Last night, I got the call I have been dreading since my return to work. To the NICU. For a preemie.
I got to work on the baby immediately. A little boy. 3 lbs., 4 oz. Tiny, yet perfectly made. Lungs not wanting to work. I didn’t ask questions, other than to make sure we weren’t dealing with something that would affect his treatment. No meconium aspiration. C-section delivery. He was obviously a preemie. Gestational age? 35 weeks, 5 days. Delivered after an amniocentesis assured mature lungs, and a long struggle with preterm labor for the mom.
Chills ran up my spine.
You know, I try to treat all of my patients the same. I try to treat them as I would want my loved ones to be treated if one of them were to fall ill. But I would be lying if I said anything other than that I treated this baby better than any other patient I have ever had. My touch was more gentle. My dealings with the family more compassionate. How could they not be? I saw Zach’s and Evan’s angel faces in his eyes. And my heart broke just a bit for the moments where I have allowed myself to forget that both of my boys are true miracles. We are so blessed. We are the lucky ones. How could I ever permit myself to forget that for even a second?
I have made a decision. My hospital is building a state-of-the-art new NICU so we no longer have to ship such high-risk cases out. They are, as we speak, assembling a core team of therapists for the role in the NICU. I didn’t think I could stomach it. I thought it would rip my heart out daily. I thought this was a good reason to say no. Now I know that this level of care and understanding makes me tailor-made for the job. When working with adults, one has to be almost heartless to make it through. For this job? One has to be all heart.