Neonatal Nurses: the Sweetest Treats for Several NICU Families
Zucchini bread, banana bread, cookies and more. Baking is Anna Boldra’s therapy.
“When I can’t control what’s going on around me, I bake,” she said, “because that’s something I can control.”
And a few of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses on the third floor at Methodist Women’s Hospital have become pretty experienced taste-testers of that therapy. Anna often brings treats to thank them.
“When I think of our nurses, I think of super amazing people who have super amazing jobs,” Anna said.
Not their first rodeo
To say that Anna and her husband, Kyle, are NICU veterans, might be an understatement. This is their third experience with a NICU baby. Libby (short for Elizabeth) was born at 29 weeks, weighing just over 3 pounds.
“Libby is so sweet. She really is. She loves to cuddle. She can be really sleepy, sometimes, but she’s just so, so sweet,” said Virginia O’Malley, RN, one of Libby’s primary NICU nurses.
With two brothers at home (Peyton, 4, born at 26 weeks and Parker, 2, born at 34 weeks), Libby has had to share Mom and Dad’s time and attention for more than nine weeks.
“When I’m here, I’m here,” Anna said. “When I’m at home, I’m at home. I can’t be worrying about what’s going on at the hospital. And that’s the biggest thing, having kids at home – I know that she’s under great care, here.”
Peace of mind and so much more
The nurses have become so much more than peace of mind for Anna and Kyle.
Anna recalled a moment when one of Libby’s nurses, Haiden Brand, walked in and began making small talk.
“And you know how it is, when you’re already trying to hold back tears for whatever reason, and someone just looks at you a certain way or says something? Cue the ugly crying,” Anna explained.
It was at that moment that Haiden gave Anna a big hug and just listened as Anna talked about some of her most overwhelming emotions and concerns.
“I said, ‘You know what, Haiden? If Libby didn’t come early, if she was born full-term, I never would have met you. She never would have met you.’ And that’s when Haiden shook her head and said, ‘Oh, I couldn’t imagine a world without knowing Libby.’ I’m like OK, we’re going to cry some more here,” Anna said with a laugh.
Dad was quick to chime in.
“And you know, I’m only here on the weekends, but I wouldn’t discount the relationships I’ve made with a few of the nurses because they’re so important,” Kyle said. “They know who you are when you walk in the door. They know which baby is yours.”
Building up babies and their families
It’s clear that the nurses have brought out the best, not only in now-6-pound Libby, but in her big-hearted parents, as well. Kyle’s face lights up when he talks about his wife.
“She’s superwoman,” he said. “She does it all. I just kind of stand back for support.”
The two parents are a team, no doubt, strengthened by the teamwork of their neonatal nurses. And while the nurses acknowledge appreciation from parents like Kyle and Anna, they admit that’s not why they do what they do.
“When you use your critical thinking skills to comfort a baby who can’t tell you what’s wrong,” Virginia said. “When you see that baby sound asleep, and they give you that little side smirk. That’s why. That’s my why.”
As Virginia helped get Libby ready for discharge, she added, “And I would just like to say that I signed up to be Libby’s nurse well before the baked goods ever started showing up!”