Jenny Albers wants to thank the nurse who helped her through one of the darkest days of her life.
Albers, who blogs at A Beautifully Burdened Life, is the mother of two children who keep her busy as a stay-at-home mom, and two babies, “who have only ever called heaven home.”
It was the stillbirth of one of those babies that has Albers remembering the nurse who was by her side through the delivery, an example of love and kindness in the face of grief and sadness.
As the mom wrote on Facebook, even as she walked to the delivery room that day, her legs were weak with, “the weight of fear and sorrow.”
TO THE NURSE WHO HELD MY STILLBORN BABYI trudged through those steel doors of the labor and delivery unit, my legs…
Albers knew when she entered the hospital that her baby was not coming home. Twenty weeks into the pregnancy, her child’s heartbeat appeared to have stopped. She wrote:
As the contractions shook my body, you held my hand. As the doctor confirmed the death of my baby, you wiped my tears. As I lay in that lonely hospital bed, my body hollowed out by death, your words of understanding spoke to my soul. For you too had experienced the loss of a baby.
Then came the moment when Albers had to decide whether to hold her child:
You asked if I wanted to see my baby and I said “yes,” while admitting that I was afraid because the doctor had discouraged me from doing so. You encouraged me and acknowledged my fear, while assuring me that there was nothing to be afraid of.
The nurse disappeared and returned with Albers’ baby. She had wrapped the tiny child — who weighed less than a pound at his birth — in a blanket and put a bonnet on his head:
I watched as you held my baby, unfazed by the appearance of a tiny being born 20 weeks too soon. You stroked those itty-bitty fingers and toes. You talked about those eyes. And you told me my baby was beautiful, although the rest of the world would likely have disagreed.
As you placed my breathless baby into the palms of my hands, I too became breathless, afraid to move for fear of causing my brain to become distracted from engraving my baby’s image into my memory. We talked about how much more time my baby should have had to grow. To experience life. To know the sister who was waiting for me to return home.
Speaking to the grieving mom, the nurse made sure Albers knew that she recognized the humanity of both mother and child. And Albers has remembered it ever since:
You told me that my baby’s early death did not take away from the importance of his life. Your words were authentic, but it was the look in your eyes that validated this important truth. You treated my baby like a human being and you treated me with compassion as I had unwillingly become a bereaved mother.
As Albers explained to Dearly, few people understand the heartbreak that a mother goes through after a miscarriage or stillbirth: “I wrote this post because it often seems that the life of babies in the womb are undervalued and that the trauma and grief resulting from pregnancy loss is generally misunderstood.”
The mom wrote that her nurse knew what she was going through. What’s more, she knew what to do: “Your love and compassion shined brightly during the darkest night of my life. You acknowledged my pain along with the beauty of my baby’s short life. My heart had broken the minute my baby’s had stopped beating. And as you held my baby, you also held my heart.”
Because of the nurse’s actions, Albers wrote that she, “will never forget how you handled the two of us with such care.”
And so she wrote this open letter, years after her child’s birth, but no less powerful for all that. And while Albers is sure that she thanked the nurse at the time, she, “wanted to say it again.”
As she told Dearly: “During my hours in the hospital in which I dealt with the devastation of losing my baby, I was so grateful to have a nurse who understood the magnitude of my loss and who was compassionate enough to treat my baby, despite his short life, like he mattered.”