Monday, December 8, 2008

A Mother and Son Reunion

This is the second in an unknown number of rememberances from my nephew's stints at Children's Hospital. It's been eight years since his last surgery but to me it still seems like yesterday. Having no children myself, I never dreamed I would be spending so much time at CNMC. The nurses there will always have a special spot in my heart. No one in our family expected the newest son/brother/grandson/nephew to have any problems. Every baby born in our extended family had been fine. The shock upon learning of his numerous problems started us all on rounds of fervent prayers. Friends who belong to prayer chains also joined the vigil to support Alex, his family and doctors. Within days of her release from the hospital, Mom drove Janet to Children's Hospital. I met them there. Janet was bent forward in an effort to accommodate the staples in her tender belly. Riding the moving ramp up to the main floor from the garage, Mom and I worried about her being able to walk the distance to the NICU. She clearly was sore, but nothing was going to stop her from getting to her baby. The first few times I saw Alex in the NICU, I hadn't really noticed so many tiny and very sick babies in their own isolettes. This time, I felt like an intruder walking past family members in various stages of worry and hope. Janet was single-minded and shed just a few tears upon seeing and touching her cherished little boy. The sympathetic nurse who was caring for Alex soon had Janet seated in a comfy rocker and Alex in her arms. Mothers must have instincts beyond common knowledge -- she knew right away how to handle him and all his attachments! Also, for the first time, Alex opened his eyes. He recognized his mother's scent, voice or just her being there. That's when I lost it. It was also the first time I really felt hopeful that he would come through this terrible time. Observing my sister's extraordinary strength for the next three months and how Alex reacted to it is something I will never forget. I could fill an entire gratitude journal with the people and events surrounding Alex's recovery! CNMC nurses became part of our family during his two stays in the hospital. Their practical, professional approach to caring for sick babies gave me hope that Alex's situation wasn't as dire as I feared. The value of their gentle yet strong support of babies and families cannot be overstated. Doctors and other professionals came in and out of the scene and, of course, played important roles in his healing. Still, it was the nurses who helped to sustain hope. Perhaps their most valuable contribution is in encouraging and guiding parents to care for their own babies. For example: having a father change his preemie's diaper makes him feel less helpless and more pro-active. I do believe babies sense and benefit from a positive atmosphere. CNMC is simply filled with loving, skilled professionals who care for the most vulnerable among us. It truly is a gift to our region.

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