My gratitude for our NICU nurse


Tonight, I let him fall asleep as we rocked. Some nights I just don’t want to put him down, so I don’t. I smiled as I stared at his chubby cheeks. He put in a full, hard day of playing today, like toddler boys do. He helped me drop his sisters off at school this morning, crying when he had to hug them goodbye. They are his most favorite of favorites, and rightfully so. He played baseball with his dad tonight, running down the driveway to greet him after work. He is everything and more that I dreamed a little boy would be. He’s funny, just as I had a feeling he might be. He gives the best hugs, the kind that says he means it. He can’t say /k/ or /t/, which is most evident when he chases his “titty tats” around the barn. He loves when I watch Sesame Street with him, and I love it, too. He sleeps exactly like his dad, with his arms stretched out above his head. He looks just like his dad, too, with a smile that can light up a room (when he decides he wants to use it). Tonight, as I stared at him in awe, I couldn’t help but think of you, too. 


You were the NICU nurse who greeted me with a smile when I was wheeled into your NICU, next to his warmer. I was terrified, but the moment I met you, I knew he was in the best of hands. My baby couldn’t breathe, but you were helping him find a way. You were calm, and helped me be calm, at the most terrifying time of my life. You explained what the tubes and wires were for and in a way I would understand. You’ve had to explain this a thousand times in your career, but you patiently explained it again, because you knew this was my first time.

The NICU was never in our plan. I thought we would take him home the next day, to his two big sisters that couldn’t wait to meet him. Over our 16 day stay, there was so much I didn’t know and so much I didn’t understand, but you told me again and again, as many times as I needed to hear it.


I was terrified of his tubes, but you talked about him as if you saw him without all of it. You commented on his dimple, something I hadn’t yet noticed. It felt so good to have someone comment on the little things, the things that I had been too distracted to think about. During our first day, his condition worsened. Suddenly he required two chest tubes and a vent. When I saw the chest x-ray of his heart pushed to the wrong side, I felt as if my own heart might break in two. You always took the time to squeeze my hand when my tears didn’t stop. You told me to sit down and keep my feet up, you saw how swollen my feet were. You continuously filled up my water pitcher, as if you didn’t already have enough to do. You showed me how I could put my finger in his palm, to let him know I was right there. When the day came when we finally got to hold him, you cried, too. 

You asked me questions about his nursery and about his big sisters. When his big sisters finally got to meet him, you made them feel so welcomed. You asked them about their school day and you remembered the details I had forgotten I had told you. His big sister says she wants to work in a NICU someday and I can see exactly why she was so inspired.

You took the time to explain in detail every aspect of his care. You helped explain the numbers on the screen and what they meant. I saw the tears well up in your eyes when you were finally able to tell me some good news, you knew how desperately I had been waiting to hear it. 

I watched you in awe as you took care of my baby and his roommates. I’m not sure I ever saw you sit down, there was never time as you and your team had a full NICU. I saw babies being rushed in from other hospitals and babies being prepped to be flown out to Omaha or Denver. Every baby in your care was loved beyond measure. 

September is NICU Awareness month, but honestly, I don’t need a month to make me aware. I think about you in almost everything he does. You were a part of his story for only 16 days, but you were the part that forever changed his story. I think of you when he laughs his deep belly laugh of pure joy. I think of you when he does something for the first time that he had been working hard to figure out. I think of you when he’s acting like a toddler and having pounding-the-floor meltdown and I smile because I know these were the moments I once prayed to have. 


Sometimes I still feel like it was all just a dream. The only physical evidence are two little scars where two little chest tubes once were. The NICU days forever changed me – and all of us- in ways words can’t fully describe. Every day, and I mean every day, since we left those double doors for the last time, I have thought about you and your team that helped save his life. Every single day. 

I saw the best part of your job and I saw unimaginable heartbreaking moments, too. Somehow you don’t give up. It takes incredible strength and courage to do what you do. You chose a calling that only a select few could ever do and I thank God that you did. The world is so much better with you in it. 

I hope you know how important your role was in his life. I hope you know that I will never forget what you did for us. When we say our bedtime prayers, I watch him fold his hands and say, “Help help babies”, because we will continue to pray for our NICU nurses, and all NICU nurses, the rest of our lives. I hope you somehow just know how much you mean to me because I’ll never find the words. 

Tonight, the tears form in my eyes as I look at him and I think of you. Thank you, God, for NICU nurses.

How a superhero goes back to school

Tonight, as I made your bed and tucked your Batman sheets into place, I glanced at the sign that hangs above your bed, “A superhero sleeps here”. For whatever reason, it looked different tonight. I thought about how you haven’t seen your school friends for almost six months. That’s half of a year. One day I picked you up outside your kindergarten playground and you had no idea I was about to tell you we wouldn’t be back on Monday. I had no idea we wouldn’t be back that year. You worried so much about them, so many of them whose parents I didn’t know or who weren’t able to participate online. “Mom, are they okay? Are they getting sick? Do they have enough snacks at their house, so they won’t be hungry?” So many questions weighing heavy on a little six-year-old heart.


You and your sister have been counting down the days, almost counting down the seconds, until your first day of school. You know it’ll be different this year, so different, but you don’t care. You just want to be there. We are days away from the start, and I’m holding my breath hoping we get a chance to have that first day back. Our state isn’t doing a good job of keeping the numbers down (to say the least). If we get to start in-person, we know it will be short-lived. We have done our part this summer and while we sacrificed vacations and sports and playdates with friends, we worried. So my little super hero, it’s time to put on the cape and set our worry aside. It’s time to make a difference.

Every year, you and your sister ask me to read our favorites about the first day of school. This year, those stories don’t fit, so here is my back-to-school story for you. This year is going to be different and change can be hard. This year I hope you try extra hard to listen to your teacher. They are so excited to have you back, they missed their students. They will be there to help you every step of the way. Their job is going to be even harder this year, but it’s up to you to help make it easier. That’s what superheroes do. They help, and you my sweet girl, have always been a helper. 

Follow the rules and be a good listener. Be kind. Throw kindness around like confetti because everyone needs it right now. (And we need it now more than ever.) Sit where your teacher asks you to, even if it’s not where you want to sit. Have fun at recess and love every second of playing with your friends! Wash your hands when you come back inside. (And please wash them a lot.) I can’t wait to see the artwork you bring home for me to hang. I can’t wait to hear all the details about each and every day. Your classmates are going to be stressed and worried just like you. They have worried about all of the same things we have, but some have even worried about more. Be patient, and I know some days it will be extra hard, and those are the times it will mean the most. There’s going to be some hard days, but there’s going to be some pretty great ones, too. 

You know how much I worry, just like you, and it’s hard to let go of the things we can’t control. So I will help you and do all of the things I can control. No one wants an opinion right now, so we must do something that matters. When I go grocery shopping, I’ll pick up some extra things for the food bank. I will make sure to help your teachers find the extra supplies they might need. If your classmates need masks, we will help them find some. I know your friends’ parents and grandparents will be helping, too. You have always surrounded yourself with other superheroes, who want to help the world as much as you do. 

Every night when we say our prayers, we always ask God to help guide us to how we can help others. This is your chance, my superhero. I know you are going to love your first day back, even if it’s different. Know how much I’ll miss you on the days you’re at school, but how glad I’ll be that you’re back to the place you have missed so much. I am proud of you and I am proud of your classmates. There is so much about this year we don’t know, but I know you will do all you can to make it better. Thank you for being brave and thank you for being you.