This is not the first time I opined on fatherhood and it probably won’t be the last. It’s a little long, but I’m in charge, here.
This story will make much more sense if you go to the blog and read these two, antecedent stories before going on.
I suppose it started with a post from 2011: I Get It Now.
One job of a father (and mother) is to provide their children with opportunities that they may or may not have had so that they can accomplish more than the parents did. I recall my dad telling me that when I realized that I was the first one in either of my parent’s family to graduate from college.
I must admit that for a variety of reasons, I’ve arrived at a point in life where there isn’t as much joy as I thought there would be. If given the opportunity to go back in time, there would be many things I would do differently.
I do, however, take great pleasure in watching our girls continue to grow up.
Megan is attending medical school in Houston, TX and is well on her way to caring for “tiny humans,” practicing in pediatric surgery. I wish I could watch her in her clinical settings and see how she interacts. Maybe someday?
Elissa, now married (happy anniversary) and with a Masters Degree, is teaching Kindergarten in a Catholic, inner-city school. Someday she will be a great mom, but in the meantime, she is giving her all for her kids.
That leaves Kelliann, (KA) the “private one.” She works hard not to call attention to herself and usually uses as few words (at least with her dad) as possible to convey a message. After taking a circuitous route through college, nursing school and a few clinical positions, she is in her “bliss zone”, working as a night shift, neo-natal intensive care unit RN at a regional, specialty hospital.
Last night, she happened to be staying with us as she had a few days off and was visiting friends in the area. Coincidentally, the wife of a co-worker of mine had a baby boy last night and because of some (hopefully minor and temporary) complications, he got transferred up to the NICU where KA works. When she got up this morning, I filled her in on what little I knew and she immediately started texting nurses there, letting them know that this baby’s dad worked with her dad and to please look out for them. She did that without my asking. She just did it.
“Hey, aren’t you Kelliann’s dad?” “Damn right I am.”
It just so happened that she shared a post on FB yesterday, which illustrates the emotion of the work she is doing. It is humbling for me to read and she seems to have a faith so much stronger than mine is currently.
I love what I do … I’m more than just my job … God planted a seed in my heart to be a caregiver and to not just anyone, but to the tiniest of blessings He brings into this world … I’m humbled God trusted in me to care of His precious miracles … I love I get to learn every time I walk into my unit … I am amazed at how much God is present in the NICU … I am a nurse and proud of it
And here is a post she shared after that:
When you first become a nicu nurse, they don’t tell you your life is forever changed.
They don’t tell you that you will literally hold a life in the palm of your hand.
They don’t tell you that you should make sure your vision is checked regularly because you will be looking at some of the tiniest numbers ever printed.
They don’t tell you that you wear gloves so often, it feels weird changing your own baby with bare hands.
They don’t tell you that you will sometimes get to see a person’s very first breath and their very last breath in the same day.
They don’t tell you that no matter how much you study, you will never know enough.
They don’t tell you that you will become a translator from doctor language to parent language.
They don’t tell you that you will help someone through drug withdrawal that doesn’t even understand what is happening.
They don’t tell you that doing everything you can is sometimes still not enough.
They don’t tell you that your dreams will be filled with horror after a rough night.
They don’t tell you that everything you learned in nursing school doesn’t apply to this patient population.
They don’t tell you that every word you say and every act you do means something.
They don’t tell you that the respiratory therapists are the true heroes of the NICU.
They don’t tell you that you will look at the clock when you are home and notice that it’s on the hour.
They don’t tell you that you will think about your patients all the time.
They don’t tell you that there will be things you can’t unsee.
They don’t tell you that you will feel a huge sense of accomplishment on discharge day.
They don’t tell you that sometimes you still worry about your patients after discharge.
They don’t tell you that you will hear so many alarms, and know what each one means just by one tone. You are not allowed to get used to them. Ever. You hear them even when you’re trying to go to sleep.
They don’t tell you that you will measure things in grams, Celsius, and centimeters.
They don’t tell you that your coworkers will become like family.
They don’t tell you that you have the responsibility of someone’s entire world resting on your shoulders.
They don’t tell you that there’s such a thing as nanopreemie diapers, 1 inch blood pressure cuffs, isolettes with rainforests inside them, and actual living humans weighing less than a pound.
They don’t tell you that you will notice tiny subtle differences that no one else may pick up on.
They don’t tell you that you will stand in awe of a patient, so blown away by this miracle that it takes your breath away.
They don’t tell you that you will feel so incredibly honored to be able to do this every day.
They don’t tell you that sometimes you leave work so drained, you have nothing left for your family waiting at home.
They don’t tell you that you will hold yourself to the highest of standards, never accepting anything less than 100%.
They don’t tell you that burping a baby makes the monitor alarm that the baby is in v-fib.
They don’t tell you that not all babies in nicu are preemies.
They don’t tell you that you will sit at a bedside for 12+ hours, praying and willing with everything inside of you that your patient will make it through the night.
They don’t tell you that you will be keeping your eyes on SO many numbers. Vitals, labs, medication dosages. Constantly watching. Observing. Making subtle changes.
They don’t tell you that sometimes you overthink things. Sometimes it is what it is, not what you want it to be. And you will struggle.
They don’t tell you that you get to teach. Gently, carefully guiding parents on how to care for this fragile life. That one day, you will be the more experienced nurse and you get to show the new nicu nurse (who has been told none of these things) that he or she will make it.
Inch stones are celebrated. Miracles are happening. They don’t tell you that you really get to be a part of this. And what an awesome life it is, how blessed we are to be nicu nurses.
How can we not be proud?
Just call me Dad.
Some things are going as hoped and planned.