My Wife, A NICU Nurse

My wife is a NICU nurse.  This is an explanation of what a NICU nurse is from a husband’s perspective.  I have grown tired of hearing that others believe it is a job where they sit and watch babies and change diapers.  Everyday my wife goes to a job where patients have the possibility of passing away.  Everyday my wife goes to a job where she sees the innocent, the beautiful, those who are precious in God’s sight struggle and fight to live. Everyday my wife goes into work not just being there for her babies but also being a shoulder to cry on, and someone to laugh with for these beautiful and heartbroken families.  Everyday my wife and countless NICU nurses know that the next shift will drain them, crush them, but in the end know that it was all worth it.

A NICU nurse has to be courageous, fearless, strong, loving, and selfless.

My wife is courageous because she walks into a unit where death is waiting around every corner and she stares it in the face and says not today.  She will do everything possible to keep her patients alive for one more day until they go home.  Be that a physical home or a heavenly home.  She is courageous because she will not give up on these babies because they will not give up on life.

My wife is fearless because what she has to do on a daily basis.  This does not include sitting and rocking a baby unless you are sitting and rocking a baby as they pass away because their family can’t get there in time.  Everyday my wife will more than likely start IVs, change vent settings, administer medicines, resuscitate a child, run all over the unit for supplies, explain to families what is happening to their child, and give updates to the doctor.  Doing this for one child for a 12 hour shift sounds daunting, my wife normally has 3 to 5 babies every day. So if someone tells you that they are a NICU nurse, please don’t say, “Oh, you watch babies.”

My wife is strong because of the physical, emotional, and psychological stress she endures every time she clocks in and puts on her scrubs.  So many times my wife has come home never taking a break or a lunch and forgetting to go to the bathroom for an entire day.  This doesn’t sound like a job where you are just watching babies.  The emotional strain that I see put on my wife is immense.  There have been nights when she has cried herself to sleep because of the loss of a child.  Their have been nights that have gone sleepless because she is worried about her patients.  There are days when she cries to me for the parents that are hurting.  A NICU nurse never goes home. Their patients are always on their minds.  Psychologically knowing that every time you go into work, you may have to watch an infant breathe their last breath, but still everyday going in with hope that one of these precious babies may get to go home and live a normal/almost normal life.  My wife is the strongest person that I know.

My wife is loving because it is not only about her patients but also the families.  She has so many written responsibilities, but the unwritten responsibilities are just as consuming.  My wife will love every patient and every family that crosses her path.  She will sit and cry, laugh, or do whatever is needed for a family to feel loved and know that someone is on her side.  My wife meets families in their greatest time of need and heartache and ministers to them.  My wife will sit and listen to a mother who just needs to talk.

My wife is selfless because of all the other qualities that I have listed.  A NICU nurse puts the needs of everyone else above their own.

The next time someone tells you that they are a NICU nurse. Just say thank you or you can say, “So, you save lives, change lives, give selflessly, cry constantly, hurt for others endlessly, pray unceasingly, love no matter what, stand courageously, meet each day with fearlessness, and change diapers.”

To my wife and all the NICU nurses I want to say thank you for all you do.


81 thoughts on “My Wife, A NICU Nurse

  1. What Nurses do is one of the great Ministries of Life – Caring for the Sick – I thank your wife and all medical professionals who sacrifice and give to make the ill and their families better. As a gift to your wife and your family I would like to provide her with Free Scrubs protected by Vestex to keep her safe from the unexpected conditions she encounters during patient care. Please email me her size and color preference or call me at 407-781-2385.

    Ben Favret
    Vestagen Technical Textiles, Inc

  2. I have the honor of being both a NICU nurse and a NICU mommy. I was at work and my water broke at 32 weeks. My son was born a day later by emergency c/s. He was a patient in my NICU for three weeks. I am fortunate to have an awesome perspective, seeing both sides of the picture, being a nurse to these wonderful patients and being a mommy to my own little miracle. It makes me more compassionate to my families and I can understand their fears and worries. I knew my team was taking wonderful care of my son, along with the other angels in my unit. Our passion for these tiny miracles drives us to keep going when we want to cry, advocate when a particular treatment would be best and advocate when a patient is dying for a parent to be there to hold their infant- or to hold one in place of mom or dad as they pass away. It’s a difficult job, but I would not work in any other unit….Thank you for understanding!

  3. My daughter in law is an NICU nurse and we are blessed to have her and our son for dinner weekly. Most of the times she comes over after a long shift straight from the hospital. I have always knew she was special, but this letter clarifies what she deals with weekly. She has shared the joy and sorrow of her position as a nurse and I am grateful for all she does.

  4. I too am a NICU nurse and this letter has made me cry because I too deal with this everyday and no one seems to understand. I am proud to be a NICN. It can be so rewarding and I love what I do.

  5. I am also a NICU nurse, NICU mother and NICU grandmother. It is so hard on both sides of the situation. I love my babies, my families and what I do. I have spent many tears and sleepless nights over my sweet angels and also have witnessed so many miracles, showings of strength and courage and the joy that I can make a difference in so many lives!

