I call you A because somewhere deep in my memory, I believe your name began with the letter A. Maybe you're an Amber, Ashley or Amanda, but you're an Angel to me.
On a warm Thursday evening, September 18, 2014, to be exact, you gathered your stuff and made your way to work. I can only imagine the exhaustion you must felt as you walked through the sliding doors and felt the cool breeze of the hospital hallways grace your face from the lack of sleep and slaving on night shift, and I can only imagine the smile on your face as you noticed the quiet air that greeted you and swirled through the second floor of Labor & Delivery at Florida Hospital South. "Hopefully tonight is easy," I'm sure you prayed.
Around 2 AM on September 19th, I too made my way to your workplace but my entrance wasn't as somber as yours. Instead of being greeted with quiet air, I myself filled that air with screams and echoes that bounced back and all around. I was greeted with confusion on their faces as I told them I was in labor and they examined my body size. And I'm sure you too were confused as I was rushed through the doors begging not to feel what was to come.
But there you were, standing there with fear in your eyes and hope in your heart as everyone rushed around to get me settled into what would become my worst nightmare.
Your team was hopeful. Your team promised that I was calling the right One that could hear my cries & stand with me every step of the way, as I begged for God to be there, and your team worked hard to prevent the unimaginable that I knew would be upon us too soon.
And there he was.
Sweet Grady Dean, arching his back and breathing on his own. I was in complete shock and out of my element. To my surprise, I had no clue what to do. Prior to this preterm labor, I had delivered two healthy full term babies and as I watched you all pick him up, I blacked out in fear of what to do next.
And you, my angel, stepped in and guided my next steps by asking to place Grady on my chest so he could be comfortable and close to his mommy during his short little life. You checked his heart rate as I screamed in excitement that he was still alive and moving across my chest and you made sure he was placed back on my chest even after the NICU told me there was nothing they could do.
I can remember everyone's reactions during those couple of hours. I remember everyone staring at me not knowing what to do but you, you encouraged me, took care of me and helped me remember that even though I had more obstacles to face, my son was what mattered in that moment.
I remember handing him back to you as I tried to deliver his twin brother. I was so focused on meeting Ryder as well but again, you asked to place him back on me. I cannot thank you enough for that. As I look back to that evening, that's the moment that replays over and over again because that was the last moment my son was able to feel my heartbeat through my chest while he was still alive. That was the final moment I was able to hold my living child and it fled too soon but it was because of you. Before I knew it, I had to hand him back to you in order to fight for my own life, and that's the moment that hurts the most.
"Will you accept a blood transfusion if you need one?"
"Yes of course."
"Can you sign this and this?"
"I can barely see or sign."
"Just put something on the paper."
I scribbled and darkness fell over me as they placed me under for a D&C.
What happened during my surgery? Where was Grady? Was he with you? Did you hold him? These questions have swirled through my mind ever since I woke up in recovery. Did you step in when I couldn't?
"I as a doctor do not do blood transfusions," my doctor said as my body shook in shock from the amount of blood I lost during surgery. I remembering having a hard time focusing and I knew I was on the verge of death. I pleaded with God not to take me because my children at home needed their mom. And you, my angel, walked in to tell me goodbye and that you had given the boys a bath and dressed them for our meet and greet. And you, my angel, told me that you thought my doctor was a Jehovah Witness and you pleaded for me to get a second opinion. You, my angel, were the only one that cared and tried to save my life.
And that's where I thank you. I thank you for placing any fear or confusion you might have been feeling aside to help guide me through my only hours with my living son. I thank you for caring for him as though he was your own. I thank you for caring so much about my own life that you'd pleaded for a second opinion that could ultimately save me - which it did. And I thank you, for going to work on that warm Thursday evening because although the life of a nurse may take you on a ride full of ups and downs, you still pushed through with gentleness and love for someone you never met before and for that I'll always be grateful.
When the going gets tough I hope you remember sweet Grady Dean because I know in Heaven he thinks of you. The only arms he knows are mine and yours, and I can only imagine how grateful my baby is to you because I know how grateful I am. I hope his little face flashes when you aren't sure if you can handle another night shift or a scream of pain, because I want you to know that his face is full of thankfulness for your hard work and love that got him through his three hours of life. And when you're tired, I hope you can look back on this letter and know that your time has changed a life and turned what was the worst nightmare of my life to a beautiful memory shared with my son. It was as though God placed you in that room as my guardian angel, to guide me, help me and encourage me through the moments I had no clue what to do.
You matter. Your voice matters. Your job matters.