The Nurse Who Put Us Back Together
There's a reason why nurses are in such high demand these days: there simply aren't enough of them. Which is precisely why my husband and I knew we could never leave our newborn son in the NICU alone; one of us always needed to be there with him.
That's not to say they don't take care of him when something is wrong. If his vitals are dropping, they are immediately alerted and will rush to his side, but what if he's just fussy or scared or lonely and his crying isn't enough to set off any alarms? Sure, if they're not busy, they will come and comfort him. But, what if they are busy?
He would be left alone to cry it out. Cry. It. Out. At just weeks old.
So, as a compromise, we decided to tag team. We pass the baton each day after we have spent 24 hours away from the hospital and with our adorable older daughter, who is having a rough time as it is. This way, each child always has one parent with them, and they're never alone.
The problem is that we as a couple are never together, and this has caused some severe strain on what has been, up to this point, a wonderfully stable and supportive eight-year marriage.
We saw each other for 10 minutes each day when we would make the switch in hospital parking garage. On occasion, if Jackson was in the middle of a nap, we would sneak away and grab some frozen yogurt in the hospital cafeteria, taking a precious half hour to connect. But it just wasn't enough. We needed to figure something else out, and that meant finding someone we could trust.
While all of the nurses are technically proficient in their jobs, there are always those few that go above and beyond what is required, and it is those precious people that we clung to and pinned the success of our relationship on. For our anniversary last week, our favorite nurses on our “Awesome Nurse” list, including the nurse that tops all other nurses due to her level of care and commitment to our baby, shooed us out the door and demanded we go on a date. They promised he would be in good hands, and it was easy to believe them.
We took off, had a lovely steak dinner, toasted to our eight years of marital bliss despite all of the many hardships we had faced, and the ones we were currently facing, and enjoyed each other. We were able to talk, knowing that Jack was being looked after by someone we trusted with his life, which is not an easy task considering he has never been healthy a day in his life.
It made all the difference. It was something that we not only wanted to do—we actually needed to do it. Spending each day stressed to the max and barely seeing each other in the process was causing us to deteriorate. The few hours we were able to get away let us reconnect and remember that one day, we won't be living in the hospital. We will be a family again.
Thanks to a complete stranger who loves our baby, we were able to see the light again. We can't lose sight of the light.