Our son, E, was born at Holy Redeemer Hospital, at 34 weeks gestation. We had no indication that he would be premature, as the pregnancy was rather unremarkable, with no complications. He stayed in the NICU for 17 days, and we had many exceptional nurses while he was there. We had heard stories from others of nurses they loved while they were in the hospital - for childbirth, as well as for many other reasons. We didn't really comprehend why or what one would really do to be a nurse someone would love while in a hospital until we met Melissa Reed.
From the start, Melissa made us feel like we were part of the same "team” and made us feel as though we were working with the same goal in mind for our son - to take him home. While we understand this goal was shared by all the nurses, Melissa went above and beyond by helping us to prepare for the day we would finally get to take him home. She worked with us and let us care for our son while he was in the NICU, so we would feel comfortable taking a small baby home when he was ready. She showed us how to bathe him, she encouraged us on our breastfeeding journey, and she offered support and encouragement. She spent a lot of time with us while we were in the NICU, and we couldn't be more grateful.
Melissa encouraged us to "nest" with our son before we took him home. This was such a gift, as we felt like we didn't really get to experience what other parents do when their babies aren't in the NICU -to get to spend that night with their baby in the hospital before you have the pressures of being home alone with them. Had it not been for Melissa mentioning the possibility of "nesting", we would not have known it was a possibility.
We aren't sure if we would have felt as prepared when we took our baby home if it wasn't for Melissa. We surely would have figured out what to do on our own - but Melissa made us feel as though we not only could do it, but that she was there to help us, and not make us feel stupid for not knowing everything about how to care for a baby.
One specific instance that stands out is when Melissa was showing us how to give our baby a bath. She showed us what to do, and the baby was screaming. It made us a little nervous - this was the first time we gave him a bath and the first time we really saw him crying so much! Melissa assured us we were not going to hurt him, and we shouldn't be nervous because, as she stated, "it's just me". The way she made this statement - that it was "just her" who was there with us - made it seem like we were just old friends who didn't have to feel nervous around one another. It made us feel comfortable and really made us feel like we were part of the same team. There is something to be said about the time she took with us in the NICU, and the level of trust she built with us.
We were always so happy when we heard Melissa would be our baby's nurse. Melissa was up front and direct, and she never instilled any kind of false hopes in us for something that wasn't realistic, such as possibly going home on a certain date. Honesty and directness are somethings we appreciate far more in a situation like having a baby in the NICU, where there are so many uncertainties.
Having a baby in the NICU is hard. There is no feeling quite like having a baby and not being able to take them home with you when you leave the hospital. Knowing there were nurses like Melissa, and specifically, having Melissa care for our baby, helped us feel just a little better about going home at night without him. We knew he was in good hands with Melissa. We hope that other parents of babies in the NICU are a fortunate as we were to have such a great experience with a nurse like Melissa. She is certainly the most deserving individual we have encountered, which is saying a lot, given all of the wonderful nurses we interacted with, both during our time in the maternity ward, as well as in the NICU.