When I was in my mid-twenties and practicing clinical nursing on a medical-surgical unit at Egleston Children’s Hospital, I provided care to a very ill little girl. She was about two years old and had a myriad of life-threatening issues that plagued her.
In addition, she was in the custody of an extended family member due to domestic issues at home.
At that time, we practiced primary care nursing, meaning whenever I worked my shift, I was assigned to care for those patients called, “primary patients”. It allowed for consistency in nursing and medical care, providing patients and families with stability in staff.
Due to the high acuity nursing care and medical treatments she required, she was in the hospital on our floor for months. She didn’t have many visitors. As a form of entertainment, I would often take her on rides in a red wagon up and down the ward hallways. I would even carry the little girl into the nurse’s station with me and hold her as I charted on my patients so she wouldn’t be left alone in her crib.
One morning, I walked into the room. A family guardian was visiting this day and was sitting in a chair. The little girl pulled herself up to a standing position using the metal rails on the side of her crib. She was connected to plastic tubing that delivered her medicines via intravenous pumps. She was also hooked up to monitors and even had a feeding tube in her nose so she could get the proper amount of nutrition and calories each day.
When she saw me, she smiled, threw her hands up in the air so that I could pick her up, and said, “Momma.” My heart stopped. I took pause as tears filled my eyes.
“You are the only consistent person who has cared and looked after her all of these months. She knows no other than you as her momma,” said the guardian. “We are truly grateful.”
Nothing could prepare me for that day. This little girl touched my heart in a way that I never knew was possible.
When her condition stabilized, she was discharged to go home with her custodian. A few months later, I received a phone call from the family. The little girl’s disease progressed; she had passed away.
Love comes in many different forms and even when you aren’t prepared to receive it. I was blessed to be able to love and care for this child. When Jeff and I married later in life, I learned I wasn’t able to have children due to a condition called endometriosis. However, I have been called, “Momma,” by a child in this lifetime. My heart overflows. That was my destiny; she was my Destiny.
I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day. To Mom, Alayne, my sister, Julie, and to all my family and friends, I love you and wish you a very blessed day!
To D.M, you were an angel here on earth and now with God in heaven. You are forever in my heart. Love, Katie.
About Katie Hart Smith
Katie Hart Smith's column, “From the Heart,” touches the heart, inspires, entertains, and speaks to one’s heart and soul. With over 20 years of experience, Smith has written for a wide array of audiences. To learn more about this Southern author, visit www.katiehartsmith.com.