This revelation first revealed itself years ago, when my daughter was born twelve weeks too early. I sat, terrified, holding this three pound wonder, afraid I might break her with even with the gentlest touch. The doctors came for round in white coats and clinical speech, discussing her at such a distance. It was the nurses in teddy bear scrubs and wide smiles who spoke to her like any other baby, and made me feel like there would be a time when I was just any other mom.
Then there was the time when I lost my twins at twenty weeks. I felt frantic, knowing what leaking amniotic fluid with tiny dark flecks meant. When I got to the hospital at midnight on a holiday, the resident on duty refused my request to call a more experienced doctor. At this hospital, residents run the whole show, she said, as though my main concern was her resume. As she left, a nurse came over, held my hand, told me how sorry she was while I cried. Then the nurse left, and within a few minutes, she and the resident returned with a phone. I spoke to the doctor on call. In the end, this didn’t save my babies, but it may have saved me. I needed to know that everything that could be done, was done.
I met another angel a year later, when I was having a cervical cerclage to increase my chances of keeping my baby safe. While I lay on the operating table, doctors stitched my cervix discussing sand traps and dog leg lefts. There was a sense of pressure that wasn’t pain, but just felt so wrong. I’ll never forget the nurse who stood by my head, stroking my forehead until it was over. I stared at her beautiful cheek bones and cocoa skin, focused on her touch instead of all pain I faced.
The cerclage worked. I now have two healthy, precious children. It wasn’t easy, but they’re here, and I’m thankful for them every day, and the kindness of nurses along the way.
Nurses are known for compassion and bringing more humanity to healthcare. They negate some of the distance and transactional feel that’s so imbedded in the system. They’re also trained professionals who perform a critical role: the omnipresent force monitoring and advocating for their patients.
And guess who wants to fill that role for the future patients…my little girl! She is now seventeen, and she wants to be a nurse.
I’m so proud of her, and I’m thrilled that she’s found the contribution she’d like to make to the world. She’ll do it with a huge smile, thoughtful diligence, and an endless reservoir of compassion. I’ve no doubt that my daughter will help make difficult situations easier for patients, just like so many wonderful nurses have done for me.
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