Finding herself awake in the middle of the night, Jenni Stearman, a NICU nurse at Texas Children’s Newborn Center, began scrolling through posts on Facebook before stopping at one that struck a chord in her heart.
It was a touching update from a NICU parent expressing appreciation for everything the NICU nurses do, and it inspired Stearman to return the compliment by conveying her appreciation and empathy for NICU parents.
“I guess I was just a little bit emotional and I read the post and it was just really inspiring. It was too late to call anyone and talk about my feelings, so I typed,” said Stearman.
Although she was home, off-duty, and had a lot going on in her personal life with an upcoming move, wedding and honeymoon, Stearman took some time to reflect on the rewarding experience of getting to know so many loving families in the NICU at Texas Children’s. In her late-night Facebook post, Stearman recounted the journey and struggle of a NICU parent.
“You are in a situation that you didn’t plan on being in and everything that you did plan is now unobtainable. You feel completely out of control of the situation around you. You are dependent on others to do what you so dearly long to be able to do for your own child. Everything that you would normally do to comfort and care for your baby has been taken away from you. I’m here to tell you, I understand your pain and I appreciate you,” she wrote.
She continued by sympathizing with them and expressing gratitude for all that they do to make her job and life even better.
“You trust me with your most valued possession. You learn to trust my instincts and I yours. We become a team with one common goal in mind and that is to get your child home with you as quickly as possible and as healthy as possible. Thank you for that trust. You become my “friends” while we spend 36hrs/week together. After months of this, we have shared more conversation than I have with some of closest friends. We have shared times of pain and times of joy. We have cried together and we have shared laughter. In some cases we share bonds that will extend far beyond the NICU. Thank you for being my friend.”
And finally, she thanked them for staying in touch and giving her hope during tough times.
“The NICU can be a depressing place (as you know). Your updates help us keep faith that all we do is for a very good reason,” she wrote.
Stearman tagged some of the NICU parents she knew in the post, and by morning, many people had forwarded it on and reached out to tell her how much it meant. The post gained so much momentum that the Huffington Post decided to publish it as an op-ed health piece on their national site, highlighting how much our NICU nurses care about the patients and families at Texas Children’s. The post has generated thousands of social media “likes” and shares.
“I wrote it for the NICU moms so I was happy to hear they were sharing it,” said Stearman. I’m really, really happy that people loved it and felt inspired by it.”