My “Thank You” is long overdue, but I’d like to nominate Karen Akers for the DAISY Award for her profound compassion when I needed it most.
I can not begin to convey the amount of gratitude that my family and I have in our hearts for the amazing staff we encountered during and after the birth of our twin boys, especially for Karen Akers. Though overwhelmed with excitement and joy, we were also somewhat overwhelmed with caring for our first precious babies! Karen would come into our room in the morning with her infectious smile, tender voice, and kind demeanor. She would always introduce herself, ask how our night had been, check to see if my husband and I needed anything and if we were going to order a meal, and reassure us that we were being good parents. She’d also coordinate a plan for the day so that we could work together to get our questions answered, have time with the lactation consultant (Martha was awesome!), get professional newborn pictures of the boys scheduled since I had mentioned I was really looking forward to it, find the least intrusive time for her to do my physical assessment, and provide ample encouragement for me to walk the unit post C-Section and even get a much-needed shower.
As an IU North RN, I could go on and on about how well Karen performed her AIDET, incorporated my husband and our families into my plan of care, consistently checked on my level of pain and administered pain medication in a timely manner, completed her assessments thoroughly yet efficiently, and completed my discharge instructions patiently and effectively. However, those were not the actions that truly made me feel special and allowed me to realize just how wonderful Karen is. She sat with my family and me to answer multiple questions, despite the fact that the unit was extremely busy. She encouraged me to take my time, even though I knew I was already moving at a speed that my husband deemed as a “snail’s pace.” She recognized early characteristics in growth in our beautiful babies that my husband and I may have been too sleep deprived to notice otherwise. She applauded my husband on his diaper-changing abilities since he had never changed a diaper before, which led to him feeling more confident each time after…and there have been many times after! She was sure to offer pillows and blankets so that the two of us could be comfortable in our room, and always checked to see if we had gotten our meals so we could “keep up our strength.” She cradled our babies as if they were her own, and never once got impatient with the many visitors going in and out of our room.
Though “wowed” by such a compassionate nurse upon discharge from the hospital, it was approximately twelve hours later that I was especially fortunate enough to have had such an extraordinary human being caring for me and my family during such a monumental time in our lives. Despite having six adults in my house on the first night out of the hospital—it was the night before Thanksgiving so my parents and my in-laws were staying with us—not one of us could console two crying babies. At the advice of the on-call nurse for our pediatrician, my husband and I made the trip to the Emergency Room following four hours of crying babies. Here we were on Thanksgiving morning, less than 24 hours after having been discharged from the post partum unit with our newborn twins. The ED staff was quick to care for the babies, as well as for my husband and me. As if to confirm the obvious, a very animated man in the waiting area of the ED exclaimed that I “must have been in a bad accident or was really sick because I looked just awful.” Great. I was a failure on my first night home AND I looked horrendous. The sleep deprivation and difficulty breastfeeding was doing nothing to pull me back from the brink of a complete and utter meltdown, and the only thing I could think of to help my psyche was talking to Karen—a person I had never met until the birth of the boys. I called post-partum, and the secretary quickly got her on the phone for me. Hearing our situation and the absolute defeat in my voice through my tears, she voiced that she was going to coordinate coverage for her patients on her unit and come to the ED if I was okay with that. She arrived very shortly thereafter and I was lucky enough to have a good cry when she walked over to put her arms around me. It was at that moment I knew the babies were going to be okay, and that my hubby and I were going to make it. (Oddly enough, it was determined that the boys weren’t as toasty as they wanted to be and that they weren’t getting enough breast milk. Who knew?!?!)
I honestly get choked up every time I tell the story to a relative or friend, because it takes me right back to the day when someone I hadn’t known my whole life single-handedly instilled the confidence I needed as a new mother…a new mother at 36 years old finally having her wish come true with the help of IVF and a nurse that by hugging me in my sleep-deprived, defeated, deflated state let me know that everything was going to be okay and I was and am a good Mom.
Nominated by patient and associate,