This hasn't been the easiest nomination to write. Not because of anyone's doing but because of the circumstances surrounding the birth and death of my son. Everything happened so fast sometimes it still seems like a dream. When I was transferred to Lutheran General via ambulance from Good Sheppard I had no idea what was going on; our son was only 26 weeks and I was expecting his due date in May. I never heard of HELLP syndrome nor did I feel that ill despite what my labs said about me. I had never been hospitalized until then, nor had any major surgery and it was my first time being pregnant.
After arriving I was taken to labor and delivery. I met so many amazing nurses in my week-long stay at the hospital. Being hospitalized for a week you really start to get to know all of the nurses and staff that not only work in the hospital but give so much time, energy and passion for the care of others. One nurse really stood out and made a strong connection to both myself and my wife, that nurse is Laurie Bakken. When she came in for her shift she was extremely accepting and respectful of both me and my wife. She wrote our names on the board which I noticed right away. Laurie was very kind and gentle while drawing my blood, despite the fact I had probably over a dozen needle sticks from other nurses. They struggled with getting blood draws as I got sicker - no fault of anyone - but she was able to get the blood she needed despite how sick I was; my body appreciated that she was gentle.
While she was in the room the doctor came in to talk to me about my options. I was so overwhelmed with the diagnosis and not knowing what was going to happen next. We had the chaplain in our room as well as we requested them to visit. Laurie, the doctor, and the chaplain all treated us with amazing respect and both the chaplain and the doctor sat down by my bedside to talk about the reality of what I was facing. Laurie was bustling around doing her job while being supportive during the time. The doctor kept calling my son the wrong name, but my wife and I never bothered to correct him because he was delivering important information and honestly it was funny. Laurie leaned over and made a point to tell him that our son’s name was different. Of course, he apologized being the kindhearted person he is, but having Laurie remind someone of our son's name meant the world to us. After having to decide at 26 weeks that I had to have a c-section and deliver our son early, the doctor went to prep his team and bring the NICU up to talk to us. The chaplain was still in the room and began to pray with us. Laurie was still in the room and made a point to sit down next to me. My wife held the hand of the Chaplain and held my hand, as we began to pray I held out my hand for Laurie. Without hesitation or discussion of belief system or creed, she held my hand while the Chaplain prayed for us.
I have never been as scared in my life as I was that day realizing I could die and/or my son. Having her hold my hand sparked a connection and feeling of comfort during such a scary time. The best way to explain it is the way a child feels when a mother comforts and shelters them despite the fear. I instantly latched onto the sense that I had an amazing team that would guide me through this very scary moment in my life and she was a driving force in that sense. I don't remember much before the c-section except that I got very nervous and started asking for oxygen as they started to wheel me out of my room. I kept asking Laurie if she was coming with me as I knew my wife wouldn't be able to come in until I was prepped and ready. Thankfully, she came with me and guided me so effortlessly during the prep of the c-section. Between her and the other nurses they had a sense of calm over them, it was obvious they are so skilled in what they do they didn't panic like I was. I don't remember most of the details of the c-section (that is probably a good thing). I remember my wife coming in and hearing my son cry. That sound will forever be ingrained in my memory. I am sure Laurie heard it too, that sweet rally cry for life.
Afterward, I went into recovery and Laurie knew I wanted to breastfeed my son; she had me hooked up to pump right away. Despite having no idea what I was doing (I had our baby classes scheduled in March) she kept me calm by reassuring me I would be okay. My sister joined me in recovery while my wife went to see our son. I made a point to introduce Laurie and my sister in an organic way families talk at gatherings. Laurie made light conversation (I am assuming to keep me calm) and kept checking on me while she stayed with me in the recovery room. After recovery, I was taken to antepartum and kept asking if she would be with me. Sadly, she had to go back to labor and delivery to do her amazing work but made sure I was taken care of. Our son lived six days, which was not long enough but we are blessed to have had that time with him. We are also blessed to have had the support during this time as well.
All of these could be disregarded as little moments but they meant so much to me. I am trying to write this nomination while tears keep rolling down my face, knowing I was blessed. Laurie’s kindness is admirable and I could tell by spending the short time with her she is a strong person who loves what she does more than just a job it is her passion. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to meet her. And although my wife and I do not know what the future holds for us right now and grief is an icky thing with no specific way to heal, I know that if I carry again I would want Laurie by my side and plan to come back to Lutheran General with the amazing team that guided me before.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it and hope Laurie gets the DAISY Award and the recognition she deserves.