Every Life Has A Purpose

January 23, 2007, is a day that I hope that I never forget. It was a normal workday for me, a Sunday, which is usually much quieter on our NICU unit than weekdays. When I arrived that morning, the assignment given to me was a gravely ill little girl. Her name was Bethany Jo.


Every Life Has A Purpose

She had been born the afternoon before with a left diaphragmatic hernia, and although I knew that her prognosis was grim, I was amazed at how beautiful she looked, her skin, her hair, her little rosebud mouth, just a beautiful full-term baby, who was so very sick!

I assumed care of Bethany Jo and began my daily routines and while all seemed to be well, I realized that things could change quickly.....and they did!

I stepped out of the room for a moment and left a resuscitation nurse with the baby so I could take a bathroom break, when I returned, less than five minutes later, my bedside was covered with nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists and anyone else who could get in. Bethany Jo's heart rate and 02 sats had dropped and we were bagging her.

Immediately I realized that Bethany Jo's mommy had not had the opportunity to see her yet, due to the medications she'd received after delivery, so I asked someone to contact her nurse and get her over immediately. We continued in vain to bring her back, but I truly believe that when Bethany Jo heard the call to heaven, there was no coming back. Her mommy arrived on a stretcher within minutes and we were able to allow her to hold her sweet baby girl while she was still with us, but only for a few moments.

As I began my bereavement preparations and finished bathing Bethany Jo, I chose a pretty little outfit for her to wear and realized how beautiful she truly was...she looked asleep. I grabbed our unit camera and starting snapping pictures, of her with her Daddy, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and some family friends.

Every photo we got was wonderful. The only problem was that I didn't have anything to put the photos in. After mentioning this to one of my co-workers, I was suddenly "gifted" with a completely premade scrapbook that she had made for her primary baby and was donating to Bethany Jo and her family.

Together we worked and put all the photos that we'd taken in the beautiful scrapbook and along with her clothes and blankets, we gave them to her parents. Her mom has told me that the scrapbook she received has been her "sanity saver"....the proof that her baby lived, that she was beautiful and that her family loved her.

That day, because of Bethay Jo and the effect that she had on me, I started an initiative on our unit to provide a completed scrapbook to the families of all of our patients who pass away, so that they might have something to take away from the hospital with them when their arms are so empty.

That is when Bethany Jo's Blessings was born!

I continue to be in contact with her parents and they are so supportive of this initiative and the fact that through the scrapbooks their sweet baby girl's legacy lives on. I hope that I never forget Bethany Jo or the profound effect that she's had on me to provide a totally different level of bereavement care for our families so that we might be able to be the first step of healing for them.

1 Article   162 Posts

Share this post

Specializes in LTC, Assisted Living, Surgical Clinic. Has 12 years experience.

Sometimes the brightest ideas are born of the darkest circumstances. What a beautiful gift.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

17 Articles; 5,259 Posts

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

What a wonderful way to turn something so heartbreaking into something positive. Thank you.