Happy Nurses Week!!

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Happy Nurses Week to all the nurses out there!

I think it’s amazing there is a week out there to celebrate all the wonderful things you do. I have spent a considerable amount of time in hospitals, on bed rest with my three babies and then my last baby’s NICU stay, and was very blessed to have some absolutely amazing nurses. I usually just post something during the week on social media but wanted to take some extra time and share just how thankful we are. Here are a few pictures and some sweet stories as my way to say thanks.

I had never been in a hospital until I started having babies and with our first I was given an amazing nurse who we later learned was trained for cases like ours, in infant loss and bereavement. She was very kind and encouraging and actually took the time to give me a crash course in child birth in the early stages of hard labor! (It was my first baby and I was only twenty-two weeks along and hadn’t even thought of Lamaze or anything like that yet!) All the nurses in the stay were wonderful and so respectful of our little boy, calling him by name and giving us wonderful momentos to keep and cherish.

My next pregnancy I was admitted to the hospital at nineteen weeks after a cerclage (a stitch in my cervix) failed. I was put into a position where my feet were actually over my head and I was not allowed up. At all. My nurses suddenly had to do everything for me. And I mean EVERYTHING. There is little more humbling than being quite an independent soul to going to a complete stranger bathing you, wiping your bottom, dressing you, helping you eat, you name it. Our little boy and I made it three weeks together like this but then we lost another sweet angel.

A year later I was pregnant again. We returned to the same hospital as the last pregnancy and the nurses remembered me! Several of them particularly touched my heart. We returned to this hospital because they were the only local hospital in our region at the time with a NICU and they also have a high-risk clinic. This time around one nurse took me under her wing and made sure she was there to be our nurse at every appointment I had.

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This is Maria with our little miracle boy, Henry, who is twelve-months here. We still visit these lovely ladies from time to time because we grew so close to them! During my pregnancy Maria was so tender and loving and encouraging and when at twenty-four weeks my cervix was showing signs of shortening and thinning (an early sign of labor) I was admitted to the hospital again. The clinic is on the ground floor of the hospital so I simply needed to be transferred to Labor and Delivery and it was Maria who transferred me, pushing my wheelchair, holding my hand in the elevator, and helping the nurses upstairs get me settled in. She visited when she could and even visited my son in the NICU several times.

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This is Barbara, a sweet lady who cared for me almost daily during my second pregnancy; she was assigned to me a lot! She was one of my favorites and she was one of them who came to my room to visit me after our little Beloved Joshua passed away (coming to see me after coming on staff in the evening and finding I was not in my room anymore). The first time I saw her while on bed rest with Henry I cried; I was so happy to see her. I spent much of my time in Labor and Delivery with Henry as it was a lot of touch and go but I was transferred to her care a couple of times and then who was my nurse when I was transferred to Post Partum after Henry’s birth?! Barbara! She was so happy and actually cried for joy for us. When I was discharged she stayed late so she could be the one to send me home; we spent every moment we could in the NICU with Henry and she waited until we were ready to go home. I had no idea she had done that until we went to leave. Here is a photo my husband took of her and I as we were leaving. I am so grateful for the care I received from this sweet lady, not once but twice. She is truly an angel.

One of my favorite stories is of a beautiful woman, named Esther. I was sure I had a picture of her, but couldn’t find one. She cared for me several times with Henry but I only met her a couple of times in the hospital with Joshua. She was often the charge nurse and would simply come in to write on my board and introduce herself and filled in maybe once or twice if someone was busy. She cried when I told her this story a year later but for a time I actually wondered if she was an angel. She was so beautiful with this deep, dark skin and made me think of what the biblical Esther might have looked like. She is a born-again believer, like myself, and the Spirit would speak to her, giving her scriptures and words of encouragement for us. My mother-in-law and I had been talking of the story of Elijah and the widow woman and how when her son died and she went running to the prophet for help and one of his men asked her how she was. Instead of answering in desperation she simply stated, “It is well.” So my MIL kept saying that to me. Esther was never there for one of those conversations but one night I was feeling very anxious and unwell and Esther just patted me on the arm and said, “Just remember, it is well.” I still get goose bumps thinking about it and couldn’t help but wonder if she was real! I told her the story a year later while on bed rest with Henry and she both laughed and cried. She was very real, just listening to the Holy Spirit, but she is still an angel to me.

