Tonya Hartman

Tonya Hartman

Tonya Hartman, RN

NICU
Bronson Methodist Hospital
Kalamazoo, Michigan
United States

It was April 5th and my son was now 3 days old and on his 3rd day in the NICU. He was my second small and early preemie born at exactly 35 weeks and weighing in at 4 lbs and 18 1/2 inches long. For our daughter we had been lucky enough to avoid the NICU however this time he was admitted mainly due to size and some sloppy eating habits. Our little miracle was a fighter and worked very hard the first few days at eating and maintaining his temperature while his weight dropped a bit. Since we were nursing I was so thankful to be allowed to "room in" with him during his NICU stay.

On the morning of April 5th our nurse for the day, Tonya, walked in. She immediately had a very sweet, helpful and welcoming demeanor. She made conversation with me and seemed to be very taken with my sweet son. These types of nurses always would make me happy because you could tell that for them it was not their "job" but that they wanted to be there to take care of the baby. The first thing she noticed with my son is that he appeared a bit jaundice so some labs were ordered and we would receive the results back in a few hours. He at this point in time had dropped to 3 lbs 12 oz and was pushing 19 inches long. He was a very long and skinny guy with no fat on his body. Although he had been fighting to maintain his temperature he was beginning to not be able to. We tried a heat lamp again. This was the last time we could do it before he would need to enter an isolette. I of course saw this as a setback and Tonya sat down with me and explained why it would be beneficial to him and that it would help him to conserve his energy for things like eating.

While in the warming bed one of his monitors began to sound and with high frequency. His pulse oxygen levels were dropping as he slept. He stopped breathing more than once. It was the most terrifying afternoon of our NICU stay and Tonya stayed by my side to be there with us as these episodes were happening. She explained that she believed he was experiencing apnea of prematurity. She went on to tell me that although it's very scary it's something he will outgrow and can be helped with caffeine. In that time his bilirubin levels were back and were elevated. She told me he would also need some assistance there too. I began to cry and hard. I felt so embarassed crying in front of her but she sat me down and hugged me and explained what would happen with everything from this point on. She told me everything!

I had so many questions since he'd been admitted to the NICU that no one had sat down to explain yet and she did. This wonderful and amazing woman stayed with my son and me all afternoon while these setbacks were happening. She took the time with him to make sure he was safe as well as me to make sure I was okay and understood everything that was going on. One of the neonatologists came in and prescribed caffeine for his apnea which was administered right away. He told me my son, when ready, would go home on a monitor which at the time crushed me. He was also placed on a special blanket for his jaundice and an isolette was ordered.

Tonya was amazing through all these changes in my son's care. Before this, it seemed he might be in the NICU a few days but on this day everything changed and we knew it would be weeks instead of days. Tonya ensured me that with these things helping him that he'd be able to get his jaundice under control as well as his apnea and slowly wean out of the isolette to be able to maintain his temperature on his own. In the meantime he'd sleep a lot and work on eating so he could grow stronger. She told me my son was a strong little fighter and his little body just needed some help now. She told me this too shall pass and I believed her. When he was placed on his new blanket and put in his isolette I was crushed but she stood right there with me and made sure I was involved because I know she could see the pain on my face. I had no doubt that throughout this day that Tonya formed a bond with my son as well as me and truly cared about him. I was sad when it was time for her shift to end.

We had amazing nurses while we spent 17 days in the NICU but God sent Tonya to us on that exact day because He knew that not only did my son need her, so did I. I feel like Tonya went above and beyond while doing her "job" because she didn't just do her job she took the time to really be there with him. Even more than that, she was not my nurse but in that day she was a friend and shoulder to cry on for me. I do not believe that is in her job description. She took the time to make sure I was okay and understood what was happening with my son. She did not have to do that at all. This amazing woman was great with my son and me alike. I feel like I got through this day because of her.

Later that afternoon my husband joined us in the NICU as well. She was great with him. When she left us that evening we both agreed that she was a very special person. He felt very thankful that she had been there with our son and me when he couldn't be as he was home with our two older children. Tonya was an answered prayer and gift that day.

A few days later someone knocked on our door and walked in. It was Tonya. She was working upstairs and on her lunch break came down to check in with my son and me. Seeing her immediately brought tears to my eyes. Yet again this awesome woman took time out of her lunch to come and make sure we were okay. Seriously, how great could she be?! What would that day have been like for us if we didn't have her there to keep him safe and keep me sane? I'm just very thankful for her. She is truly a selfless and great nurse.

My son is now approaching 3 months. He was removed from the monitor last week. I wanted nothing more than to find Tonya and tell her that she was right that he did outgrow it and that because of her due diligence we caught it and he was absolutely perfect and fine. I do not think she knows how much she touched me that day. My son clearly was days old so will never remember it but I always will. I'll never forget how she went above and beyond for him. How she cared about him from the moment she walked into his room. She took the time with him and myself alike to make sure we were both okay. I'm very thankful to have met her and to have had her on one of the scariest days of my life. Thanks Tonya for being so amazing!