As a labor and delivery nurse I truly love my job. I am witness to the miracle of life multiple times each week. I help couples become a family and that was what motivated me to become a Labor and Delivery RN. Of course I knew in the back of my mind there would be “bad” nights at work… But nothing prepares you to care for a family who will not be leaving the hospital with their child. There is no textbook, no simulation lab, no policy or procedure on how to support families during this time.
March 31, 2014
Hearing the highlights of Lisa and Bret’s story before meeting them for the first time I already felt a connection. I entered their room with a gentle knock to introduce myself. I reviewed the plan for overnight and encouraged Lisa and Bret to call out with any questions or concerns. Lisa released a weak smile and I noticed music playing in the background. A personal favorite gained a whole new meaning in just seconds.
“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand”
-Oceans, Hillsong United
There was a sense of peace in that room among the fear and grief. I would walk in the room once an hour or so to make sure Lisa was comfortable. Bret never left her side all night. I could not comprehend the loss this family was experiencing but love was radiating between Lisa and Bret; into her beautiful pregnant belly holding Jake’s perfect body. Jake would never feel fear, pain, or disappointment, only endless love from his parents.
12 hours passed quickly and my shift was ending. I had mixed emotions. On one hand I felt like I was abandoning Bret and Lisa on this journey. On the other I was relieved, knowing that I would not have to watch their world break as Jake entered the world silently. I didn’t feel strong enough to be a part of their journey. I shed tears walking through the parking lot and on the ride home. I simply told my husband it was a “rough night” but offered no true explanation at that time.
I was not scheduled to work again that night so I assumed would never have the opportunity to meet Jake. Around 8pm I got a call from work asking if I could come in for a few hours because the unit was busy. I was there by 8:45, just minutes before Jake’s arrival. I was not assigned to be Lisa’s nurse but found myself entering the room to drop off supplies. As I entered, I saw Lisa holding Jake with Bret still by her side… and “Oceans” was again playing softly in the background. At this moment I knew it was a work from up above that landed me working extra hours that night. The Hand family entered my life for a reason. To keep me grounded, to be thankful for my own two blessings, to hug those I love whenever possible, to be a more compassionate caregiver to my patients.
July 27th, 2014-Jake’s Day
I was honored and nervous to attend Jake’s Day. I spent only hours with this family yet felt such a connection. I arrived to the ceremony feeling out of place among the family members and long time friends. I sat with a co-worker and felt some relief. We listened to the impact Jake had on so many lives. Eventually “Oceans” was played and I no longer felt out of place. I knew this journey would be Lisa and Bret’s deepest waters.
“Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,
And my faith will be made stronger,
In the Presence of my Savior”
-Oceans, Hillsong United
Lisa and Bret, I am honored to have met you both, to have met Jake. Thank you for allowing me into your lives. I pray for you, mourn for you, and will never forget Jake. I cannot hear “Oceans” without thinking of your wonderful family.