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Caregiver Story Contest Winner Spotlight: NICU Nurse Becomes Foster Mom To A Premie Patient

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
01/24/12  10:45 PM PST

Congratulations to Vivian B., Registered Nurse in Temecula, CA

Vivian was one of five caregivers awarded the $250 runner-up prize in Shield HealthCare’s 11th annual “What Makes Caregiving Rewarding?” Story Contest.

 Vivian’s Winning Story: 

Who would have thought that at 65 years old, I was about to become a mommy to a 27-week preemie? I was blessed to take on the role of foster mom, when I took home one of the medically-fragile infants I cared for in the NICU. While I was excited to undertake this new venture, I was nervous! However, I would soon learn that I had just embarked on a journey that was to change my life. That baby needed me as her caregiver, I knew I was making the right decision.

My new baby was born to meth-addicted, HIV-positive parents, she had cardiac and lung issues, was on tons of medications, and dependent on oxygen. Meanwhile, she was also perhaps the most beautiful baby girl I’d ever seen. Whenever we were out, every person who saw this child could not get over her engaging smile, crystal-clear blue eyes, olive skin, and curly head of hair, shaped mysteriously like a Mohawk!

Throughout these seven months, it became blatantly clear that my age was starting to catch up with me. I was suffering with knee, arthritis and carpal tunnel problems. At times I just felt worn out, and I sometimes fell into the habit of complaining to friends and family about my woes. Meanwhile, my incredible child was growing stronger by the second – she was able to get off oxygen and most of her medications. Much to everyone’s surprise, this formerly fragile baby was actually healing day to day!

Regardless of my aches, I persevered – it was my mission to nurse her all the way back to health. One sweltering day in September, I found myself in tears, kneeling next to my baby trying to garden – my baby was learning to be quite the little gardener! My joints were aching so badly, and gardening used to be so easy, and now it just plain hurt! I hate getting old! And I hate my constant complaining! Through my tears and gripes, I blearily caught sight of my baby’s old oxygen equipment through the living room window. I could see the pile of foster agency’s paperwork, as well as old prescriptions. Finally, my eyes darted to the little child sitting next to me; her cheerful blue eyes stared into mine, her double-toothed smile was wide, and she looked up at me curiously, determined to make me smile back at her. And, you know, that’s exactly what I did. What the heck had I been complaining about? Where had my joy gone?

Epiphany: This child, born into an awful family situation, diagnosed with life-long diseases, forced to spend months of her life in the hospital, was as joyous as could be, rarely uttering the slightest cry of discomfort. Up to her neck in hardship, she seemed not fazed in the least. Her mission was happiness. And she was achieving it. This little baby, in all her wisdom, made me take a long, hard look in the mirror. I realized that I had been letting my ailments get the best of me. In ways, I had stopped living life, day by day, minute by minute, ignoring all the beauty lingering around me. A baby, yes, a baby, taught me to start living life again. Indeed, I had given this baby the care necessary to get on with her new, healthy life. But even crazier, she had taken care of me – she’d breathed new life into my aging self. As a caregiver, I had gained so much more than I ever could’ve imagined. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

Click here to read all winning stories on www.shieldhealthcare.com

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