Monday, May 7, 2007

More than words

Julie says it's National Nurses Week, and since she hasn't led me astray yet, I believe her. And since many things she does are a good idea, even if they are not the law, I figured I should thank the nurses that helped me survive.

Trouble is, I don't really know how I could ever thank them enough.

My day shift nurse. How do you thank someone for only saying "Oh, good-- you missed the bed" when you barf your clear liquids all over the floor because IV pain meds make you feel very very drunk? How do you thank her for holding your hands and talking you through the part where they put the epidural in with contractions 2-3 minutes apart? Sometime in the middle of all that she also put together a list for me-- tips, resources, remedies. Did you know that sage helps stop lactation? Well, now you know.

My night shift nurse. How can you ever thank a person for bringing warm blankets and a hat for your dead baby? Toasty warm blankets. As in, she warmed them up. Not right away, either-- she gave us time right away. And how on earth do you ever thank that very same person for being the one to look after his body after you let him go and for putting together his memory box? Or for not making you verbalize the reason you were hesitating to ask for the hat he was wearing? For understanding you enough to say "It's OK. I will put another one on him"? How do you thank a person for that?

How do you thank these nurses enough for not making you feel like what you were doing in that L&D room was any less than natural, any less than any other birth? Or for conspiring to keep you in that L&D room for close to 15 hours after delivery, instead of the allowed 2, so that you could go home right from there?

My OB's nurse. How do you thank someone for making sure that even three months later, your phone calls are always returned, your test results reported promptly, your questions passed on to the doctor and answers relayed to you the same day? How do you thank someone for simply saying "You know, I do think about you, and wonder how you are doing."? Yesterday. 14 weeks later. It doesn't sound like a lot now that I typed it out. But it is. Being able to trust the people you need to trust to keep your next child safe and to bring that child into the world is a lot.

So how does one thank them? You don't suppose a post on an anonymous blog is enough, do you?


Bon said...

y'know, that was a beautiful post, and one that brought up a lot of memories for me, moments i too would like to say thank you for.

Lori said...

I can so relate to so much of what you said. My nurses were my lifeline too. Someday I will write about one very powerful experience I had with one of them.

I did in fact try to find a way to thank them though. At one point during my time in the hospital we asked if they had any CD's. My birthing room had a CD player but no CD's and we hadn't brought any. We were looking for any sort of distraction and possible comfort. The nurses were so apologetic that they didn't have any. So after I returned home I purchased a set of CD's that I thought would be suitable to a labor and delivery environment. I also wrote them a thank you note and delivered the CD's to them personally. It was very difficult, but it felt so good to do. The nurses wrote me a thank you note in return and gushed about how much they loved having the CD's. Anyway... that's what I did.

niobe said...

Because I was in the hospital for so long -- about 2 weeks in all -- I had many different nurses.

They were all competent and professional. They brought me ginger ale and pain meds whenever I asked for them. They took my blood pressure every four hours.

But, honestly, I just didn't have the kind of heartwarming experience that everyone else seems to be talking about. Which depresses me.

Catherine said...

There were a handful that stood out for us...and we sent them a thank you note naming them individually. For them, it was just another day at work. For us, it was a lifetime memory.

Sara said...

Wow, Julia, you really ran into wonderful nurses. I have to say, my experience was much more like Niobe's, with the addition of two strikingly incompetent nurses just to give the days some more tension.

I think a note expressing what you've written here, if you can handle it, would be nice.

Nicole said...

It's definitely a good start! Lovely post. I wish I had such good experiences to share about the nurses I have encountered.

Aurelia said...

I've had good and bad nurse experiences, sigh...this is a very lovely tribute to them in and of itself, but if you wanted to write as well to the hospital and teel them directly, that would be nice I think.

S. said...

We wrote a commendation for the nurse who saved Z.'s life. The hospital put it up in the line to the canteen, which our nurse doesn't use, since it's closed during her shift. A few months later, someone told her about it, she got in touch with us, and came over to dinner with her partner. We didn't become best friends, but we did have a fair amount in common, it was a nice evening, and it felt very grounding to see her outside of the first context.

Z.'s NICU nurses were a different story entirely.

S. said...

Yes, while my experiences have not included a loss like yours, the compassion of the nurses made a big difference in so many of our trials.