Julie Belford

Julie Belford

Julie Belford, RN

Neonatal Intermediate Care
OSF Saint Francis Medical Center
Peoria, Illinois
United States

I was 19 years old when I gave birth to my first child. I was still a child in so many ways taking on the responsibility of caring for and raising a child. My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I were so happy and ready for the constant job of being a mom and dad. "We can do this" we thought.

When our son was just over a day old our world flipped upside down. Our nurse asked us if anybody in either of our families had heart problems. Julie told us that when listening to his heart she heard a very strong murmur and that the Pediatric Cardiology group would be coming up to look over our baby. Julie told us heart murmurs were common in newborns, but to be safe it needed to be checked out. Her words calmed my worries. What happened next remains in my mind as clear as a bell.

The Pediatric Cardiologists examined our son and came to tell us what they found. We were told he had a congenital heart defect called hypo-plastic left heart syndrome. "This is a serious condition requiring three surgeries within a short time period" they explained. They told us the odds that were placed on our perfect child's life due to this defect and the surgeries that went along with it. The news was horrifying to us. Our baby was taken to the NICU where he would spend his days until his first surgery.

I was discharged a day later. Julie wheeled me to the parking deck and gave me a piece of paper with her name, address and phone number on it telling me that if I ever needed her, to call. After a hug we parted. The next few days would be nothing but trips back and forth to be with the baby. When he was five days old he had his first surgery (the "Norwood Procedure"). Unfortunately for us, the odds beat us and our baby passed away the next morning at only six days old.

I never thought I would see Julie again, but as we walked out of his funeral, sitting in the very last row in her scrubs with tears rolling down her face sat Julie. She was amazing. Her love and care still touch me to this very day. I will never forget her and I believe she should receive a DAISY Award for her love and care from so long ago. She has left an imprint on my heart forever.