I hope it’s not too late to say thank you.
During our NICU stay, our son was seen by dozens of doctors — surgeons, neonatologists, anesthesiologists, cardiologists, orthopedics and radiologists. He was treated by occupational therapists and physical therapists.
If you were to walk in the room during rounds on a typical day, you would have found five or six doctors huddled around his tiny body reviewing his charts. They discussed his numbers throughout the night, their opinions on his treatment, and how he was responding.
The doctors didn’t always turn to us to include us in the conversation. And to be honest, we didn’t always understand their language.
If you were to look very closely at the scene, you may have noticed someone hovering in the background almost going unnoticed. If you looked hard enough, you would have noticed my son’s NICU nurse who rarely left his side during rounds.
His nurse stayed close by and tended to my son while the doctors tended to his illness. His nurse always helped us figure out the doctor language once they were gone.
Those nurses were our background heroes. They didn’t get the same credit as the doctors and they never searched for praise, but they were such an important and necessary part of our NICU journey.
NICU nurse, I don’t know if you know the impact you had on our family. I don’t think I thanked you. I hope it’s not too late.
Thank you for quietly closing the curtain to give me privacy when I couldn’t stop the tears.
Thank you for rocking my baby when I couldn’t be with him at night.
Thank you for knitting him hats and booties.
Thank you for reading to him.
Thank you for staying with him in the operating room.
Thank you for being gentle with him when he was battered and bruised after hours and hours of surgery.
Thank you for being his advocate and questioning everything, even the doctors, when you felt like he was being given unnecessary treatments.
Thank you for keeping the small bit of hair that was shaved off of his head when the only available vein was on his skull. “It was his first hair cut,” you said when you handed it to us the following morning.
Thank you for teaching me how to bathe him without making all the alarms ring.
Thank you for teaching me how to read the machines he was attached to.
Thank you for helping me hold him without pulling out all his tubes.
Thank you for silently standing beside me while I cried tears of helplessness.
Thank you for helping me see the good I was doing by heading off to pump every three hours.
Thank you for making feel like a normal mother in the moments when I felt anything but normal.
Thank you for celebrating each ounce of milk consumed, each breath taken without the breathing tube, each time the number on the scale went up.
Thank you for celebrating when he was discharged.
Thank you for helping me get through one of the toughest experiences of my life. You were a part of the reason I survived it.
I don’t know the half of what you have seen. I know that even though you always seemed to be smiling, behind closed doors you cried your own tears. I know that in the moments of chaos when alarms were sounding and codes were being called and my world seemed to be crashing down around me, you stayed calm and focused and you made sure that my world stayed upright.
I hope you know that I felt your hand of my shoulder. I hope you know that I was grateful to see your face every morning. I hope you know just how important you were to us.
Natalie is a writer, a blogger and a cookie lover. She's the mother of two, the wife of one and is just trying to figure out what it means to have it all. Natalie believes in keeping it real and doesn't hide from the hard stuff. Follow along on her journey and you'll soon realize you aren't alone.
This article was originally published at The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.