Vanessa* carries something special with her every time she walks into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. The NICU is where our city’s newest mortals, born early or with health problems, receive 24/7 care from teams of medical professionals, including Vanessa, a registered nurse. This is the kind of place where human beings routinely bear witness to some of the most powerful experiences life can offer. There, Vanessa has seen miracles happen. A faithful Catholic, she also knows that not every miracle ends with a baby carried home in the arms of loving parents. “You always pray for the best outcome, but it’s always in the hands of God.”
So, what does Vanessa carry that fortifies her vocation to serve one of the city’s most medically-vulnerable populations? Faith and experience, says the cradle Catholic, wife and mother. In addition to her nurse’s training, this front-line worker recalls what it was like to be cared for as a child prone to severe asthma attacks that kept her away from school and off sports teams.
She remembers how medical professionals, doctors and two cousins who were nurses, sometimes came to her family’s home in India, which lacked public health care. The visits kept her out of the hospital, keeping her well without great expense. They also gave Vanessa a lasting appreciation for what it feels like to be cared for during some of life’s weakest moments.
Written by Joy Gregory for Faithfully
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers