Thursday, August 22, 2019

For months before the birth of Bert, I prayed that God would just send us a "really nice nurse." I had heard from my mom and other people who'd had babies that a great nurse would go a really long way in making labor, delivery, and the first few days as a new mom more pleasant and smooth.

We were really blessed that this prayer was answered not just once but many times over. From our L&D nurses Cheryl and Ashley (Ashley is the one I mentioned in an earlier post who helped deliver Bert) to our post-partum night nurse Amanda, all of our nurses were truly wonderful, and we were so glad that we were blessed by them.

But although they were all amazing and we are so grateful to them all, there is one nurse who is now  buried so deep in our hearts that we will never forget her as long as we live. And this post is about her: Rachel.

Rachel was our day nurse the entire time we were in post-partum. When I think back on it, she was only our nurse for a total of 24 hours (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday), but it seems like much longer than that. Rachel was all the things you'd expect a good nurse to be: kind, uplifting, capable, knowledgeable, patient. And we appreciate all those things about her. But Rachel was just so much more.

We know she had so many more patients than just us for those couple of days, but she never made us feel that way. Any time we called, she was right there, and we had to call a lot because of Bert's health concerns.

Speaking of Bert's health concerns, can you guess who had to be the bearer of pretty much all the bad news we got: Bert's blood sugar going back down, his strict feeding schedule, his bilirubin levels requiring jaundice lights? Or the person who had to come help us in the immediate aftermath of bad news delivered by others, as in the case with his multiple failed hearing tests? You got it: Rachel.

I feel for her because every time she walked into our room it seemed like we were upset or crying or stressed. And every time she came in, she was patient, optimistic, kind, helpful, and caring. She treated Bert so gently, like he was her own child and not just another patient in another hospital room on another day of work. Rachel spoke to us and Bert like she was part of our family.

We already loved Rachel so much and had filled out a compliment card for her ... and then she did the most amazing thing that we'll never forget.

The last day we were in the hospital we were scheduled to be released at 9 p.m. Unfortunately, Rachel's shift ended at 7 p.m., so she wouldn't be there to discharge us. Around 7:30 p.m. Rachel brought in the new night nurse, the one who would discharge us, to introduce her. When they came in, Joe and I were both sitting in my hospital bed, my mom was in a chair, and I was holding Bert. Joe was holding me. I was crying because although we were scheduled to be able to go home, they were still checking one of Bert's complications so even that wasn't a guarantee at that point. We were still worried about his hearing and his jaundice also, as well as just simply exhausted and overwhelmed by the unexpected difficulties of his two days of life. After Rachel introduced the new nurse to us, she asked her to leave the room. I looked at Joe because I was so terrified that Rachel had done that because she had more bad news to deliver about Bert and didn't want someone we had just met in there to witness it.

Instead, this happened:

Rachel stood by the bed beside where I was sitting. She looked at Joe and me and at a sleeping Bert and told us that Bert was such a special patient to her and that we were a very special family. She then asked us if she could pray for us. She put a hand on me and Bert, my mom came to stand by the bed, and we all closed our eyes. Rachel's prayer for Bert was beautiful. In fact, in her prayer she called him "perfect," and no one had said that about our son before that moment. She prayed for each of his medical conditions specifically, asking God to please heal him of them. But she also acknowledged that God had made Bert in His own image, and that Bert was exactly the way God wanted him to be. I thought I was crying before that prayer, but I was sobbing for sure during it. I wish I had a copy of it so that I could hear it again and again. Rachel gave us so much peace in that moment, peace that we didn't know at the time would also carry us through a stay at the children's hospital.

Joe and I have talked about Rachel so often since we left Bert's birth hospital. In fact, every time we'd talk about a nurse while at the children's hospital, we'd always call her, "Rachel ... no," whatever her name was. And so many times since we left his birth hospital we've said, "Remember when Rachel said ..." or "When Rachel told us ..."

Rachel was physically in our life for two 12-hour shifts. But she'll be in our hearts much longer. And as Bert grows older, we'll tell him about the most special nurse who thought he was so special, too.

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