Dear NICU Nurse: I Love That You…

Dear NICU Nurse: I Love That YouAt 19 I had never heard of NICU. I didn’t know NICU nurses existed.

Not many people know what you NICU nurses do, what goes on behind those securely locked doors. Not many people know the impact that you, a NICU nurse, and the whole NICU staff can have on a family. A family with a baby in critical condition. Needing intensive care. Your intensive care.

I had no clue that bonds would be made, love would be given, cries would be shared. I had no clue what it would feel like to leave my baby, my heart, in the hands of a stranger. I had no clue what it would feel like to watch and let that stranger take care of my baby while oftentimes I had to sit by and jealously watch from the sidelines.

But I am thankful that you were that stranger. I am thankful of the bond you made, the love you gave, the cries you had over my baby. My baby.

I want to tell you how grateful I am. This is for you, and no matter how hard I try, these words can’t express how much I truly appreciate you.

Thank you for making me feel that my baby was someone special to you.

I love that you would sometimes take pictures of my baby boy, print them, and give them to me.

I love that you would decorate his room and his bed.

I love that you made my sons first haircut into a big milestone instead of just a routine hospital procedure.

Even though I was worried about a sleeping schedule, I love that you gave my son special attention and played with him at night time if he was wide awake. I know that you rocked him and read magazines to him.

I love that you took our first family picture.

Thank you for your patience.

I love that you were patient with my lack of understanding and my desire to know more.

I love that you were willing to answer my one million questions.

I love that I could call you at 11pm, 2am, and 5am and that you would be there to tell me how my baby was.

I love that you were understanding whenever I was in just a plain flat out bad mood. That you were patient even when you knew I might be jealous of the time you got to spend with my baby.

I love that you would interpret all the doctor’s fancy medical words.

Thank you for trying to make me feel like a person, not a patient.

I love that time you invited me to eat lunch with you downstairs in the hospital cafeteria. That almost made me feel like normal.

I love that you talked to me about your family as well as mine.

I love that after 7 weeks you jokingly told me “you’re not allowed to come back until you go on a date with your husband.” I felt like I needed approval and permission to miss a visit with my baby. And I love that I could trust you to take care of my baby that time I missed.

Thank you for teaching me.

I love that you taught me, a 19 year old, how to change my first diaper.

I love that when we did bring him home, I was confident in my skills to be more than a mom because you taught me how to care for him and be his nurse.

I love that you taught me how to do breathing treatments, give medicine, hook up the apnea monitor, check vitals, and breastfeed.

Thank you for making my new weird into my new normal.

I love that you prayed for poop with me.

I love that you appreciated my breastmilk and called it liquid gold.

I love that you understood my sheer excitement over getting to brush his gums, take his temperature, and change a poopy diaper.

Thank you for your tears, and your comfort.

I love that you were real with me. That you would cry with me on our big steps back, and rejoice with me on our big steps forward.

I love that you stood with me. With your arms around me. As we watched through the window when my son’s ventilator stopped working and all his numbers headed towards 0. Thank you for holding me and breathing a sigh of relief with me as we watched his numbers climb back up.

I love that you were the nurse behind that window. Calm in the chaos as you called for respiratory to come help you get my son to breathe again.

There are so many things that I love about you, but what I love most was the way you loved my baby.

Thank you!

From a NICU mom who will forever remember the smells and sounds, the love, tears, and laughs, and the hearts full of compassion anytime I look at my son.

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”  -Winnie the Pooh

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16 thoughts on “Dear NICU Nurse: I Love That You…

  1. Kami says:

    Ashley, I’ve read many of your blogs and can’t believe I’m just now telling how much I admire and appreciate your ability to write with such passion. You are real and so loving with your approach in life. The NICU nurse post hits home a little as we anxiously await for my niece to be able to come home from NICU. Thanks for making the time to express sincere thanks about some of your toughest days. You are an inspiration and encouragement. Love you!

    • Ashley says:

      Kami, thank you so much!! I really appreciate your kind words. I am still soo thankful that God made our paths cross. You guys helped us through some unsure times and I am thankful to get to know yall! We miss you guys! Hope yall are doing good! And I will be thinking of your sweet niece!

  2. Pamela Elam says:

    Ashley, the sweetheart second from the right on the back row, is my precious daughter-in-law Reagan! Your words melted my heart as a mom, but also, the fact that you described my Reagan perfectly.

    • Ashley says:

      Pamela yes we know Reagan 🙂 We went to church with her and her family for awhile when I was in college. Sweet family!

  3. Alexandra Silva says:

    I’m a new nursing student and I know I have a long hard road ahead. I want you to know when I have those nights where I think I can’t go any further I am going to read your letter. My goal is to become a NICU nurse and I hope one day I will be able to help a family like these amazing nurses helped you.
    Thank you so much very sharing!

    • Ashley says:

      You have picked an amazing career! From what I’ve heard, it is hard but very rewarding. Keep working towards your goal! I’m sure you will make a difference in lots of families lives!

  4. Jeronda says:

    Thank you for pinning such a beautiful article, which expresses my sentiments exactly. I’m still crying after reading it a second time. My 24 weeker spent 6.5 months in the hospital. She is now four years old and doing well. We still have a few challenges, but she has made unbelievable progress and certainly does not look like what she’s been through. Again, thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    • Ashley says:

      It is so amazing what babies can overcome. We were only in the NICU for about 2 months. I can’t imagine being there for 6. I’m sure you are a very strong momma! NICU was challenging, but it was also such a blessing. It opened my eyes and made me really appreciate every moment. Thank you for sharing!!

  5. Heather says:

    This is the most accurate and eloquently worded depiction of how it feels to be the mom (or dad) of a NICU baby. Thank you for sharing!
    *mom of 29.1 wk twin boys*

  6. Jennifer says:

    You took the thoughts right out of my jumbled head and put them together so elequently!! Some of those faces were the same that loved and cared for my three! Even 4 years later, this took me right back to this- first-time mom having to be told it is okay touch your baby!
    ~~TEARS of Joy and TEARS of Fear~~
    ~~~~30 wk triplets~~~~
    doing excellent and keeping me on my toes every day

  7. Teresa says:

    Dear NICU Mom…I am a NICU nurse. Not YOUR NICU nurse, but I read your blog and cried. Thank YOU for expressing your appreciation for my profession. After 13 years, I am still honored to be allowed to take care of someone’s precious newborn. I remain in awe of the dedication that NICU moms have for daily visits with their babies, often for months even with jobs and other children at home. We do truly care for your children, and do feel those raw emotions that you mention. Please keep in touch and allow us an additional honor of knowing seeing the growth and development of your children.

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