Acts of Kindness September 08 2014, 4 Comments
Warning - there will be talk of breast pumps and milk storage if that weirds anyone out.
Any pumping NICU Mom (or regular moms) knows the drudgery of washing pump parts - NICU Dads probably know too. It's not that it is such a hard job, it's just so extremely time consuming. It's also not one you want to rush because you are talking about sanitizing the parts that your baby's milk touches. I would never have wanted to jeopardize Bryer's health anymore than it already was. Yes, we had those microwave bags, but they were limited.
I had finite time to snuggle Bryer already. I'm referring mostly to that part where I'd leave him every night for someone else to take care of. (insert dagger here) I can still have bouts of anxiety over that to this day. It also wasn't possible for me to be at the hospital for every.single.waking moment either because I had 2 other littles who needed their mommy. But, I tried my best. Beyond that, there were sometimes restrictions on how much stimulation Bryer could have. Getting him in-and-out was frowned upon, especially when one of their main concerns was weight gain and we were striving for calorie conservation. All that to say, when I was there, I certainly didn't want to spend over 1/3 of my precious time washing pump parts. It was maddening, really. And because of the kids at home, rarely was I at the hospital with someone else like Justin or my mom. If by glorious chance they would overlap with me, they were sure to roll-up their sleeves and wash those parts. It allowed another 30-40 min of cuddling. Bliss.
It was late December 2012. We were in room #45 "on the wall" of the J4 NICU, I had managed to pump while snuggling Bryer. I was getting stealthy and ultra creative. I had to. He was comfortably asleep on my chest. Success. Peace. I had since disconnected the pump and my milk sat to my right. We had been sitting there for quite some time, and we both drifted to sleep. It was nearing the time for the next pumping session (you know every 2-3 hours), yet my milk hadn't even been stored and labeled, which was its own ordeal. Nor had my pump parts been WASHED. Grr. We happened to have a sink in this room. I was so grateful for that time-saving fountain. It shaved a good 10 minutes of walking to and from the pump room where I may have to wait in line for a sink.
I was stirred awake by the sound of running water. I cranked my neck over my shoulder and there was our nurse, Priscilla, who had already stored and labeled my milk. And not only was she washing the parts, but she was DRYING the parts. Do you know how tedious that is?? It's all tedious, but especially the drying part. There are so many nooks and crannies! BLESS. HER. HEART.
It was the first time a nurse had done this for me (it didn't end up being the last - his nurses rocked!). I know it is not their job, and I didn't expect it. They are incredibly busy saving tiny lives for Heaven's sake. Ah, I relaxed back into the big chair and snuggled into him. It was as much a gift for Bryer as it was me. Without a doubt his most favorite spot was where he could be lulled by the beat of my heart and the smell of my skin. I didn't need to disturb his rest or comfort, which was so hard to come by during those days. I don't even think she knew I saw her. When she was finished, she left without a word.
As I drank in Bryer's warmth on my chest, his soft little hands and the rise and fall of his breath, I pondered this all in my heart for a moment. Wow. What a genuine act of service and pure kindness she had bestowed. She had no idea how that ministered to me and how I was uplifted. She allowed our moment to go uninterrupted. Priceless, especially now as I look back. She came right up alongside and helped carry the burden. I know. We are talking about PUMP PARTS. But you see what I am getting at? Being a light and serving others can be and IS so impactful.
Hebrews 10:24 " And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and do good works"
She certainly stirred my heart that day. I hope I can stir yours a little too.
I thanked her later in the shift, and she just smiled and softly said, "Of course!" She became one of our primary nurses shortly after, not because I thought she would continue to wash my pump parts! I swear! But because she showed the sweetness of her heart that day. Those were the kind of hands I wanted to leave Bryer in when I left NCH for home.
I'd go on to share many other sweet moments with Priscilla. I can still remember her kind and distinctive voice.
Wouldn't you know, she brought me She Crab Soup Mix back from her trip to Charleston, SC! She must have picked-up in conversation that it was my favorite. She left it on the counter one day for me to find. I think it was in mid-January. A very dark, literally and figuratively, time for me in the NICU. I think I cried when I saw it.
She was with us the day of one of his surgeries in March of 2013. It ended up being a frustrating day as we got bumped to another time, which meant longer without food for Bryer, which meant an unhappy Bryer. He lost his IV's which was never as easy to replace as you'd think.. She came down with us, and when we had to leave him to wait, she escorted him back. It was a comfort. That's her in the background: <3
She was also one of the last two faces I saw when I was walking out of the the PICU room where Bryer had taken his last earthly breath. After spending several hours bathing, dressing, holding, smelling, singing, rocking, staring, kissing and stroking him…It was time for Justin and I to say good-bye. We left him in my mom's arms. I pulled back the rainbow curtain to leave. It loudly whooshed to the right. It was as if that yank simultaneously yanked anything left in me right out. Whoosh….breathless. And there stood Priscilla and Kristine. I think my embrace said what words couldn't. Their presence and seeing their faces meant more than I can express.
I love those women. Thank you, Priscilla. Kristine, she's another sweet part of Bryer's Song <3 In fact, I have sweet stories and moments with all of his nurses. I have nothing but love for you Priscilla, Kristine, Sara, Katie, Lindsey, Bryn, Jessica and all of the others who cared for B. And don't even get me started on Kim his PT. God is good.
My family and I have been showered by kindness and love during Bryer's life and through our grief. I think I could write a short book on that too…or a very long list! It's humbling to be in a place to allow people to give and help. To open-up and receive as God works through the hands of others. We were taught how we should respond, do, give, love and say when we are on the other side of crisis.
So, let's be the hands and feet of Jesus.! Get to washing some feet or…er pump parts!! Don't ever underestimate the immediate impact you could have, and God only know's the eternal.