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Here is a nurse, named Shelley, holding Henry. We took him up to visit all the L&D nurses on one of our first appointments back to the doctor after he was discharged from the NICU. That is one of my doctors with her who actually put in AND removed my cerclage and was there with us almost every step of the way. I met Shelley when I was admitted for the cerclage. She heard and saw us praying and joined in. When I was wheeled into the operating room and feeling on the verge of panic from fear I will never forget her bending down to whisper in my ear, “I will be praying the entire time.” She was also so cheery and sweet and encouraging and wonderful. She gave my husband her cell-phone number in case I went into labor and she was off – which happened! She drove almost an hour on her day off, arriving just as Henry did. She was the one who wheeled me into the NICU to see and hold Henry the first time and when I had to give him up after only a few very short minutes she then held me as I cried. Wheeling me out of the NICU she stopped in front of a big bulletin board filled with pictures of babies and children, telling me that one day Henry would be on that board. And he is. One of our trips to see the nurses she took me back into that hallway and showed me. Every picture I had ever sent was hanging there.

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Here are two of Henry with Labor and Delivery nurses who became more friends than caregivers. The woman holding Henry in the first and on the far left in the next is a woman named Ellyse who came in one day so excited – armed with treats – after finding a gluten-free bakery in town. She had been running errands on her time off and happened to see it. It was very hard finding stuff I could eat in the hospital and that she had thought of me meant so much. About a week or so before Henry was born they wanted me to move around more, work up some of the muscles lost, and I was feeling very down and homesick one day. Ellyse packed me into a wheelchair and took me downstairs and outside to sit in the sun for a few minutes and visit about girly things. It was the first I had been outside in almost two months. It was just what I needed but she took her precious time to do it. She didn’t have to but she did. They constantly went above and beyond. The lady on the far right in the bottom picture is Sabrina. Both she and Ellyse are also Christians and prayed for me many times. I remember twice being upset and distraught and Sabrina just dropping everything she was doing and taking my hand to pray. (Sabrina also gave the best massages while putting lotion on after a bath; I always looked forward to bath time if Sabrina was there!)

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This is Rhea, who is the queen of IV’s! No one could get an IV in or do a blood draw like Rhea and I have to say she was one of my favorites for that reason! It got hard to find a good vein after pricking me so often for so long and Rhea would come into my room on days my IV was due to be changed, even if she wasn’t assigned to me, to do it. She could be tough and no-nonsense, and she made sure I kept my head, but was so loving and encouraging at the same time. I ran into her as she was leaving, outside one of the doors to the hospital, the night before Henry was discharged from the NICU. I was on the phone with my husband and saw her and told her the news. Tears came to her eyes and she exclaimed, “Henry is going home!” It was so sweet. They all celebrated with us.

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This woman is actually not a nurse, but I included her anyway. Her name is Shondra, and she was working in housekeeping at the hospital. She was very sweet to shy me a couple of times when she came in and one day started talking to me. To make a long story short we became great friends and are still in contact! She even was around a time or two and helped at bath time or things like that (I remember teasing her, “We’re definitely friends now! You’ve seen me naked!”). She even sent me flowers one day after coming by and I was not doing well, contracting and in a lot of pain. I am so thankful she was bold enough to introduce herself to me that night!

