A LETTER FROM SAMUEL'S NURSE, TINA
Hello, my name is Tina Walker and I am the nurse that admitted Samuel to the NICU. I struggled with the thought of putting my experience into words so you will have to excuse my informality that I am sure to use as I try to share my experience. I feel like the best way to share my story is to talk to Samuel, after all, he is who I spent the most time with.
Hi sweetie! Let me start at the beginning. I worked the night shift at Kapiolani Medical Center. I was up for the next admission on the night you were born. All I knew was that your mommy’s water had broken very early in pregnancy which meant that you had the potential for hypoplastic lungs. My heart instantly sank because I knew that babies born with compromised lungs could have a devastating outcome. After all, I swore off taking primary patients just a few short months prior as I had a devastating experience with a family that had a child with the same diagnosis.
As you came down the hallway to my awaiting isolette I saw a very large man following who I assumed was "Dad." The fear was unmistakable of that of a father that was being bombarded with sights and sounds flying around while all he could do was watch. As we stabilized you which involved hooking you up to machines and wires, your dad watched and to my surprise asked thoughtful questions. I instantly knew we would get along, because although serious and concerned, he had a lighthearted sense of calm and understanding. I explained what was happening, which I later impressingly listened to him explain to your mom. As I watched them I knew that I was drawn to you and your family. Their dedication was expected, but it was their sense of humor, and amazing baking that hooked me, not to mention your sweet little face and lion like courage! I knew that it would be an honor to help you on your journey, no matter where it would lead you. I knew that you were special.
With each shift, I found myself walking by your bed before report to see what respiratory support was at your bedside, would today be the day we go to a nasal cannula? What was your isolette setting on, would we be in a bassinett soon? I found with each milestone you hurdled I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. I remember one night asking your mom if she had been able to hold you yet and the look of longing in her eyes when she replied no. I remember the joy I felt in my heart when I placed you on her chest for the first time, even though your isolette was still being humidified and it is not normally policy to allow parents to hold babies being humidified, shhhhhh. There were a few times we skirted around the rules for what I thought was in your best interest. Like our secret late night plain breast milk snacks when I couldn’t stand to watch you choke and gag the fortified stuff down.
I remember bath time, nightly weights (the ups and the downs). I remember meeting your big brother and sister and letting them listen to your heart beat with my stethoscope, murmur and all. I remember holding you while I charted because you hated lying in bed when you were gassy from the extra calories we gave you to help you gain weight. I remember finding my way to your bedside when I would be given another assignment to be sure the nurse taking care of you gave you all of the attention and caring I knew you deserved. I am sure they loved all of the advice and recommendations I gave them because I was sure no one could take better care of you than I could.
Most of all I remember listening to your mother sing to you and comfort you every night. How lucky, I thought to myself, you were to be born into such a loving, patient, and kind family and how blessed I knew I was to be part of it. I hope one day our paths cross again, but until then I know you are in good hands.