In honor of National Nurse's Week, I tracked down one of my favorite viral social media posts. Shelby Skiles wrote an open letter to peds nurses - and nurse techs - and the love is real! Since peds nurses made such a huge difference in their patients' lives, let's celebrate National Nurse's Week by finding out why Shelby grew to love peds nurses.
Shelby and Jonathan Skiles were elated to welcome their first child, daughter Sophie Kay Skiles, in the spring of 2015. Sophie took her first breath on March 19th, 2015 at 7:05 pm. Unfortunately, she was barely one year old when the doctors delivered the bad news: Sophie had cancer. She was battling an extremely aggressive form of cancer called T-cell lymphoma. Her mom and dad spent many days at the hospital with Sophie while she was undergoing treatment.
Five months into their stay, Shelby had spent nearly every night sleeping in her daughter’s hospital room. Shelby was struggling to sleep one night when she noticed one of her favorite nurses quietly checking on Sophie in the dark. The act of caring inspired Shelby to write the most heartfelt love letter to nurses (and nurse techs!) everywhere.
For most of us, Shelby’s viral post was the first and last time they thought about Sophie and her battle with cancer. I remember seeing the Facebook post from Sophie The Brave’s page and wondering how long that baby had been in the hospital. While I didn’t check then, I caught up on Sophie’s story later.
After 16 rounds of chemotherapy, the toddler was awaiting a stem cell transplant that could save her life! She had been in the hospital for seven months and was bedridden due to her chemo treatment. The aggressive medication had left her unable to walk, talk, or eat. Still, doctors had hope that Sophie’s stem cell transplant would help her beat cancer. Unfortunately, Sophie took a turn for the worse just before Christmas. Her last 13 days in the hospital were filled with love from family and friends as Sophie slowly faded away.
Sophie Kay Skiles, age 2, took her last breath on January 4th, 2018 at 2:11 pm.
Shelby calls Sophie her angel baby. Since Sophie was their first child, Shelby and Jonathan went home to an empty and silent house. In her blog, Sophie The Brave, Shelby laments this sudden change in their family. In a moment Shelby went from being a mom to being no one’s mom. She’s still processing her grief and writing to share her story. Her hope is that Sophie’s life and death can inspire others to “Do More” with their own lives. The Skiles family cite their strong Christian faith as the reason they have hope for the future.
Maybe the Skileses have more than one reason to look forward to what’s to come! Early this year, Shelby announced the upcoming arrival of Skiles baby number two. Connor Jackson will be their rainbow baby and a little brother to his angel sister. This time around, Shelby’s pregnancy has been physically very different. While it’s less painful and she isn't hemorrhaging (an issue with Sophie), Shelby is still dealing with her grief.
A month ago, Shelby took a huge step in the grieving process. On April 7th, she shared details of the new nursery for this coming baby. In order to make room for this child, Shelby had to finally store all of Sophie’s belongings. Her toddler’s shoes, clothes, toys, bedding - all of it had to go. Instead of putting all of into storage boxes she would never open, Shelby opted to keep a hope chest filled with the most important things Sophie loved.
Today, Shelby is just over halfway through her current pregnancy. Her son, Connor Jackson, has no signs of a tumor or cancer anywhere in his perfect unborn body. Only a year and a half after she posted her love letter to peds nurses, Shelby is a mother to two amazing babies. One of them is also an angel.
Shelby's Viral Post
Dear Peds Nurses,
(And incredible nurse techs!)
I see you. I sit on this couch all day long and, I see you. You try so hard to be unnoticed by me and my child. I see your face drop a little when she sees you and cries. You try so many ways to ease her fears and win her over. I see you hesitate to stick her or pull bandaids off. You say 'No owies' and 'I'm sorry' more times in one day than most people say 'thank you'.
I see all of those rubber bracelets on your arms and wrapped around your stethoscope, each one for a child that you've cared for and loved. I see you carrying arm loads of medicine and supplies into one child's room all while your phone is ringing in your pocket from the room of another. I see you put on gloves and a mask and try not to make too much noise at night. I see you sorting piles of beads so you can give them to your patient to add to their ever growing milestone necklace. I see you stroke her little bald head and tuck her covers around her tightly. I see you holding the crying mom that got bad news. I see you trying to chart on the computer while holding the baby whose mom can't-or won't be at the hospital with her.
You put aside what's happening in your life for 12 hours straight to care for very sick and something's dying children. You go into each room with a smile no matter what's happening in there. You see Sophie's name on the schedule and come to check on us even when she isn't your patient. You call the doctor, blood bank, and pharmacy as many times as necessary to get my child what she needs in a timely manner. You check on me as often as you check on her. You sit and listen to me ramble for 10 minutes even though your phone is buzzing and your to do list is a mile long.
I see you using your phone as a template to paint the perfect cartoon character on the new kid's window. I see you cheering so enthusiastically for the kid taking laps around the nurses station. I see you with that Nerf gun hiding from the kid around the corner. I see you hold tiny hands, change dirty sheets, translate medical talk for parents, and wipe your eyes coming out of a particularly hard room. I see you put on gloves, masks, and a gown then pause before you hang an IV bag of poison chemo for my kid.
I see you. We all see you. No amount of snack baskets or cards can fully express how appreciated you are. You are Jesus to us every single day. Our children wouldn't get what they need without you. Moms like me wouldn't feel sane or heard without you. You save our babies and we couldn't do this without you.
A mom that sees all you do and loves you dearly for it.
All Images Via Sophie The Brave