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Using the Power of Story to Improve Patient-Centred Care
"They were kind, gentle, caring and talked to me."My daughter was born on April 17, 2008 with a congenital heart defect known as Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA). Without immediate surgery to repair the condition, she would die.
When she was born she spent what felt like a few seconds in my arms but soon was rushed out of the room for tests. Doctors and nurses explained the condition to me but I wasn't taking it in. It was too much, too big and overwhelming.
Of course a lot was happening, but what struck me was the nurses who helped me snuggle my baby prior to her surgery. An infant with this condition has many wires attached to her, central line through the umbilical cord site, IVs in her hands and feet plus wires used to monitor all of her vitals. It makes picking up your newborn impossible without help.
This was a terrifying experience for my family and holding her was one of the most important things I could do. If anything happened during surgery I couldn't let her die without knowing how it felt to be in her mother's arms. To know my love and to feel my body against hers. Yet, holding her seemed a daunting prospect that created a fear in me that I had never known before. What if I hurt her? She seemed so fragile, delicate and small.
I remember two nurses came in to help get her into my arms. They knew I was overwhelmed and afraid. They were kind, gentle, caring and talked to me. I remember one said to me 'I know this is scary and overwhelming but we'll be here to monitor her, you just take the time you need to be her mom.' It was reassuring and comforting. I knew even when she wasn't in my arms that those nurses, and all the others, cared for my daughter. They monitored her vitals, watched her endlessly, looked after her central and IV lines and made her feel safe. They also made the time to take care of the rest of our family by making the pre and post op experiences as comfortable as possible by talking to us, reassuring us and letting us know they were there for the whole family.
My daughter is nine years old now and every year since her first birthday we visit the hospital where she was born and the nurses in the NICU to bring them treats and say thanks. It seems like nothing in comparison for what they did for my daughter and all of us, but we want them to know that we appreciate them.