Nurses are known to take things to another level to make their patients feel hopeful and a sense a joy when going through a difficult hospital stay. Nurses working with babies are especially so. They seem to exude such sweetness and kindness to their tiniest patients.
One particular nurse working with babies, has proved how incredible a nurse can be to bring joy to patients and their families. 28-year-old Melissa Jordan works as a neonatal intensive care nurse at CareMont Hospital in North Carolina. Jordan has been working here for two and a half years and over this period, she has enjoyed working to make the families of the babies she cares for feel joyful and hopeful. What this young nurse has been doing over the last few months is incredibly special.
Working in a neonatal intensive care unit means caring for newborns who have to stay in the hospital for one to two months. This is a trying time for the parents. It also leads to nurses such as Jordan to build a relationship with the family. “It’s very easy to bond with family,” Jordan explains. “You build lifelong relationships with these people.”
Baby Wyatt had to learn simple skills. His body had to learn how to maintain his heart rate and how to eat. For his parents, going home with their newborn was even scarier because he was sent home with oxygen.
Wyatt’s parents gave Jordan a dose of inspiration when she sought to make the parent’s leave from the hospital feel more special and hopeful. His parents had brought a onesie for Wyatt that read “NICU Grad” for him to wear on the day of discharge. It was when Jordan saw this onesie that she decided to make a graduation hat for Wyatt so he could be sent home looking like a proper graduate. “I made the first one out of good ol’ construction paper,” Jordan recalls of her first graduation hat.
“I just wanted to make something special for them for the day when it finally arrived,” Jordan added. When the day finally came for Wyatt to be discharged all the nurses gathered to sing the “Graduation” song by Vitamin C. Wyatt was looking like a proper graduate with his onesie and hat.
The ceremony was a way for the nurses, including Jordan, to ease the family’s fears and remind them how much progress Wyatt had already made. “They were smiling ear to ear,” Jordan recalls. “They were so happy and it made me want to keep doing it.”
This ceremony was too special for it to be a one-off. That is why Jordan decided to organize more graduation ceremonies for babies who were born six weeks early or even earlier than that. The nurse partnered with Bella Baby Photography. This way, each baby would have their picture taken during their first graduation ceremony.
This is the first photoshoot for these babies and with the occasion, it makes the shoot more special. Bella Baby Photography sends off each baby and their parents with a series of graduation photos to mark the occasion and it’s all done for free. It is a way of giving each set of parents a keepsake to commemorate how far their baby has already come.
Matthew and Monica Becton, NICU parents, talked about the special send off. “It felt like it signified an ending to one journey and a beginning of another.” The ceremony also gives everyone a chance to put fears aside in that ward and bring a new sense of hope for the parents.
Jordan’s work has gone beyond nursing and graduation ceremonies. She has even babysat siblings at times when the parents are attending the graduation ceremony as kids are not allowed in the NICU due to possible illnesses to the babies. This nurse has gone the extra mile, and then some!
What makes Jordan so caring and loving is that she treats each baby as if it was her own. “These are my children, these are my babies,” she said. She has proved this by not only showing care for the babies but also by caring for their parents who are going through a difficult time watching their newborn grow strong enough to be able to take him or her home.
14 babies, including three sets of twins, have already graduated from the NICU. These days, the hats are being made from foam, rather than construction paper, so they are sturdier and they can last longer. Jordan has said that she would love it if people in the area could donate craft supplies so the hats can be made even better and they can last longer for parents to have as a keepsake.
Jordan, together with the rest of the staff, plan on creating a wall of NICU graduates so that when parents come in with their babies, they can feel hopeful. “Hopefully they can see that these babies are fine, so their babies will be fine,” Jordan explains. “I hope it brings families joy.”