“My Story… ” Monday: Nurse Kathy


She had been in the NICU for nearly 100 days.


It had been such a long, long road. We had hardly dared believe the suggestions that (maybe?) we’d get to go home. For so long, her care had been provided by medical teams involving nurses, respiratory therapists, neonatologists, and all manner of other specialists. That her care would be falling into our hands was both thrilling and intimidating.


“After we bathe her, I’ll have you insert the NG-tube,” Kathy said, matter-of-factly.


I loved this particular nurse, but I raised a brow at her.


“I’M going to put the tube in?”


“Sure,” she continued, shifting our little girl. As she did, C. let out an enormous toot and Kathy laughed, “making your first jacuzzi, little girl?”


I went back to gently wiping her tiny little limbs with the washcloth, lost in my thoughts.


I don’t know how to put this tube in. I’ve never done anything like this before. This tube needs to go all the way down to her stomach. What if I do it wrong? How will I know when to stop? What if I don’t hold it right, clean it right, angle it right? What if… ? How… ? I don’t think I can.


We finished up C’s bath and gently dried my not-yet-five-pound and three-month-old daughter.


Kathy took out a piece of tubing and a stethoscope. She laid materials out in front of me. I stared straight at her, committing her words to memory, hoping and praying I could get this right. Still, the doubt crept in.


“What if I can’t do it?” I finally asked, my voice soft and tentative.


Her blue eyes held mine steadily.


“You will do it. You’ll do it because you have to do it. You’ll do it because it needs to be done and you’ll rise to occasion and get it done.”


I took a deep breath and began.


For about four months, I would have to thread a skinny tube down into my child’s stomach. I would check its placement by listening through a stethoscope as I pushed a tiny bit of air into her belly. I would then remove the air and attach a a syringe the other end of the tube. I would tape it, cap it, check it, clean it, and repeat the process as necessary.


People used to say to me all the time, “How do you do that? I couldn’t. I don’t think I’d be able to do that.”


And to that, I replied, “Yes, you would. You’d do it because you’d have to do it. You’d do it because it needed to be done and so you’d learn.”


Nurse Kathy taught me that.

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4 comments to “My Story… ” Monday: Nurse Kathy

  • Susan

    Wow, that really reminds me of my life. You do whatever it takes to help your child. I remember taking oxygen home for my son. We were told to give it to him on an “as needed basis.” Ok, how am I supposed to know when he needed oxygen? When he turned blue? In his first 20 days home, he had 300 episodes of stopping breathing (or that’s what his heart monitor told us.) I just remember being so exhausted all the time with that stupid monitor going off 4-5 times every night. Many years have passed but you never forget the fear.

    Two nights ago, after a 3 hour karate belt testing, my son fell into a deep sleep. He wasn’t making any noise at all. In the pitch black, I started feeling his chest to see if I could feel the rising/falling of his chest. Of course, the response I got was my son slapping my hand away.

    • Oh, goodness, we brought C. home on oxygen, too, but it was all the time. I think “as needed” would have been far more difficult… that puts too much pressure on you to make the call! (Also? I got chills reading about your son now– what an incredible journey you’ve all been on together. Amazing.)

  • Jennie

    God is amazing. He gave you that precious gift of a daughter who taught you how strong you really are.

    God did the same for me. Not such a dramatic story but definitely she has taught me to be stronger than I ever thought I could be.

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