I have thought many times how to begin a letter that means so much to me. I was admitted to the maternity floor to deliver my son, A who we had just found out had died (or no longer had a heartbeat) at 31 weeks 5 days gestation. This was my first pregnancy so I didn’t know what to expect for a normal delivery, much less the one I was about to have. Looking back on it, I now know that every detail of my visit was altered to my situation before I even got there. The two things that really stuck out to me were that they removed the “welcome to motherhood” binder that usually would have been on the tray and there was a small white box sitting on the “baby warmer” for lack of better terms. This box was the memory box they would give my husband and me when we left the hospital.
Rachel drew the short end of the stick and came in to meet me literally as my legs were being put into the stirrups. (On a fun note, she helped deliver my husband’s oldest daughter as well.) The chain of events from the moment she walked in the room are moments I never want to forget for so many reasons. Stephanie introduced Rachel to me and said she would be taking pictures for me so that Rachel could assist me in the pushing process. As I was told to push the first time she explained to me how to do it. I failed miserably. I remember then she described word for word what I needed to do in a way that I was sure the second time would work. And it did. A few pushes and I had my baby boy in my arms. Even as I write this now I have to pause to collect myself. I want my words to capture the beauty that Rachel was to us in the hours that followed. Giving birth to my son and holding him, lifeless, in my arms filled me with a range of emotions I didn’t know a body could feel at one time. In that time Rachel did every single thing we asked of her until we were discharged. She contacted Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and communicated with them so they could get pictures of A for us. She was a liaison for our families; she was everything we could have hoped for at this time in our lives. She stood silently, waiting for our any need, as we met, hugged, loved, and eventually said goodbye to our baby boy. She took pictures of everything for us after Stephanie left. She was the compassionate spirit we needed in our tears and the joyful smile to laugh with us in our moments of happiness. She marveled at how big my 17 inch, 3lb 15 ounce baby was and giggled with us at his big ears and cute mousey nose. After we said our goodbyes she took a hat to put on him at our request so he didn’t go without, mostly because it comforted us. She worked her tail off to get us discharged as quickly as possible after we said our goodbyes to A so we didn’t have to sit in an empty hospital room. She was my nurse during all of this time as well. She made sure I wasn’t clotting, helped me use the restroom, gave me the appropriate supplies I would need at home, got me juice, checked my vitals, took my blood, etc. She did her job phenomenally. The most moving thing about her presence as my nurse was the fact that she did her job but it seemed to be only an addition to why she was in the room with me. I can’t stress that enough. I don’t know which priority in that situation comes first for a nurse, but she made me feel like she wanted to be in that room grieving, rejoicing, and staring at our bundle of joy with us, even aside from her nursing duties. Rachel held my son in her arms with the same care that she would have had he been alive. She and the nurses on duty made a tiny bracelet with his name on it for him to wear. I remember her fondly and I remember her often. The strength she showed as a nurse in caring for me at this time in my life was what I needed. Her eyes never conveyed pity or irritation, but just pure compassion, and a true nurse’s heart. Even as I try to wrap this letter up I feel disappointed because I know I haven’t accurately conveyed how wonderful of a nurse Rachel was to not only myself but my husband and family members as well. I want her to know how invaluable she is. I want her to know her efforts to go above and beyond her duty are noticed, appreciated, and remembered; that in a time in my life when the world went dark, she was a ray of sunlight.