Olivia had her first open-heart surgery at just 5 days old, and after many setbacks we finally brought her home at 3 months old. Just a few weeks later, she was readmitted to the hospital and underwent a second open-heart surgery. For the next six months, complications kept her in the pediatric cardiac ICU, which is for children who need acute heart care.
I was living in the hospital 24/7. I would feel frustrated when Olivia’s doctors would do rounds and I couldn’t understand the medical lingo. When she was intubated for three months, I wanted to understand why her providers made changes on the ventilator this way and not that way. That sparked a desire in me to educate myself. I would ask doctors to sit down with me and explain things — not to challenge them, but because I wanted to understand and learn in an effort to try to make the best decisions for her.
During the course of Olivia’s journey, we had to do things at home that I never envisioned doing. This included inserting Olivia’s feeding tube, measuring her oxygen levels frequently, and administering medications around the clock.
Olivia’s care team also inspired me to become a nurse. It was amazing to see how they got to know my child. Day in and day out, I watched in awe as strangers gave my child their time, attention, and love.
The nurses did everything they could to make us feel comfortable and cared for. We would bring in diapers with colorful designs on them and they’d try to match her socks with her diapers and her headband. They helped us decorate her room and did thoughtful things that mattered a lot, like keeping her room tidy. One nurse would draw little pictures of us as a family and hang them on the wall.
One day, I casually said to one of the nurse practitioners, Rozelle Corda, “I might as well go to nursing school since I’m always here.”