This I Believe
As a young child, I believed a nurses’ role consisted of everything from bandaging scraped knees and taking temperatures, to inflicting pain, by giving “shots” to keep us from getting sick.
On April 1st, 1995, my view of a nurses’ role changed drastically. This April Fool’s Day would not be full of jokes and laughter. Instead, my life and the life of my unborn child were in danger. When reaching my twenty-fourth week of pregnancy, I refused to believe the inevitable. I realized that my headaches, blurred vision, and edema were signs of pregnancy induced hypertension, and remember thinking that this was a terrible April Fool’s joke. I was not ready for this pregnancy to end in tragedy.
By the time I went to the hospital, my retinas were completely detached. I was unable to see. With my health deteriorating, the only thing that could save my life was an emergency c-section, but this could also cause my son’s death. He would be premature. I refused to sign the consent for surgery.
A nurse came in to speak with me. Her words were comforting, and I realized that a c-section would be the only chance for either of us to survive. At twenty-four weeks, my unborn child still had a chance to live. I needed to give him that chance.
My son was taken from me by emergency c-section. He was immediately rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The fear of losing him was overwhelming. He was alive, but at twenty-four weeks gestation, was fighting for survival.
The fact that I was unable to see my newborn baby increased my anxiety. While I was in the recovery room, one of my baby’s nurses came to visit me. With her, she brought a picture of him. She described every feature in great detail, allowing me to visualize his tiny face. She was honest with me about his chance of survival, careful not to give me false hope. I respected her for her honesty and compassion.
After my recovery, as I stood sobbing beside the incubator, a nurse approached me and asked me his name. Amidst my grief, I named him Skye. Skye’s nurses encouraged me to talk to him and touch him. They explained the purpose for each tube extending from his tiny body. They told me that my love for him would help him continue to fight.
There were many ups and downs. Never knowing what the next day would bring, I placed my trust in Skye’s nurses to help him make it through each day. They were the eyes and ears of the physician. They were the voice for Skye.
After four long months with my son in the NICU, I learned that a nurses’ role is much more than bandaging scraped knees, taking temperatures, and inflicting pain. I believe a nurses’ role is to be caring and compassionate not only for their patients but the patients’ family, and to never give up hope.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.