For the love of nurses

Everyone with an Internet connection heard about the controversial, disparaging remarks made toward Miss Colorado — Michelle Collins, a registered nurse — on “The View” last week. Joy Behar and the show have since apologized, but the whole spectacle left a bad taste in many mouths.

My hospitalization in April was easily the scariest time of my life. Between not knowing how sick I would become and if we would have to welcome our baby early, I met some of the kindest and most compassionate people who checked in on us daily: our nursing staff.

Before we transferred to a major medical center with a NICU in Baltimore, where Oliver would be born, we met a nurse named Jenn who monitored my blood pressure when I was admitted three times before “the big one”: the trip I was told I wouldn’t be going home without a baby.

Everything about Jenn exuded calmness. Nothing was a problem; no issue — even the scary ones — too difficult. Even as I began to crash and had to be transported to Baltimore late at night, her reassuring face was an anchor.

She and a colleague stayed with Spencer and me, talking us through some of the unknowns and reassuring us that all would be well. Jenn and a fellow nurse administered the steroids to strengthen Oliver’s lungs in utero, should I need to deliver, and that seemed crazy at the time. But when I did deliver two days later, I thought about and thanked them.

They were there long after their shifts ended; we overhead them talking with others. Our nurses stayed for us.

After arriving in Baltimore, countless nurses came through to see us in Labor & Delivery. One was from a neighboring county, a woman who reminded me of my sweet mom waiting down in the hospital lobby. She chatted with us as though we were all just standing in line at Starbucks. Though we were only a few hours from home, knowing this kind nurse was from our corner of Maryland made me feel strangely better.

As my situation worsened, another nurse came in hourly to check my blood pressure. I was still in denial that the baby might come early, but she confided that she had also had preeclampsia — twice. Her two children, both preemies, were now happy, confident elementary students. Bright and wonderful. She smiled at me, giving me a positive glimpse of an unknown future, and came to see us twice more before officially leaving for the night.

The long day after Oliver was born, this nurse — a mother, a nurturer — came to find me on a different floor. I was in shock and drifting on a sea of drugs when she “knocked” on the thin curtain separating my bed from many others. “I had to come see you,” she said, as though we were old friends. She held my hand as I released fresh tears, telling me again that everything would be okay.

She didn’t have to do that. Those women did not have to do anything — nothing but take my vitals, check my healing, change my sheets. But they were checking on more than just my bruises: they were checking on me. On us. On my family.

They weren’t pretending.

They cared.

And all of this is to say nothing of the many NICU nurses that would go on to care for our fragile baby, holding and loving on him when we could not. They could have their own series of posts.

There were many others, too: Maura, who led our hospital child birth class in March and worried for us when we reappeared too early in April; the funny, no-nonsense grandmotherly type who forced me to get out of bed days after childbirth when I was too physically and emotionally numb to move. “You want to see that baby, don’t you?” she’d bark, fixing me with a stern look above her glasses. “I know you want to get better and see that baby.”

I think often about these people who rode that roller coaster with us, all just a part of their daily work: nurses who cared for me before our son was born, then helped him enter the world. Women and men who monitored me and noticed all of the critical signs that finally brought Ollie to us.

Until April, I was fortunate to not have much experience with medical staff. Aside from an old obsession with “Grey’s Anatomy,” I had no personal connection to doctors, nurses and the many challenges they face daily. I cannot begin to imagine what they see, hear, clean up and deal with all day — physically and emotionally. The decisions. The emergencies. The heartbreak. They are amazing.

I’m not saying all this to pile on the anti-“View” standpoint. Behar has apologized. But to the many nurses that cared for us last spring and continue to care for so many vulnerable, hurting, frightened people every day: thank you so much. I never got my chance to express that, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see our nurses again . . . but thank you. We need you, and we are lucky to have you. ❤