One more story from Labor and Delivery, and another I don’t have a picture of but wish I did. As I said earlier many of them remembered me from the year before, but one in particular said something about knowing me and even said, “You’re Joshua’s mom.” I was taken aback that one, she remembered me, and two, my baby’s name. I felt bad because I didn’t remember her. Let me back up. A year before I was given a nurse in recovery after our son was born sleeping who was so sweet and caring. She treated my son with such love and respect and took the most beautiful pictures for us and pressed his hands and feet into plaster, dressed him so sweetly, and was just lovely to us. I never got to thank her. Fast forward a year later and I apologize to this nurse for not remembering her and she just smiled at me and said, “It’s ok, I wouldn’t expect you to remember me. I was your nurse in recovery.” I immediately began to cry and was finally able to tell this sweet lady thank you and how much every thing she had done for us meant to me. That is sort of a sad story, but one of my favorite nurse stories I have told over and over and over. Cassandra cared for me and Henry many times and was actually my nurse the day of my baby shower and it means a lot she got to celebrate with us.

There are so many more! There was the woman who was assigned to me the night after Joshua’s death who gave me my first hug in over a month (because I could finally sit upright), found out, and gave me one more! There was a sweet nurse with this pretty accent and actually a very calming voice, and Henry seemed to really like her! He almost seemed to flirt with her, playing with her almost when she would put the monitors on. She would talk to him and he would kick and kick. It always made us laugh. Everyone always called Henry by name and I loved it when they would speak to him and not just of him.

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Henry’s birth was a dream come true, but still very scary. At 32 weeks he still had a lot of developing to do, but he was a miracle and healthy; no one ever thought I could carry him that long, but it was a whole new round of fear after losing two babies already and everything we had been through up to that point. Here are just a couple (of many) in the NICU. The nurses there often held me when I cried, mothered me a bit, or would sit and visit in the long hours. I could go on and on…and on and on…but one favorite is this older lady who wore a traditional nurse’s uniform and cap. Henry had just graduated from the incubator to an open crib and when my husband and I returned after shift change she introduced herself and said she was so excited because she could hold him! We laughed and told her she was in luck – that baby loved to be held! – and when we went to leave that night and I went to set him down she came running over and offered to take him. I always got emotional when leaving and she patted me and said it would be ok and they had a lovely evening planned. You could see Henry’s crib from the scrub room door and I peeked back in for one more look before we left. Here was this sweet nurse in the rocking chair I had just been in, with Henry on her shoulder, talking sweetly into his ear. My heart melted and that night it was just a little easier to leave, knowing he was in hands like that.

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Here Henry and I are the day we took him home, with his nurse from that day. I cried when I left. I was so happy but I was so grateful for these amazing people who had done so much and it was hard to say goodbye.

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Here is Henry with Jacqueline, the NICU charge nurse so was always so sweet to us. Even now, every time we go upstairs to visit I tentatively peek into the front window, knowing they may all be occupied. She comes out every time and wants to see how we are doing and hold Henry, and she pulls out anyone inside who is not too busy.

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Just a few more. This last November there was a NICU reunion we were invited to and it was so wonderful to see all these amazing people again. Some I hadn’t seen since Henry had been discharged. Crystal, the woman in the plum top and the one hugging Henry worked nights during Henry’s stay but she was one I probably got the closest to. She helped me so much with breastfeeding and recovery, not to mention was just a kind soul and easy to talk to. I remember her even calling me at home to check in and see how I was doing (perfect timing too – I was on the breast pump and bawling – but that’s a story for another time!)

Suffice it to say, I believe God puts certain people in our path for a reason at the times we need it. There were so many others I could have mentioned! I have heard a lot of negative stories of hospital experiences and not all ours were good, but the vast majority were. We have been extremely fortunate to have experienced absolutely amazing hospital staff in our stays; people who cared for us so lovingly, encouraged us, laughed and cried with us, and left marks on our hearts.

This is a love note to you to say thank you. Thank you for all you do. The sacrifices you make, the lives you save, and the hearts you touch. Hugs to you!

Lots of Love,

The Pselos family

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