She was the first nurse we had the first time Madeline was re-admitted to the hospital after the NICU. She was the closest nurse in age to me, so I felt comfortable with her. She had a big easy smile, a quick laugh, and a gentle touch. Maddie loved her, and I did too.
The second and third times Maddie was admitted to the hospital, I would wait anxiously every morning, hoping she would be our nurse. ALL the nurses on the pediatric floor were great, but I clicked with her. She was our favorite.
When Maddie was admitted to the PICU for her fourth hospital stay, I was bummed when I realized the nurses were different than the ones we knew from the pediatric floor. They didn’t know us, we didn’t know them. The PICU nurses were GREAT. But it’s hard to be in the hospital, let alone intensive care, when you don’t have familiarity with the people helping you care for your sick child.
Maddie knocked out a couple of IVs and the PICU nurses and I were all frustrated. Someone mentioned calling a nurse on the peds floor to see if someone else would have better luck placing a line. I asked if our favorite nurse was there. She was, and she came down. Maddie’s eyes lit up when she saw her. Mine did, too. Our nurse got a line in right away. Unfortunately, Maddie knocked it out again a few hours later. Our nurse came back but this time it was much harder to find a spot to insert a new line. We decided to give Maddie a break from needle sticks and try again after a few minutes. Our nurse left. And then the doctors decided to intubate.
I was alone. My mom had run back to my house to take care of a few things, and Mike had to drive back to the hospital from his office. I stood there and I clutched my stupid blackberry and I fretted while the doctors worked on my baby. And then, a social worker came to stand with me, so I wouldn’t be alone. She was great, but she didn’t know us. She couldn’t explain the medical terms to me. I didn’t know what was happening and things were getting frantic. Then our nurse came back.
She came right to me, and held my hand. She narrated what was happening, and explained the new things like intraosseous ivs and epinephrine. When I would shake and cry and panic because Maddie’s heart was slowing down and her blood gas was dropping, she would calm me and say that Maddie was strong and a fighter, and this was nothing she couldn’t beat. It wasn’t a line – she believed it. When I would mutter and pray and beg and plead, she did too. We begged and plead and prayed and clutched hands for the worst three hours of my life. And when the doctors told us there was nothing more they could do, she helped pick me up off the ground when I collapsed.
I looked in her face and I said, “why, why Maddie, why my baby?” And she said, “I don’t know why it was our girl.” And she cried and cried with us.
We were pulled apart, and she was pulled back to her job to care for the kids on the pediatric floor, and I didn’t see her after that. For some reason, I have forgotten her name, which upsets me more than I can express. I want to write a letter to the hospital and tell them about her. Tell them how much she meant to me, and my daughter. I always knew my daughter would get the best care when she was around. She always made my daughter smile. And, she stood with me and cared for me when she absolutely didn’t have to.
She held my hand for those three hours, and even though I somehow forgot her name, I will never, EVER forget her.