Robin McClister
June 2021
University of Virginia Health
United States




Robin picked up an extra shift to be there for the first night of his post-operative recovery. We slept much easier that night knowing that she was watching over him.
Our son, C, was born prematurely at 27 weeks and ultimately required a 65-day admission at the University of Virginia's NICU. Throughout this hospital stay, C was taken care of very frequently by Robin McClister. Our relationship with Robin was forged during our son's sepsis rule out. At 29 weeks, after two weeks of smooth sailing, we were frightened and worried. Robin was assigned as his night nurse the first evening of this rule out. We were immediately impressed by her warmth and expertise. It was during this time that she took C on as a primary patient to provide him with consistent care during his NICU stay. This was the first of multiple occasions that Robin advocated for our son and got him through a tough time.

The next big hurdle was the surgery he underwent for his hernia repair. Robin picked up an extra shift to be there for the first night of his post-operative recovery. We slept much easier that night knowing that she was watching over him. Throughout his NICU journey, she always kept us informed without us having to ask her for updates. She anticipated our concerns and routinely gave us thoughtful questions to ask the medical team to ease our fears and anxiety. She compassionately shared her experiences of parenthood as we made our tumultuous start as parents ourselves.

In addition, she facilitated many of C's big milestones. Robin's expertise and sound clinical judgment were a pivotal part of when C was successfully transitioned out of his incubator and to a crib. Robin also aided in C's eating routine when she discovered that he didn't always cue or cry to eat due to his calm nature. His eyes would be closed so he would need someone to initiate taking him out of his crib to be held; as Robin discovered, the moment you put the bottle to his mouth, he would drink without difficulty. This took extra time and patience but ultimately was the key to getting his feeding tube removed.

Robin used her creativity to decorate his bedside with signs for all his "firsts": from his first snow to the day he wore his first onesie, both of which were with her. Her craftiness also included leaving occasional little sticky notes for us, signed from C, with updates about how he did overnight. These were incredibly helpful upon my return to work when I couldn't always be present for his big events. These sticky notes are now additions to his baby book as memories from his 65 days in the hospital. Someday C will flip through these pages and appreciate the care he received from Robin during his first couple months of life.

During the Covid pandemic, it was difficult to navigate life as first-time parents without our own mothers nearby to give us helpful advice. Robin filled that void. She taught us how to safely comfort and care for our son, despite his multiple medical lines and fragile state. Her nurturing instructions carried us through the entirety of his stay and helped with his smooth transition home. Robin made us feel as though C was her only patient; however, we heard between the curtains that separated C from other NICU babies that Robin treated her other patients and parents with the same compassion and thoughtfulness she showed our son. Ultimately, reflecting back on our stay, having Robin as our nurse was like having one of our own mothers caring for our son, which to us is the ultimate compliment. We are forever grateful that Robin was C's nurse and believe she largely contributed to him thriving now that he is home.