Family Friday - Family Redefined

The other day I was rolling through my FB feed and saw an article written by a NICU nurse to a NICU mom. I read it and the article that inspired it written by a NICU mom to NICU nurses. As I read the articles I couldn't help but tear up because I could totally relate to so much in each article.

Getting checked in to the hospital. The night I will never forget.
As you prepare to have a baby you never take time to think about what it would be like to be rushed into an operating room for an emergency c-section only to have your baby whisked away before you even saw him/her (yep I didn't know what I was having until I heard the nurses referring to my baby as a "he" and at that point I just assumed I had a baby boy). Between child birthing classes and prenatal visits you don't mentally prepare yourself to see your baby for a whole 20-30 seconds covered in tubes/wires/machines before he's taken to another hospital because they are the one place in the state with the treatment your baby needs to be given a fighting chance to live a normal life. Even as you talk to all your friends, hear horror stories from people who feel compelled to share all their unsolicited advice with you, and read every baby book on the planet you don't think it will be days before you see your baby in person and even longer before you can hold him because he is connected to so many machines and being treated for being oxygen deprived when he was born.

It was heartbreaking to know my baby was across town and I couldn't be there with him.

I am a worst case scenario person and I never once thought my baby would live his first 33 days in the NICU. He was one of those critical care cases at first literally having his own nurse assigned to him because he was so sick. He even had his own room because he had so many machines and medications hooked up to him. I remember one of his nurses telling us he'd skipped his lunch and breaks to be with Russell to make sure he was taken care of. This same nurse could tell I wasn't well and made me go home (even rolling me out to the car in a wheel chair) because my blood pressure was still elevated when I was finally released from my hospital and was able to finally see Russell. When I was readmitted to the hospital with a serious case of high blood pressure (this time I made sure to go to the ER at my son's hospital so I would at least be in the same place as him if I needed treatment, and I did) this same nurse came to see me after I'd been transferred from the ER to a floor for treatment. I have no clue how he knew I was there and what was happening but he found me and checked on me. He was the nurse that made sure Russell's neurologist stopped by my room in the middle of the night to update us on how Russell was doing because I was too sick to go visit him. He was the same nurse that wrapped up Russell so carefully so that I could finally hold him for the very first time. I don't know if he would even remember us but I will always remember him. His kindness and compassion made being in the hardest situation of our lives more bearable and in looking back I know I'll never forget him.

I also had a wonderful nurse that took care of me when I was first admitted to be induced. I had slightly elevated blood pressure at the time and had a few headaches during the week so my doctor gave us the option of coming in at 10:00 p.m. that same day or waiting until 5:00 a.m. the next morning. We chose the 10:00 p.m. time figuring we wouldn't sleep anyway. We have no way of knowing if that decision may have saved Russell's life but after I was hooked up and they started inducing me there came a point where everything went downhill fast. Both of my nurses and the charge nurse couldn't find Russell's heartbeat. My doctor was called in and luckily lived across the street from the hospital so he was there as fast as I could get unhooked and rolled down to the operating room. My nurse was there to help me during all the chaos, she was there to take care of me after, and thankfully we're still in touch today. I had other great nurses that took great care of me when I was most vulnerable, afraid, and scared and they made all the difference in the world to me.

I will never forget the beeps his monitor made. They still give me the chills when I hear them now.

I realized through all of this that sometimes family isn't just the people you are related to or married to. Sometimes family are the people who take care of you when you can't take care of yourself. They're the people who take care of your baby when you can't be there and don't have the knowledge to do it yourself. They are the people who cry with you, who hold your hand, and talk you through all the questions you have no matter how big or small they are. Family can be friends that are there for you through the good times and the bad. The friends that know you and still love you anyway. The friends that you can not see for months or years and then pick up like you've never been apart.

Finally we were able to take our bracelets off that let the hospital staff know we were Russell's parents.
To me family means the people you chose to invest in, the people you want to see succeed, the people you will remember forever even if they were only in your life for a season, and the people who mean the most to you. Family doesn't have to mean just your brothers and sisters because sometimes family can be so much more.

Finally home. My Mom and Brother hanging out and lending a hand.

I have made a decision to work harder to try and treat everyone how I would really want to be treated myself. I know I'm not perfect (no one is) but I want to be kind to everyone because I know that we are all fighting battles within ourselves no matter how put together we look on the outside. I want to treat more people like family because I know how much a simple touch, a few kind words, and going a little out of your way can change someones life for the better.

My best friend on my wedding day. I was there for hers too. What great memories.

I want to challenge everyone to take the time to think about what family means to you. I challenge you to look at your relationships and see who else you would consider family. I challenge you to tell those people who mean the most to you what they bring to your life because life can be short and you never know when you'll pass the point where you have no more opportunities to tell someone what they mean to you. I personally am forever in debt to those amazing nurses and doctors that brought my son into this world and helped to care for him to give him the best start at life he could possibly have. Those nurses and doctors will always be considered family to me.

Get out there and live your life. Find what you love and pursue it with all you've got.

Go out today and live more, love more, and find your zen in this world. Tell someone you love them. Give someone a hug. Don't be afraid to let your light shine by supporting those who need you. YOU mean the world to someone and YOU make a difference.


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