Dear Nurses: Thank You From A First-time Father

IMG_0309I anticipate learning a lot of new things over the next 18 years. How to care for diaper rash, how to feed my son a bottle in the middle of the night while half asleep, how to discern the meaning behind different coos and cries. Most lessons will directly involve the little guy who joined our family 12 days ago. But my first lesson in fatherhood started to take shape in the hours leading up to his arrival.

The night before we were scheduled to show up at the hospital to be induced, my wife and I enjoyed one last meal together (greasy JL Beers cheeseburgers and chips) and double-checked our overnight bags to make sure we had everything we needed for our stay. As we made our final preparations in the fleeting peace and quiet, I was secretly playing out in my head how I thought the following day’s events would unfold.

We had taken the four-week lamaze class, and I had even attended a class for first-time dads. In my naivete, I had assumed I knew what to expect come delivery day. What I envisioned was a slow day of sitting in a hospital room, waiting for the action to start. I expected a lot of alone time. I expected the doctor to play dictator and lead us to victory… I mean baby.

I was wrong about everything.

Nurses Rule the Room

Before I changed my first diaper or snugged up my first swaddle, I learned an important lesson in gratitude that sneaked up on me like burpless spit-up. My mom was a nurse for more than 40 years, so I grew up holding the medical establishment in high regard. Specifically, doctors. While she could diagnose most minor ailments in the comfort of our own home, she was never hesitant to haul us into the walk-in clinic to get a legit diagnosis from the doctor. Even today she’ll be the one to tell my sister or me when it’s time to go in and get checked.

I was trained to believe the doctor knew everything. As a result, I expected the doctor to also do everything. I went in on that Wednesday morning with my wife intending to watch the doctor walk and talk us through the whole ordeal.

Again, I was wrong. Childishly wrong. Foolishly wrong. In every way wrong.


The nurses did everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. They were there to check us in with a comforting smile. They were there every 20 minutes (or sooner) to check on my wife and our baby. They were even there to check on me and make sure my legs weren’t about to give way underneath me. And not only did they do everything, they seemed to know everything, too… things I would’ve guessed only doctors should know.

[gdlr_quote align=”center” ]From the second we walked off the sixth floor elevator to the moment we clicked the carseat into the backseat of our Subaru the morning we left for home, our nurses cared for us with impressive skill and amazing grace.[/gdlr_quote]

Now, I’m not here to belittle doctors. When he did show up, he did a great job of making sure our toddler-sized baby came out in one piece and in such a way that he did as little damage as possible. In our case—because our baby was so big—I feel his commanding presence was certainly helpful during those last few minutes. But had he not been there, there’s no question our nurses would’ve done a fine job on their own.

During our two-day stay, we must have had ten different nurses attending to us at any given time. Each one deserves more recognition than I’m afraid they’ll ever receive. At the very least, I hope they know how grateful we patients are to have them in charge of our care… because make no mistake: the nurses (not the doctors) are in charge.

Baby Hanson calling up the nurses to thank them for taking such phenomenal care of us in the hospital.

7 Responses

  1. Pingback : Dear Nurses: Thank You From A First-time Father – Mr. Full-Time Dad

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  4. patti Burwick

    I think this article reflects well on doctors and nurses. We all work hard to be there for our patients. Thank you so much for the positive article!

  5. Future Dr.

    As a 2nd year medical student, I find this article extremely disheartening & degrading. While I 100% agree that the nurses bear the brunt of the work & deserve to be commended for their jobs, it’s sad to see people having so little respect and acknowledgement for the role of the doctor. We bust our asses through 8 years of school & 3-7 years of residency only to work long, hard hours for the remainder of our lives. We give up nights, weekends, holidays, and precious time with our own families in order to care for yours. For as many hours as we spend seeing patients we spend at least the same amount of time researching and documenting all of our interactions, often long after our work hours have ended. I don’t know why or how, but slowly our society has become one where “doctor bashing” is an acceptable way of life. We are evil, smug, and lazy and let the nurses do all of the work for us with little recognition. Except that isn’t true at all. Of course there are always outliers, but most doctors respect and trust their nurses and realize that we couldn’t do our jobs without them. However, it has somehow become acceptable to dismiss doctors as replaceable; other people could surely do our job for us. I’m sure you meant no harm by this article, but realize that we, too, are human beings. We care about our patients & wish we could spend as much time with them as they deserve. We often suffer from burnout because we see too many struggles & feel like failures that we can do nothing to help. Do you know the responsibility & challenges that come from holding another individual’s life in your hands? Do you understand the pressure we feel to be perfect at all times because our mistakes can have catastrophic effects on our patients? Do you realize that we often work 5 18 hour days back-to-back so that we can fulfill all of our responsibilities? So next time you or a family member receives care in a hospital, I hope you’ll take the time to thank everyone involved in their care, not just the nurses. This includes the administrators that make sure our hospitals function, the sanitary workers who make sure the hospital is clean, the nurses, CNAs, phlebotomists, and countless others who help care for our patients & thus allow us to do our job, & yes even the doctors, who you may not see as often as you’d like, but who are absolutely doing everything in their power to give you the care you deserve. Because we who work at hospitals know that we are a team and a community. We all know that we need each other to serve our patients to the best of our abilities, & that no one person is more important than the other when it comes to caring for our patients.

  6. Marlene Freeman

    I am glad that you discovered firsthand what I as an RN for 34 years know so well: nurses are amazing and do in fact run the show! Congrats on your new arrival! 🙂

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