Thursday, April 16, 2015

N: Awed Thanks for Nurses

Nurses cared for me during my childhood and teenage hospital stays, when I was recovering from painful surgeries. (The tired phrase "threw up in my mouth a little" bothers me, because that actually happened to me one time...when my jaw was wired shut.) My mom commented the other day that I never seemed scared about going into the hospital for more surgeries. I don't have many memories of those early surgeries, but I think my lack of fear must mean I was cared for well by nurses.

With two of my favorite nurses and Zacary's mom Laurie
They cared for me after each of my four c-sections and during and after my three ear surgeries and one brain surgery. And several of my close friends are nurses...they got me through my furious frustration before my brain surgery in December 2012.

But most of my gratitude comes from our four months in the NICU and early days of preemie parenthood...and the way you continue to care for NICU parents beyond that stage. Of course, I was not fond of ALL the nurses (read more here, in another tribute to nurses), but nearly all of them!

Oh nurses, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!
Another favorite nurse

  1. You cared for Mike during my emergency c-section when he feared for my life, as well as the life of our baby (Saint Annette).
  2. You cared not just for our tiny fragile preemie, who stayed in the NICU for 117 days and almost died several times, but also for his terrified, obsessed-with-his-care-and-reading-his-medical-chart-daily, and fraught parents.
  3. You made sure that the NICU, one of the most frightening places in this world, was a humane and loving place.
  4. You swore at or advocated for us with doctors when they were dismissive or condescending, wouldn't let our baby root to breastfeed, called Chris "the baby," or freaked us out with their dire predictions.
  5. You created a wonderful first-bathtime ritual for us after one of your own decided she would be the first one to bathe our child, without us present.
  6. You dressed him up in his first clothes to surprise us in the morning, and you gave us books, beanie babies, piggy banks, knitted booties, and rocks along the way.
  7. You reassured me, when Chris faced his first of four surgeries, that you'd never seen a baby die before after having that particular heart surgery. No guarantees, but reassuring honesty.
  8. You held our hands and sat with us as we cried, when doctors told us that Chris' brain was irreparably damaged and we would have to make a decision about quality of life.
  9. You trained us on Chris' multiple medications, how to run his oxygen tank and the laptop he was connected to for a medical study, and helped prepare us for...gulp! Going home.
  10. You found a way for nervous Nellie parents to come in the back door at the pediatrician's office so we wouldn't have to wait in the germ-laden waiting room.
  11. When Chris was readmitted to the hospital at 1 year old, you told us how lucky we were it was the first time we had returned to the hospital. (Okay, so maybe I was not feeling so grateful about that!)
  12. You came to Chris' baptism and read at his wonderful celebration of life...and to this day, you continue to cheer for him on Facebook.

Three of Chris' nurses after his baptism
Chris and Zac, friends forever
And finally, on the night that NICU parent friends lost their precious Zacary and they had no one else to be with them, you called us at 3:00 a.m. to be with them because you knew they needed love and support from people who got it.

Okay, tears rolling down my cheeks...this was my long intro to Brian Doyle's prayer for nurses. In a wonderful celebration of the miracle and muddle of the ordinary, Zacary's amazing cardiologist, Dave McIrvin, was the doctor who saved Brian Doyle's son's life. And probably, the nurses who cared for him might have been some of the same ones who cared for our beloved Zacary.

Prayer of Awed Thanks for Nurses

Witnesses, attendants, bringers of peace; brilliant technical machinists; selfless cleaners of all liquids no matter how horrifying; deft finders of veins when no veins seem available; soothers and calmers and amusers; tireless and patient and tender souls;

brisk and efficient when those are the tools to keep despair at bay; those with prayers in their mouths as their patients slide gently through the mysterious gate, never to return in a form like the shriveled still one in the bed; feeders and teasers, mercies and singers;

they who miss nothing with their eyes and ears and fingers and hearts; they who are not saluted and celebrated and worshipped as they ought to be; they who are the true administrators of hospitals and clinics, for it is they who have their holy hands on the brows and bruises of the broken and frightened;

they who carry the new infants to their sobbing exhausted thrilled mothers; they who must carry the news of damage and death to the family in the waiting room; they whom You know, each and every one, glorious and lovely in their greens and blues and rainbow clothing;

they who are You in every tender touch and quiet friendly gentle murmured remark; they who are the best of us; bless them always and always, Mercy;

for they are the clan of calm and the tribe of tender, and I bow in thanks for them. And so: amen.

Here's more information on why I chose this focus for the A to Z, and you can read all my 2015 A to Z posts here. I hope you enjoy the celebrations of the miracle and muddle of the ordinary! 

You can buy the book at Brian's favorite local bookstore, Broadway Books, at Powell's Books, or on AmazonBrian's work is used with permission of Ave Maria Press.


  1. Absolutely beautiful, Marie. Our nurse angels, we love them and respect them so deeply. Tears from the Heart. Ive really enjoyed reading this blog challenge. Thank you for always remembering and including Zacary. Love Laurie

    1. Thank you, Laurie! We will never ever forget your sweet Zacary!