of blood saturating my scrubs. I dropped the patients leg and ran out of the room. With seeing the horror of the other nurses and them asking me what happened I burst into tears and immediately drove myself to Magee Women's Hospital where I was to deliver my son 3 month later.

When I had gotten to the hospital I was placed in triage where they did an ultra sound of my abdomen that showed the baby was still alive, but that I had a partial placental abruption. I was sent to ICU to be monitored. There several doctors came in and out of my room explaining the severity of my situation and the extreme risk of having a premie at 27 weeks. They insisted that I try to hold off delivery as much as possible and give the baby a chance to grow while receiving medications like steroids, surfactan, and magnesium to help speed up the growth of the baby's lungs. Shortly after the partial placental abruption occurred I began to have contractions and for seven days I continued to have them. They were unable to given me anything for pain because the way of knowing the difference between a full and partial placental abruption is the immediate relief in pain and end contractions and that would place my baby in a life threatening situations. At the start of my 28 weeks gestation while watching the Ellen show I felt my contraction worsen than they had in the last 7 days. I called out to the nurse only for her to discover that my son was crowning. My son was delivered that hour at 28 weeks gestation.

Immediately he was whisked down to the NICU where he began his battle for 70 days. While in the NICU I was tortured with the alarms of "B's and A's" for much of his stay as his brain struggled to remember how to breath at a time he was not suppose to. And we were met with many moment of one step forward and three steps back. Through the whole ordeal Anthony was bagged and revived twice before my eyes. I have done it to patients so many times in my career but seeing it being done to my son and knowing what thin line he was walking on still leaves me sick to my stomach today. We found victories in small things like growth, and celebrated milestones like actually being able to eat. Through this experience I am able to appreciate the MIRACLE that I have been given. And I know what it means love until it hurts. Because nothing hurts more than watching the one thing you love the most fight.

Kim Evans

Pittsburgh PA

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