Fighter's Advocate

 

 

The road to Neonatal Nurse Practitioner for me was not a straight line. After working for 15 years in the food & beverage industry, I realized I needed a purpose in life other than making people momentarily happy. My initial journey into medicine began as a Respiratory Therapist and after discovering the calm, purposeful, and exciting environment of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I was hooked. In my first solo week off orientation, I attended a delivery and witnessed life in all its extremes: a 300 gram, 23-week GA infant born due to placenta accreta, gasping to breathe, and desperately clinging to life. In accordance with his parents’ wishes, we tried valiantly to save his life but without success.

 

Those 20 minutes lasted hours in my mind. I wasn’t sure how to react or digest the brief life and death of that tiny being. How could he die? Had I done everything right? He tried so hard, why couldn’t we save him? If his parents knew he wouldn’t survive, why did they make us do all those things: compressions, intubation, lines, boluses, epi, epi, epi….? There was no immediate answer, only the gentle reassurance of my peers. Only a brief time out, soft tears, and a respectful silence for his gentle soul.

 

As an RT, bedside RN and now as an NNP, I continue to wrestle with death’s perpetual grip to give a mother one more minute with her baby, or a grandpa an opportunity to see his grandchild for the first and only time, or to reassure a big sister that her little sister is real. Why do I do this knowing the outcomes are bad? Why do we all stand shoulder to shoulder, a wall of knowledge and fierceness and strength when the fabric of life is unraveling before our very eyes? Because. We are the protector of dreams. We are the shield for the weak. We are the first to hold each infant and sometimes the last. We are mentally, physically, and emotionally present when others do not have the strength. I want each infant to know they are a gift with meaning and purpose, no matter how they came to be or what life has in store for them. They matter because they matter to me – because we all have potential. And potential is worth fighting for.

 

I am not an NNP for the money, prestige, or power. It isn’t owed to me nor do I have some magical gift to cure the masses. I’m not special or a genius - I work hard to absorb new data while retaining my training and experiences. I work in the NICU because I’m a fighter, BUT I became an NNP because I’m also an advocate for infants, families and peers. An advocate focused on mentoring, coaching, and being present when the cruelties of Mother Nature beckon from the wings