  6. Your wife is one special lady. As a NICU nurse myself, I too have a husband that very much gets my job. Every day before I go to work he says to me “Take care of dem babies”. It feels totally awesome to have such support.

    The tiny patients we care for really do live on in our hearts and minds for years and years after they have graduated or gone to heaven. How many other nurses can say that they are recognized and sought out by the parents of their patients years later out in the community? It is so rewarding to see their progress.

    • Yes, that is so true. My wife still gets Christmas cards with long letters sharing the progress of their NICU baby. My wife always made ribbons for her babies – pink or blue. One mother stills tells my wife every year at Christmas that her NICU little girl just didn’t seem like a little baby girl until she came to unit and found that pink ribbon in her daughter’s hair. I have been privileged to be the husband of an NICU nurse who would come home early in the mornings still totally charged after a twelve hour night shift. We would drink a cup of coffee as she quickly began to sink into exhaustion. My profession was quite rewarding financially but I realized early on that it could never compete with the rewards she received from the NICU babies and their parents. Thanks for all you do. Know you are appreciated.

  7. My wife is also a NICU nurse, and you have explained her daily life to perfection. The emotional rollercoastet ride that she endures each day from highs to lows is nothing short of amazing. I am blessed to have her by myside.

  8. My Daughter is a NICU nurse. She is the strongest, & the bravest woman I know. She works 12 hr shifts sometimes 5 days in a row and never complains. She knows how important her job is. She has a loving servant’s heart and is a hero to every tiny patient. I am so proud of how strong, smart and selfless she is. She is my hero.

  9. NICU nurses will always hold a special place in my heart. My son Gabriel was born in respiratory distress, and so he was whisked off to the NICU moments after birth. The nurses took excellent care of Gabriel, but they were so much more than diaper changers and baby holders. One nurse second-guessed a doctor’s dosage instructions. So many nurses cared for Gabriel when he was on the ventilator. Placing IVs in tiny blood vessels is no easy task, but these incredible nurses remember the human side of what they do, too. When Gabriel needed to have his IV moved to his scalp, the NICU nurse saved Gabriel’s “first haircut” for me in an envelope. I had NICU nurses cry with me. Hug me. Encourage me in my pumping efforts. Tell me to call anytime. Tell me to go home and get some sleep. It is a courageous undertaking to push the balance between life and death on a daily basis.

  10. Maybe we should start a support group for husbands. My wife has been a nurse for 18 years — all 18 of those in the NICU. As I tell her, it must give her some sort of encouragement that unlike most of us who get up and go to work, her efforts actually matter. No snow days. No 2 hour delays. No calling it a day early. It exacts a cost — and you have done a great job outlining some of it — but, I also see her refreshed at the yearly “reunion.” When she gets to see her babies grow up. I get to see her heart renewed — always at the right time — by a kind note from a parent. May they all be renewed by being the “hands and feet” of our Savior. Their work does indeed, matter.

  11. My kids use to think all I did was give babies baths and change diapers…..and then Look or Time….one of those magazines….came out with an article on the day in the life of a NICU baby and I made them read it….I think the light went on! Thank you for this lovely article

  12. Our daughter is a NICU Nurse and we our so proud of her! She shows strength, kindness & most importantly a patience bigger than life. How she stays calm & focused is a nod to her character. Our daughter gives those little patients & their families the strength and compassion to get through their most difficult moments. Then she goes home and gives her family loving moments too! NICU Nurses are truly special!

  13. My daughter was in the NICU for 5 months. I saw first hand how amazing these nurses really are and I have no idea how they do what they do everyday. Not only did take amazing care of my baby, they were the only people I could talk to during the worst period of my life. I still keep on touch with many of my daughters nurses and visit them in the NICU often. They will always have a special place in our lives.

  14. Very true and very well written. But from a husband’s perspective? Ya right! Lol. Raise your hand if your husband has a clue what you do at work!

  15. My daughter is a NICU nurse and was also a NICU baby 27 years ago. I am so proud of what she does. She recently gave birth to her own healthy baby daughter. NICU nurses hold a special place in my heart and are certainly strong, loving and compassionate people. Thank you for all you do!

  16. Thank you for this. I have been a NICU nurse since I graduated from nursing school 38 years ago. The last two serving as a Lactation Consultant in the NICU. It’s a tough job but such a rewarding one, and I can’t imaging having done anything else.

  17. God bless my wonderful great niece and all of the other NICU nurses thru out the USA.I read all of the replys and I want to say all of you are so wonderful to do the job you do everyday.I have 5 wonderful healthy sons,so I am very blessed

  18. I was as NICU nurse for almost 40 years, until I became permanently disabled. I want to share just one story that really resonated with me. A few years an older man was in the unit, visiting his grandchild. He stated to me ” You are doing God’s work, no actually, You are finishing God’s work!” I told him that I thought that was the most profound thing I had maybe ever heard about my job! I kept that with me for many years, because it really did explain what we were doing there…taking care of sick and premature infants until God was done with them.

  19. I too am a NICU nurse on the night shift for almost 26 yrs. We have the best job in the whole hospital. The worst day in our unit is still better than any day on another floor. I love what we do and I love to see our littles go home.

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