I’m not a nurse, but when I think of a profession I most admire these days, that one ranks up there with sainthood.
Some of the best people I know are nurses.
In the last month, I’ve been around enough registered nurses to testify that theirs is one of the most courageous of job titles. During my mandatory bed rest, I spent about every two or three hours with nurses as they checked my vitals and tracked the condition of my pregnancy.
They somehow made blood pressure checks and blood draws tolerable.
The nurses who work in the high-risk unit of the women’s hospital where I gave birth have the patience of chess champions. Most also had the bedside manner of Mary Poppins, making the medicine go down without much worry. My nurses knew how to make this pregnant mother feel calm and collected in a time when stress was a factor in coping with the restrictions of bed rest. My time in bed was much shorter than I expected — 10 days as opposed to five weeks — but the nurses were by my bedside to make sure I stayed the course. For those who might not know about adult coloring, I highly recommend it.
You don’t even have to color in the lines.
Since Will has been in the NICU, the nurses have helped us learn more about his prematurity and the milestones we continue to reach as he grows bigger and stronger. From bradycardia, which is slowed heart rate common in preemies, to non-nutritive breast feeding, the new information I learn every day about caring for a baby in the NICU can be overwhelming.
Thankfully, neonatal nurses know the drill.
What makes these nurses so phenomenal is their specialized knowledge in caring for the world’s tiniest patients while keeping parents informed and calm during a scary time. Some parents (like me) are new to the entire experience and have never breastfed or even taken a child’s temperature. Since Will came early, I missed out on the chance to take parenting classes. Luckily I had many years of babysitting in my teens, so I at least knew how to change a dirty diaper.
I can say these are the smallest diapers I’ve ever encountered.
The NICU nurses are experts in teaching parents how to change that first tiny diaper. Or hold a preemie at just the right angle while being bottle fed for the first time. They know what to say when the hormones ambush a new mom and the only relief is a good, healthy cry. They can tell how important it is for a parent to hear the news that a baby has gained an ounce.
Or even half of one.
I’ll always remember the neonatal nurse who rode along with me in the ambulance when I was transported to the women’s hospital after my water broke. She was a small gal with red hair. The emergency ride was my first, so I was visibly scared and didn’t really know what to expect. She was comforting and sweet. In the back of the ambulance, female energy surrounded me. The two EMTs and the neonatal nurse were all women, and they ensured I was in good hands to get us safely to the hospital.
She was like our special little guardian angel.
I believe all nurses are here for us to fill that guardian angel role. I’m honored to have many friends who are nurses. That has especially been the case since my best friend Megan completed nursing school about six years ago after working in the insurance field for more than a decade. She also holds a degree in education but more recently decided she wanted to get into nursing. She has the kind of personality that’s perfect for the occupation — positive attitude, smiles a lot, makes friends easily, patient, doesn’t have a problem being up early, etc.
Basically, she was made to be a nurse.
Megan’s sister, Amy, is also a nurse. So maybe their parents had a special gift of making saints. If so, they did a great job. And I for one am extremely thankful.
April E. Clark could be a nurse if she didn’t feel weak in the knees around blood. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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