The title of this post came from my favourite podcast, The Savage Lovecast (with Dan Savage). I suppose a better line would be that the price of love is to risk grief.
I love being a primary nurse. I love having the same babies, getting to know the parents, working towards getting them home. I love watching them grow, and try to keep in touch when they go home.
My very first primary was a baby girl named Erin. She was born with only a 10% chance of survival from a left sided congenital diaphramatic hernia. She fought, she lived. She was still struggling with some fairly serious medical issues when she suddenly died last night.
I stayed in touch with her mom thanks to the wonders of social media. I saw them every time they were in my 'hood for check-ups and follow-ups. I watched Erin grow and become this funny, mischievous and resourceful toddler.
We have babies who die at work, it's always like a punch in the gut, but I don't KNOW the families and I don't know the babies, so I am removed. By being a NICU nurse, I have accepted the inevitability that some babies WILL die, and that sometimes it's better if they do (when they're option is to live in agony for the rest of their lives). This is an entirely new level of grief. I was at work while all of this happened, surrounded by people who understood my tears and gave me the space I needed to just have a moment, who don't think it's weird for "getting attached", who would have taken over my assignment if I had needed to go away for a bit. My BFF happened to be working too, which helped tremendously.
I feel like it's just a terrible nightmare, that this cannot have possibly happened, that this (rather large) baby I cradled in my arms to soothe her cries is no longer here. That this baby with the biggest and most beautiful eyes you've ever seen on a baby has closed those eyes forever.
I feel absolutely heartsick for her truly amazing and wonderful mother, her dad and her siblings, especially her big sister who just doted on Erin and loved her with every fibre of her being.
Blessed be, little one. May your wings carry you high and onto your next adventure.