Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lessons from the NICU- 6 months

As of January 20th, I will have been a NICU nurse (and a practicing nurse in general!) for 6 months!  I can't believe how fast time flies.  I was just talking to one of the doctors about how in some ways it seems like I just started, and in others it seems like I've been there forever.  I think it will be fun to re-cap some of the things I've learned over the last 6 months.  Please know though, that these are just my thoughts and may not be shared by every NICU nurse ;)
  • Half of your shift involves untangling IV tubing.  I'm convinced we should have had a class on this at school.   
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  • There are doctors you like and doctors you don't like.  And some who scare the bejeezus out of you.
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  • Losing a baby is hard.  Taking pictures, hand/feet molds is harder, and hearing the wailing cries of moms and dads is the hardest.  
  • The best cure is cuddling with another sweet baby

  • I would rather stick an IV in a 26 weeker than an adult any day! 

  • I can hold my patient in one hand and change the bed with the other.  Multitasking! And cute bedding counts. 

  • The alarms come home with your sleep!  
  • I've learned who the nurses are I can go to who won't laugh at me, and the ones who will make me feel as big as an ant.  
  • I've learned to appreciate those nurses who don't laugh at me.  They have provided me with silent confidence that I do have what it takes to be a NICU nurse. 
I love what I do.  It's the most important thing I've done so far in my life.  I still get nervous every time I walk into the NICU to work, but I think I'd be worried if I didn't!  It's an incredible job to be trusted with these little miracle lives.  I saw this on a friend's facebook profile the other day and thought I'd post it.  I don't know who wrote it, but if I find out I'd love to give credit where it's due!  Hopefully it will give a little insight into my little world :)

"Who is a NICU nurse?  She spends her days behind locked doors, in an area that only a select few may enter.  Many people do not even realize her department exists.  Lights are dimmed, voices hushed and the hum of technology provides background noise.  The quiet is broken only by the cries of distressed infants and warnings of beeping alarms.  Her patients know no other environment, except the protection of their mother's womb.  They start their lives here, but many will never feel sunlight touch their skin.  She knows that the patient she holds briefly in her hand, she will hold in her heart forever.  Her tools look like they come from a child's toy box, miniature versions of the real thing.  Her day is measured in fractions of micrograms, milliliters, and millimeters, rather than grams, liters, and meters.  She can start an IV in a vein thinner than a strand of hair, but will hesitate before the forearm of an adult.  She recognizes the healing power of sleep, but sacrifices her own to show up before daylight to cover busy shifts.  She is amazed daily by the strength and will to survive of some of the tiniest, most fragile people on earth.  She cringes every time she must poke a needle into a tiny hand or foot, knowing that the result can change the course of a lifetime.  She has seen many tears of sorry, joy, frustration, pain.  Yet she holds her own in, shedding them only in private for no one to see.  She has no response when people say "that must be hard" or "I couldn't do what you do" because she knows her words are inadequate.  She just smiles and nods, thinking of all the crying babies she has rocked to sleep, all the scared parents she has calmed and the lives she has touched.  At the end of her shift, she walks out into the fresh air, with a new outlook on life daily, proud to be able to perform a job she loves.  This is what it means to be a NICU nurse."


  1. Wow! I can't believe how fast the six months went! I'm glad you're learning so much, but even happier that you are still loving your work! I am sure you are such a blessing to the families that you work with.

  2. I think you have such an amazing job! I'm sure it's difficult at times, but I am sure you are wonderful at it!

  3. If I ever had a baby in the NICU (God forbid) I would want you to be his/her nurse! It is obvious that you are passionate about your job and that you are so great at it! I LOVED this post!

  4. what a sweet post! It's wonderful that you love your job so much.. and it sounds like you're very good at it! It takes a very special person to be able to thrive in some of the situations you have to deal with I'm sure!

    Love your blog! I'm a new follower :)