“His Suffering Eases Ours,” Liahona, Apr. 2011, 41
As a nurse in the newborn intensive care unit, I care for sick, sometimes very small, babies. One night I was assigned to a little boy born 17 weeks early and weighing just over one pound (0.5 kg). His hands were tiny, his little legs about as big around as my finger, and his feet about the size of my thumb. Because of his severe respiratory problems, doctors didn’t expect him to live through the night.
A quiet hush falls over the entire unit when a newborn is fighting for life. There is increased stress on everyone, especially the baby’s nurse, and tonight that was me. His parents had been with him most of the day, but they were exhausted. His mother had returned to her room for some much-needed rest.
The baby’s private room contained an isolette (incubator), monitors, ventilator, and IV pumps, which were keeping him alive. Because he was so ill and needed such intensive care, I wasn’t assigned any other patients that night. I would be at his side all night, busy with medications, monitoring, treatments, and tests.
As the night wore on, I tried to imagine how I would feel if I were his mother. The heartache would have been unbearable.
I gently washed his face, touched his little hands and feet, gingerly changed and positioned him in a soft new blanket. I wondered what else I could do for my little patient. What would his mother do? What would Heavenly Father want me to do?
This precious, innocent little spirit would soon be returning to his Father in Heaven. I wondered if he was afraid. I thought of my own children. When they were young and scared, I had sung to them. “I Am a Child of God” was their favorite. Choking back tears, I sang to the baby.
As a nurse I saw the tubes and the blood, counted the rise and fall of the baby’s chest, listened to the beating of his heart, and watched the numbers on the monitors. As a Latter-day Saint I saw a celestial spirit and marveled at the plan of salvation.
As the night progressed, his health deteriorated. He eventually developed a condition that caused him to bleed into his lungs.
In the morning my little patient slipped silently through the veil. He left his mother’s arms and was “taken home to that God who gave [him] life” (Alma 40:11).
I grew closer to the Savior and Heavenly Father that night. I developed a greater understanding of the Lord’s love for mankind—and His love for me. I was reminded, even surprised, by the depth of love I felt for Him. And I felt a desire to be more kind, more gentle, more forgiving, more compassionate—more like Him—one day and one heartbeat at a time.