Lately I have been spending many of my nights working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit because of their exploding business, unfortunately. And it is here I find myself thinking often about the parents at the bedside. As a pediatric nurse I always strive to provide care to the whole family, but don’t always have this opportunity when there is no parent at the bedside.
I know many of you think, “how could a parent leave the bedside of their own chid?!” But let me tell you it happens more than you would think. I see it often as parents of children with life threatening illnesses choose not to be there. I like to think this is their coping mechanism. That the pain is less if they don’t have to see their child suffer. Or that they just detach themselves from someone they are afraid to lose.
Either way, I still have no idea what these parents are experiencing so I try to stop and put myself in their shoes. A good friend of mine has a child with HLHS who has been hospitalized a few times and I appreciate hearing her opinions as well as stories of her experiences just so I can try to understand the other side.
Meeting Baby Josiah in the hospital after being born at 32 weeks
I may not completely understand it, but this I do know: when a parent sees their child sitting there on a ventilator, when their child seems to face one obstacle after another, or when alarms let them know that their child is not maintaining, my heart just breaks for these parents.
They sacrifice time with other children they must leave at home to focus on their baby who needs them most.
They leave jobs they can’t maintain because they feel drawn to the bedside.
Marriages suffer as there is no time to nourish them.
They face diagnosis after diagnosis with no idea what is in store for them next.
Their emotions run high and they get little to no sleep.
They overcome one battle just to face another.
They go crazy just sitting there feeling helpless with no way to control the situation.
And I just have to watch as parents sit there scared and holding each other’s hands tight. I try to do everything possible to make it easier for them, to reassure their hearts. But the true control is in God’s hands. Only He knows what His plan is and when He will call these precious babies home. Only He can provide them with the comfort they need.
Baby Josiah and Mommy
We often pray for the patients, but the families need our prayers just as much, no matter how they choose to cope. Both the family who is there and those that are not.
Though it may be hard at times, I feel blessed that God gave me to opportunity to serve my patients and their families. My job allows me to serve the population I love most in the way I know best. Nursing can be so stressful, both emotionally and physically, but God gives me moments like this to understand my purpose and the difference that I can make in one life.