MountainView Hospital - November 17, 2023
by Jennifer McDonnell

There are moments in a nursing career that stick with you. That remind you why you do what you do. They become a part of you.

MountainView NICU nurse Mallory W. had one of these moments recently, caring for a baby until it passed away in her arms.

This was a promise that Mallory made to the parents as she walked them out. The devastated parents said they were unable to watch their baby take their last breath. Mallory knows that everyone handles grief in their own unique way, but also knew that in this moment that she would never want a baby to pass alone.

“While not common, unfortunately a baby passing is still a reality within the NICU, and the team is always ready to support our families to the fullest extent no matter the circumstances,” Mallory said.

Mallory has wanted to be a nurse since she was in the 7th grade. She watched her grandfather, sick with cancer in a hospital bed, and her grandmother who never left his side. Until one day, her grandmother decided it was ok to leave because of the particular nurse caring for her husband.

“I knew I wanted to be that for someone someday; that a patient's loved one knows they can leave because I will be by their family member's side with true love and compassion” said Mallory, who has been a NICU nurse for 12 years.

Mallory, with the help of the NICU team, fulfilled that parents' last wishes.

The baby was blessed with the whole unit present. As the baby was placed on comfort care, Mallory and her colleagues ensured that the baby would pass surrounded by love. Nurses held the baby, prayed for the baby, and even sang.

Even after Mallory's shift had ended, she stayed to complete the families' wishes. In the end the baby held on until all the nurses that were assigned for the baby's care were present to include Cynthia M., Rachel M. and Brandi P. The baby took one final breath surrounded by pure love.

And even then, Mallory continued to care. She walked the following shift nurses through MountainView's bereavement process and she reassured her nurses new to this process that it is ok to cry.

“A lot of times they say don't cry about your patients and be strong; I will never tell you not to cry. If you don't feel emotion…” Mallory said, trailing off in thought. “It's why we do what we do.”

Mallory put together a bereavement box that included the baby's handprints and footprints and a clay mold of the babies hand and foot. Also included was a teddy bear with the baby's wrist bands. She also put together a photo album of pictures the parents had asked if she would take.

“I hope someday, it will bring them comfort,” Mallory said. “Maybe not today, but someday they may look into the box and know that their baby is their family's angel who passed surrounded by love as promised.”

Sitting in the NICU recently, Mallory reflected on the experience.

“I will always hold this with me. Not in a bad way, I was there when they couldn't be,” Mallory said. “That's why I became a nurse.”