By April RN
Someone recently asked me, “If you had your dream job what would it be.” My response was, “I already do.” Being a NICU nurse is my passion. Behind our doors lies a sacred place where miracles happen and dreams are shattered. There are babies here so tiny they can rest in the palm of our hand, babies here so sick that their bedside is a mass of equipment keeping them alive. They are covered in wires and tubes, they are resilient and they don’t have the option to give up. They have the hardest job in the world, they are fighting to stay alive-some win this battle while others peacefully slip away.
Our nurses belong to an elite club. We have an expert skill that few even know exists. We can place an IV in a vein as thin as a piece of hair, we can read ventilator settings like a recipe, we can save a life that is just beginning. We run to codes, we run to the bathroom we skip lunch. We weigh our patients in grams not pounds and our calculator is our best friend. We are perfectionists and our bedsides are immaculate. We protect our babies from anyone who isn’t skilled enough to touch them, we refer to them as “ours” and we can tell if something just isn’t right. We call the unit when our babies are sick, we come in on our days off when they are dying. We place them in your arms when they are slipping away. We are the first and last set of hands to touch a life. We sit with you, we are silent with you we rejoice with you and we cry with you.
I am by no coincidence a NICU nurse. In 2001 I stepped into the sacred world of the NICU for the first time. This is where I witnessed my first miracle. She was a tiny baby girl born at just 26 weeks weighing only 1 pound and 12 ounces. She was born so early, and so fragile but yet so perfect in every way. From the moment of her first fighting breath she wasn’t giving in without a fight. Her new life entailed ett tubes, ventilators, suctioning, chest tubes, IV sticks, heal sticks, bright lights and constant manipulation. The new hum she heard was no longer the beating of her Mommy’s heart but the hum of the oscillator that was breathing for her. This is what it meant to be alive.
Her strength and resilience was inspirational to anyone that knew her, especially her parents. I am the Mom of this tiny baby; she is our miracle, Isabella. Isabella walked in the shadow of death for so long and she taught me that I took life for granted before she was born. Something I would never be so selfish to do again. She also taught me that I had a greater purpose in life. I went back to school when my children were little to receive my nursing degree. I studied in the wee hours of the morning, during naps, and when everyone was tucked into bed at night. It was one of my greatest accomplishments the night I received my nursing degree.
I can personally relate to our families whether their story is miraculous or heartbreaking, I have experienced both. I have experienced the triumph of bringing a once sick baby home and I recently suffered the ultimate loss of our fourth baby, our daughter. Last year I ruptured early again and we lost our daughter Lily. Our world fell apart around us the day that she was born. We faced our darkest days after we lost her. Everything was so wrong. This past year has been the most difficult and challenging year of my life. Somehow I found the courage to walk back through the doors of the hospital where we lost Lily and go back to work in the NICU. Surprisingly, I am at ease here; it’s where I am meant to be. I have so much to offer our families. I am more than a bereaved Mommy-I am a NICU Mom and a NICU nurse. This is what now defines me as a woman and it helps me to face each new day. My journey has shown me that I have always belonged here. Walking through the doors of the NICU is humbling for me but I couldn’t imagine doing anything different. It’s an honor to be a NICU nurse. ♥