Giving Care and Taking It

| It was the summer of 2010 |

His crying echoed in my head.


My eyes blinked open. I wasn’t sleeping. Tears hugged my cheeks as they rolled off my face. I began to move. I breathed in deeply, using each breath to catapult upward. The crying grew louder as my senses adjusted. I stood and took two steps forward. I felt for the cool smoothness of steel tubing. I continued to walk. Two more steps. My path illuminated by a faint green light. Each breath I took seemed to sync with each soft electronic beep I heard. For a moment, the rhythmic tempo was calming.

I pushed in each side rail and let the front gate slide downward. Slowly. The fog in my head began to dissipate.


I touched his forehead. His skin was damp, his cheeks cherry red. Eyes squeezing shut as he wailed. Suddenly everything in the room came to life. I placed one hand atop his stomach while I shook my head, trying to shake away any remnants of sleep. Sleep my body and mind so badly needed.  I re-opened my eyes, acknowledged the discord. The beeping, his wailing and my breathing were all sporadic, frantic even.

He needed to be changed.


Normal baby must.

Kind of.

I put on two blue nitrile gloves and felt the snaps against my skin as I pulled each upward towards my wrist. I started to remove his diaper, a mixture of urine and chemotherapy waste. Swiftly. Gloves, burn-preventing barrier cream, wipes, special bags to dispose of the “hazardous waste,” screaming child, kicking child but no diapers in sight…

I felt the tears again. I started to cry, then bawl. Then, at the top of my lungs in the middle of the night on the pediatric HEM/ONC floor, I yelled. I somehow managed to also press the nurse call button.


In a matter of seconds, two familiar faces appeared. One grabbed my left hand and knowingly squeezed. The other gently moved my right hand from his stomach. I was mad. I was tired. I was lost. I ran past both of them and into the hallway. Next to a large metal shelving rack containing blankets, sheet protectors and hospital bathing wipes, I collapsed.

I felt a hand touch the top of my head. I was hot, damp from tears and sweat. My face felt flushed but the tears did subside. My breathing did slow. I heard a soothing voice, the words I cannot remember. It was the comfort and the care that were forever ingrained in my mind.

We walked back to his room together. She held my hand. The other nurse was holding him. He was clean, content and wrapped snugly. A fresh sheet adorned his crib mattress and I could see a pile of new diapers peeking out from the bin below.

Together as caregivers, moms and nurses, we stood. We fondly looked at the primary source of our attention. He squirmed, he cooed, he had no idea it was after 2 o’clock in the morning.

What he did know? Love.

What he did feel? Safe.

What did I take-away? The very same things.


Mothers, give.

Nurses, give.

On this day, I choose to celebrate both. I wish all whom selflessly give care to also receive it. The blessing may always be in the giving but in order to give care we must also learn to receive.

Happy Mother’s Day to every single mama out there: moms of now, moms to-be, and moms of sweet babies who gained their wings.

Happy [Day After] National Nurses Week to every single nurse on the planet: all touching lives, all making differences.


Inspiration behind this post: Watch it. Please.


Inspiration behind this post: Watch it. Please.