In recognition of National Nurses Week
I remember that day so well. I turned the corner on the way to labor and delivery and caught your eye. You flashed a big smile and said, “Go to room 13. I’m your nurse.” But your smile quickly faded when you saw my face. You knew I was worried. You knew something was wrong.
You quickly got me dressed and placed on the monitors. I was contracting. I was hurting. We both knew it was too early. I was trying not to cry, but I was scared. I could tell you were scared, too.
I was only 22 weeks pregnant with my twin babies.
You knew me as the strong, tough Dr. Clark. I was the doctor who worked alongside you on labor and delivery. The doctor who had delivered babies with you for the past 13 years. The doctor who at age 42 desperately wanted to become a mother herself. The doctor who was finally pregnant after two years of infertility.
And now I was your patient. The patient who was vulnerable and afraid. The patient who was looking to you to make things better. The patient who for a moment forgot she was a doctor. The patient who didn’t want to lose her babies at 22 weeks.
I remember finally waking up from the medications that made me sleep. The contractions had stopped, and I was still pregnant. I had made it another day. From that moment on all I could do was hope for one more day. One more day to let my babies grow. One more day to increase their chance of survival.
Just one more day.
You will never know just how much you did for me that day or how much seeing your face gave me the strength to get through the most difficult time in my life. You will never know just how much you being there as my nurse meant to me. But it was you―my colleague, my nurse, my friend—who got me through the next 55 days in the hospital.
So thank you.
Thank you for coming into my room each day with a smile on your face even when I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. When I wanted to do anything but smile. When I felt fear and worry creeping in. You made each day a little bit better. You kept me going.
After days of being on medications and being in bed, my bones ached. My muscles hurt. I could barely move. I was afraid anything I did would cause me to have my babies early. You sat at the foot of my bed and massaged my feet. You stayed there with me, trying to take my mind off my situation so I could relax if only for a brief period of time. Thank you.
Thank you for coming into my room when I was sitting on the side of my bed trying to brush my hair; my body too weak from the medications that ran through my veins. You asked if you could help and took the brush from my hand. No one had brushed my hair since I was a little girl, and here you were trying to make me feel better.
Thank you for celebrating 24 then 28 weeks of pregnancy with me. These were milestones I wasn’t sure I’d ever reach. But you knew I would, didn’t you? You made sure I celebrated and acknowledged my accomplishment. You made sure I celebrated my growing belly even if it was in a hospital room. You brought happiness and joy to me. You made me finally feel like I was a mom.
There were days when being in the hospital was simply too much. I felt anxious. I felt depressed. I felt guilty for wanting to be home; for wanting to be anywhere other than that hospital room and that hospital bed. You took my hand and told me I was a good mom. You told me I was doing a great job by keeping my babies inside my belly. You told me I was a good mom for being in that hospital room and that hospital bed. That’s exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you.
Thank you for being tough; for being the “mean nurse.” There were many times when I needed it. I am a lot of things, one of which is a stubborn doctor, but you wouldn’t let me. You reminded me that I was a patient, and I had a job to do—stay pregnant as long as I could. You made sure I left my doctor’s coat at the door. You reminded me that you were in charge now. You forced me to let go.
And on that Monday when Remy and Sydney decided to join us, you held my hand. I was so scared because I was only 31 weeks pregnant. My babies were not ready. I was not ready. You told me everything was going to be OK. So I accepted that it was time because I trusted you. You were there when I went to sleep and you were there when I woke up. You told me my babies were beautiful and they were doing great. So I closed my eyes knowing that we were all going to be OK, just like you said.
Some people thought that being a patient in the same unit where I work might be awkward. How could I allow people who know me as “Dr. Clark” see me at the most vulnerable time in my life? Why would I want everyone at work to know what I was going through? My answer was simple―no one would have ever cared for me as well as the women who saw me struggle to get pregnant and wanted motherhood for me just as much as I did.
I was right.
I have a whole new understanding of what it means to be a nurse now because you taught me. Not only am I grateful to have you working beside me to take care of our patients, I am grateful that I was your patient. I cannot do my job without you and I couldn’t have made it 55 days without you.
You saved our lives...