Dear nurses. Thank you just isn’t enough.

The road to motherhood is lined with nurses — some who become friends and others who come, help, and disappear quietly. They encourage us to keep going when stuff gets really hard; give direction when we’re not sure what’s next; show up with the water, the Kleenex, the open ear — whatever we need, whenever we need it. They celebrate when we reach the finish, just as genuinely happy as we are. Without nurses, this journey would be much, much different.

Nurses happy-dance with us when the pregnancy test is positive. They learn all about our families, our jobs, and our TV show obsessions over nine months’ worth of visits. They don’t even judge when we get on that darn scale every time. Or when we look as bad as we feel in the final weeks. Or if we let a couple curse words slip here and there (sorry).

In the delivery room, they are the keepers of the calm. They move with the grace of dancers who know exactly what to do. They read our minds when we need something, anything, to make labor a little better. They are the ultimate cheerleaders during the pushing and the breathing. Most partners survive mom’s labor because a nurse was watching them, too. When the new tiny person comes out yelling? It’s a nurse that gently wipes him off, looks him over, and introduces him to his mama. She’ll clean you up. She’ll find the baby outfit you brought. And she’ll make sure you know what a good job you did.

If nurses are there during the good, they sure do show up for the bad. The hard-to-hear news. The tears. The prayers. Even the hardest goodbyes. There are times in our lives when it’s impossible to imagine surviving without the nurses. The ones who believe we’ll be OK — even when we don’t. There is a special place for nurses who walk with us through all that heavy, heavy stuff.

Then there are the NICU nurses. Oh, the NICU nurses. The people who look over the most fragile babies like angels, 24/7. Who earn the hardest trust there is to earn. Who let harried moms and dads get some much-needed rest, knowing their preemie is safe. They give calm answers to worried new parents at all hours. Explain, again, all the NICU lingo. Celebrate the little things, keep moods positive, and add a little silly when it’s needed most.

When it’s time, they wheel us and our babies out of the hospital, reassuring us that the drive home will be fine. Totally fine. Then they get in their own cars. Go home to their own families, and miraculously have enough energy left to give them love, too. We’ll probably never know how they do it all, but we’re so, so glad they do.

Thank you, again, for everything.

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