My stay at Capital Health Hopewell was rather unique and it is important to share that my time with Jennifer was not the typical two or three nights on the Maternity floor, but instead two months, over 65 days.
At twenty-three and two days pregnant with twins I was admitted into the hospital on modified bed rest due to my unique pregnancy conditions. I would end up spending over 65 days on the floor before my babies arrived. I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer within the first week of my stay and quickly noticed that her compassion and skills set her apart from many others, clearly exemplifying the compassion and skills highlighted through the I CARE principals.
After being told I would be spending a potential eleven weeks in the hospital I was heartbroken, to say the least. While I wanted what was best for my babies, I had another child a home and it broke my heart to leave him. The status of the babies in my belly was unknown at this very young gestational age and as a result, most days my emotions and stress got the best of me. Thankfully there was Jennifer. She was my "safe spot", the person I felt safe to open up to, knowing I could maintain my trust in her, as her compassion and understanding put me at ease and put life into perspective. The more I got to know Jennifer the more and more I would open up to her. She was always there to provide me with advice, both medical and personal. I remember telling my husband, "I wish Jenn worked every day so that she was my nurse," only to have him tell me, " Well that wouldn't be fair to her kids." But this was the truth, selfishly I wanted her there every day to help me through.
Honoring the Capital Health mission, Jennifer was dedicated to her job and caring for her patients. She became part of my family. My husband and I would wait for the days that she was on as our nurse (I requested her every day that she worked) and enjoyed our time with her every time she stepped into our room. My parents would instantly know when I had Jennifer as my nurse for the day because they said my whole attitude would change to a more positive and upbeat one. Jennifer did not "sugar coat" anything for me to try to make me feel better. Rather she told me how it was while validating my feelings and emotions. She expressed true interest in my case and in my personal life. When she'd walk in, after checking on me, she would ask about my family. “How's your family doing today? How's your grandpop today, I haven't seen him in a while? Did your mom ever find her bracelet?” She expressed a genuine interest in my life that did not go unrecognized.
One of the greatest teachings of Jennifer came in the form of self-advocacy. She taught me how to advocate for myself and to ask the doctors questions if something was unclear. When I had worries or was uncertain of things she took the time to develop questions with me that I could ask the doctors and would check back in with me to make sure I followed through and asked them after the doctor checked in for the day. Jennifer also advocated for me daily. One time it was Jennifer that picked up a potential concern from my blood test and brought it to my doctors’ attention and my own to ensure everyone was made aware of it and it was monitored more closely.
As I have mentioned, I had many emotional days during my 65-day stay at the hospital. Jenn taught me that bad days were "normal" but at the same time, I should not lose sight of all the great I had accomplished by being in the hospital for so long. No matter how many times I may have told her my feelings, she never rushed me through them to get out the door faster, but rather heard me out and treated myself, my husband and my family with the greatest respect. When I was having those bad days to remember the positive and think of how many people would have loved to be in my situation she would say. This always resonated with me. Jenn also took the time to connect with me by sharing her personal stories of hardship, letting me into her world. I cannot thank her enough for letting me in and teaching me what a mother's true strength looks like.
When I came into the hospital carrying twins under 24 weeks gestation one could only imagine how difficult it was to monitor them. The process would take hours at a time and it was stressful for many because the monitors would have to be held in place until an hour's worth of heartbeats were seen together for both babies. Jenn always demonstrated patience and understanding during this process and never got frustrated or annoyed. As the babies got bigger the process became easier and Jenn would know right where to find the babies because she knew my case so well. While under the care of Jennifer there were two occasions when we thought it was in fact time and the babies were coming. They ended up being false alarms but how Jennifer handled each situation was with confidence, a clear plan, and calm execution. She never shielded me from the truth but remained clear and composed while telling me what was going on. For example, one day when the baby's heartbeats were being monitored it was very difficult for her to find a clear baseline for them, which was very unusual. Coupled with some abdominal pain Jenn told me her concerns, called the doctor and remained in my room during the monitoring to keep me calm.
Not only was Jennifer dedicated to fulfilling her roles as a nurse, but she went above and beyond to check on me and ensure I had everything I needed whether that was me getting my walk around the unit, a wheelchair ride to clear my head and relax, a new bag of fluids for my IV or a smile put on my face. She took the time to get to know me not just as a patient, but as a person. I am thankful God had our paths cross. Not only is she an amazing nurse, but an amazing human being that I was blessed to have met along my journey. Capital Health is very fortunate to have her on their staff. I told Jenn that besides my two beautiful babies she was the next best part of this life-changing experience. It's safe to say Jennifer was a key component in getting me through the 65 days I spent at Capital Health.