A letter to a nurse

During our 26-day stay in the NICU, we received the very best care from our team of NICU doctors and nurses. I wrote the following when I nominated one of our nurses for an award, but I’m posting it here because I have many nurse friends and want them to know: we, the parents, the patients (too), notice. We care. And we thank you, so very much.

“In January of this year, during the fifth coldest and snowiest winter in Chicago history, our son Anderson was born, spent a month in the NICU, and died.  We spent that month bonding not just with him, but with the wonderful men and women who loved him too.

One night Ander was doing particularly poorly, and we both left the NICU crying after we were given the “If he survives” speech by one of the neonatologists. We recognized that if he kept trending downward from where he was, there wouldn’t be much time left.

But that night, he had his favorite nurse, J.K., and by morning, he was doing much better. Not perfect, but MUCH better. For the first time since he was born, we sat for hours at his bedside without a monitor going off. His oxygen was down to 90% and his other vent settings were also lower. We knew that things could change or turn at any moment, but that particular day we left feeling much more encouraged about his prospects, and we knew that somehow, J’s loving care had given us that day with him.

Unfortunately, our little guy just couldn’t overcome his early birth at 24 weeks, and he lost his fight just a few days later, after 26 days in the NICU. But J gave us more than just that one day of hope. She gave us forever with our little boy. You see, he was so perfect, with golden blond hair and a cute, button nose. Though I will always wonder what he would have looked like at full term and as he got older, I will never forget what he looked like then – thanks to J.

On Ander’s last day with us, another lovely NICU nurse, S, asked us if she could call J, because J takes amazing pictures, and S wanted to be sure we had memories. We were so lucky to hear that Ander’s favorite nurse would be there on the night we said goodbye.

J loved him. We always felt – knew – that our son was special to her, and knowing that makes all the difference for NICU parents. We saw how she was photographing our goodbyes through her own tears. After the ventilator was taken out, after he had taken his last breath, J gave us our own newborn photoshoot, with posed family photos in which we could finally see our precious son without all the tubes and wires. We have closeups of his glorious face and tiny fingers and toes. J bathed him and dressed him with us, and as we laid him back in his isolette to say our final goodbye, she promised to stay with him all night and watch over him. I still get teary thinking of her, guarding our son’s body and making sure, for one last night, that he was safe and comfortable.

A few weeks later, J gave us one more gift – all of the pictures from the “photo shoot,” yes, but also a slideshow that she carefully and lovingly put together of his last day with us. She spent her free time thinking about and remembering our son with us, and we are so grateful to her for giving us these memories.”

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5 Responses to A letter to a nurse

  1. meghanoc says:

    so wonderful. everything- your nurse sounded so wonderful. the fact that you wrote to the hospital and nominated her was so wonderful. the forever memories in photos is so wonderful. and i found it therapeutic to write to my care providers (nurses, midwives, etc)- helps remember the good…

  2. Emma says:

    This photo is stunning. My heart explodes and breaks all at once. I am so glad you have this. But I wish even more that you didn’t, and instead had your sweet baby xx

  3. That’s beautiful. My son was also born at 24 weeks, and lived for 35 days. We’ve got many precious photos and videos, but it wish I had photos of his lovely face without the wires. You’re very fortunate to have had such a forward-thinking nurse xxx

  4. I’m so sorry for the loss of your little boy, he sounds so beautiful.

    Thank you for writing your wonderful letter and for taking the time to thank the nurse and the unit even though your heart must have been broken.

    I also remember taking photographs of the little hands and feet of a baby girl who didn’t have much time left; I had to balance the camera on my other arm to stop my hands from shaking. I tried to give those parents as many memories to take away with them as possible, knowing that they had to last a life time.

    I’m so pleased that you had such a strong, positive relationship with the nurse at such a difficult time.

    Thanks again for writing.

    • babylossmama says:

      Our beloved nurses were crying with us. We knew they felt our heartbreak, and it meant so much to us. So thank YOU for doing what you can to give the parents memories. Even if we don’t always have it in us to express our gratitude right away, we remember every time we look at those shots.

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