The beauty of the first bath
I don’t have any kids of my own. But I suppose “of my own” is a relative term that distinguishes me from women that have birthed children. People frequently ask me if I have kids, and I have decided that I would receive confused looks if I were to answer with what first comes to mind, “I actually have three new kids each week.” Lift your jaw, undistort your face, and allow me to explain…
I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to care for two or three children each shift that I work, many of them newborns. I take great pride in the care that I provide for these children and treat them as if they were my own. For those of you who have your own children, I’m sure you know about the beauty of the very first bath. It is a tremendous bonding experience between parents and a newborn, a time where parents can repeatedly count every finger and toe, study their newborn’s every crease and fold, and provide a most simple physiological need for their child. Now let us take this experience and place it in a hospital setting, days after heart surgery on a one week old baby covered with various tubes, wires, IVs, and a daunting incision. Allow me to set the stage even further- the parents of this newborn are first-time parents and they are faced with the task of “first bath.”
This is where I come in. It is my job as their nurse- their support system- to bring the beauty back to the bathing experience. Parents are often afraid to even touch their child, let alone pour water over them. As I walk them through the steps of the bathing process and alleviate the anxiety produced by the medical equipment, I gradually take a more hands-off approach in the hopes that the parents will take over. The most beautiful part of my job is seeing a new mother grin from ear to ear as she wraps her newborn in a towel and holds him close to her, kissing his forehead. This usually being the same mother who was timid to touch her baby just minutes before. I feel like a very lucky woman because I get to encounter this beauty on a regular basis. So do I have my own children? No, I don’t. But those extraordinary children at the hospital that impact my life on a daily basis through the experiences that I share with them, those are my kids.
Nicole Lehr is a pediatric nurse. She can be described in three adjectives: content, thankful and fortunate. All credit for the aforementioned description can be given to the love she has for her profession as an RN. She graduated from University of Florida with her Bachelor’s in Nursing and moved to Atlanta to work at the Cardiac Stepdown Unit at Children’s — her dream job.
By Nicole Lehr