Since MaryEllen and Kevin were young, they have required a great deal of care to help maintain their good health. For us, good health means not being hospitalized. Even though Super Woman and I have never been seen together, I must confess, I am not her. Yes, I can juggle kids, and run circles around a ‘typical’ mom with my eyes closed on next to no sleep, but I cannot do all that is required to keep my kids out of the hospital on my own.
It takes a special person to come into a stranger’s home and love and care for a child (or two!) as if they were their own. Even for a seasoned nurse, it can be quite overwhelming walking into our house. Something is always beeping and the action never stops. Just deciphering the beeps takes a degree in audio beep interpretation! We have pulse ox beeps, vent beeps, feeding pump beeps, oxygen concentrator beeps, bed beeps, washing machine beeps, and dryer beeps. Throw in a few Ipad notifications and you get my point. In my book, if a nurse can withstand orientation, she’s a keeper. Many nurses have come one time and never returned.
It also takes a special family to have strangers come into their home and allow them to care for their precious and fragile children.
So how do we find the middle? How do we coexist with ‘strangers’ in our home 24 hours a day? For parents new to this, here are a few tips:
- Mutual respect goes a long way. Most nurses really want to help. Show them how you take care of your child and they will follow.
- Choose your battles. No one is going to care for your child exactly the same way you do. Give the nurse a little space and see what happens. Usually, things can be done in more than one way without detrimental consequences.
- Be appreciative. Everyone loves to be appreciated. I make sure I thank every nurse after every shift. A small, heartfelt thank you will last the whole day!
- Back off a little bit and let them love your baby! One can never have too much love and having nurses come into your home and love your child when the outside world can be so cruel will be just as fulfilling for you as it is for your child.
- At first, it will be hard leaving your child with the nurse. Start by doing things around the house and then in the yard. Maybe take a short walk. Eventually you will be able to actually get into your car!
- Allow time for a trusting relationship to develop. Hint: it takes more than one day!
- Go with your gut. You will know when a nurse is not a good match for your family. The longer you don’t say something, the harder it will get.
And to the nurses who provide home care, know this:
- It’s not easy giving up even a little bit of being the mommy. We know we need your help to care for our children, we just wish we didn’t. Please don’t take it personally.
- Everything we do, we do out of love for our children.
- By the time you meet us, we have seen our children endure more than most people endure in a lifetime. Please be patient with us. We are still freaking out on the inside!
- Sometimes we have an off day. It isn’t easy having people in our home all the time.
- We really do appreciate all you do!
- If you are a night nurse, we are smiling in our dreams, thanks to you. It’s so nice to sleep at night.
We have been extremely fortunate having nurses come into our home and care for the kids. As an only child, I now have sisters, thanks to MaryEllen and Kevin. Not only do these wonderful ladies give their all for the kids, they are there for me as a sister would be and 24 hours a day! They are no longer strangers in our home but family. A few of our nurses have been with us for 25 years! I feel blessed and honored that they have devoted their careers to our family. What an honor!