MAI congratulates Kathryn Andersen of the U.S. as our second place winner for LittWorld 2022 Writing Contest #2 for her piece, “The Nurse Named Sam,” which describes a nurse’s angel-like assistance after the premature birth of Kathryn’s son. When she heard her entry was chosen, Kathryn responded, “Wow, what an honor!! So kind of you and MAI for creating this opportunity, especially during these crazy times.”
We want to recognize and thank our distinguished panel of international judge for their careful evaluations of the many poignant entries received from around the world: authors Jenni Ho-Huan of Singapore, Pusonnam Yiri of Nigeria, and Larry Brook of the USA. Selected entries from the two LittWorld writing contests will be shared in e-book format at LittWorld 2022 in Hungary, April 24-29.
The Nurse Named Sam
By Kathryn Andersen
Standing over our son’s bed in the neonatal intensive unit, I grasped my husband’s hand. Our baby, Colter, was born six weeks early. At only hours old, his tiny pink body was already hooked up to several wires. A breathing machine covered his face. A loud monitor beeped, displaying complicated charts.
I reached my hand out to touch our baby’s tiny arm, when a nurse with short hair breezed into the room. “No touching yet,” she announced. “Do you want him to feel like you’re rubbing sandpaper against his skin?”
“When can I try to breastfeed?” I asked. The nurse sighed and pronounced her words like she was talking to a little kid.
“He can’t eat yet. He will choke, and that will cause a feeding aversion.” She turned away from me and pressed buttons on a monitor.
“When can we take him home?” My husband Cody asked.
The nurse didn’t turn around. “We don’t know. It’s impossible to tell.” She looked on the verge of rolling her eyes. “You need to go back to your postpartum room so they can check your vitals.”
Anxious thoughts flooded my mind. Colter had been whisked away the moment after his birth, so I had never gotten to hold him. I was terrified he wouldn’t know who I was. God, please help us. Remind us that You’re with us.
The next day, I reached over the hospital bassinet again. A male nurse with a shiny bald head walked in. “Sorry,” I muttered, pulling my hand back.
“No,” the nurse responded, his badge saying his name was Sam. “You’re fine! Do you have any questions?” I swallowed nervously and looked at Cody.
“What we really want to know is, will he be OK? When can we take him home?”
“He’s doing great,” Sam said. “He’s strong. He’ll probably be here until his due date.”
Sam patiently answered our endless barrage of questions, explaining the monitors and showing us how to move the wires to change Colter’s diaper. Then, he turned to me. “Have you held him yet?”
My heart dropped and my hands started to shake as Colter was lifted out of his hospital bassinet. Please God, I prayed nervously. Help my baby know me.
Colter squirmed and started to cry. Sam placed him in my arms. “It’s okay, baby,” I whispered. “Mama’s here.” Colter’s cries faded out immediately, and the tiniest sigh of relief I’ve ever heard released from his lips. My eyes filled up with tears.
Sam patted Cody on the shoulder. “You’re already great parents. I know this is really hard. My twin boys were in the NICU for several weeks. I’ve never prayed harder than I did during that time. But God was with us, and now my boys are twelve and weigh more than I do.” He smiled, and stood up to leave.
“I’ll be praying for Colter and for both of you. Don’t be scared. All three of you will get through this.”
In that moment, and through the weeks Colter was in the NICU, Sam became not only a nurse, but also our friend. When Colter’s vitals plummeted, he showed optimism; and he cheered when Colter showed improvement.
We later learned that Sam had only been assigned to work in the NICU temporarily, and he had been transferred by the time Colter was discharged. We never got to tell him thank you. I look forward to heaven, when we can tell Sam how God gave us the hope we needed for our precious baby–all through a nurse with a name that, fittingly, means “God hears.”
Kathryn Andersen is a freelance writer whose work has been featured on Jim Daly’s blog, Boundless.org, Her View From Home, and others. Formerly, Kathryn worked as a broadcast producer at Focus on the Family and as a radio news anchor. She lives in Arkansas, USA, with her husband and son.
Read Precious Collette Kemigisha’s winning entry here.